Service held for memorial that honours part played by Butlin's in Second World War

A service of commemoration has taken place for a memorial at Butlin’s that honours the part played by the holiday camp in the Second World War.

Vice Admiral Duncan Potts, president of the Royal Naval Association, with the Rev Richard Holden, and other guests at the service.
Vice Admiral Duncan Potts, president of the Royal Naval Association, with the Rev Richard Holden, and other guests at the service.

On September 25, 1939, three weeks after the declaration of war, Butlin’s became HMS Royal Arthur.

The site in Ingoldmells – which had launched as a holiday camp just three years earlier – was used to deliver basic training.

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At one time, HMS Royal Arthur was home to 4,000 naval personnel, and by the end of 1946, when it came out of service, more than 250,000 recruits had passed through the establishment.

Ron Frost, of the Royal Naval Association.

In 2003, an obelisk was erected at the site in tribute to this part of its history.

This followed a campaign by Ron Frost, a lifetime member of the Royal Naval Association.

Ron also felt that, for 2022, a service of commemoration should be held for the memorial and Butlin’s agreed.

The service was conducted by the Rev Richard Holden, the vicar of Skegness.

Due to ill health, Ron was unable to attend, but others present on the day included the national president of the Royal Naval Association Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, and Lt Matthew Paterson and WO Jan Scott, representing the Royal Navy.

The rededication included a service of remembrance for all those who were killed in action having trained at HMS Royal Arthur.

Reflecting on the history of the site, Lt Cdr Nigel Huxtable, also representing the Royal Naval Association, told The Standard: “What memories must have been recounted in the post war years, as fathers proudly showed their families round the strangely familiar chalets on the beach, or bumped into old shipmates holidaying there too. More over 250,000 men joined the Royal Navy here when for a few years HMS Royal Arthur was how Billy Butlin’s holiday heaven was known."

He said the service of commemoration – which followed a refurbishment – meant ‘the proud contribution of HMS Royal Arthur can be carried forward’."All thanks to Butlins for having financed the work and Thanks too to Shipmate Ron Frost a Life Member of the Royal Naval Association whose selfless efforts and persistence saw this project to its completion and not forgotten about because of Covid,” he added.