The Worshipful Company of Carmen and HM Forces
For over 200 years The Carmen have been closely associated with the nation’s armed forces. In 1803, during the Napoleonic Wars, they offered to supply the Government with ‘420 Carts and 1,000 Horses’ – these close links with Britain’s forces continues to this day.
Support for our military services was further cemented when the Company signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, proudly supporting those who serve.
Selected senior officers in the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force sit on the governing Court of The Company, currently Lieutenant-General Sir Mark Poffley KCB, OBE (Master General of Logistics); Rear Admiral Andrew Kyte (Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Logistic Operations) and Chief Naval Logistics Officer); and Air Vice-Marshal Alan Gillespie CBE (Air Officer Commanding No 2 Group RAF).
Every year the Carmen look at the world of transport and logistics and honour the best in their chosen field. One of the highlights of the Carmen’s year is the prestigious annual awards ceremony when we honour soldiers, sailors and airmen, officers, NCOs and other ranks, with special recognition of their achievements. Often attended by HRH The Princess Royal, a Past Master of the Company, these awards demonstrate our commitment to those who serve and we are proud to honour those who give so much.
In addition to honouring individuals, we are proud to have formally recognised affiliations to various HM Forces units, going back to 1946.
This started when the Carmen presented arms to HMS ANSON which had been in active service during the Second World War. In 1996 we adopted HMS CARDIFF which was involved in the Falklands and the Gulf, before involvement in the 2003 Iraq campaign.
The Company forged links with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Command Logistics in 2004 and, within that, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the Royal Navy’s logistics and supply service, which is principally crewed by merchant seafarers. Since 2005, RFA FORT VICTORIA (A387) has flown the Carmen’s flag in port and during seagoing transfers as ‘The Carmen’s Ship’. Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, she was launched on 4 May 1990 and commissioned on 24 June 1994. Her home port is Marchwood Military Port.
In 2015, the Company was assigned HMS NORTHUMBERLAND (F238) , a Type 23 frigate, as its affiliated ship. She is named after the Duke of Northumberland and is the eighth Royal Navy ship to bear the name since the first 70-gun frigate in 1679; and ninth in the class of Type 23 frigates. Built by Swan Hunter in Wallsend-on-Tyne, launched on 4 April 1992 and commissioned on 29 September 1994, HMS NORTHUMBERLAND is based at Devonport and is part of the Devonport Flotilla.
Turning now to the Army. In 1975, Articles of Association were signed with the Royal Corps of Transport, a link that continues with their successor – the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC).
During the first Gulf War, the Company enjoyed a unique distinction, with the Carmen crest appearing on vehicles of 25 Freight Distribution Squadron, RLC. However, this valued affiliation is currently borne by 27 Regiment RLC’s 19 Tank Transporter Squadron RLC ‘The Carmen’s Own’. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the Squadron deployed troops designated ‘The Carmen’s Troop’.
In 2021, the Carmen also became formally affiliated with 151 Regiment, RLC, a modern, diverse and forward looking Reserve Transport Regiment, based in Greater London and the South East. As an integral part of 101 Logistic Brigade (The Iron Vipers), providing logistic support to 3 UK Armoured Division (The Iron Division), the Regiment can proudly trace its origins and affiliations within the City of London back to 1801 and the formation of the Royal Waggon Train in Croydon. The Regiment proudly represents the RLC at the Lord Mayor’s Parade each year.
In 2002, a Letter of Association between the Carmen and No 2 Group, Royal Air Force, was witnessed by the Lord Mayor of London at the Mansion House.
Specifically associated with The Company are XXIV Squadron at RAF Brize Norton and No 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron at RAF Wittering.
XXIV Squadron, the Air Mobility Operational Conversion Unit, is responsible for aircrew training on (photo front to rear) C130J Hercules, A400M Atlas and C17 Globemaster aircraft. A J-Class Hercules aircraft of XXIV Squadron carries the Carmen’s plaque and is designated ‘The Carmen’s Flight’.
No 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron, ‘The Carmen’s Squadron’, was formed at King’s College in Cambridge in 1940, the first role being to ferry aircraft spares and ammunition between RAF Stations during the Battle of Britain. In the following eighty years, 2MT, as it is known, has seen service in almost every UK major military operation. 2MT Squadron remains the RAF’s road going heavy lift capability. The Squadron’s trained military drivers also operate the specialist vehicles, fuel bowsers and towing tractors, needed to keep a modern airbase moving.
Additionally, the Carmen are proud to be affiliated to the Defence Movements Training Squadron, which is based at RAF Brize Norton. This is a Joint Service unit within the Defence School of Logistics and Administration of the Defence College of Logistics.
As the specialist training establishment for movements personnel, the unit is staffed by RAF and RLC instructors who deliver 43 courses to approximately 2,000 trainees annually. Students come from all three Services and to various government agencies and
foreign and Commonwealth forces, thus equipping personnel with the skills required to deploy, sustain and recover forces in support of operations, exercises and humanitarian relief anywhere in the world.
From whichever service, and regardless of rank, the Carmen salute those who serve in harm’s way. Their selfless dedication and commitment are a remarkable example to us all.