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ODC History
During 1964/65 efforts were made to trace the history of the Club back to its origins, in an attempt to discover when the Officers of the Corps first dined together. The attempt did not wholly succeed and the Club's origins remain obscure. A certain amount of information dating from the period about the turn of the century was obtained from the "Globe and Laurel", or was received in replies which a number of senior officers were kind enough to make to the enquiries of the committees; from these sources this note has been compiled.

The earliest firm date is 1892 when a notice in the first copy of the "Globe and Laurel announced that the annual dinner would be held in the Whitehall Rooms, Hotel Metropole, on 9th June 1892. The charge for dinner was 25/- to members and the annual subscription was then 5/-. The Duke of Edinburgh presided at the dinner and there are a number of familiar names on the list of those who dined. The committee consisted of 11 senior officers and there were also five representatives of the Divisions and Depots.

Colonel Grover believes that previously there were dinners at Woolwich until the abolition of the 4th Division in 1869, and that the Woolwich Tree (which was never erected except on special occasions because it was too heavy) appears symbolic of this. He also thinks that, by tradition, the Barham portrait, - formerly of Woolwich, then Forton, now Eastney - was carried round and toasted on those occasions.

In 1893 some brief rules, confirming the 5/- subscription and empowering the Committee to fix the cost of the dinner, appeared in the "Globe and Laurel" and the dinner was on almost exactly the same lines as in 1892. The Duke of Edinburgh again presided, and the string band of the Chatham Division played during dinner. In a departure from the custom, General Schombeg proposed that members should drink a second toast - that their President, on his promotion to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet - and this was "heartily done with musical honours". His Royal Highness made a brief and amusing reply and added "that HRH The Prince of Wales was at that moment presiding in the same building at the annual dinner of the 2nd Life Guards, and that he had just received a note from him to the effect that the 2nd Life Guards were then drinking the following toast, "Success to the Royal Marines"; he therefore proposed the toast of "HRH The Prince of Wales, Lord Howe, and the Officers of the 2nd Life Guards", which was received most cordially by those present.

General Halliday cannot recall when he first became a member of the Club, or first attended what was known in his day as "The Corps Dinner". He has a recollection of the Duke of Edinburgh as Commander-in-Chief at Devonport, expressing a wish that the officers of RM Plymouth should dine the officers of a German naval squadron visiting the port; the Commander-in-Chief, though an Admiral, attended the dinner in his scarlet tunic as Honorary Colonel Royal Marines; the officers dined in ball dress with swords.

In 1903, as recorded in the March issue of the "Globe and Laurel, the credit balance of the fund was £56.0s.2d, but the accounts were insufficiently detailed to show how this had been accumulated. Balance sheets for at least eight previous years (not continuous) were available, but no record of subscribers was kept and the rule that subscribers should be called on to pay up back subscriptions (not exceeding £1, and not all when serving abroad) had apparently not been observed - in fact, few officers were regular subscribers. A number of serving officers and retired officers had felt for some years that change in the conduct of the Club's affairs was desirable and improvements had been suggested. The committee therefore drew up and published a comprehensive list of rules, and the club was put on a firm footing as "The Royal Marines Dinner Club". The annual subscription remained 5/-, with the dinner at 25/- to members and £2.00 to non-members.

General Hutton tells us that in the same year the Probationary Second Lieutenants were given a talk on their duties with special emphasis on joining the club, and that some resentment was felt at this element of compulsion. General Hutton himself has been a member from those days, but did not dine until 1926, when the then Honorary Secretary (who may have been the Director of Naval Recruiting) went down to Chatham with a personal appeal for support for that year's dinner; General Hutton responded, and dined regularly thereafter.

General Bourne recalls that in the early 1900's he had to miss three dinners because he was serving at the RN College, Osborne, and it was an unwritten rule that officers never left the college except to compete at the Military Tournament; he tells us, however, that the Prince of Wales used to attend the dinner as Colonel Commandant of the Corps, and he believes that he did so up to the time when he became King George V.

The RM Officers Dinner Club (RMODC) has continued to exsist throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. For many years now, we have been fortunate in being able to dine in the Great Hall of Lincoln's Inn. The format for the dinner is the same as a Royal Marines Regimental Dinner in an Officers Mess but, without the after dinner speeches!


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