Reginald Plowman, who toured the world as part of the Royal Marines Band after enlisting at the age of 14 in 1937, was joined by family and friends at the Elizabeth Lodge Care home in Gosport on Wednesday, August 30. Also in attendance were Gosport MP Dame Caroline Dineage, Gosport mayor councillor Martin Pepper and Lady Mayoress Suzanne Pepper.
The momentous milestone was also marked with a surprise treat for Reginald as a small contingent of the Royal Marines Band Corps of Drums – led by Colour Sergeant Bugler Nic Cansfield – played at the centenary celebration.
Reginald’s son Francis Plowman said the performance was a highlight of the day for his father, who stood to attention and remarked upon how “special” the spectacle was.
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Francis said: “It was absolutely brilliant. It was all a complete surprise to Dad. They put on a display and then met dad. They had dad wired up - which he knew very little about - and he stood up to take the salute at the end and told them it was excellent. Later on, they captured him saying “there’s something special going on here.” It was just wonderful because he doesn’t say a lot but he seemed to switch on. The years went past and he stood with all his medals – it was very good for a 100-year-old.”
Reginald, who was born in Forton Road in 1923, tried his hand at a number of other professions after leaving the military in 1953. He worked in the Co-op on San Diego Road, as a bus conductor across Hampshire and Dorset and as a school caretaker in Holbrook Primary School, Elson Infant School and at Brune Park School up until his retirement on August 30 1987.
Francis added that his father is known for his devout Christian faith, which he first developed during the Second World War, during which HMS Cleopatra – upon which he was stationed as a violinist and clarinet player - was torpedoed. Speaking to The News in 2003, “Reg” said: “It missed me by about 40 feet. If they’d pressed the trigger half a second before or after, I wouldn’t be here now.”
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He also lost friends during the conflict, and later during the Korean War. He was an active member of the Gosport Naval Christian fellowship, and recieved a letter from the general of the Salvation Army – of which he has long been a member - congratulating him on reaching 100.
Francis added: "In the cards that have been written to him from all over the world, the words the come out the most are “his encouraging faith.” He would write to missionaries and sailors out at sea, and they still write to him now. His journey of faith really started during the war, as you can imagine. He was a changed man and a man of faith – and he never lost it.”