Ministry of Defence
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News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 03 September 2009

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines have formed a new Royal Marine Unit called Hasler Company specifically to help aid the recovery, rehabilitation and re-integration of Marines needing focussed and individual attention.

Hasler Company is dedicated to the specific and complex needs of seriously injured and ill Royal Marines who require specially tailored programmes in order to provide additional bespoke support. It is based in HMS Drake, HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, and will be officially opened on Monday 7 September 2009 by the Commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, Brigadier Gordon Messenger.

Other VIP’s in attendance include Commodore Mansergh RN (Director of Naval Personnel), Commodore Ian Jess RN (Naval Base Commander, Devonport), Captain Charlie King RN (Captain Devonport Naval Base and Colonel Ellis (Team Leader, Naval Personnel Team (Royal Marines) along with the Commanding Officers from each Royal Marines Commando Unit and key Royal Navy and Royal Marine medical personnel.

The addition of this new Royal Marine unit builds on the growing reputation of HMS Drake as a centre of excellence for military therapeutic services – along with the South West Regional Rehabilitation Unit (RRU) which has been further endorsed recently by Government ministers. HMS Drake is also home to the Khumbu Challenge 09 – a mountaineering expedition taking place this autumn for various troops recovering from war or accidents.

The new company is designed to assist the existing local recovery troops embedded within each Royal Marine Commando unit such as 40 Commando, 42 Commando and 45 Commando, by taking on the more complex and traumatic cases as they are better placed to give the dedicated and specific attention such cases demand. Whilst not divorcing the man entirely from his previous unit, the transfer of executive responsibility to Hasler Company does allow the frontline units to maintain the necessary focus on the operations being undertaken and the demanding preparation work they require.

It also gives the casualty a new and real sense of belonging, a key person in a new bespoke company alongside like-minded people who will help and support each other, a concept that has been proven to give greater results, mentally and physically.

It will provide executive management and administration of the Royal Marines needing various specialised services provided by other organisations, such as the RRU, DMRC Headley Court and others. The aim is to assist them on their ‘recovery pathway’ and ultimately return them to operational life or prepare them for a new and equally productive life outside the service.

The Officer Commanding Hasler Company is Major Pete Curtis RM and he says that H-Company has three main principles. “These are the 3 R’s – Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reintegration. My staff and I will co-ordinate and manage each Marines individually designed ‘journey back to business’. This will initially help them recover from their injuries or illness whilst giving him access to the UK’s best medical staff and facilities; then we will assist their rehabilitation, along with the specialist help of the RRU and Headley Court etc; and finally support them as they are reintegrated either back into a full time Service environment or into the wider civilian community. Either way, Hasler Company, along with Service and civilian charitable help, will help them make the transition successfully and then continue to offer help as required.”

Having worked with casualties and their families at 40 Commando during Op Herrick 7 and then as the Corps Casualty Officer for the Commando Brigade’s very recent tour of Afghanistan, where he was responsible for the entire Royal Marines casualty and fatality Notification process, Major Curtis is well placed to use such experiences in his new role.

Major Curtis continues: “I am very honoured to have been appointed to set up and command Hasler Company and thus have the responsibility of delivering the dedicated and bespoke care our injured and ill Marines require. Every one of them will have his own needs, often complex and challenging, but I am confident that the expertise displayed by all the staff here at HMS Drake, notably within the RRU, the Medical Centre, the Welfare Dept etc., all of which I have direct access to, plus the outstanding available on-site facilities will combine successfully and enable me to manage each man’s ‘journey’ in the best way possible in order to help him, and that’s the most important thing in all of this – helping the Marine that needs it, in the way that he’ll benefit the most.’’

Major Curtis is supported by his Company Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer 2 Laird Webster RM. He too has been especially chosen for his new role following his last post where he spent 2 years working as the Naval Command Liaison Officer within Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, the hospital to which all Tri-Service Operational casualties are flown.

The new Company has been named ‘Hasler’ in honour of Lieutenant Colonel Herbert George 'Blondie' Hasler DSO OBE (1914-1987), who was a distinguished Royal Marines Officer during WW2 and one of the 'Cockleshell Heroes'. He had led the operation (Operation Frankton) and, along with Marine Bill Sparks, was one of the two that successfully escaped and survived. He has been chosen as he achieved great things during his time in the Corps but in addition to this, having later been invalided from the Service, he achieved other significant things in his civilian life, notably within the world of sailing where he invented and designed pioneering steering equipment plus he instigated and undertook the first Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) from Plymouth to New York, in his yacht ‘Jester’, competing against 4 other entrants including Sir Francis Chichester in his ‘Gypsy Moth III’.

In fact he is arguably more recognised around the globe for his work within the sailing world as a civilian than his Marines career. The intention is that Colonel Hasler will stand as a fine example to the men within Hasler Company, that while they may be worried and disheartened by the possibility of life outside the Marines, it is still possible to set new goals and, using their in-built Commando spirit and determination, achieve them very successfully.

Notes to Editors

You are invited to send representatives to attend a preview of the new company this afternoon (Thursday) in the Naval Base and to witness the ceremonial opening on Monday (September 7).

Further details from Guy Boswell, Royal Navy press office 01752 554 558, or 07789 500 413.


Geri Mahoney Moore

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