Monday, June 25, 2012

Newham Freedom of the Borough to G Company, 7th Battalion The Rifles

On Saturday morning I went to the London Borough of Newham presentation of the Honorary Freedom of the Borough to G Company, 7th Battalion The Rifles. G Company is our local Territorial Army Unit based in West Ham Park (in my ward).

The event started with the Regimental band "The Waterloo Band and Bugles" playing music in West Ham Recreational Park. Who went on to led the Company to the Old Town Hall in Stratford. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chair of Council and Major General Greg Smith then inspected the Company. This was followed by a march past outside the Town Hall along Stratford High Street. Finishing with a reception inside the Town Hall.

It was a very moving occasion. Soldiers from G Company have put themselves in harm's way in all the major conflicts of recent years. A number have recently served in Afghanistan and more are due to be sent out soon. Whatever you think about our involvement in these conflicts I would hope you would recognise the bravery and self sacrifice of the troops who are carrying out the wishes of our  elected government.

The local link with the Regiment can be traced back to the formation of The Rifle Rangers in 1859. 61 members of The Rifles have been killed in action in the last 5 years and many more wounded.

The Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, made it clear that the Borough was also honouring the families whose loved ones had been away on active duty or had suffered loss.

A special day. It was particularly satisfying to see all sections of Newham's diverse community coming together to respect and cheer their local regiment.

Update: Click on this Youtube video of the event here. You may even recognise someone tapping his fingers to the music (probably out of time)
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