Members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are to march through Warwick to officially receive the Freedom of the county and mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.
ome 200 members of the 2nd battalion - who until recently were on stand-by in Cyprus as reservists for Afghanistan - represent an unbroken thread of recruitment in the county since the 18th century.
And even though they are controversially due to be merged with the 1st battalion later this year, the march on June 6 will be a proud moment for their commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor. Lt Col Taylor, who will lead the parade, was made an MBE for his outstanding service in Afghanistan in 2008 and awarded the Queen’s Commendation for valuable service in Iraq in 2003.
He was also the CO for the late Lee Rigby and gave the eulogy at last year’s funeral for the young 2nd Battalion drummer, who he described as a “true warrior”.
The Fusiliers already hold the Freedom of Warwick - the symbolic right to march through town with flags flying, drums beating and bayonets fixed - but this will be the freedom of county as a whole.
The honour was proposed by county council leader Dave Shilton and agreed unanimously at an extraordinary meeting of the county council on Tuesday.
Council leader Izzi Seccombe said: “Granting the Freedom of Entry is the county council’s message of loyal support to the regiment.
“We are very proud of the work they do in challenging circumstances.”
Cllr Richard Chattaway, deputy leader of the Labour group, said: “Not only as a former member of the armed forces, but also as a county councillor, I am delighted that the regiment has had this honour bestowed upon them.”
And Liberal Democrat group leader Jerry Roodhouse said: “We are extremely grateful to the Fusiliers and this is our way of saying thank-you.”
The county town last welcomed the 2nd battalion in November 2009, as they returned from a demanding tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The colonel of the regiment, Brigadier David Paterson, will join county council dignitaries on a dais in Market Place where he will watch the parade and be formally presented with a parchment detailing the Freedom of the County.