‘Dignified’ march as MPs vote to save 2nd Fusiliers
“A GREAT day for the regiment” was had by veterans who staged a march through London ahead of a Parliamentary debate on the future of a military unit formed in Warwickshire.
These are the words of John Rice, former Lieutenant Colonel in the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusilers, who organised a petition for the county’s residents to sign against the Government’s plans to axe the regiment.
He was among around 70 former serving soldiers from Warwickshire who joined more than 400 fellow 2nd Fusiliers veterans to march along Whitehall last Thursday and hand in their petitions, before MPs debated a motion to save the battalion in the House of Commons.
Mr Rice, who is a trustee of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum in Warwick, said: “It was a great day for the regiment - more successful than we could have hoped. Everyone was very dignified, well organised and well behaved.”
MP John Baron, who has served in the battalion, handed in the Warwickshire petition, which had been signed by 7,500 people, as well as another 10,000-signature petition from Manchester.
During the three-hour debate, Leamington and Warwick MP Chris White was among those to speak in favour of the Government rethinking its plan to save the battalion.
The motion was passed by 57 votes to three, but Mr Rice said: “That sounds good, but in reality, it carries very little weight. The Government may still decide to leave things as they are.
“But we do know that we have made a very good effort of presenting our case to the public and Parliament. This is a work in progress.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: “We acknowledge the result of the backbench debate, which is an expression of some MPs and not binding.
“Difficult decisions had to be taken to get defence back on a sustainable and fully funded footing - this included changes to the army structure to bring the army down to 82,000.
“Decisions for the army in 2020 were taken in July and are now being implemented.”
To see footage of the veterans’ march, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4vd3ON33iI
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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