The red and white hackles of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers marched out in style yesterday to exercise their Freedom of Newcastle, mark St George’s Day and celebrate 50 years since the regiment was formed.
More than 600 regular and reserve soldiers, veterans and cadets paraded in front of the Civic Centre on Ceremonial Way where they were inspected by the Colonel of the Regiment, Major General Paul Nanson CBE, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, Mrs Susan Winfield OBE, and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Coun Linda Wright. The Fusiliers were presented with a St George’s medal, a regimental keepsake in their special year.
On parade were the regular soldiers of the First Fusiliers (1 RRF) based in Tidworth and their Reserve counterparts, the Fifth Fusiliers (5 RRF) who are based in Newcastle and have companies in Hexham, Alnwick, Cramlington, Birmingham and London.
They were accompanied by veterans from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Association, Army, Air and Police cadets and music was provided by the Band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Air Wing band.
The parade marched via St Mary’s Place and along Percy Street to St Nicholas Cathedral where a commemorative service was conducted by the Rev Canon Steven Harvey.
Afterwards, the soldiers formed up and marched along Groat Market and Bigg Market to the dais in Eldon Square where the salute was taken by the Colonel of the Regiment, the Lord Mayor and the Lord-Lieutenant.
“We have had a huge welcome from the city,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Dodd, the Commanding Officer of Fifth Fusiliers based at Anzio House in Newcastle.
“It is an honour to have been afforded the privilege of the Freedom of Newcastle upon Tyne and to celebrate our historic links with the city. We have seen soldiers from all our recruiting areas - Newcastle, Bury, Birmingham and London - come together in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers which was formed on St George’s Day in 1968.
"We had a warm welcome from the city and I am honoured and delighted to have led the parade.”
The parade is one of the main events in the year-long Fusilier 50 celebrations. The Regiment was formed as part of the Army reforms to create the first ‘large infantry Regiment’ amalgamating the four English Fusilier Regiments - The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) and The Lancashire Fusiliers.
Since its formation, the Fusiliers have seen service across the world including Northern Ireland and Cyprus. More recently the Regiment served in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is well known for its distinctive red and white hackle which is worn by all ranks. The Hackle was awarded in recognition of the defeat of the French at the Battle of St Lucia in 1778.