Town to play host to 5th Fusiliers’ big day

The Band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers lead the parade through the Bondgate Tower, Alnwick, at the end of the Remembrance Sunday service and parade. Picture by Adam Sparrow
The Band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers lead the parade through the Bondgate Tower, Alnwick, at the end of the Remembrance Sunday service and parade. Picture by Adam Sparrow

A special ceremony and major parade will be staged in Alnwick next month to celebrate a historic occasion for a North-East-based battalion.

The 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers will be presented with new Colours for the first time in its history, with the Duke of Kent doing the honours.

The landmark event will take place on Saturday, May 2, when the old standards, known as Colours, of the 5th and the now defunct 6th Battalion will also be laid to rest.

Major John Hunter, who is the Battalion’s second-in-command, said: “Being presented with new Colours is a huge, huge honour. The Duke of Kent, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, will be presenting them on behalf of the Queen. The Colours are really important. They are the focal point and a record of what the battalion has achieved.”

The Colours will be presented in the grounds of Alnwick Castle, followed by the march through the centre of town.

The march is an important part of the day and Northern Gas Networks has confirmed that the Hotspur Tower, which has been closed for three weeks for mains repairs, will be reopened ahead of schedule to accommodate the event.

The battalion will march to St Michael’s Church, on Bailiffgate. The old Colours will be laid to rest during a special service at the church, where they will remain.

Major Hunter said the Battalion, which has a reconnaissance platoon in Alnwick, is keen for the community to be part of the celebrations.

He told the Gazette: “The 5th Fusiliers feel very much part of the community of Northumberland and we especially feel affiliated to Alnwick.

“Being presented with new Colours is a big honour and we feel incredibly proud that we are being presented them in Alnwick. As such, we want the community to be part of this.”

The ceremony at Alnwick Castle will take place at around 1pm and Lord James Percy, who is the Honorary Colonel of the 5th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, is set to attend.

Limited tickets, which are free, are available, but they must be applied for through the Gilesgate Armoury, in County Durham, on 0191 375 5186.

The march is scheduled to take place at around 2.30pm and is set to feature the Fusiliers’ band. It will go through the Bondgate Tower and through the town centre and onto St Michael’s Church for the laying up ceremony, which means that the old Colours, will no longer be used for ceremonial events.

Colours are large brocade and embroidery flags which were originally carried into battle so that soldiers of a particular unit could see where the rest of their unit was located at all times and used as a rallying point during the course of the battle.

Although the Colours are no longer carried in battle, they constitute the symbol of a Battalions’ and Regiments’ honour.

As such, they are held in the greatest esteem by the soldiers and officers and are brought out on important parades and regimental occasions and are escorted by a Colour Party.