RESIDENTS young and old gathered in Bromsgrove and the rain held off as 100 soldiers from the Mercian marched through the town.
Union Flags were waved on Monday (February 16) as the troops paraded down from the Dolphin Centre, along the High Street, past the war monument and back up the High Street to commemorate the regiment being given the freedom of the town.
The soldiers, led by regimental mascot Derby 30th – a Swaledale ram – were given rapturous applause as they passed, taking a salute from civic dignitaries who had gathered outside the Odd Fellows Memorial and did an ‘eyes left’ in Crown Close by the war monument and the national Burma Campaign Memorial.
There, there were 17 standards gathered, including those from Bromsgrove Royal British Legion (RBL) and the Women’s Section, the Union Standard (County), the Worcestershire Regiment from Kidderminster, The Birmingham Burma Star Association, the Birmingham Dunkirk Veterans Association and the Korea Veterans.
There were also the standards from several surrounding RBL branches, such as Droitwich, Wythall, Kidderminster, Evesham and Stourport-on-Severn.
Chairman of Bromsgrove RBL Patrick Smith said: “I think it was brilliant – the public supported us really well – we had a great day out and the rain held off.”
Among the veterans there were 93-year-old Thomas Colleran. He saw action in the Second World War as a minesweeper. His father, also called Thomas, served in the forces as well – as a Colour Sgt Major.
His son Mark Sandon travelled all the way from Lincoln to take his dad, who lives in Sutton Coldfield, to see the Mercians.
“He loves events like this – it was great to see how the people of Bromsgrove came out to show their respect.
“The age range of those who turned out was also amazing – from very young children to people in their 90s, which I think is very important.”
Mr Colleran added: “It was good the rain stopped – it must have known and given the people of Bromsgrove a dry day.”
After the march, there was a special reception at the Council House, Burcot Lane, where representatives from surrounding authorities, including Droitwich, Wychavon and Wyre Forest gathered and tokens of the day were exchanged. Col (ret) David Sneath, who was representing the Mercians, was given a charter for the regiment by district council leader Coun Margaret Sherrey and Civic Head, Coun John Ruck received a commemorative plaque and coin from the soldiers.
Coun Ruck was also given a picture depicting the storming heights of the Alma which, he said, would take pride of place in the new council chamber in the former Parkside building
After speeches about the day, Bromsgrove Town Crier Kevin Ward brought down the curtain on the event with three cheers for the Mercian Regiment.
Two of the soldiers with regimental mascot Derby 30th, a Swaledale Ram. 0815018MMR7
It was a spectacular sight as the march began. 0815018MMR6
It was a proud moment for the town as the soldiers marched through. 0815018MMR9
The band played as the crowds clapped. 0815018MMR5
The rain held off as the soldiers took to the High Street. 0815018MMR4
The soldiers marched through Bromsgrove. 0815018MMR2
Residents of all ages gathered, waved Union Flags and applauded as the soldiers passed. 0815018MMR3
An impressive 17 standards were on parade at Crown Close. 0815018MMR11
Residents looked on and applauded. 0815018MMR10