Protest march today in support of debate over under-threat battalion
9:08am Thursday 18th October 2012 in News
A march is being held in London today in support of the under-threat 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Around 100 ex-servicemen from Bury, Rochdale, Salford and Oldham are scheduled to take part in this morning’s procession from the Cenotaph to Whitehall.
About 400 people in total are expected to support the march to back the retention of the 2nd Battalion RRF. The Government proposes to disband the armoured infantry group of 600 soldiers.
Today’s debate in Parliament will allow MPs to examine and comment on the criteria put forward by defence chiefs to support their decision.
Campaigners fighting to save the battalion claim recruitment figures cannot be used to justify the move and also say the infantry is to be sacrificed at the expense of Scottish regiments.
Commenting on the march and debate, Mr Laverick said: “It will be an excellent day and we have a lot of evidence to give Parliament. I think it looks good.”
In a statement, posted on the Fusiliers Association website message board, RRF regimental secretary retired brigadier Ian Liles said “Because the uniforms of the Association bands are paid for by the regiment, no Association band or Corps of Drums member is to wear Fusilier Band or Corps of Drums uniform on the day of the debate.
“Those intending to parade with their instruments must do so in civilian clothes, dressed the same as the remainder of the association.”
It has also been claimed that any officers and serving soldiers taking part in today’s protest could risk court martial.
On the possible court martial risk, an Army spokesman said: “We are not aware of serving personnel participating in this parade and, therefore, it would be inappropriate to comment.”
Meanwhile, the 15-strong Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Lancashire) Corps of Drums have been told they cannot wear their distinctive scarlet tunic, black trousers and busby headgear when they head the 400-strong procession ahead of a Parliamentary debate over the future of the battalion.
Former Fusilier Dennis Laverick, aged 64, who runs the Fusiliers Association website, said: “The members of the Corps of Drums wear military uniform although they are not in the military.
“They have to scrounge for the uniforms which are given to them secondhand by the regiment. But it seems the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are saying they can’t wear them on this demo.”
Mr Laverick feels that part of the reason for the ban is that the Corps of Drums, which has been in existence for 30 years, is partly funded by the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (RRF).
“Members are of mixed age. Most are young and one or two others have served,” Mr Laverick added. “It seems the MoD are trying to be awkward. It’s ridiculous and petty.
“But despite this, they will still lead the march, although I’m not sure what they will be wearing.
“We are not going to be defeated because of something stupid like this. Because of the uniform ban, the Corps of Drums won’t look as attractive as they would have done otherwise.”