Join fight to save battalion

Morpeth Remembrance 2013
Morpeth Remembrance 2013
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A FORMER soldier from Morpeth is urging residents to show their support for a campaign that is trying to save an army unit from the axe.

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers has historic links to the area as it was formed in 1968 when the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was amalgamated with three other regiments. Its personnel includes hundreds of people from the county.

But under proposed Army reforms, its 2nd Battalion will be disbanded in June 2014. This is part of a strategy to cut the number of regular soldiers by 20,000, which will be partly compensated by an 11,000 increase in the number of reservists to 30,000 in total.

Veteran Dave Herne, who lives in Stobhill, served in both the 3rd and 6th Battalions and he is raising awareness of the campaign across the county. He believes that the plans are deeply flawed.

He said: “The Ministry of Defence has conceded that the battalion was not originally among those earmarked for withdrawal from the Order of Battle. Unlike the others due to be axed, it is one of the best-recruited units in the British Army and one of the very few which is fully-manned.

“Instead, the battalion fell foul of the secondary criteria that there should be no loss of regimental cap badges and that no regiment should lose more than one battalion. However, the 3rd Battalion has already been disbanded back in 1992.

“Furthermore, the one-battalion rule is widely believed to have been established to prevent the loss of two battalions from the Royal Regiment of Scotland as we approach the 2014 Scottish referendum. This would be the very worst reason for disbanding one of the most experienced battalions in the Army.

“Can I ask residents to send a letter to their local MP, the Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Vernon Coaker, about the importance of retaining the 2nd Battalion.”