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Regiment Granted Freedom of German Town

10 August 2017

26th Regiment Royal Artillery awarded Freedom of the City in front of hundreds of spectators in the German town of Wiedenbrück.

Supported by the Band of the Royal Artillery, 150 soldiers marched on to the town square to receive one of the highest awards from a civic authority. The soldiers were joined by a marching contingent and band of the St. Sebastian Bürgerschützen celebrating their 525th anniversary. In former times, the Schützen or Riflemen were raised to defend towns and cities from invaders. Today, the Schützen have a symbolic meaning and is rooted deep in German traditions.

“15 years ago the Schützenverein Wiedenbrück asked whether we would like to form a relationship as we had mutual interests,” explained Major Bertie Swan-Ingrey, Regimental Second-in-Command. We gave it a go and the relationship has developed. So, this year, and in view of the fact we will be leaving in a few years, we felt it is a fitting occasion to formalise our relationship.

"The Mayor and council of Rheda-Wiedenbrück decided to award us with the Freedom of the City and today we shall fix bayonets and parade through the streets in recognition of this honour and 15 years of friendship.”

Federal and local politicians closed ranks to support the occasion which was attended on the British side by Master Gunner St. James’ Park, Lt Gen Sir Andrew Gregory, Brigadier John Mead, Commander 1 Artillery Brigade and Brigadier Mike Elviss, Commander 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade.

“We British soldiers in Gütersloh very much value our relationship with the Wiedenbrück Schützen,” said General Gregory, “and I know that my officers and soldiers are very proud to march with them today, marching shoulder to shoulder which demonstrates the close relationship that exists between our nations.”

The Mayor of Wiedenbrück, Theo Mettborg thanked the soldiers for the continued commitment to peace and security. “As the Schützen defended us all those many centuries ago, today it is the presence of the British military that guaranteed peace and security. We must thank you all for this.”

The Freedom of the City scroll was then formally handed to 26th Regt RA who then fixed bayonets and proceeded to march through the streets to rapturous applause from the crowds.

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