THE flags are flying in Lyme Regis in preparation for a day of First World War centenary commemorations later this month.
Union Flags are lining Broad Street to mark 100 years since the end of the Great War in 1918.
As part of the centenary commemorations, The Rifles will exercise their Freedom of the Town of Lyme Regis when they march through the town on Saturday, September 22.
Lyme Regis granted the Freedom of the Borough to the Dorset Regiment in 1945, and today is one of 12 towns in Dorset which has granted Freedom to its successor regiment, The Rifles.
The county regiment will be among the guests of honour when the enhanced war memorial is officially unveiled in Georges Square.
The Rifles will march through the town at 11.45am, with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed, assembling at the war memorial at 12noon.
The war memorial has been enhanced with two new grey granite plaques, with five names added, as well as the rank and service or regiment of the 63 servicemen of Lyme Regis who lost their lives during the Great War.
The updating of the memorial has been led by the local branch of the Royal British Legion and Lyme Regis Town Council, and is the culmination of seven years of research by Legion members Vernon Rattenbury and David Humphrey. It will be officially unveiled at 12noon.
Among the guests for the unveiling will be the High Sheriff of Dorset, Jacqueline Swift, mayors from other Freedom towns including Bournemouth, Bridport and Sherborne, the South West Deputy Regimental Rifles Colonel, Brigadier Charlie Maconochie, town councillors, and members of the Lyme Regis branch of the Royal British Legion.
Following their march through Broad Street, The Rifles will parade past the Guildhall, where the civic party will gather, up Church Street and will form up in Monmouth Street next to George’s Square.
The Reverend Jane Skinner will dedicate the war memorial with a prayer and the Mayor, Councillor Michaela Ellis, will make a short speech.
Following the unveiling, at 12.20pm The Rifles will march along Coombe Street, Bridge Street and the Cart Road, and will form up on the Marine Parade at 12.30pm where the civic party will take the salute.
This will be followed by a reception at the Woodmead Halls for invited guests.
Councillor Ellis said: “I had hoped The Rifles would be able to come to Lyme Regis during my previous term as Mayor, so I’m pleased they will be exercising their Freedom during my current term.
“It is especially significant as it is the centenary year and I’m thrilled they will be among our special guests when we unveil the enhanced war memorial.
“I hope the townspeople will all come out to enjoy the occasion – it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see The Rifles marching through the town.
“I also hope many people will see it as an opportunity to pay their respects to the Lyme Regis servicemen who gave their lives during the war, and honour the five servicemen whose names have now been rightfully added to the town’s war memorial.”
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Trelawny, Rifles regional secretary for the South West, said: “We are very much looking forward to it.
“We are looking forward to marching through the town centre and taking part in the rededication of the war memorial, then marching along the seafront, where people will hopefully be able to get a good view.
“It’s a fairly short march but lots of opportunity for people to see.”
The Rifles Fact File
EXPECT a fast and exhilarating march from The Rifles.
The regiment marches at 140 paces a minute, compared to the rest of the Army which marches at 120 paces a minute. This practice dates back to the Napoleonic Wars between 1803 and 1815.
The Rifles’ troops were introduced at that time, operating separately from the Redcoats and moving more quickly. Instead of having a drum to tell the troops what to do, all their calls and commands were given by a bugle, which could be carried.
The march in Lyme Regis will be led by the Waterloo and Salamanca Bands of The Rifles, and marching troops from 1st Battalion The Rifles from Chepstow, 6th Battalion The Rifles from Dorchester, and a contingent from Dorset Army Cadet Force.