THE Rifles will march with pride through Lyme Regis this year as part of the First World War centenary commemorations.
The former Devon & Dorset regiment will exercise its Freedom of the Town on Saturday, September 22, when the town will salute the county regiment and honour the special relationship it has with Lyme Regis, the first town in Dorset to giveth county regiment the Freedom of the Borough.
On the same day, the enhanced town war memorial in Georges Square will be officially unveiled ahead of Armistice Day in November.
Both events feature in a programme of local events during 2018 to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War in 1918.
The Devonshire Regiment and the Dorset Regiment were amalgamated to form the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment in 1958, and in 2007 the regiment was merged into The Rifles.
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 The Rifles.
The honour can be bestowed on a military unit in recognition of their exceptional service to a town, allowing troops to march through the town with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Trelawny, Rifles regional secretary for the South West, said: “We are all very much looking forward to the event in September.
“Lyme Regis is one of 12 towns in Dorset that have granted The Rifles the great honour of Freedom, but since the Regiment formed in 2007 we have not had the opportunity to march through this beautiful seaside town.
“We plan to bring our Band and Bugles and a marching detachment comprising regular and reserve Riflemen, Army Cadets and veterans of both The Rifles and our predecessors, the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment.
“We very much hope that the occasion will be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike and we believe that it will underline the close and highly valued connection between The Rifles and the town of Lyme Regis.”
The Rifles were invited to march through the town by mayor Cllr Michaela Ellis, who was eager to involve the regiment in the town’s centenary commemorations.
Cllr Ellis said: “I am thrilled The Rifles accepted my invitation. It will be a privilege and an honour for the regiment to march through Lyme Regis on this ceremonial occasion.
“I hope many people will line the streets on the day to show their gratitude to the regiment and show their ongoing support for the armed forces.
“Not only will it be quite a spectacle, but also a highly emotional and poignant tribute to men and women who have served, and continue to serve, their county and their country with the utmost distinction.
“It is very fitting that The Rifles will be present when the town unveils the enhanced war memorial, bearing the names of the 63 servicemen of Lyme Regis who lost their lives during the Great War.”
Timings for the day are yet to be confirmed.
More details about the 2018 commemoration events will be announced in the coming weeks