The Mayor of Walsall is backing a campaign to save the former Staffordshire Regiment (seen above at their Homecoming Parade in Walsall last December).
Under the current plans, the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment will disappear as part of cuts that will reduce the British Army from 102,000 troops to 82,000 by the end of the decade.
The Freedom of the Borough was bestowed to the regiment in 1946 and when the South Staffords amalgamated with the North Staffords in 1959 the Freedom was transferred to the new Regiment – the Staffordshire Regiment.
The Staffords merged with the Cheshire and Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiments to form The Mercian Regiment in September 2007 and the Freedom was transferred again.
Cllr Dennis Anson, the current Mayor of Walsall, says he would like to see a reversal of the plans and added that he will be writing to the Government himself to express his concern and will be signing the petition which has been signed by over 5,000 people who are opposed to scrapping the Regiment.
He said: “The Battalion has over 300 years of history behind it and when it was the South Staffordshire Regiment it recruited from Walsall and its surrounding towns and districts such as Darlaston, Willenhall, Bloxwich and Brownhills.
“I would like to see a u-turn on this decision so that we can save 300 years of regimental history. I feel very strongly about this and will be adding my name to the petition,” he said.
Many people across Walsall Metropolitan Borough, which was once part of Staffordshire, feel a close association with the regiment, especially ex-servicemen and women and their families.
PUBLIC PROTEST NEXT TUESDAY
A protest calling for a Government rethink on plans to axe the Battalion will take place in Lichfield next Tuesday, July 24, as part of a nationwide campaign.
It has been organised by the Lichfield branch of the Staffordshire Regiment Association.
The protest starts in the Lichfield Garden of Remembrance with people being asked to be there at 10.45am for an 11am start.
The Staffordshire regiment was formed in 1959 when The South Staffordshire Regiment and The North Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’) were merged.
Its headquarters are in Lichfield and it continues to recruit soldiers from Staffordshire, the West Midlands and Birmingham.
The Army is to lose 17 major units as it cuts 20,000 regular soldiers by 2020.
EXTERNAL CAMPAIGN LINKS
The Sentinel, a Staffordshire newspaper, is running a Save our Staffords petition via this link.
A grass-roots campaign has also been started on Facebook via this link.
You can find out more about the history of the Staffords at the excellent Regimental Museum.