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2 Mercian's Final Parade: an Emotional Day

On Thursday afternoon, 28 July 2022, the 2nd Battalion of the Mercian Regiment held its Final Parade at Weeton Barracks (near Preston) on the day of its disbanding, as the Mercian Regiment shrinks from two Regular battalions to one. The Bowyers had been invited, and Past Master Tony Kench and Liveryman Jon Preece were delighted to have had the opportunity to represent the Company.

It was an emotional occasion for the 200 soldiers on parade as the Battalion Commanding Officer, Lt Col Rich Grover, made his final speech. He spoke movingly of the special privilege of serving with an infantry regiment, the close friendships created, and the special experiences and memories they had all shared. Then the parade was over; the flags were lowered and the colours were quick-marched off the parade ground. It was literally the final day; the battalion's memorabilia had been all been shipped off to the regimental museums, and Weeton Barracks was closing that night.

Every member of the Battalion had a short leave coming before joining their next assignments, all of which had been well planned out: a good number were off to join 1 Mercian down in Bulford, but many were transferring to other, more northerly-based infantry regiments, and a few to special forces units. There was no final dinner or other formality: just a light-hearted cricket match between officers and senior NCOs, with a beer or two to follow. Everyone was OK with their future, but all were definitely touched by this salute to their very special past.

The Bowyers' affiliation began in 1998 with what was then the Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiment. In 2007 the Mercian Regiment was formed as a merger between the Cheshire Regiment (which became the 1st Battalion), the Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters (2nd Battalion) and the Staffords (3rd), with a 4th Battalion of reservists. In 2014 the three Regular battalions were condensed to two, in different roles: 1 Mercian as armoured infantry and 2 Mercian as light infantry.

Looking ahead, the Regiment's remaining regular Battalion, 1 Mercian, is now some 850 strong, a premier British Army armoured infantry unit, and we shall be sustaining our close affiliation, and continuing our strong support of the Mercian Regiment Benevolent Fund, with all the commitment we can muster. But on this day, 28 July 2022, our emotions were with our long and affectionate memories of 2 Mercian, with whom the Bowyers have enjoyed many joint events and get-togethers over the years. It was a proud and brave fighting infantry battalion, and we feel immensely proud and privileged to have been its friend.

Tony Kench

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