Ilkeston - The Boys Are Back In Town
w/e 16 March 2008
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

The Boys Are Back

Back in 2002 the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th Foot) or the Woofers as they are known, exercised their right as Freemen of the Borough to march through Ilkeston with bayonets fixed and drums beating and as I was working at the time, my wife took some photos (see here). Now, nearly six years later it was good to see the boys back in town after they had marched up Bath Street to the Market Place.

The 2nd Battalion of the Mercian Regiment marching through Ilkeston.
On Bath Street

The Woofers were formed in 1970 following an amalgamation of the the Worcestershire Regiment, themselves an amalgamation of the 29th (Worcestershire) and 36th (Herefordshire) Regiments with the Sherwood Foresters who were formed when the 45th (Nottinghamshire) merged with the 95th (Derbyshire). Since then the Army has undergone another reorganisation and the Woofers joined forces with the Cheshire Regiment and the Staffordshire Regiment in 2007 to become the Mercian Regiment.
The Mercian Regiment

The honour of the Freedom of the Borough of Erewash already enjoyed by the Woofers was to be accorded to the new Mercian Regiment and was one reason for the return and march through Ilkeston on Monday March 10th.
Lower Market Place

TV imageAnother reason was for the residents of Ilkeston to turn out in their thousands to take a photo or two, cheer, applaud, wave flags and welcome our boys home after their tour of duty in Afghanistan. Why else would there be this many people on Bath Street and the Market Place on a Monday morning? And yes that was me in the gold coloured coat (right) caught by the BBC news team running alongside the Regiment to try and get to a good vantage point ahead of them.
Outside The Town Hall

The Mercians came to a halt outside the bunting-decked Town Hall and as the crowds amassed around them it gave me a chance to catch my breath after the sprint up Bath Street.
A Cheery Face

As I wheedled my way to the front, this cheerful face helped clear a path through the crowds. He told me that the Mercians still contain a majority of locally recruited men and many of those on parade were from Chesterfield, Mansfield and the local area generally, including several from Ilkeston. This carries on the tradition of the Sherwood Foresters as they too recruited mainly from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
Presentation Picture

After the ceremony to bestow the Freedom of the Borough on the Mercian Regiment, Colonel Simon Banton presented the Mayor with a new regimental history and the Mercian's flag. In his speech Colonel Banton made special mention of Private Brian Tunnicliffe from Ilkeston, who was killed whilst on duty in Afghanistan. Private Tunnicliffe was one of nine soldiers from the Mercian Regiment who made the ultimate sacrifice during the conflict in which the battalion also won several awards for gallantry. He also thanked all those who had turned out to show their appreciation of the Regiment for the warmth of their greeting saying that the links between Erewash and the Sherwood Foresters went back for hundreds of years. The soldiers then posed with the Civic party and Veterans representing the Royal British Legion for photographs.
The Colour Party

The proceedings came to a close as the Colour Party lowered their flags and the soldiers departed to the Co-Op for lunch before making their way to Chesterfield in the afternoon for another parade through the streets. The following day the exercise was repeated in Mansfield. After their return from Afghanistan, the Mercians spent a short time in Germany, some of them enjoying a sky-diving course and shortly they will be returning to their base in Northern Ireland. It is expected they will once again be deployed in Afghanistan in 2009.
TV Interviews

As the formalities came to an end Simon Hare from the BBC (left) and Rajiv Popat of ITV (right) conducted interviews with some of the local residents for broadcast later in their respective television news bulletins.
Thanks For Your Support

As well as the Veterans and other well wishers, a number of the local schools had allowed their pupils to attend the welcome home and Colonel Banton made a special point of thanking them and their teachers for their attendance and support. Young and old alike though are grateful for the Mercian's commitment and professionalism and the people of Ilkeston wish them well in all their future engagements.

Here are a number of links that will tell you more about the Sherwood Foresters and the Mercian Regiment.
Wikipedia article - Sherwood Foresters
Wikipedia article - Mercian Regiment
Ilkeston Cam - Memorial Plaques on the Town Hall
Ilkeston Cam - Sherwood Foresters Memorial at Crich

Site Navigation

"Pick A Picture"
Weekly Favourites
Latest Images
Holidays &
Days Out
Special Features
The Guest Page
Site search Web search

powered by FreeFind
Jigsaw Puzzles
Recommended Links

Terms & Conditions of Use
This website is copyright but licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence.
Please credit the photographer Garth Newton, or add a link to these pages.