I have delayed posting this after the news was given on Thursday, (although it was announced by the vermin at Sky News on wednesday evening!). But earlier this week, it was announced that several British Army units were to be scrapped, in order to reduce the Army's numbers to just 82000 by 2020. Among those cut were 5 Infantry Battalions, of whom The 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF) were one. This is the Battalion in which I serve, and have done for the best part of 18 years, in effect it is my surrogate family. I have lived, slept, ate, drank, cried, fought, laughed and loved with these men for almost half of my life, on exercise and operations throughout the world, and the feeling I have at the moment is beyond words, it's not just anger or sadness, it's a mixture of all emotions, a feeling that I have never known before.
As a quick introduction to us, we are part of the wider Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who are made up of 3 Battalions, 2 regular (1RRF and 2RRF) and a TA battalion (5RRF). As a regiment we were formed in 1968, as an amalgamation of four antecedent regiments, The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, The Royal Fusiliers, The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and the Lancashire Fusiliers. We started with 4 regular battalions, 4RRF were disbanded in 1969 and 3RRF in 1993, so we have taken our fair share of cuts in the past and accepted them with dignity, if not understanding.
The history of these regiments came with us and is one of the most distinguished in the British Army, in fact it was the Lancashire Fusiliers (note that this Regiment was never given the title Royal, this was due them siding with Cromwell during the Civil war!) who fought during the battle of the Relief of Ladysmith,during the second Boer War, which gave the name for our very own Spion Kop.
For 44 years we have served our political masters regardless of reason (rightly or wrongly, that is for another debate) with distinction, and have lost several young men along the way, some of whom were very close friends. we have always picked ourselves up and got on with whatever jobs we were given.
More recently we have served on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2006, while posted to Cyprus, we were the Theatre Reserve Battalion, and were held on 5 days notice to move for 14 months. During this time we carried out 3 emergency tours of Iraq and 3 of Afghanistan, including a record breaking 107 day defence of the town of Now Zad, the longest since the Korean War.
However, regardless of history, whether recent or from many years ago, that is not the sticking point. Most British regiments can trace their history back for hundreds of years, we ourselves are the 6th most senior regiment, not just in the Infantry, but in the entire Army, all regiments have carried out recent combat operations, some more recent than us. What really sticks in the throat, what has really made us angry, is that at this precise moment in time, my Battalion and indeed 1RRF are the most well manned and well recruited battalions in the British Army. We are constantly receiving excellent reports from external training units for exercises and career courses, where our blokes continually finish in the top 3. Overall, we are a Battalion on the up.
Yesterday we marched through the town of Celle, in northern Germany as part of a farewell week ( our barracks are being closed down and handed back to the German state after 67 years.) which was well received by the locals, and was over seen by the Chief of the General Staff, who said he was immensely impressed with the battalion, and that we are an outstanding unit, then why make us go? Those who do not face compulsory redundancy, will be used to backfill understrength units, away from their recruiting areas and from their mates.Next week the last Fusiliers will leave Germany to move once again to Cyprus and resume the role of Theatre Reserve, the end of that tour will see the Battalion disbanded in 2014, a very sad day!
However, the fight is not yet lost, there are still moves in the corridors of power to try and save this Battalion. Without getting into any political rows over conflicts, tools of the government etc. etc. can I ask anybody who wishes to try and help, to sign this online petition please. If you don't wish to that's fine, as I said I don't want to get into any slanging match over this. Thank you.http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fepetitions.direct.gov.uk%2Fpetitions%2F35724&h=NAQHqO_dyAQEuivX_gBG9-ge5eEMyEpuasY-yxe1sdhgnZg