By Kevin Unitt 23/07 Updated: 25/07 14:13
VETERANS of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Fusiliers have signed up for one last battle by appealing to the government not to disband the historic Warwickshire regiment.
Under plans revealed earlier this month to slash regular Army numbers, the regiment - which has recruited in Warwickshire for more 300 years - would lose one of its two battalions and be cut from 1,100 to just 600 soldiers.
But a petition has now been launched in Kenilworth, signed by veterans and supporters of the regiment, calling for it to be spared.
Kenilworth town councillor Richard Davies was mayor in 2010 when the 2nd Battalion last marched through the town.
And after the petition launch – which was also attended by current Kenilworth mayor George Illingworth – he said: “If the fusiliers go we will have no local regiment in the county for the first time since the Dark Ages.
"On average years the regiment recruits 45 soldiers from Warwickshire every year, the thread of history binds this regiment to our historic towns and their glorious battle honours are a proud testament to their bravery
"We will be petitioning to allow the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers to remain in battle order and not to be disbanded or merged."
As we reported recently, the man in charge of the regiment, Brigadier David Paterson OBE, has already expressed his bitter disappointment at the plans.
In a letter to the head of the Army, General Sir Peter Wall, he wrote: "I have a strong conviction that in selecting 2 RRF for disbandment, and in creating a single battalion Fusilier Regiment, we are not best serving defence, the Army, the Queen’s Division or the regiment.
"It cannot be presented as the best or most sensible military option."
Brig Paterson also sought reassurances the regiment's traditional recruiting areas - Warwickshire, along with Northumberland, Lancashire and London - would be allowed to remain.
But government Defence Secretary Philip Hammond insisted financial savings must be found and claimed it was possible to make the Army smaller, flexible and more agile with the Territorial Army filling in the gaps by doubling from 15,000 to 30,000 part-time reservists.
An online petition to save the regiment at http://bit.ly/PjbsV1 already has almost 6,000 signatures.
The petition in Kenilworth is available to sign at Town and Country Furniture in Abbey End.
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