Worcester gifts the freedom of the city to regiments in the British Army. This allows them to march through Worcester with all the pomp and ceremony they deserve. This month marks 70 years since the gift was given to the Worcestershire Regiment.

The Worcestershire Regiment can trace its origins back to 1694, when the 29th Regiment of Foote was raised by the Coldstream Guards Officer, Colonel Thomas Farrington. The connection with the county began in 1781 when regiments were allocated counties for recruiting purposes. The Army Reforms of 1881 led to the formation of the actual ‘Worcestershire Regiment’.

The 15th of April 1950 was described in the regimental magazine, FIRM, as the ‘Greatest day in the history of the old regiment.’ Similar descriptions was made by councillors, veterans, citizens and the Berrow’s Journal too.

The Regiment returned to Britain on the 29th March 1950, after five years serving in Germany after the Second World War. The council wanted to thank their county regiment for all their hard work in bringing about the Victory in 1945 and over 200 years of being linked to Worcester. The mayor, Alderman T.S. Bennett, echoed the words - ‘Put on record forever, it’s thanks to those generations of men from city and county and beyond, who have fought and often died for Britain.’

The new incoming colonel of the regiment, Lieut-General R.N. Gale KBE, CB, DSO, MC, who had initially joined the regiment in 1915 and served in both the 1st and 3rd Battalions, also gave a speech saying ‘We, on our part, have carried the county name with honour and in the field of arms contributed to its greatness.’ 

The day began on the beautifully manicured County Cricket Ground in New Road, with the presentation of four specially made silver drums. The ceremony also included a mayoral inspection, the colour parties of the 1st, 2nd and 7th Battalions and rousing speeches. The mayor quoted what General Sir Ivor Thomas of the 43rd Division said of their conduct in NW Europe - ‘The (1st) Battalion never had a failure.’ The Mayor added that the drums would act ‘as a reminder of the debt we owe, but can never fully repay to this most gallant Regiment.’ 

With three cheers ringing in their ears, the spectators were treated to some Regimental music, including the regimental march, Royal Windsor. The ‘Freedom of Entry’ was then carried out with the regiment marching over the Worcester Bridge and through the streets with ‘bands playing, bayonets fixed and colours flying.’

The parade passed the saluting base on the flag bedecked, crowded High Street and also included 1,600 veterans, from not only two world wars, but also from the earlier South African war.

The civic part of the day ended with a cathedral service, when a memorial plaque was unveiled in St George's Chapel, funded by the veterans, remembering the lives lost in the two world wars: 579 officers and 10,308 other ranks.

The day then moved to the regimental home, Norton Barracks, where the focus was the veterans, their families and dependants. Speaking with veterans, the day drifted into an evening of tea drinking and a 16-tap bar.

It is also worth noting that the 1st Battalion left for active service in Malaya on the 24th May 1950.