More than 200 troops will help mark the centenary of two local men receiving the Victoria Cross, as The 3rd Battalion The Rifles exercise their Freedom of the borough with a Parade on Saturday 29 April at 11 am.
Before they march, the troops will pause whilst officials from the council and army unveil the two commemorative stones in the town’s peace garden. The stones mark 100 years since Sgt John William Ormsby and Pte Horace Waller received their VCs for exceptional bravery in April 1917 during WW1.
The laying of commemorative stones is part of the Government’s First World War Centenary campaigns. In total, 469 stones will be laid in communities in England, Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland. To commemorate VC recipients born overseas, 145 stones will be laid in The National Memorial Arboretum.
The 3rd Battalion The Rifles was formed only ten years ago as infantry battalions merged, but it has maintained the tradition of recruiting in the Dewsbury area. The Mayor of Kirklees, Cllr Jim Dodds BEM will take the salute outside Dewsbury Town Hall before The Band and Bugles of the Rifles lead the parade from Dewsbury Town Hall.
Also on parade will be members of D (Rifles) Company who will form part of new The 8th Battalion The Rifles that came into being on 1st April 2017 as part of Army 2020 (Refined). Based in locations in The North Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East, 8 Rifles will be recruiting a Company of Riflemen within South and West Yorkshire in the very near future.
The regiment last exercised their Freedom of the Borough rights in 2011, when Kirklees residents turned out en-masse to show their support in the wake of soldiers from the regiment who risk their lives on operations around the globe.
Colonel Nick Ilic, Yorkshire’ Rifles County Colonel, said: “The historic links between The Rifles and the town of Dewsbury means a great deal to us.
“We are both humbled and proud to be able to mark them with a Freedom Parade through the town centre. We cherish the relationship we have with the community in Dewsbury and it will be a special moment.”
The Mayor, Cllr Dodds, said: “It is a great honour to be welcoming The 3rd Battalion The Rifles to the Borough, 71 years after their predecessors The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry were granted the Freedom of the former Boroughs of Dewsbury and Batley. It’s a very welcome opportunity to refresh and cement our relationship with their successors, The Rifes.”
“The parade is also a fitting time to mark the brave contribution of two local men 100 years ago. The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious military decoration awarded for valour ‘in the face of the enemy’ to those serving in British and Commonwealth armed forces. In 2013 the UK Government announced that those recipients of a Victoria Cross for their heroic deeds in the First World War, are to be honoured with commemorative paving stones – and so we will honour our heroes – and so we will honour our heroes.”