The chairman of the council, Cllr Olwyn Barnett, will present the “Deed of Adoption” at the council's Annual Meeting tomorrow, Friday, May 25, to Brigadier Edward Chamberlain, who will be representing the Colonel Commandant of the Rifles, General Sir Nick Parker.
Brigadier Chamberlain, who was brought up in Herefordshire, is the Rifles Regional Colonel for the Midlands. He is the Commander of 19 Light Brigade based in Northern Ireland.
The council has chosen this approach, after consultation with the Rifles, to ensure that it does not duplicate what Hereford City Council and Leominster Town Council have done in granting the “Freedom of Entry” to the Rifles.
This is the first time that a county has “adopted” the Rifles as its county regiment. The Adoption does not give the Regiment any special privileges, but recognises the importance of the Regiment in the life of the county, in which many Herefordians serve.
“It’s a great honour to be able to adopt the Rifles as the county regiment,” said Cllr Olwyn Barnett. “We owe them a great deal for their sacrificial service in some very hostile environments.
“It will be with a deep sense of gratitude that we bestow this honour on the Regiment, particularly as we remember the three Riflemen from the county who have lost their lives fighting for the freedom we enjoy today.”
The Rifles was formed in 2007 by the amalgamation of Light Infantry and Rifles Regiments. It is the direct descendant of the Light Infantry and, before that, to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry and the Herefordshire Light Infantry (TA). The Rifles is the largest Infantry Regiment in the Army, with five Regular Battalions and two TA Battalions, and two other (TA) Rifles Companies in Durham, Yorkshire and Shropshire.
Since its formation, the Regiment has been, apart from one six-month period, continuously on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A total of 62 Riflemen have lost their lives, including three from Herefordshire: Rifleman William Aldridge from Bredenbury, Serjeant Paul McAleese, and Lance Corporal Daniel Cooper from Hereford.
Another Rifleman, Kurt Etheridge from Much Dewchurch, was recently killed in a road traffic accident near Catterick.
More than 300 have been wounded, with 30 having lost one or more limb. Lance Corporal Matthew Wilson from Hereford was one of these.
The formal adoption will take place in a short ceremony following the meeting of Herefordshire Council tomorrow, Friday, May 25, at Hereford Shirehall.
At a lunch after the meeting there will be an exchange of gifts between the council and the Rifles. Brigadier Chamberlain will, present the council with a Silver Bugle. In return, the council will present the Rifles with a shield bearing the council's crest.
Riflemen from 1st Battalion the Rifles, based at Beachley, near Chepstow, will represent the Rifles at the adoption.
The following will also be attending:
General Sir Thomas Pearson
Lieutenant General Sir John Foley
Colonel Andy Taylor County Commandant Hereford & Worcester Army Cadet Force.
Major James Hereford County Colonel
Major Nigel Jones Rifles Secretary Midlands