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Army get freedom of town

PUBLISHED: 16:00 22 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 March 2010

WITH full pomp and ceremony, soldiers from one of the Army's crack units today were due to march through Ipswich "with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, band playing and colours flying".

WITH full pomp and ceremony, soldiers from one of the Army's crack units today were due to march through Ipswich "with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, band playing and colours flying".

Members of Wattisham-based 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps, have been given the ancient ceremonial honour of Freedom of the Borough which accords these privileges which today they mark with a 200-strong parade through the town, led by their commanding officer and accompanied by a marching band.

Ipswich mayor Maureen Carrington-Brown is to present a certificate granting the freedom to the regiment's Ipswich-born Staff Sergeant Duncan Pettit.

Staff Sgt Pettit, who grew up in Felixstowe, joined the Royal Artillery in 1979 after a spell in the Garrison Lane-based Army cadets. He transferred to the Army Air Corps when the regiment moved to Wattisham in 1998.

"The granting of the freedom is a heck of an honour," said the 39-year-old father-of-three who has served all over the world, including in Northern Ireland and the Gulf. "I've been to garden parties with the Queen – and it's right up there with that."

His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel David Turner, spoke of the prestige of the accolade – which has been bestowed in the past on the town's 'own' warship, HMS Grafton and locally recruited infantry unit, the Royal Anglian Regiment.

"We're honoured to receive such a prestigious accolade from the people of Ipswich. It represents a significant milestone in the Regiment's history," he said. "We are proud to be associated with the community of Ipswich Town and we will build on this fine foundation. We hope the association continues for many years to come."

The regiment, which is part of 16th Air Assault Brigade – elements of which were deployed in the campaign against Al Qaida in Afghanistan – has established close links with Ipswich, including participating in the Remembrance Sunday Parade and accompanying HMS Grafton when she docks in town.

The Mayor told the Star of the town's own pride in the regiment, which in 1998 moved to Wattisham Airfield which it shares with the RAF's search and rescue team and its Sea King helicopter.

"We are very aware and proud of our close links with 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps, and are pleased to be granting them Freedom of Entry to the Borough of Ipswich.

"Many of the soldiers live in or near the town and they make a big impact on the town's ceremonial and economic life. It will be a great day and we are looking forward to it."

The route of the march starts at the Regent car park at 5.15pm. The soldiers will then move down Woodbridge Road, St Margaret's Street, Major's Corner, Carr Street and Tavern Street, arriving in front of the Town Hall at 5.25pm.

The Mayor and council chief executive James Hehir are then due to inspect the troops before they march down Westgate Street, returning for a salute at 5.45pm.


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