Crowds turn out to support parade

VIDEO Crowds turned out to support the troops of 4 Regiment, the Army Air Corps, as they paraded through Ipswich today.A supporting fly-by of Apache attack helicopters drew gasps from onlookers as they hovered low over town centre buildings.

CROWDS turned out to support the troops of 4 Regiment, the Army Air Corps, as they paraded through Ipswich today.

A supporting fly-by of Apache attack helicopters drew gasps from onlookers as they hovered low over town centre buildings.

The regiment, based at Wattisham, has recently been re-assigned and its duties now involved working as ground crew for the aircraft in operations overseas.

They were exercising their freedom of the town, granted in 2002, by marching through the streets with bayonets fixed accompanied by a military band.

Warrant officer Class 1 Michael Ross said: “It is very special to us to be able to exercise our right to the freedom of Ipswich.

“We have very strong links with Ipswich and we look forward to being able to build further relationships with the local community.”

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The tradition of granting the freedom of the town to military units is thought to date back to feudal times, when militias would be allowed to march only when they had won the trust of townspeople.

The parade marked the 38th birthday of the regiment, and a number of members were presented with medals for work carried out as ground crew in Iraq during the last year.

A long service and good conduct medal was also presented to warrant officer 2nd class, Leon Hayward, by Ipswich mayor Inga Lockington.

In her speech, Mrs Lockington said: “Whatever your political views of our current conflicts, our armed forces are dedicated to preserving freedom, and we the people of Ipswich owe them a great amount of gratitude.

“We have a historic military tradition which we are very proud of. Our service men and women are the bravest of the brave.”

She then took the salute outside the town hall as the troops marched back along Westgate Street, accompanied by the Apache helicopters.

Pensioners Dorris Fulcher, of Peckard Avenue, and Irene Smith, of Boyton Road, who had come to watch the parade, said they thought the soldiers deserved the recognition.

Mrs Fulcher said: “It is absolutely marvellous, they have done a wonderful job.”

And Mrs Smith said: “Seeing the helicopters flying low overhead was an amazing sight - and I'm glad so many people came to support them.”

What did you think of the parade? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveninstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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