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Wattisham troops get freedom of Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 11:50 03 February 2002 | UPDATED: 15:25 03 March 2010

SOLDIERS from the 430 troops from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps are to receive the freedom of Ipswich Borough on March 22 as part of a spectacular celebration evening in the town which will include a fly-past by three Lynx helicopters.

SOLDIERS from the 430 troops from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps are to receive the freedom of Ipswich Borough on March 22 as part of a spectacular celebration evening in the town which will include a fly-past by three Lynx helicopters.

Four Regiment Army Air Corps, based at Wattisham Airfield near Stowmarket, has been part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade since 1999.

The regiment will be one of only three units to get the new Apache attack gunship helicopters and Ipswich Borough Council hopes that granting freedom will enable the unit to take an even more active role in civic events.

An army spokeswoman said: "We are immensely pleased and really proud. We hope it will be a great day not just for 4 Army Air Corps, but for the people of Ipswich. It will be a celebration, with 200 marching troops and a band.''

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council added: "It's an historical honour which HMS Grafton was the last to receive in June 2000.

"HMS Grafton has visited the town about four times and the 4 Army Air Corps always supply a fly-by. Basically, it is an honour bestowed on a service unit of the armed forces

with close ties to the town. Four Army Air Corps is closely linked with the visits of HMS Grafton, with the annual Remembrance Day service and the 800th Charter celebrations.

"A lot of people from Wattisham either live in the town or come in regularly and regard Ipswich as very much their home. We wanted to honour those close links by granting them the freedom of the borough.''

Granting of Freedom of Entry to the Borough of Ipswich has previously been awarded by the borough council to HMS Ganges, now disbanded, the Royal Anglian Regiment (successors to Suffolk Regiment), the Royal Army Medical Corps, now disbanded, and HMS Grafton.

Being given the freedom of the borough gives the recipient "the right to march through town with bayonets fixed, drums beating and colours flying''. It is a purely ceremonial role but one valued by the units.

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