Welsh Soldiers March with History

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Welsh Soldiers March with History


Byline: By CERI WILLIAMS

At one minute past midnight last night, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Royal Regiment of Wales and Royal Welsh Territorial Army regiments merged to form a new Welsh regiment - the Royal Welsh. The new infantry regiment will parade through Cardiff today, St David's Day as part of a ceremony to mark its inauguration. Soldiers from the RWF, RRW and TA regiment will be accompanied by the Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh, who will play throughout the day as part of the wider celebrations. While the merger marks the end of a 300-year chapter of Welsh military history, the change is being viewed positively by members of the regiment, who see the move not only as an essential part of modern warfare, but also as the start of a new era for the Army in Wales and, ultimately, a stronger Welsh infantry regiment. Here we take a look at what life is like for various members of the Royal Welsh and what the regimental merger means to them. Starting at 1pm, the parade will march up St Mary Street, High Street and past Cardiff Castle to City Hall, where a salute will be taken. The drumhead service will then take place at St David's Hall in The Hayes, a location change due to forecasts of severe weather for the capital today.: Sergeant Major John Warlow, senior recruiter for the Royal Welsh, aged 37:Sergeant Major John Warlow has been in the Royal Regiment of Wales (RRW) for more than 20 years. His role has varied over the years from being the Brigade Commander's driver in Berlin during the '80s, chauffeuring VIPs including the Prince of Wales and the Queen, Chris Eubank and Richard Branson, to being a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) responsible for transport issues in the '90s. After numerous postings to countries including Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Canada, Sgt Maj Warlow will now be based in Cardiff for the next two years running the regimental recruiting team, overseeing the process that attracts new recruits into the regiment. Travel, excitement, adventure, camaraderie and a job that is different from the traditional nine-to-five are usually the top reasons given by new recruits, and according to Sgt Maj Warlow, the regimental merger isn't going to change that. He said, 'The merger will have very little, if any, noticeable impact both on current members and new recruits. In reality, nothing is going to change a great deal. The battalions will remain the same; it's simply a change of cap and badge - a visual change that isn't going to affect the make up of the existing battalions at all. 'The only thing that is going to be different is that if someone decides they would like to join up, they will now become a member of the Royal Welsh instead of the RWF or RRW.

Although the new regiment will inevitably have a new identity, the historical traditions, unique to each battalion, will remain. The Royal Regiment of Wales and the Royal Welch Fusiliers will continue to mark their regimental days - the RRW's on January 22 and the RWF's on September 20 - which celebrate the heritage of each battalion. Added to this will be a new celebration, annually on March 1, to commemorate the birth of the Royal Welsh. Sgt Maj Warlow said, 'The heritage of the battalions is something that is important to us all, but what's equally important going forward will be our joint celebrations of the Royal Welsh, which will help shape the identity of the new regiment and ultimately make us a stronger regiment.': Captain Gareth Stone, Reconnaissance Platoon Commander, aged 25:After leaving school in 1999, Gareth Stone was torn between going to university, and pursuing a military career. The lure of the diverse experiences the Army could provide helped make up his mind, and he went on to complete his military training at Sandhurst before joining the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Stone worked his way up the ranks to become a Captain. He has been in post as Reconnaissance Platoon Commander - responsible for information gathering - for the past 18 months. …

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