City Must Do More T O Celebrate Armed Forces Day, Says Veteran; Nation's Main Events Centred on Cardiff
Byline: Robin Turner
NEWPORT, Royal Navy
A FORMER Royal Marine commando has criticised the lack of celebrations in his city for the first Armed Forces Day today.
Former Swansea councillor Ray Welsby served around the world for 26 years with the elite 42 Commando Royal Marines.
Mr Welsby, 65, who rescued hostages from terrorists during the Borneo uprising and who also served in Aden and Brunei, says as Wales' second biggest city, Swansea should be doing more.
In common with other councils across Wales, commemorative flags were unfurled at a ceremony in front of Swansea's County Hall earlier this week.
And tomorrow the city's Lord Mayor Alan Lloyd and Mayoress Lilian Lloyd will attend a special British Armed Forces Day service at Swansea's St Mary's Church.
But on Armed Forces Day today, the focus will be on Cardiff which will see a fly past by a World War II Spitfire, marches, parades, bands, parachute displays and attendance by Welsh Secretary Peter Hain and Government Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell.
Mr Welsby, of Clase, Swansea, said: "I'm disgusted at the lack of celebration and activity in Swansea, given it is Wales' second city.
"I have to go to Cardiff to take part in Armed Forces Day but why can't Swansea do more to thank servicemen and women, past and present? "My son has just finished his time with the Queen's Dragoon Guards and if he came back to Swansea on Armed Forces Day, he would not see much in the way of a celebration or a thank you." A spokesman for Swansea Council said the city is planning a major celebration next month for the Queen's Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Cavalry) who will be granted the freedom of the city.
The spokesman added: "The various Armed Forces and the Royal British Legion working with volunteers have decided to stage a major celebration in Cardiff.
"We have flown flags this week in Swansea and will be holding a special service on Sunday." Armed Forces Day was set up after a recommendation from a study by former Tory and now Labour MP Quentin Davies for Gordon Brown, who wanted to find a way to raise public understanding and appreciation of the armed services.
The day is meant to be a celebration, in contrast with the more sombre Remembrance Sunday Parades and Armistice Day observances..
The day-long Cardiff event is being held in Cooper's Field, Bute Park, today, and thousands are expected to converge on the spot.
The celebration will feature musical performances by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, the Welsh Guards Band and others.
There will be a commemoration service and a veterans' parade through Cardiff, with flying displays by the Spitfire, the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team and The Parachute Regiment Freefall Team, The Red Devils, the official parachute display team of both the Parachute Regiment (The Paras) and the British Army.
Army veteran Dave Morris, one of the main organisers of the Cooper's Field event, said: "I don't like people saying this is the Cardiff Armed Forces Day, this is the South Wales Armed Forces Day. …