THE only place The Rifles will march in the south this year is Bridport.
Around 180 troops and the Salamanca and Waterloo bands are coming to parade on Sunday, June 22.
The regiment was honoured with the freedom of Bridport in 2011 but operational commitments in Afghanistan meant they couldn’t attend the ceremony themselves.
However, the crowds were packed six deep in places as mayor Geoff Ackerman, pictured right, handed over a scroll to Brigadier Richard Toomey, the deputy colonel commandant of The Rifles.
The Salamanca Band of the Rifles did come to march and play and when they did the town centre came to a standstill.
Former Rifleman Coun Geoffrey Ackerman said it was a pleasure and honour to give the regiment the freedom on the town on behalf of the people of Bridport. And now that the Rifles are fulfilling their promise to come to the town for a full parade he said he couldn’t be happier.
He said: “I am as pleased as punch this has come off. There will only be two freedom marches throughout the country and we are the one in the south and we are highly pleased with this.”
Lt Col (Retd) G S Nicholls, Rifles Dorset secretary, said: “The Rifles were very proud to have been granted the Freedom of Bridport in 2011.
“At the time, due to operational commitments, the Regiment was not in a position to conduct a full parade to mark the important event, but we are delighted to be able to do so on June 22 this year. We look forward very much to returning to exercise our right of marching through the town with the band playing and more than a 100 riflemen on parade as well as many local army cadets and old comrades.
“It promises to be a memorable event which I hope members of the local community will come and support.”
Bridport mayor Maggie Ray, said: “It was a great honour for Bridport to present the freedom of the town to the Rifles.
“We are delighted that they are now able to return for a full parade on June 22 this year.
“This will be a very special event and I'm sure the whole town will turn out to watch the parade through the town and the marching band. We look forward to a great day, which will further cement the town's special relationship with the Rifles Regiment.”