Regiment marks Minden Day
UPHOLDING a tradition dating back nearly 250 years, the Royal Anglian Regiment remembered its finest hour yesterday.The traditional day of festivities and events dates back to August 1, 1759, when one of the regiment's forefather battalions, the Suffolk Regiment, was part of a famous victory for the British and Prussians in Minden, Germany.
UPHOLDING a tradition dating back nearly 250 years, the Royal Anglian Regiment remembered its finest hour yesterday.
The traditional day of festivities and events dates back to August 1, 1759, when one of the regiment's forefather battalions, the Suffolk Regiment, was part of a famous victory for the British and Prussians in Minden, Germany. Their combined infantries repulsed the French cavalry with infantry soldiers for the first time in history.
Before taking up their position to face the French, the soldiers of the Suffolk Regiment had picked red and yellow roses from local gardens and wore them in their hats.
Since then the regiment has been merged with others and is part of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, known as The Vikings.
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But the flowers have remained synonymous with the Suffolk Regiment and play a key part in Minden Day celebrations, held at the Suffolk Regiment Museum on Newmarket Road in Bury St Edmunds.
The main Minden Day celebrations took place on Sunday, when almost 250 Royal Anglians visited the museum and other events included a family fair, marching bands, parades and battalion physical training in fancy dress. Soldiers wore red and yellow roses in their hats throughout the day to mark the occasion.
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Museum attendant Tim Davies, a former Royal Anglian himself, said: “It is really a big open day for the whole regiment. We had old boys from as far away as Australia come and see us - it was great fun.”
Taff Gillingham, who volunteers at the museum, said: “I've always had an interest in the regiment - I had an uncle and a grandfather who were in the Suffolk Regiment. This museum is not just for soldiers, it is social history really.
“The biggest group we have coming here is women investigating their family history. We have extensive records of the soldiers but even if we can't find a particular soldier we have examples of kit and uniform from all periods so relatives can still get a feel for what it was like for their ancestors.”
Speaking at the Anglians' headquarters in Surrey, Major Charlie Calder said everybody in the regiment was always happy to join in.
“Its not the first thing you think of when you think of the Army - us wearing flowers in our hats - and you would have thought we'd feel a bit silly. But nobody does and everybody wears them all day.
“The celebrations marked the soldiers' final day before a month's leave before returning to start training for a scheduled stint in Afghanistan next year.
John Hunns, 69, who served in Cyprus with the Suffolk Regiment and now volunteers at the Bury museum, said: “I enjoyed my time with the regiment and I am proud of my time with them.
“It is really important to keep the history alive because without museums like ours regiments will disappear.”
Last year the battalion served in Iraq and is currently supporting exercises in Canada.