Town's salute to its sailors
By Mark HeathCHEERING crowds gathered in the centre of a town to welcome their adopted military sons home.The seamen of HMS Grafton proudly paraded through Ipswich yesterday, supported by troops from the 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, based at Wattisham Airfield.
By Mark Heath
CHEERING crowds gathered in the centre of a town to welcome their adopted military sons home.
The seamen of HMS Grafton proudly paraded through Ipswich yesterday, supported by troops from the 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, based at Wattisham Airfield.
HMS Grafton, which is affiliated to Ipswich, is in town for a five-day stay to allow its crew to meet and greet the people of their adopted home.
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They joined forces with 4 Regiment Army Air Corps yesterday for the Freedom of Ipswich Parade as both have been awarded the freedom of the town.
The parade culminated on the town's Cornhill with a formal salute to their commanding officers and Ipswich mayor, Penny Breakwell.
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As the soldiers and sailors proudly marched through the town, led by a military marching band, the massed crowds broke into spontaneous applause and yelled out messages of support.
Among those in the watching crowd were Michael Reader and Max Ralph, who both agreed it had been a great event.
“It's nice to see the people from the Grafton and 4 Regiment here,” Mr Reader, from Ipswich, said. “It's a huge day for the town and it's been lovely - the weather has been great as well.”
Mr Ralph, who had travelled from Levington, added: “I've really enjoyed it. You just can't beat a military band - you can march for miles behind them.”
Mrs Breakwell spoke of how much the day had meant to the town and how pleased she had been to see the troops.
“I thought it was a marvellous show. It's lovely to have both HMS Grafton and 4 Regiment in the town,” she said.
“I think the Freedom means a great deal to them and obviously people are very interested in it.
“It brings added interest to Ipswich and it's nice that the visit coincides with the end of the Ip-art festival. It brings an extra touch of culture - it is a real honour for the town.”
HMS Grafton is open to the public today and tomorrow at the Cliff Quay at Ipswich Docks between 10am and 4pm.
Visitors will be able to tour the ship, see static displays on the work of the Royal Navy and meet the crew.