Salute to the Terriers
PUBLISHED: 15:06 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 09:37 12 August 2010
THOUSANDS of onlookers showed their respect and support as the county celebrated the Territorial Army s (TA) 100th anniversary. TA soldiers past, present and future were cheered on by crowds as they paraded through the streets of Canterbury last Saturday
THOUSANDS of onlookers showed their respect and support as the county celebrated the Territorial Army's (TA) 100th anniversary.
TA soldiers past, present and future were cheered on by crowds as they paraded through the streets of Canterbury last Saturday.
Soldiers and their friends and family represented Dartford, Gravesend, Bexley and Bromley at the event, which finished with a thanksgiving service in the cathedral.
Chief of Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt and VC winner Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry attended the celebrations of the reserve forces.
Former TA soldier Fred Figget, 86, of Tunbridge Wells, was there with his son Spike, 46, who has also served in the TA, and grandson Max, 16, a cadet in the parade. Mr Figget said: "Today is a special day for me as me and my son have both served in the TA and my grandson is in the cadets - he's a lance corporal and is in the parade today. My father was in the TA in Afghanistan in the first war. So that's three or four generations."
Mr Figget, who served from 1939 to 1946, wore his decorations, including the African Star, the Italian medal and the victory and defence medal alongside his original TA badge from 1938, when he joined.
He said "I served in North Africa, Sicily, Austria, Egypt, Baghdad - all over. I was in the anti-aircraft artillery. I was in the Battle of Britain. I spent Christmas on the slopes of Mount Etna when the Italians surrendered."
Led by the Band of The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Territorial soldiers marched through Canterbury city centre while Sir Richard formally saluted them.
At the cathedral service, Sir Richard, the Lord Mayor of Canterbury Carolyn Parry and the Lord Lieutenant of Kent Allan Willett all made speeches.
Speaking just before the parade, the Sheriff of Kent, Richard Oldfield, said: "It's a wonderful, wonderful occasion. It's very thrilling. I'm really looking forward to seeing the parade.
"I think we all identify with the armed forces now much more than people did a few years ago. I think we all recognise them, and the crowds in the streets today are certainly showing that.
"The Territorials are absolutely at the heart of the army and they have proved their worth in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Bruce Bishop, 76, from Sevenoaks, served in 'The Buffs', or the Royal East Kent Regiment, one of the oldest regiments in the British Army.
He said: "Today means a lot to me - there's an awful lot of us here.
"I come to events like this to see if I can find one or two of my old comrades. You know, I've never seen one since I left. It's rather sad, nearly all the rotters are dead! Some of them are bound to still be out there though.
"I'd love to meet up with some of them again. I remember there were one or two of who came from Sevenoaks."
Lieutenant Jonathan Slegg, 23, who is based in Folkestone and works part-time at a construction company in Stone and Welling, said: "Canterbury is our headquarters and the home of our battalion so to parade through the high street is an extremely important occasion for us.
"It's definitely a homecoming. In London, in July we did the national celebrations but this is much more of a community event. It means more in a way because it allows us to have family involved."
In his speech, Lord Lieutenant Allan Willetts said: "This celebration today is about people - the human factor, courage, comradeship, pride, loyalty and leadership. It was heart-warming to see the generations on parade today. From the youngest cadet to veterans in their 90s."
He added: "We in Kent are proud to be the frontline county and the bulwark of the defence of this nation."
l If you served in the Buffs with Mr Bishop, or know anyone who did, call Lizzie Thornton on 0208 269 7011 or email email@example.com.