Worcester Cathedral - Official Farewell of the Worcestershire Regiment (1969)
On the 6th December 1970, some 1400 or so past and present Regimental members, family and friends attended the Service in Worcester Cathedral and witnessed the March Past of The Regiment and of its Old Comrades. This occasion marked the full Ceremonial Parade of The Regiment prior to its amalgamation on 28th February 1970 with the Sherwood Forester Regiment.
The day's events began with the four 50-strong guards of the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, led by the Band and Drums in red tunics, and followed by one guard formed by 'B' Company (Worcestershire) The Mercian Volunteers marching from the assembly point at Pitchcroft, up Castle Street and along Foregate Street and Worcester High Street, to the Cathedral.
At the Cathedral The Regiment was joined by The Mayor, Councillor Mrs. Joyce Brown, and Corporation who walked in robed procession from the Guildhall, and by Viscount Cobham, Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, and the Deputy Lieutenants of Worcestershire.
During the singing of the first hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers," The Colours were slow marched up the aisle to the nave altar and handed to the Dean, Dr. Eric Kemp, who laid them on the altar where they remained for the rest of the service.
The Very Reverend Dr. Eric Kemp, D.D., Dean of Worcester, receiving the
Regimental Colour from 2/Lieut. R. O. Goode prior to placing both Colours on
the altar for the duration of the service
The Lesson, Chapter 1, Verses 1-9 from the Book of Joshua, was read by the Colonel of The Regiment, Colonel T. J. Bowen, M.C., and this was followed by the Hymn "Fill Thou My Life, O Lord My God".
This was followed by the formal presentation of the Book of Remembrance to the Colonel of The Regiment by Viscount Cobham, Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire and Patron of The Worcestershire Regiment's Association, who said:
"Colonel Bowen, as Patron of The Worcestershire Regiment's Association, it gives me much pleasure to invite you on behalf of the members of our Association to accept for your Regiment this Memorial Book which contains the names of all those members of The Worcestershire Regiment who have laid down their lives on active service, not only in World War II, but also in all other engagements at which the Regiment has been present since 1919.
We would wish you to have this Memorial of all those gallant sons of our County, and as a mark of the esteem which we of the Association hold for your famous Regiment."
To which the Colonel of The Regiment replied as follows:
"Sir, as Colonel of The Worcestershire Regiment, on behalf of all its members, serving and retired, I thank you most sincerely for this beautiful Presentation and for the generous remarks that you have made. All of us are deeply proud of our connection with this famous City, with the County of Worcestershire, and of our Regimental Association. We shall greatly treasure this beautiful Memorial Book and value no less the thought behind this presentation.
You may be sure, Sir, that as our Regiment moves into a new chapter of its existence, the sons of Worcestershire will be no less proud of their connections here, and I thank you again for all that your Association has done for us over so many years."
The Colonel of The Regiment then handed the Book of Remembrance to the Dean, inviting him to keep it in safe custody in the Cathedral, with these words:
"Mr. Dean, on behalf of All Ranks of The Worcestershire Regiment, I ask you on behalf of the Chapter of the Cathedral to accept into your safe keeping this Presentation Memorial Book, recording as it does all those Officers and Soldiers of The Worcestershire Regiment who have laid down their lives in action since 1919, and I would ask that it may be preserved together with our other Memorial Books in St. George's Chapel in this the Mother Church of our County."
The Dean replied with the words:
"Colonel Bowen, on my own behalf, and on behalf of the Cathedral Chapter, we are proud to be the guardians of this Memorial Book which shall be faithfully preserved in St. George's Chapel along with the other Memorial of The Worcestershire Regiment."
Following a prayer of Remembrance, read by the Dean, the prayer of The Worcestershire Regiment, read by the Reverend P. T. Clemett, Chaplain of the 1st Battalion, a prayer for the new Regiment and a prayer for Peace, came the last hymn, "Soldiers of Christ Arise", played by the Regimental Band, which played all the hymns and marches throughout the Service.
After the Blessing, given by the Right Reverend L. M. Charles-Edwards, Lord Bishop of Worcester, and the singing of the first verse of the National Anthem, the Colours were handed back to the Colour Party by the Dean and were marched in Slow Time to the Regimental Slow March, "Duchess of Kent", from the altar down the full length of the centre aisle of the Cathedral, as a fitting end to a most dignified and moving service.
The Regiment, and the Old Comrades, next formed up on College Green, outside the Cathedral, preparatory to the March Past. The 1st Battalion were preceded by the Regimental Band and Drums and led by Lieut.-Colonel R. G. A. Leman, the Commanding Officer.
Of the 600 Old Comrades who were present it is estimated that at least 400 actually took part in the March Past — were preceded by the Band and Drums of the Junior Soldiers of the Mercian Depot, Lichfield, and were led by General Sir Richard Gale, G.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., President of The Worcestershire Regiment's Association.
The Salute of the March Past was taken by the Mayor of Worcester, Councillor Mrs. Joyce Brown, from a dais outside the Guildhall, accompanied by Colonel T. J. Bowen, M.C., Colonel of The Regiment.
The route for the March Past was along High Street, then turned left into Broad Street, left again along Deansway, and finished in Copenhagen Street.
After the march there was a civic reception in the Guildhall, where tea and refreshments had been laid on for the men of the 1st Battalion and the Volunteers. The old soldiers were entertained to tea by the Mayor, but because of space restrictions at the Guildhall they assembled at Worcester Technical College. At least two survivors of the historic Battle of Gheluvelt in 1914 managed to make the farewell reception. They were Mr. William Adkins (age 85) of Camberley, Surrey, and Mr. Charles Stansbie (age 85) of Stechford, Birmingham.