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Last big push to save 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
CAMPAIGNERS are being called to arms in a desperate last “big push” to save an Army regiment whose spiritual home is in Bury.
Leaders spearheading the battle to prevent the scrapping of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF) fear they only have until November to achieve their goal before soldiers are transferred to other regiments.
Drummer Lee Rigby, whose funeral was held in Bury, was attached to the battalion.
Now, supporters are stepping up their fight with petitions, letters, a Twitter and Facebook campaign, and plans for a high-profile protest march on Downing Street, provisionally scheduled for October 15. Donations will also be sought for a fighting fund.
On Tuesday, ex-Fusilier captain John Baron, who is MP for Basildon and Billericay, met Prime Minister David Cameron to press the case for the retention of 2RRF.
Last year Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced controversial plans to axe 2RRF, an armoured infantry unit of 600 soldiers. It is one of the casualties of the Army 2020 plan, the biggest restructuring of the service for decades.
The threat to 2RRF generated and galvanised a UK-wide campaign by ex-Fusiliers, MPs and other supporters to prevent the battalion from being consigned to history.
Encouraging a final “big push”, Colonel Brian Gorski, chairman of Bury’s Fusilier Museum, said: “The groundswell from the North West for retaining the 2nd Battalion has been tremendous. The campaign, has been running since the decision was made. We now need to reinforce this campaign and openly show our feelings and support.
“The death of Fusilier Lee Rigby highlighted to the nation and to the Prime Minister the support that exists for the Fusiliers, ‘their eyes were opened’.”
Col Gorski stressed campaigners wanted to “corral the support of the North West” and added: ”It is a call to arms to support a number of initiatives and place this issue right in front of the Prime Minister. We are to march on Parliament again.
“Around 450 Fusiliers attended last year at short notice. This year, we are hoping to swell the ranks to double that number.
“We urge people to come and join us and make their feelings known. We will also generate another debate in the House of Commons in an attempt to have the decision overturned.”
He appealed to the public: “Please write to David Cameron, supporting this cause. You can also help by canvassing the support of your local MP. Finally, we have also got a new petition going which we will be out on the street asking for signatures very shortly and can be signed in the Fusilier Museum. We already have 2,000 from one that is running in Bury.
“Let’s all rally to show the politicians we wish to save one of the battalions that belong to a regiment with such a tremendous history and superb operational skills and training. Let us ensure that the memory of Lee Rigby is maintained through the continuation of this battalion into the future.”
Meanwhile, Mr Baron says that under the Army 2020 plan, 20,000 regular soldiers will be axed and 30,000 reservists recruited to fill the vacuum.
Following his talk with the Prime Minister, the MP told the Bury Times: “It was a constructive meeting and we made clear our concerns about the Government’s Army reserves plan and its plan to disband 2RRF. We will continue with our campaign to save 2RRF.”
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