Regiment prepares to say a final farewell to hometown

The Oxford Times: Soldiers from 23 regiment on parade in Bicester in November 2009 Soldiers from 23 regiment on parade in Bicester in November 2009

PEOPLE are being urged to line the streets of Bicester to bid farewell to a regiment that has been part of the town for more than 70 years.

On Sunday, July 27, 150 troops from 23 Pioneer Regiment, which is being disbanded, will make their way through the town for the last time in a Farewell Parade.

Soldiers will march behind the Army Reserves’ Combined Band of the Royal Signals and the Royal Anglians at 12.30pm.

Troops will first attend a service at St Edburg’s Church, Church Street, at 11.30am, before parading down the Causeway, to the Market Square, and on to Garth Park where the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Tim Stevenson, and Bicester’s mayor Lynn Pratt will take the salute.

The regiment’s commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel David Clouston will lead speeches in the park.

Bicester’s mayor Lynn Pratt said: “I think it’s more important than ever that people come along because this will be the last time.

“I think it will be a sad day for Bicester because the town has had such a long connection with 23 Pioneer Regiment.

“It would be great if as many people as possible came out and lined the streets and gave the regiment lots of support for the last time.”

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Army spokesman Chris Fletcher said: “Troops from 23 Pioneer Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) based at St David’s Barracks will take part in a thanksgiving church service and parade through the centre of Bicester to say a fond farewell to the town and community of which the regiment has been such a significant part for so many years.

“As a result of the Army 2020 announcements and reduction in size of the Regular Army, the regiment will be removed from the order of battle and disbanded later in the year. However, the regiment and its deep association to Bicester will remain having had the honour of the town’s brand new shopping centre named after it, ‘Pioneer Square’ last year.”

The 600-strong regiment has been based at St David’s Barracks, Bicester, in some form since 1941.

THE FUTURE

  • After 23 Pioneer Regiment is disbanded, new troops will move into St David’s Barracks.
  • The 500-strong 1 Close Support Regiment, which is returning from Germany, will move to the barracks by 2016, and the 100-strong 21 Signal Squadron, which works with radio transmissions and information gathering, will also be based there from as early as this year.
  • About £10m will be invested at the base on new building work and refurbishing technical buildings, the MOD said.
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