Hundreds join fight to save The Staffords battalion
ARMY supporters from Texas to Ireland and across the UK are backing a campaign to save the Staffords’ name.
More than 250 people have so far signed The Sentinel’s Save Our Staffords petition, which calls for the 300-year link between Staffordshire and the Army to be continued.
The Government announced last week that The 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) would be withdrawn from the Army’s Order of Battle as part of a raft of defence cuts.
Ex-Staffords and relatives of serving soldiers are among those who are backing the campaign to ensure that the Staffords’ historic name does not die with the battalion.
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One of those to sign the petition was Barry Hill, whose father Harry Hill served with the South Staffordshire Regiment during the Second World War, has signed the petition.
Harry, who died in 2000, was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery at the Battle of Caen in France in 1944.
Because of this, Harry’s family has always felt a strong connection to the Staffords, and his son is “disgusted” that the unit will soon be no more.
Barry, aged 71, of Pemberton Drive, Meir Heath, said: “My dad was fighting at Caen when he came under very heavy fire. I think most of his platoon were killed, and he was hit in the head with shrapnel. He was going to be taken back to the medical station but he refused to go. He carried on fighting until he was exhausted.
“Dad was very proud of his service with the South Staffords, and I think it’s absolutely disgusting what they’re doing to 3 Mercian now. But it’s not just about the Staffords. They’re making far too many cuts to the Army as a whole.”
Andrew Stevenson also has is another person with family connections to the Staffords who is backing the campaign.
His father Graham served for 26 years with what was then the Staffordshire Regiment.
Andrew was born in Kenya in 1964, where the regiment was serving at the time, and for the next 15 years he would follow his father around the world, with subsequent postings in Berlin, Osnabruck and various bases in England.
Having had such an upbringing, Andrew sees the Staffords’ as his extended family, and was shocked to hear they would be withdrawn.
The 48-year-old, of Wain Drive, Trent Vale, said: “My dad died a few years ago but he would be absolutely horrified at what the Government are doing to the Staffords. He was so proud of being part of his county regiment.
“The Government are just eroding the history and identity of our armed forces, undermining our defence capability and destroying the morale of our brave soldiers.”
His mother Anne Stevenson, aged 69, also of Wain Drive, said: “I think it’s disgusting. The Staffords are part of our family. When we were sent somewhere, you always became very close with the other families. And once you made a friend in the Army, they were a friend for life. That continued even after Graham left the Army.”
Support for the campaign has not been limited to residents of Staffordshire, or even the UK, with Tony Boulton, of Grapevine, Texas, among those to sign the petition.
Mr Boulton wrote: “My grandfather served in the North Staffordshire Regiment in the First World War. I still remember him telling me how they marched through Mesopotamia. It was there, he used to say, that he ‘met his Waterloo’. He was injured and lost his left arm at the age of 19.
“That special tie between the people of Staffordshire and the regiments of soldiers who have served over the last 300 years should not be broken.”