SOLDIERS were greeted with cheers and applause as they marched to exercise the Freedom of Batley and Dewsbury.
The 3rd Battalion The Rifles marched through Dewsbury after they were given the Freedom of the towns by Kirklees Council on Saturday.
A civic party including Mayor of Kirklees Coun Eric Firth, the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Dr Ingrid Roscoe, and High Sheriff of West Yorkshire Tony Smith started the official ceremony at Dewsbury Town Hall.
They came to the Memorial Gardens in Longcauseway where the Rifles, army cadets and veterans from the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) Association were inspected by the civic party and council leader Coun Mehboob Khan.
At the ceremony were families of three Rifles soldiers killed in the past year – Lce Cpl David Kirkness, Rifleman Liam Maughan and Rifleman Paul Atkinson.
In his speech, Coun Firth said: “We are here today to confirm and refresh our relationship with the Rifles, who have served this nation with pride and distinction.”
The Rifles are the successors to the KOYLI, who received the freedom of Batley and Dewsbury in 1946.
On Saturday, the Rifles were presented a scroll granting them the “privilege, honour and distinction of marching through the streets of Batley and Dewsbury on all ceremonial occasions”.
Descendents of Pte Horace Waller and Sjt John William Ormsby were also at the ceremony, and replicas of the two Dewsbury war heroes’ Victoria Crosses were on display in Dewsbury Town Hall.
Brigadier Richard Smith, who presented a silver bugle to the towns, said: “We hugely value and cherish the support we receive from you.
“It makes a huge difference to us as we are deployed around the world, often into some very challenging dangerous and hostile environments, to know that we do so with the support of the British public.”
l See Past Times on page 30 for a look back at the day KOYLI was granted the Freedom of Batley in 1946.