ONE HUNDRED and fifty soldiers from Yorkshire's cavalry regiment yesterday exercised their right to march through York in a colourful ceremony recalling the city's military past.
The Royal Dragoon Guards exercised their freedom of the city yesterday morning, marching through the city before an inspection of the troops while two RAF Typhoon fighter jets conducted a flypast, and ending with a special service in the Minster.
This year's parade took on special significance with the First World War centenary, as the regiment's antecedants were involved in both the first shots fired, and the final cavalry charge, of the war.
Lead by Commanding Officer Lt Col Tom Bateman and three other officers on horseback, the regiment saluted an official party including Lord Mayor of York Cllr Ian Gillies, and Brigadier Johnny Torrens-Spence.
Before the parade, Lt Col Bateman said: "As Yorkshire and Ireland's Armoured Cavalry, the Regiment's ties to the great city of York are equally important to us so it is apt that we should commemorate our respect by exercising the Freedom of York.
"We are therefore honoured to march the Standard through the city's streets to remember those that went before us. We will mark the supreme sacrifice that was made by both soldiers and civilians over the course of the war whilst also enhancing out enduring relationship and commitment to the city."
The city council's chief executive Kersten England read the citation which granted the Freedom of the City April 1999, giving the regiment the "right, priviledge and honour" to march through the streets with "colours flying, swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bugles sounding and bands playing."
Among the crowds were many former members of the regiment who return to freedom parades to meet old comrades and remember their Army days.
William and Lesley Mulroe travelled from Featherstone, near Pontefract, to honour their son Shaun who died while serving with the regiment in Belize in 1992.
Mr Mulroe said: "Since then we have been adopted into the RDG family and always supported anything they have done."
Mrs Mulroe added: "Events like these tug at the heart strings, and it's difficult because we lost our only son, but he loved the Army."
The Royal Dragoon Guards, based at Catterick, recruit in North and West Yorkshire and have served two tours of duty in Afghanistan in the last four years.