YORK’S new Army general took part in his first official engagement when he accompanied the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Sonja Crisp, at a Royal Salute in Museum Gardens.

The salute, to mark the 62nd anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, came just a day after Major General Giles Hill raised the flag of the 1st (UK) Division at Imphal Barracks on Monday, restoring York’s status as the pre-eminent military city in the North.

The 1st (UK) is one of just two divisions in the modern British army. From his headquarters at Imphal, Major General Hill commands 25,000 troops, both regular army and reservists, spread across the UK and around the world.

York lost its status as a divisional HQ in 2000, when the 2nd Division under Major General Robert Gordon was relocated to Edinburgh.

But Maj Gen Hill, 48, a Yorkshireman and former paratroop commander, said that with its proud military tradition and its strategic location at the heart of the UK, it made sense for York to be an important Army base.

“From the start of modern civilisation, its location has meant that York has been home to a military force,” he said. “With elements of the Army relocating back from Germany...York was a natural and perfect choice when headquarters 1st (UK) Division sought a home back in the UK. The headquarters is delighted to be part of the York community and looks forward to strengthening its relationship with the city, and wider region, over the coming months.”

The 1st (UK) Division is now a light adaptable division of eight brigades. Soldiers under his command are as far afield as Afghanistan, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Balkan states, as well as the UK, often training other countries’ security forces. Soldiers from 1st (UK) Division were in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis.

They are ready for rapid deployment in combat.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s centre spread in The Press for the full interview with Maj Gen Hill.