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Mercian Regiment chief’s pledge to save Staffordshire Regiment’s history

The Colonel of the Mercian Regiment has promised that the “golden threads” linking the former Staffordshire Regiment will not disappear when the 3rd Battalion is axed.

Major General Andrew Sharpe OBE made the pledge in a letter to Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant who has led calls for the history of the Battalion to be maintained after announcement it would be axed as part of an armed forces spending review.

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

And the news has come as a welcome relief to the city’s MP.

“Since the Staffordshire Regiment was disbanded in 2004 by the last Government, it has been important to maintain the links that General Sharpe has spoken about,” he said. “I pledge that I will give him all the assistance that he may need to maintain the ‘golden thread’ ethos that he speaks about in his letter.

“I will be seeking a meeting with Andrew Sharpe to determine how we can work together to put this into practice.”

Mr Fabricant has also said that he is hopeful 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment could return in years to come.

“Despite our leaving Afghanistan in 2015, I am acutely aware that there may come a time in the future when more men are called upon again once again to serve their country in a time of crisis,” he added. “It will be essential that the mechanism exists whereby a Staffordshire brigade or regiment can be formed once again and be based on the history and ethos preserved by the Mercian Regiment.

“Throughout history, the British Army, like others, expands and contracts to meet the needs of the nation. The Staffords, as a unique entity, may well be called upon to serve their country again.”

The full letter from Major General Sharpe to Michael Fabricant MP:

I am grateful for your letter of 10 July about the Army 2020 announcements, and how they will affect the Mercian Regiment, not least because the letter in itself demonstrates your continued support for, and interest in, the Regiment.

There are three issues here. The first concerns the preservation of the military heritage golden threads of the Staffordshire Regiment within the Mercian Regiment. Please rest assured that I fully understand what such ‘golden threads’ entail. I was born into the Cheshire Regiment and was its last Colonel of the Regiment as we amalgamated with the Staffordshire Regiment and Worcestershire and Sherwood Forrester Regiment to become the Mercian Regiment. I was intimately and passionately involved with the mutual preservation of our separate heritages in that first transformation (only five years ago). I will make sure that we weave those threads inextricably into the re-organised Regiment. The history, the family ties, the sense of belonging and the ‘tribal markings’ are an essential part of what makes ordinary young men and women do extraordinary things. They sit at the heart of the moral component of fighting power.

Second, and closely allied to the military heritage golden thread is the equally important golden thread of our relationship with the villages, towns, cities, boroughs and counties from which we draw our fighting men. The intimate links with our roots, the county ties, the local-boys-fighting-together ethos and, crucially, the support that we get from our local communities (and from our veterans and Regimental Associations) are all equally vital parts of the moral component of what makes people serve with passion and dedication. We will preserve them too (and we will need your help to do that).

Third, is the issue of the detailed ‘how will this be done?’ You are right to ask, and the honest truth is that I cannot yet answer that question. The detail will depend upon a mixture of things, not least of which is the detail of our future roles and basing, all of which is to be discussed and decided over the coming months. This is a discussion in which I am seeking to engage robustly, as you can imagine. The essential point is that I intend to ensure that the traditions, heritage, history and lineage of the Staffordshire Regiment, and of all of its antecedent parts, are inextricably wound into the newly constituted two regular battalions, and into the Fourth (TA) Battalion too, in the same way that the heritage of the other constituent parts of the Mercian Regiment will also be wound. We will also make sure that we keep our ties with the County (and with Lichfield) as closely knotted as possible – you are our life-blood. We will need to make sure that everyone in Mercia understands that the remaining two Mercian Regular Battalions are ‘their battalions’. Sorry not to be able to give you the detail that you might want at this stage, but please rest assured that this has got my full attention.

Thank you for the support you have always given to us.

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