Mercian Regiment soldiers will parade in Chester on Saturday, July 2 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Returning from deployment to Poland on a NATO exercise, 150 soldiers from 2 Mercian – Chester’s local infantry unit – will exercise their right to the Freedom of the City.

Marching with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating and colours flying, the regimental mascot, Private Derby XXXI will lead the troops. A salute will be taken by the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Angela Claydon.

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Commanding officer of 2 Mercian, Lieutenant Colonel Ben Wilde MBE will march. He said: “It is a great honour to march through the streets of Chester to commemorate the sacrifice of our brothers that fought through adversity 100 years ago and displayed courage and resilience that we as modern soldiers can only hope to emulate.

“As a battalion we always have an eye on the future, but it is critical that we draw inspiration from our history as well as from our strong roots in the local community.”

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Following this, there will be a service at Chester War Memorial, set in the grounds of Chester Cathedral. This is the spiritual home of the Cheshire Regiment, a unit which formed The Mercian Regiment when merged with two others in 2007.

The Battle of the Somme was a battle of the First World War, fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. Four soldiers from antecedent regiments of the Mercians won Victoria Crosses during the battle. It was the largest battle of the war on the Western Front and more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

The parade on Saturday, July 2 begins at 11am.