Troops 'honoured' to parade through Sheffield

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Troops today paraded through the heart of Sheffield as they exercised their freedom of the city for the first time in 15 years.

Members of the Army's 106 Field Squadron Royal Engineers marched from Devonshire Green to Sheffield Town Hall on Saturday afternoon, with their swords, guns and immaculately polished boots gleaming in the sunshine.

Members of 106 Field Squadron prepare to parade through Sheffield

Members of 106 Field Squadron prepare to parade through Sheffield

Crowds applauded as soldiers from the Army Reserve headed along Division Street before gathering by the war memorial outside City Hall, where they were greeted by Sheffield's Lord Mayor, Councillor Denise Fox.

The squadron then headed on to Sheffield Town Hall for a reception.

Major Ian Bunting, Officer Commanding, said he was delighted to be able to parade through the city.

"We are sons and daughters of Sheffield and this is the highest honour you can get as a military unit," he told The Star.

"It's only right we go out and pay homage to those who have sadly passed, and it's also important to keep the Army in the public eye.

"Sheffield has been fantastic. The council has been really supportive of us as a squadron and of the Army in general."

There was a heavy police presence at Barker's Pool and bins were sealed, presumably as a security measure.

But the squadron received a heroes' welcome from members of the public, who were treated by the band to classic songs including It's Not Unusual and the theme tunes from The A-Team and Mission: Impossible.

The squadron used to be stationed in the city centre, at Somme Barracks in Glossop Road, but has for many years been based at Bailey Barracks in Greenhill.

Major Bunting told how the squadron had paraded through Sheffield shortly after being awarded the freedom of the city in 2002, but this was the first time it had exercised the privilege since.

He said the lord mayor and her husband, Councillor Terry Fox, were keen supporters of the unit, having been friends of the late Captain Bob Fox, a longstanding squadron member.

He told how members of the squadron had served in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, as well as helping with military reconstructions in the Falkland Islands.

In coming months, they are due to undertake peacekeeping duties in Somalia, before heading to South Sudan early next year.

Many people paid tribute to the soldiers on The Star's Facebook page.

Beth Langner wrote: "We should all be proud of our troops past and present, they are amazing."

David and Marie Swift commented: "We are very proud of our troops and the job they do."

Others called for the procession to be made an annual event, with Annmarie Wood writing: "Should be done every year so we can show our support and respect."