Veterans and their families campaigning to save the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were joined by Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith when they marched on Downing Street to hand in a petition to “Save 2RRF” to the Prime Minister.
This is the Fusiliers’ second March on Parliament – the first one being October last year, during which their cause was debated in the House of Commons and the Government was defeated in the vote that followed.
Letters from the MoD confirm that the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF), was not one of the original five regular infantry battalions to be disbanded – these original five all having poorer recruitment and retention records.
However, the decision was made to retain one of the five and 2RRF was selected to take its place despite being the best-recruited battalion in the British Army.
Sir Alan said: “It makes no sense at all to disband the well-recruited 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in order to preserve much less well-recruited battalions in Scotland, and it makes even less sense now that it is becoming clear that the target for recruitment to the Territorial Army will not be met ion the Government’s timescale.”
Col (Rtd) Ian Brazier (Chairman, Fusiliers Association), said: “The government has spoken about efficiencies and cost savings, but there is no explanation for this unfathomable decision, despite repeated formal requests under the Freedom of Information Act. A public review of the criteria which led to the last minute substitution of 2RRF for disbandment, ostensibly offered by the Secretary of State for Defence, has not materialised. It has proved to be an empty offer.”
“So far, this has been a striking demonstration of poor management and leadership on the Government’s part, to say nothing of the betrayal of the hundreds of men who have served in the Second Battalion.”