In pride of place

PUBLISHED: 16:41 18 October 2006 | UPDATED: 13:33 04 May 2010

Colour bearer Wally Rookes with the new flag dedicated at the ceremony.

Colour bearer Wally Rookes with the new flag dedicated at the ceremony.

Event recalls Somme battle anniversary DESCENDANTS of men who fought with the Cambridgeshire Regiment during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 were given pride of place at a special 90th anniversary event. They joined the Duke of Gloucester, Colonel in Chie

The Duke of Gloucester arrives at the service with Major General John Sutherell, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Anglians

Event recalls Somme battle anniversary

DESCENDANTS of men who fought with the Cambridgeshire Regiment during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 were given pride of place at a special 90th anniversary event.

They joined the Duke of Gloucester, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Anglian Regiment, who headed a large congregation at a commemorative service in Ely Cathedral on Saturday.

The service was held exactly 90 years after the regiment's capture of the Schwaben Redoubt at Thiepval on October 14, 1916.

Helen Stradling, from Devon, with medals belonging to her grandfather Sgt Joseph Wheatley, who fought in the battle. Her locket contains family pictures.

Such was the military importance of the capture and the bravery of the men from the 1/1st Cambridgeshire Regiment that it is believed up to 42 awards for gallantry were issued. But the capture came at a high price with about 220 men killed or wounded, many from the local area.

The Cambridgeshire Regiment was a territorial army unit which later became part of the present Royal Anglians.

Among the guests were civic dignitaries, including Ely mayor Cllr John Ison and district council chairman Richard Hobbs.

Following the service, at which the Cambridgeshire Regiment Association's new standard was dedicated, the event continued at the Hayward theatre in the King's School.

The Duke and guests were given a slide presentation about the capture of the redoubt by Steven Bowns, a former captain in the Royal Anglian Regiment. There was a display of research produced by Cliff Brown of March, about many of the men who fought at the Schwaben, and a World War One uniform and equipment section provided by Allen Prior of March.

The Duke then met some of the descendants of men who were given gallantry awards for the attack. They included Helen Standing, from Devon, whose grandfather Sgt Joseph Wheatley of Whittlesey, was Mentioned in Despatches, and Steven Teverson, of Downham Market, whose grandfather Cpl Harry Teverson, a former pupil of March Grammar School, was awarded the Military Medal.

Also present were Cambridgeshire Regt veterans from the Second World War, most of whom became prisoners-of-war at the fall of Singapore in 1942. The Duke met a group of the veterans.

President of the Cambridgeshire Regiment Association, Freddie Grounds, hailed the event a success in its purpose of remembering the achievement of the regiment and bringing together the many relatives of the men who fought on that day 90 years ago.

INFORMATION: A 50-page book entitled Storming the Schwaben was produced for the event.

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