The Countess of Wessex attends ‘Farewell Parade’ of 5th Battalion The Rifles in Paderborn, Germany.

With a royal visit of The Countess of Wessex and a “farewell parade” British forces have launched their parting and withdrawal from Paderborn on Friday, 1st July. 5th Battalion The Rifles (5RIFLES) bid farewell to Paderborn which has been the battalion’s home since 2007 and will move to Bulford Camp in the South of England as part of the Army 2020 restructuring and rebasing of British troops from Germany. 735 British soldiers are already packed and in the next few weeks they will be leaving Allenbrooke Barracks, the last soldier will march on from the barracks on September 12.

© Photography: Dominic King courtesy of Army Press Office Germany/Crown Copyright

The Countess of Wessex arrived for this farewell parade as the honorary royal colonel of stationed in the Alanbrooke Barracks, ‘5th Battalion The Rifles’ – infantry regiment of the British Army. To the musical accompaniment of the Band of the Queen’s Division and the Buglers of the Rifles, 300 soldiers from the Battalion formed up on parade for the final time to be inspected by Her Royal Highness in Germany. With the Battalion only ever having been based in Germany close links to the local communities have been formed by the soldiers and their families over the years.

© Photography: Dominic King courtesy of Army Press Office Germany/Crown Copyright

Speaking at the parade, The Countess of Wessex said: “The connection with our German hosts is strong; many of my Riflemen have settled in Paderborn, married here, have brought up their children here and intend to retire here.  It is because of the extreme generosity and steadfast kindness that the local Paderborn community has shown that has made this place so homely.  My Riflemen have been made to feel very much a part of the community, evidenced by the strong friendships across all areas of Paderborn life.”

© Photography: Dominic King courtesy of Army Press Office Germany/Crown Copyright

After the parade the Mayor of Paderborn, Michael Dreier, invited The Countess of Wessex and Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wilson to sign the Paderborn Golden Book, reserved for special occasions, in which she left a simple but succinct message: “with sadness in our hearts, but eternal gratitude to the people of Paderborn.”

© Photography: Dominic King courtesy of Army Press Office Germany/Crown Copyright

After the inspection 5 RIFLES were awarded with the German Fahnenband. The Fahnenband is inscribed with the text Einsatz für Frieden und Freiheit (In Service of Peace and Freedom). It is the highest honour that can be given to allied troops. The Fahnenband was presented by Brigadegeneral Gorgels, Commander of Landeskommando Nordrhein Westfalen to Lieutenant General Tim Evans, Assistant Colonel Commandant of The Rifles.

© Photography: Dominic King courtesy of Army Press Office Germany/Crown Copyright
The Fahnenband of the Federal Republic of Germany was presented by Brigadegeneral Gorgels (left), Commander of Landeskommando Nordrhein Westfalen to Lieutenant General Tim Evans (right), Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and Assistant Colonel Commandant of The Rifles.

With the formalities complete, The Countess took her time to meet and talk to English families who are now returning to the UK. She asked wife of soldier Tommy Lasch, whether they had already found a new home, and the answer was “Yes, even a beautiful one,” said the mother of three children. The Alanbrooke Barracks is the first of five barracks, to be abandoned by the British till the 2020th.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JdJWgpas30
print screen of Westfalen-Blatt video – click on pic to be redirected

Here’s translation of article at Neue Westfälische. Link to original article with gallery and video is here.

Captain Charlie James is sad. The press officer is one of the 700 soldiers and 35 officers who will be leaving Paderborn station as the first unit of the British forces. “I’m really sad”, said James who is leaving the town of his own childhood. As the son of a British officer who was stationed in Germany he is a real “boy from Paderborn”.

It is 11.15 hrs when the 5th Battalion the Rifles march onto the parade square under grey clouds. The five marching blocks are lead by an English military band in red uniforms which had come from Bedfordshire to Paderborn. The Band of the Queen’s Division accompanies the ceremony with marching music and swing, catchy pop music and also the theme tune of Star Wars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JdJWgpas30
print screen of Westfalen-Blatt video – click on pic to be redirected

As a guest of honour, Countess Sophie of Wessex – Colonel-in-chief – arrives a little bit later. Following a speech by the military chaplain she inspects the parade and talks to the soldiers and the buglers. In between there is a minute silence in remembrance of the battle of the Somme which started exactly 100 years ago and turned out to be one of the bloodiest battles of WWI.

Brigadegeneral Gorgels from the Landeskommando Nordrhein-Westfalen takes the microphone to give the first speech. On behalf of the federal minister of defence, Ursula von der Leyen, he presents the highest German decoration for an allied force – the Fahnenband of the Federal Republic of Germany- to the troops. Gorgels reminds his listeners of the good cooperation between the British forces and the Bundeswehr and says the Rifles which were formed in 2002 became part of this union with their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

© Photography: Dominic King courtesy of Army Press Office Germany/Crown Copyright

The Commanding Officer, Lt Col Mark Wilson says that leaving Paderborn would not mean the end of the good relations between the forces as they are still connected within NATO. Paderborn mayor Michael Dreier emphasizes that the withdrawal from the city would mark the end of an era. The town had been home to The Rifles for many years and a lot of close friendships have formed during this time – especially with the Schützen of the PBSV Maspern-Kompanie. “We will miss you – that much is certain”, said Dreier. He hopes that with regards to providing a home to the soldiers the town had done a good job.

Landrat Manfred Müller uses his speech to look back into history. After WWII the British troops had come to Germany as an occupying force: “They are leaving as friends”, said Müller. He also mentions how sad the Germans are about the British decision for a BREXIT. This would however not have any effects on the friendship between the British and the Germans or their cooperation in security matters.

© Photography: Dominic King courtesy of Army Press Office Germany/Crown Copyright

The Countess of Wessex describes the farewell from Paderborn as “bittersweet”.  A lot of personal relationships have formed; some soldiers have met their wives here. It is a sad farewell for the children of the soldiers who go to a Kindergarten or a school. She hopes that the friendships would remain even though the friends were leaving.

The 5th Battalion The Rifles are the first unit to leave Paderborn and that for practical reasons. According to BFG-spokesperson Martina Hollmann a barracks in Bulford has been vacated. There, the armoured infantry regiment with their vehicles would find perfect training conditions. The remaining British units in and around Paderborn will be pulled out from Germany by 2020. North Rhine-Westphalia is the last federal state with British Forces.

© Photography: Dominic King courtesy of Army Press Office Germany/Crown Copyright

After about one and a half hours the troops are marching off the parade square in step – with 140 steps per minute – which almost appears like hopping. This high speed is a reminder of the battalion’s history. The light infantry used to rush ahead of other troops. In Germany they rushed ahead of their comrades for the last time – with their farewell ceremony. According to the spokesperson Martina Hollmann there will not be another parade similar to this one. 

Westfalen-Blatt article with lovely gallery of pictures is here. There is one more German article here. Forces TV video can be found here. Link to Royal Family article is here. Here‘s post with pictures by Britische Armee in Deutschland on their Facebook. My post on ‘5th Battalion The Rifles’, can be found here.

Outfit & jewellery:
Jane Taylor hat which debuted to Ascot in 2013.
Emilia Wickstead bespoke dress, also made debut during Ascot but in this year.
Regimental brooch.
SOFIA PEAR DROP EARRINGS IN GREEN AMETHYST MIX (top in lemon quartz) by Pomegranate London.
Jaeger LeCoultre “Reverso Classique” watch.  
Sophie Habsburg bag in Amber style. 
GIANVITO ROSSI Bari 85 patent-leather court shoes in pale pink.

2 thoughts on “The Countess of Wessex attends ‘Farewell Parade’ of 5th Battalion The Rifles in Paderborn, Germany.

  1. Alejandra Ramírez

    Great post! Thanks for looking at the article and sharing the info with us!
    Truly appreciated and it shows your dedication to Sophie and the blog 😀

    Like

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