Soldiers from 1st (UK) Armoured Division paraded at Hammersmith Barracks in Herford, Germany, to mark their renaming as 1st (UK) Division.
While the change in title, dropping the word ‘armoured’, might seem slight to some, in fact, the redesignation, as it is known, has huge significance. As part of the changes being implemented under Army 2020 the name-change reflects the fact that over the coming year the division will move from an armoured to a light infantry role and will be at the heart of the British Army’s Adaptable Force.
This Adaptable Force (AF) will provide a division of regular and reservist forces capable of undertaking war-fighting and stabilisation tasks while meeting standing commitments such as Cyprus and Brunei, and will work alongside reaction forces undertaking short-notice intervention tasks.
Major General James Chiswell, the Division’s General Officer Commanding, described the parade as poignant:
Not only does it signify the transition that we are going through, it also signifies the new opportunities open to us as the Army adjusts to meet the security challenges of the future.
One of those challenges is the central role that the AF will take in defence engagement, ensuring UK and global stability by developing mutually beneficial international relationships and reducing the need to deploy on operations.
Major General Chiswell said:
Our effectiveness will rely on maintaining our credibility as a fighting machine capable of projecting force anywhere in the world, building better understanding and relationships overseas so that we can more fully play our part in an increasingly connected world.
With the temperature topping 36°C, the day of the parade was for the 1,000 soldiers taking part a time for reflection as well as for looking to the future. Under Army 2020, British troops will be saying goodbye to Germany after 54 years of calling it home, with soldiers and their families from 1st (UK) Division moving to York.
To mark the occasion, guests at the parade included dignitaries from the German civilian and military communities and a number of former general officers commanding of the division, including the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, who inspected the troops. He said:
Today we recognise what a fantastic chapter in the history of the British Army our service in Germany has been since 1945.
Other dignitaries present included Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Germany, Sir Simon McDonald.
The man leading the day’s event, Command Sergeant Major Rab Loudon, said:
This parade is to mark the importance of everything that has gone before us, it’s to say we are proud of our history, but now it’s time to move forward.
On display throughout the parade were armoured vehicles such as Challenger and Warrior that reflected the division’s past capability, while Foxhound, Husky and Mastiff vehicles signposted the future.
Bringing the event to an exciting conclusion a pair of parachutists landed on the parade square to the James Bond theme played by the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps.