Led by the Parachute Regiment’s mascot, Shetland Pony Private Pegasus, and the Band of The Parachute Regiment, the TA soldiers marched into Centenary Square.
The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Naveeda Ikram, addressed the troops, headed up by their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Boyd.
Councillor Ikram said that 4 PARA has provided more soldiers than any other TA infantry battalion for operations in the last decade; an average of 45 a year since the deployment to Iraq began in 2003, and the majority of the unit has at least one recent tour to their name:
The life of a reservist is far from easy, juggling civilian work, military and family commitments,” she added.
But I know the civilian skills you bring from your civilian occupations play a valuable role in your military lives. It is when we stop and remember all this that we truly appreciate the debt of thanks we owe to you.
In exercising your right to parade today, the people of this district recognise the enormous contribution you have made and the great pride we have in you as holders of the Freedom of the City.
The parade was attended by members of the families of Captain Martin Driver, Private Martin Bell and Private Joe Whittaker, who were killed in action, and special mention was made of Private Conrad Lewis, killed during the battalion’s most recent tour.
The Lord Mayor said she saluted their bravery and her thoughts were with their families and friends.
4 PARA was awarded the Freedom of Bradford in May last year at a special ceremony at Bradford City Hall, but this weekend was the first time that the battalion had exercised this right to march through the streets with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.
The Parachute Regiment has four battalions, three of them regular troops and 4 PARA, which is the UK’s only reserve parachute battalion.
The battalion’s headquarters are in Pudsey and they have companies and detachments in White City, Croydon, Hebburn, St Helens, Glasgow and Edinburgh.