Around 200 soldiers from 6 Regiment RLC celebrated the milestone in BFG’s history with a farewell parade at the former military airfield in front of Commander BFG, Brig Ian Bell, and a host of invited guests.
It was the last major event at the once bustling barracks, which has been under British Armed Forces control for 71 years and is due to be handed back to the German authorities this autumn.
The logistics unit, which has been stationed at the sprawling estate on Marienfelder Strasse since 1993, was presented with the prestigious Fahnenband (ribbon of honour) by a German army officer – the highest honour that can be bestowed by the Federal Government of Germany on a NATO force.
Dozens of children, accompanied by adults, arrived at Bob’s Den in Catterick Barracks to see a matinee screening of computer animation Zootopia, while in the evening, thriller Eye in the Sky entertained the grown-ups.
The new facility – further evidence of the Army’s firm base concept – is used by volunteer groups during the week, but every Sunday the Cinelink film club takes over the former band room near the NAAFI Express shop. And it is run completely by volunteers.
Author Sir Anthony Seldon will lead a team of four and hopes that the Via Sacra Walk will become a permanent event. They are also encouraging the public to do a leg with them, joining famous people such as actors Elizabeth Hurley and Dominic West.
Inspired by a letter from a soldier in the First World War, Sir Anthony Seldon will lead the walk across the Western Front, as it was in 1916, from Switzerland to the English Channel – a total of 450 miles – a frontline that once occupied the attention of the world.
The walk will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the battles of the Somme and Verdun and is in homage to soldier Alexandar Douglas Gillespie and to the millions of soldiers who lost their lives between 1914 and 1918.