THE proud heritage of two Welsh battalions has been recognised at a ceremony in Tidworth to mark a historic merger.

Lucknow Barracks saw hundreds of soldiers take part in the merger parade, which formally marked the coming together of 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (formally Royal Welch Fusiliers) and 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (formally Royal Regiment of Wales).

Under the Army’s 2020 reorganisation it was announced that 23 Regular units would be removed to reach the capacity of 82,000 for the Regular Army and 30,000 for the Reserves by 2018.

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh was one of those units chosen to be removed.

Taffy, the regimental goat, led the Band and Bugles of The Rifles on to the parade square in front of more than 500 marching soldiers who were cheered on by friends, family and serving and former service personnel on raised seated platforms.

Lieutenant Colonel Shon Hackney, Commanding Officer 1 R Welsh, said it was a hugely significant day.

He said: “Today’s a very important day for our regiment and we begin writing a new chapter in our long history which goes back 325 years and the subsequent founding of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the South Wales Borderers.

“Change has been prevalent, across the Army, but what’s been constant is the Welsh soldier serving with distinction in campaigns across the globe over many years. In terms of actual losses of numbers, it’s quite low. The total number that will make up the new battalion, including our supporting units, is about 800, so we are in good shape and optimistically looking forward to playing a very important role.”

Brigadier Philip Napier, Colonel of the Regiment, took the salute in front of the large crowd.

He said: “At our primordial core is a strong sense of what it means to be Welsh, a fierce loyalty to each other, a determination to succeed in the face of adversity and a common love of home.

“We look forward to the future with a spring in our step.”