Royal Marines to receive Birmingham's highest honour this weekend

If you want to see the finest elite naval infantry and military band in the world parading through the streets of Britain’s second city… get yourself to Birmingham for 11.20am on Saturday.

Royal Marines to receive Birmingham's highest honour this weekendThe people of the West Midlands powerhouse are bestowing the Freedom of the City on the Royal Marines – the commandos and the RM Band – curtain-raiser to 70 minutes of Naval pomp and ceremony…75 miles from the nearest sea.

City leaders decided that given the “close relationship of our people with the Royal Marines” the Corps was worthy of its highest honour.

There is a permanent RM presence in Birmingham in the form of a 61-year-old Royal Marines Reserve detachment (which comes under RMR Mersey), sharing a home with the city’s RNR unit, HMS Forward, a stone’s throw from St Andrews.

They will be joined by the new head of the Corps, Commandant General Maj Gen Charlie Stickland, the men of 40 Commando, personnel from the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, the RM Band Collingwood, veterans and cadets, all marching into Victoria Square at 11.25 on Saturday.

Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr Anne Underwood will inspect the massed ranks before addressing those present at mid-day, followed by the presentation of the freedom scroll to the general, who’ll hand a commando dagger to the Lord Mayor.

Although this great city is positioned in the centre of the country, far from the sea, it has many links with the Corps. Birmingham has long been a fertile recruiting ground for us and we are still recruiting

Major General Charlie Stickland, Commandant General of the Royal Marines

“Although this great city is positioned in the centre of the country, far from the sea, it has many links with the Corps.  Birmingham has long been a fertile recruiting ground for us and we are still recruiting,” said Maj Gen Stickland.

“In recent years, the Royal Marines have been hugely indebted to Selly Oak Hospital and then more recently the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham for its truly outstanding support of our hundreds of casualties from both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts

“We will be forever grateful for their medical staffs’ surgical skill and subsequent care when dealing with our wounded colleagues.”

After the presentations and an address from the Commandant General, the marines gathered in the square will march through the city centre between 12.10 and 12.30 led by the band – the route is Waterloo Street-Temple Row-Cathedral Square-Colmore Row and back into Victoria Square – before joining the Lord Mayor in the Banqueting Suite of the council headquarters.

The title was awarded to the Corps ten months ago, but due to commitments only now have its men and women had the opportunity to formally receive the 2scroll and then exercise their right as freemen.

The RM join a string of military units honoured by Brummies going back to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment back in 1946. Already on the city’s roll of honour are Type 42 destroyer HMS Birmingham, the local RNR establishment HMS Forward and current destroyer HMS Daring.