Until Norton Barracks was built, Militia and Volunteer battalions were frequently billeted in the city during their training periods and for over two centuries the city’s streets have witnessed innumerable parades. In recent years the Worcestershire Regiment has regularly exercised its Freedom of Entry rights, granted in 1950, by marching through the city with ‘drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed’. Most recently, a contingent of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment marched through the city in June 2012 following their return from service in Afghanistan, and 7 men of the city received service medals.
Today, few tangible reminders of the long-standing bond between City and Regiment remain: the Star Hotel that took its name from the badge of the Worcestershire Regiment is now the White House, and the site of Norton Barracks is now a housing estate.
However, the men of the regiment are not forgotten: their names are on the city War Memorial, honoured every year along with all of those who served. In St George’s Chapel in the Cathedral, the ghostly remnants of the many Regimental Colours hang, alongside memorials and the Honour Roll detailing service all over the world.
It is perhaps in Gheluvelt Park, in Barbourne on the northern side of Worcester, that the associations of the Faithful City with its county Regiment can be most strongly felt. Containing houses for disabled and elderly soldiers, the park is dedicated to the memory of and contains a number of memorials to the fallen of the Worcestershire and Mercian Regiments. It was named after the Battle of Gheluvelt in October 1914, in which the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment lost 190 men killed or wounded, and from which many of the disabled soldiers to be housed in the homes had obtained their injuries.
In August 2010, a new war memorial to the fallen of World War One was dedicated in Gheluvelt Park. You can watch a short film of the ceremony here.
Every day, in this park, dedicated in 1918 to the memory of the city’s soldiers, children play and families unite safely and with confidence, thanks to the sacrifice of the servicemen who fought to protect their liberty.