A BATTALION of the Royal Welsh based in Wrexham is to be disbanded ending a 200 year affiliation with the county.
The move is part of the reorganisation of the Army and the 71-strong 3rd Battalion Royal Welsh Company A based at Hightown Barracks will be disbanded on November 18, ending a special relationship in the town which dates back to the 1800s.
The move comes as part of the Government’s Army 2020 plans, part of which confirmed the Wrexham Company will merge with D Company based in Colwyn Bay.
Captain Gareth Hughes of the battalion said: “We are sad to hear the news but we have to support the direction which comes from above.
“It is difficult to swallow and there will be a loss of affiliation in the town.”
The Freedom of Wrexham was given to The Royal Welch Fusiliers – as they were then known – in 1946, and the earliest record of The Royal Welch Fusiliers in Wrexham is 1805, when soldiers were recruited as part of the campaign against Napoleon 70 years before the Hightown Barracks opened and became a HQ for The Royal Welch Fusiliers.
Despite the loss of affiliation in the town, Captain Hughes said there are still options for the soldiers based there.
He said: “Company A in Wrexham will close, but the soldiers there still have options.
They can either serve with the D Company in Colwyn Bay or transfer to the new Welsh Transport Regiment logistics unit based in Queensferry.”
Sophie Williams, a recruiter with the 101 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), which will remain based in Hightown, said everyone there is disappointed with the news.
She said: “It is very sad to see this happen. There is a lot of history in Wrexham and everyone in the battalion is very sad to have to go.”
Terry Stott, a former officer with The Royal Welsh in Wrexham, said: “It is so very sad because of the history. There is a great deal of history between The Royal Welsh and Wrexham and it is not a nice thing to see.
“There will however still be a military presence in Wrexham through REME and maybe in years to come things may change and we have The Royal Welsh back.”
The last public appearance of The Royal Welsh in Wrexham will be on November 10 when the battalion will parade through the town from the barracks as part of the Remembrance Day service.
Kevin Forbes, community fundraiser for the Royal British Legion in Wrexham, said: “It is a long term affiliation between The Royal Welsh and Wrexham with it being a garrison town and it is such a shame that this link is being broken.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “Two years ago we announced plans to grow the Army Reserve to 30,000 and deliver a fully integrated Army of 120,000 by 2018.
“As we work to rebalance the whole Army and concentrate its presence in areas more accessible to its key demographic, 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh will lose the Company currently based in Wrexham and continue with Companies based in Colwyn Bay, Swansea and Pontypridd as well as the Battalion HQ and HQ Company in Cardiff.
“We very much hope that all those currently serving with 3rd Battalion the Royal Welsh will continue their service in the Army Reserve which provides exciting and rewarding opportunities for all its personnel.”