TWO soldiers from Wrexham have taken part in a special First World War commemorative parade in a picturesque Austrian town.
Troopers Robert Jones, 20, and Ryan Wilmott serve with The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG) and were involved in the parade at Bad Ischl – where the proclamation of war on Serbia was signed in July 1914, sparking the First World War.
The troops, based in Sennelager, Northern Germany, are part of the Regiment’s Rear Operations Group supporting 20th Armoured Brigade, known as ‘The Iron Fist’, presently deployed on operations in Afghanistan.
Trooper Jones, who like Trooper Wilmott is a qualified driver of the Revised Weapons Mounted Installation Kit (RWMIK) Land Rover, said: “I am proud to be representing my regiment in this historical parade. It was a great experience.”
Trooper Wilmott said: “This is the first parade I have participated in and it is an immense honour to be selected because of the historical importance.”
The QDG was invited to lead the parade by the Burgermeister (town mayor) of Bad Ischl, Hannes Heide, to recognise the historical links shared by the town and regiment.
At the outset of the Great War, Emperor Franz Josef – of the Hapsburg dynasty – was Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment’s forbearers the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards.
He had his summer residence Kaiservilla, in Bad Ischl, where he signed the proclamation of war on Serbia 100-years-ago.
After parading through the streets with the Radetzky March played by the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps and accompanied by the band of Bad Ischl, the soldiers marched to the Kaiservilla. They were inspected by the Regimental Colonel, Lt Gen Sir Simon Mayall CB, and Archduke Marcus Hapsburg, a descendant of the emperor and the burgermeister.
Leading the parade, Cpt Charlie Ruggles-Brise said: “As the QDG we are exceptionally proud to be parading while we have colleagues in Afghanistan, we are incredibly fortunate to be able to come and commemorate a significant anniversary in such a special location in the regiment’s history.”
Trooper Jones added: “It has been a fantastic opportunity and we have had a great time and the people have really welcomed us. Opportunities to travel to different countries are one of the reasons I joined the Army.”
The QDG will serve in Afghanistan until the end of combat operations and will be the last unit to deploy, with the bulk of the regiment taking over Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF) working in the Manoeuvre Battlegroup.