SIR - On behalf of the Sidmouth Branch of The Royal British Legion, I would like to thank The War Memorial Club and the Rotary Club for the kind donation received on Friday, March 11, for the Poppy Appeal and the Branch Funds.
This year is the 90th anniversary of The Royal British Legion. To that extent, on Saturday June 25, Armed Forces Day will be celebrated slightly differently than in previous years.
Since the end of the Second World War, there has only been one year that our Armed Forces have not been involved in conflicts around the world and the Legion has always been on hand to help. In recent years, with conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have been there to assist casualties in conflicts, giving support where necessary. To date, we have received 360 fatalities up until March 18 this year and many serious casualties.
I would like to make a note that, for every fatality, there are numerous casualties from all over the UK on a ratio of five to 1. We have several servicemen and woman of the West Country who served and are serving in all branches of the services.
I should like to mention at this stage, The Rifles. They were formed in February 2007 and have seven battalions, five of which are regular and two are territorial, with the strength of approx 650 serving Riflemen in each battalion, this being the largest Regiment in the British Army.
Since the formation in 2007, the Regiment has had 54 riflemen killed in action and 290 seriously injured, of which 50 have sustained injuries of a life-changing nature. Twenty-five amputees, of whom three solders have lost three limbs each, eight have lost two limbs and two solders are now totally blind. The Riflemen wounded are mainly aged between 18 and 26.
This year the 1st Battalion starts its next operational tour in Afghanistan in April 2011, then with the 2nd and 5th Battalions who deploy in October with the 3rd Battalion being deployed April 2012.
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This is just about the Rifles, but so much is happening to our servicemen and woman, I know our valley gives a tremendous amount of support and we of the Royal British Legion are very grateful. So many of our boys and girls are suffering due to conflict and need support. The Legion gives thanks to all charities that assist our servicemen and women and sincerely thank them, but the Legion is, as always, leading from the front.
Chairman Sidmouth Branch The Royal British Legion.