Regimental standard brainchild of Sidmouth ex-soldier

Stunning standard commemorates E Company of the 1st Battalion Wessex Regiment Rifle Volunteers

A STUNNING standard commemorating E Company of the 1st Battalion Wessex Regiment Rifle Volunteers will be presented outside Exeter Cathedral in April.

The ceremony will take place on Saturday, April 16, at 4pm and Colonel Martin Lee-Browne, who was Commanding Officer at the time its colours were presented in 1973, will make the presentation.

The new standard – with its colourful centrepiece (pictured) – has been initiated by Dave O’Connor, chairman of Sidmouth branch of the Royal British Legion and the last Sergeant Major of E Company before it was disbanded in 1988 to form the 4th Battalion of Devonshire and Dorset Regiment 1st Rifle Volunteers.

Dave said people from across the county, including Exmouth, Ottery St Mary, Honiton and Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple, had come together to get the standard, the first for E Company.

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It will be dedicated by Sidmouth’s Reverend Robin Laird and afterwards an E Company reunion will take place at the Railway Club, Whipton, Exeter.

Dave explained the central creature, a Wyvern, was an battle emblem dating back to the Knights of the Round Table.

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The regiment was first formed with soldiers from across the UK, hence the emblems of the thistle, shamrock, leek and rose.

Four regiments joined as one battalion after the Government’s 1976 defence review cuts to cover the South West area.

“Initially its headquarters was at Exeter, but the Wessex Volunteers didn’t have enough room and moved its headquarters to Trowbridge and E Company came into existence,” said Dave.

When disbanded it had two 81mm mortar detachments and two 120mm anti-tank and rifle platoons at Barnstaple and Plymouth.

The company has had a reunion for the past six years.

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