The Welsh Guards are being granted the Freedom of the County Borough by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council – and residents are being urged to join the important event to mark the honour.
The Freedom of the Borough is the highest civic honour that can be bestowed and has been done so in recognition of the Welsh Guards’ services and strong links to the area.
The honour is also further proof of the commitment Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and its communities have to armed services personnel and their families and how proud they are to be considered home to them.
This commitment has also been recently seen with the launch of a Community Covenant, the unveiling of a new war memorial at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park and ongoing support for armed forces causes and charities.
Hundreds of people from all walks of life are expected to line the streets of Pontypridd on Wednesday, May 15 when the troops will march through the town as part of the conferment of the Freedom of the Borough. The ceremony begins at 11am, followed by the parade.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor, Cllr Doug Williams, said: “It will be a great day for the people of Rhondda Cynon Taf to come out and cheer on the Welsh Guards as they parade through our streets.
“We are both proud and honoured to bestow this wonderful accolade on a regiment which is held in such high esteem and with strong links to our County Borough.”
The Freedom of the County Borough, bestowed by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, is only ever presented to distinguished individuals and groups. Past recipients include the South Wales Miners, tenor Stuart Burrows and the Royal Welsh Regiment.
More about the Welsh Guards:
Formed in 1915, the troops set sail for France just a few months later to commence their involvement in World War One, engaging in its first battle – Loos – in September.
The Regiment's first Victoria Cross - the highest honour for bravery - was awarded two years later, in July 1917, to Rhondda Cynon Taf resident, Sergeant Robert Bye.
The 1st Welsh Guards returned home at the end of the War in 1918 and carried out training and ceremonial duties, such as the Changing of the Guard and Trooping the Colour in London.
In 1929, the 1st Welsh Guards were deployed to Egypt, where they joined the Cairo Brigade before returning home in 1930.
Just prior to the outbreak of World War Two, the Welsh Guards were dispatched to Gibralter, where they remained upon the outbreak of War in September 1939, subsequently taking part in all campaigns.
The Regiment was increased to three Battalions during World War Two. The 2nd Battalion, Welsh Guards, was created on May 18, 1939. They fought in Boulogne in 1940, while the 1st Battalion fought in Belgium.
At the Battle of Arras in May 1940, the Welsh Guards were awarded their second Victoria Cross, which posthumously went to Lieutenant Christopher Furness, who was killed in action.
The Welsh Guards were part of the evacuation of Dunkirk, which saw more than 340,000 British and French troops return to the UK against all odds.
The 3rd Battalion, Welsh Guards, was formed at Beavers Camp, Hounslow, on October 24, 1941, and two years later the troops fought throughout the tough Tunisian North African Campaign and Italian Campaigns.
Shortly after the end of World War Two, the 3rd Battalion was disbanded and the 2nd Battalion placed in suspended animation.
The Welsh Guards were deployed to Northern Ireland in 1972 and in 1976 were part of the British contingent of the United Nations force deployed to Cyprus in the aftermath of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
The Welsh Guards formed part of the British Task Force sent to liberate the Falklands Islands in 1982, and many troops were on-board the ill-fated Sir Galahad on June 7, at the height of the Falklands War.
The bombing of the Sir Galahad resulted in 48 deaths, 32 of whom were Welsh Guards. Among the survivors on that day was Simon Weston.
On September 6,1997,12 Guardsmen of the Welsh Guards, were called to escort the casket of Diana, Princess of Wales, from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey for her funeral service.
In latter years the Welsh Guards have served in Basra, Iraq, Bosnia, Belize and Afghanistan.
More about the Community Covenant
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council launched its Armed Forces Community Covenant on Armistice Day 2012 - a signed statement of mutual support and respect between Rhondda Cynon Taf’s communities and the servicemen and women - serving and retired - and their families who are based in the locality.
The Rhondda Cynon Taf Armed Forces Community Covenant builds upon the Council’s important work to date and the existing strong relationship and respect between armed forces personnel and local communities.
Recent developments have included the new Roll of Honour War Memorial at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, bestowing the Freedom of the Borough on the Royal Welsh and an on-going, strong relationship with the Royal British Legion.
The Community Covenant is a document signed by a representative of the Council and a representative of the Armed Forces, with involvement from the Local Service Board and other partner agencies.
The Rhondda Cynon Taf Armed Forces Community Covenant complements both the Ministry of Defence’s UK-wide Armed Forces Covenant: Today and Tomorrow, and the Welsh Government’s Package of Support for Armed Forces in Wales.
It has been established within the context of the Community Covenant Scheme, launched in June 2011, which encourages the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as the communities they represent, to offer targeted support for their armed forces community.
Visit the Community Covenant information page or download the Community Covenant Document