Right to bear arms

Right to bear arms

By Michael Upton | 27/07/2021

Right to bear arms
Thomas Jackson

 

The Coldstream Guards has formally been given Freedom of Entry to the Doncaster borough – the highest honour which can be applied to a military unit.

Equivalent to the freedom of the borough honour which can be given to individuals, it allows the unit the right to march through the town bearing arms.

The regiment’s past members include Thomas Norman Jackson from Swinton and George Wyatt, of Sprotbrough, who were both awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery in battle during the First World War.

Lce-Cpl Jackson was killed during the Battle of Canal du Nord just six weeks before the end of the war when he led a successful charge to capture a machine gun post, killing two German soldiers before being shot himself.
His parents were presented with the Victoria Cross in 1919.
Wyatt, also a Lance-Corporal but later promoted to Lance-Sergeant, was awarded his own Victoria Cross for valour after a battle in 1914 at Landrecies in France.

The London Gazette reported how he dashed out of a farm building while under heavy fire and put out the fire in a haystack which had been started by the enemy.

Although wounded in the head, the soldier reportedly continued firing despite his sight being obscured by the blood pouring down his face.

Demobilised in 1919, Wyatt served in the Doncaster Police until his retirement.

He died in Sprotbrough and is buried at Cadeby.

Doncaster Council said conferring freedom of entry, which was unanimously approved at last Wednesday’s full council meeting, was an opportunity “to recognise and celebrate the long and proud history that the town shares with the regiment”.

It is likely to be celebrated with an outdoor ceremony and a march through the town centre, probably during 2022.

The Coldstream Guards’ history goes back to 1650, when a regiment was raised as part of Cromwell’s New Model Army at the small border town of Coldstream between England and Scotland.

Its connection to Doncaster began ten years later, when the regiment marched from its hometown to help restore Charles II to the throne.

The troops stopped off at Doncaster to rest and gather provisions and legend has it the first “Donny lads” followed the drum and signed up.

A report to councillors said: “Since the Boer War (at the turn of the 20th century), at least one Doncaster man has served with the regiment in every conflict or operation it has undertaken.

“Poignantly, proof of this can be found on a large number of war graves and war memorials spread in and around the borough.”

Doncaster has its own branch of the Coldstream Guards Association, which meets monthly and has at least 125 members, and a permanent Doncaster recruiting office for the regiment.
“This is in recognition to the high quality and large numbers of people from the town who have always been eager to serve in the regiment,” said the report.

 


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