Soldiers from the 1st Battalion – the Mercian Regiment, have returned home to their headquarters in Bulford, Wiltshire following an extended period of deployment to Estonia.
After spending four months completing pre-deployment training in Germany, over 300 troops from the infantry regiment spent six months on Op Cabrit, the UK operational engagement to the Baltic state, where British soldiers are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
Whilst based in Estonia, 1 Mercian Regiment took part in numerous exercises further cementing relations with its NATO partners.
Lieutenant Colonel Dean Canham, Commanding Officer 1 Mercian reflects on the deployment:
The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire, Worcesters and Foresters, and Staffords) is an infantry regiment of the British Army, which is recruited from five of the counties that formed the ancient kingdom of Mercia.
Known as ‘The Heart of England’s Infantry,’ it was formed on 1 September 2007 by the amalgamation of three existing regiments.
The Regiment has had eight operational deployments since its formation.
“Private Derby,” a Swaledale ram, is the regimental mascot, a tradition inherited from the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.
The first Private Derby was a fine fighting ram that the regiment say was “obtained” during a route march in 1858.
Ram Major Corporal Philip Thornton explained:
They have had a Private Derby ever since.
Since 1912 Chatsworth House has presented a ram from their Swaledale flock and are currently on Derby number 32.
The 30th iteration of the Mascot was known as Lance Corporal Derby XXX, before he died on 27 November 2015. His successor, known as Private Derby XXXI, was announced on 20 February 2016 but he died on 1 September 2017.
In December 2017 the current Private Derby XXXII was presented to the Regiment by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
“He’s actually a serving soldier,” explains Ram Major Corporal Philip Thornton.
Private Derby has his own Twitter account. To follow him click here.