1 Mercian Regiment return home after extended period of deployment to Estonia

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Photo: Cpl Charles Clare RLC - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

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).

Cpl Charles Clare RLC – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

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:

“It was a fantastic opportunity, we got to conduct something that is pretty rare, six months working with soldiers from a range of units and nationalities, conducting everything from the lowest level of training right up to Brigade level of operations in an armoured context.”

He added:

“The occasion also gave the regiment a time to reflect. As it is close to Remembrance day we have taken the opportunity to read out the names of all the Mercian soldiers who have fallen since the formation of the regiment. This time of year, it is particularly poignant having just returned from operations to remember those individuals.”

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:

“It actually started in 1858, during the Indian Mutiny War at the siege of Kotah with the 95th Derbyshire Regiment.

“What happened at the time, was the commanding officer ordered a Pte O’Sullivan to take a fine looking ram into battle with them.

“The ram marched nearly 3,000 miles and subsequently fought numerous battles himself with other rams.

“Therefore, on the 2nd of August 1862, he was awarded his first medal which was the Indian Mutiny Medal.

“Ever since then, he became the mascot of the regiment.”

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.

“He gets £3.68 per day, which goes towards his feed. And if we need something like a new lawnmower for his pen, that comes out of his account.

Thornton jokes:

“He’s probably one of the richest soldiers in the British Army.”

Private Derby has his own Twitter account. To follow him click here.

 MOD News Licence.

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