Gavin Williamson: My bid to return Staffordshire regimental name to Army
The South Staffordshire MP says one of his biggest regrets as a minister is the fact that the famous county name is no longer tied to the armed forces. He said he was deeply saddened by the situation and revealed he had looked into the “incredibly difficult” task of bringing it back. The Staffordshire Regiment was amalgamated with the Cheshire Regiment and the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters regiment to form the Mercians in 2004.
Mr Williamson, who has a photograph of the Staffordshire Regiment on his office desk at the MoD, said he had wanted to “strengthen ties” between the British Army and the county since becoming Defence Secretary in November 2017.”It has been a real point of sadness for me while I have been in the Ministry of Defence that we no longer have any of the organisations within the Army that bear the Staffordshire name,” he said.
“Staffordshire has had such strong historical links with the Army and it is a shame that the name has been allowed to die out. “It is a powerful thing for the Army to have close ties with the community, and Staffordshire and the surrounding areas – particularly Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall – have always been major recruiting areas.”Constituents often raise the issue with me, and I know that seeing the Staffordshire name back with the Army would mean an awful lot to them. I can’t stress enough the importance of the bond that a name can help forge, really helping communities to take the Armed Forces to heart.”
On the prospect of the Staffordshire name returning to Army circles, he said: “I want to see it restored, but it is a real challenge. It is something that I keep looking at. I would dearly love to work out a way to reunite the great Staffordshire name with the Army, but it is an incredibly difficult task.” The Staffordshire Regiment was formed in 1959 when The South Staffordshire Regiment and The North Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’) were merged.
Its history can be traced back to the Kings Head pub in Lichfield in 1705 when a regiment known as the 38th Foot (1st Staffordshire Regiment)was formed by Colonel Luke Lillingston. In 2014, the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffords) was axed under cuts announced by the then Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.