Since 1949, Royal Engineers based at Claro Barracks have had the Freedom of Ripon and the right to enter the city, with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.
The covid pandemic and lockdown, brought a halt to mass attendance events and meant that the 2020 freedom weekend could not go ahead.
But it was back in force today, with information stalls and a display of heavy machinery and equipment for the public to see.
Lt Col Simon Graham, commanding officer at Claro Barracks, where four 21 Engineer Regiment squadrons and 650 personnel are based, told the Stray Ferret:
“A lot of our time in Ripon is behind closed doors and though our work takes us to many places around the world, we feel very much part of this community.”
“It’s marvellous to have the honour of the Freedom of Ripon and this weekend is a great opportunity to let let people know what we do.”
Tomorrow morning, the Mayor of Ripon Cllr Eamon Parkin, will take the salute as the Royal Engineers march past in Market Square and today, he and the Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, visited the square to meet with Lt Col Graham and his colleagues.
The Royal Engineers have served on operations in Northern Ireland, Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, providing light role close support that enables the army to live, move and fight.
The operation included the British contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
It also supported military action on the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, principally within the Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan.
In recent years, the engineers’ main focus has been on support to UN peacekeeping operations. This has included deployments to Cyprus, Somalia and South Sudan, as well as Afghanistan.
Ripon’s military links go back over many decades and in 1915, when its population was under 9,000, an army camp was created in the city to accommodate 30,000 troops.
Up until the end of World War I more than 350,000 soldiers passed through the camp – among them the famous war poet Wilfred Owen.