ARTILLERY FIRE will be heard in the city centre at lunch-time on Saturday 30 July as 4th Regiment Royal Artillery marks its Freedom of Sunderland.
The Regiment has a long association with Sunderland and this was recognised with it being granted the Freedom of Sunderland in 1974.
On Saturday, three of the regiment’s 105mm ‘light guns’ are firing seven rounds each for a 21 gun salute from the terrace in Mowbray Park as part of its freedom parade.
Led by the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps, the Regiment is stepping off from the Civic Centre atnoon.
It marches to the Burdon Road War Memorial for an inspection by the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Alan Emerson and the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear.
Gunners then march in Burdon Road, Fawcett Street, High Street West, Union Street, into Market Square, Holmeside and turning right back into Burdon Road for a salute alongside the Burdon Road War Memorial. The firing of the guns is timetabled for between 12.30 and 12.45.
Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Harry Trueman, who is also the city’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “I hope people from across Sunderland and the region can join us to support the parade as we mark the close bond between 4th Regiment Royal Artillery and Sunderland.
“It is always an honour to see 4th Regiment in Sunderland as they are ‘our’ regiment. There’s good viewing points from Burdon Road, outside the Museum and Winter Gardens, in Fawcett Street, and along the route of the parade.
“The parade is a great opportunity to celebrate and embrace this freedom tradition and to give all the ‘Gunners’ a warm welcome and reception.”
In recent years, 4th Regiment Royal Artillery has served in Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Iraq and on peace-keeping duties with the United Nations in Cyprus, as well as three tours of Afghanistan.
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Alston MBE, Commanding Officer 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “We exist only to serve you; we say thank you for your support by marching through the city, with a band playing, drums beating, carrying our rifles with bayonets fixed and in the presence of our colours – our guns, all of which have seen active service.
“The Regiment is immensely proud of its association with Sunderland as our home city.
“This honour of parading and exercising our Freedom of Sunderland is a significant one, and one that the Regiment is very proud of.”
It has a tradition of parading and firing its guns in Sunderland such as in 2008 when it fired guns from Building Hill, Mowbray Park, next to the statue of General Henry Havelock, after returning from its first tour in Afghanistan. It also exercised its freedom in 2010 and 2013. As part of the 40th freedom anniversary in 2014, it paraded and fired guns in Mowbray Park.
Members of the Regiment and a 105mm gun were part of the beach assault demonstration at the Sunderland International Airshow on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July.
There are road closures in and around Burdon Road for the parade and a rolling road closure is in place as it ‘steps off’.