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Royal Navy enters Plymouth’s Hall of fame as anniversary event moves indoors

21 September 2023
A celebratory parade turned into a celebratory ceremony as the British weather forced the Navy and civic leaders in Plymouth to enact Plan B.

Instead of 300 sailors and Royal Marines pounding through the heart of the great West Country port today, the roof was (metaphorically) lifted off Plymouth’s historic Guildhall for the 60th anniversary event marking the Senior Service receiving the city’s highest honour.

A forecast of strong winds and heavy rain put the kibosh on the march through Plymouth – but not the pomp and ceremony of the occasion.

Around 100 personnel gathered in the Great Hall of Plymouth’s Guildhall which, aside from historic leaders and local dignitaries, has hosted legendary rock stars Queen and Status Quo among others down the year.

Now add the Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines Plymouth, who provided the suitable musical accompaniment to the anniversary freedom ceremony before the city’s Lord Mayor.

A Colour Guard of sailors from HM Naval Base Devonport and a Casket Party carrying the letter bestowing the Freedom of Plymouth were paraded in front of military and civic leaders.

Brigadier Mike Tanner Royal Marines, Commander of HMNB Devonport, told all present Plymouth and the Royal Navy were inextricably bound.

“Not only was I romanced by the notion that the honour allows us to march through the city ‘with Drums beating, Colours flying and Bayonets fixed’, but I can assure this great city that we marched through its streets with hearts beating with pride and stares fixed with pride. As sailors and Royal Marines - we’re very proud to be part of this city.

He continued: “It is a great honour for any Military Unit to be granted the Freedom of a City, more so when it is a city with such a glorious and deeply personal history as that shared between Plymouth and the Royal Navy.

“Plymouth was largely built and has been sustained by the Royal Navy over many centuries as a global maritime hub – and the city has responded by sustaining, supporting and becoming part of our families’ stories over the same time. Today, we are inseparable.

“So, it is genuinely a great personal honour for me to be the Naval Base Commander during this 60th Anniversary year. Thank you to the city of Plymouth for all you do for the Royal Navy and its sailors and Royal Marines.”

Lord Mayor Cllr Mark Shayer acknowledged thanked the Royal Navy for their continued work and dedication.

“It is an absolute honour to be present at the Freedom of the City parade to celebrate the 60th anniversary. I am really passionate about acknowledging the excellent work and dedication that the Navy do for our country,” he said.

“This is a very special day for our city and for our strong Armed Forces family and community in Plymouth.”

The parade highlights the close relationship between Plymouth and the Royal Navy over the years and the 1963 charter granted to the then Plymouth Command of the Royal Navy when sailors marched up to the Hoe for the first civic event.

The Freedom of a city or borough is the greatest ceremonial honour any local authority can bestow and gives martial organisations the privilege of marching through the city.

Over the past ten years Devonport Naval Base and the Dockyard has gone through several transformations but continues to support Royal Navy operations in home waters and around the globe.

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