Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
'Potty' end for Para emblem
The crest of the Parachute Regiment
Plans to junk the famous Pegasus symbol of the Parachute Regiment have been criticised as "potty".
The flying horse insignia of the crack brigade is to be replaced with a new emblem in September when the Paras are merged with the 16th Air Assault Brigade.
But General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley, a former senior commander of the Paras, said it was a "rotten idea".
"Taking away a token, although it may seem a trivial and simple thing, is one of those things which strikes at the ideas and morale of an outfit.
Former Tory MP Sir James Spicer, who served with the Regiment as a Major during the Suez crisis, said: "I heard about this decision with disbelief. There must be some logical reason for this but I can't for the life of me think what it is."
The Pegasus flash, originally chosen by airborne forces pioneer Major General Boy Browning, features the mythical warrior Bellerophon riding on a flying horse.
It has accompanied the Parachute Regiment throughout its most famous battles, including the abortive assault on Arnhem in 1944 and the Falklands.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said there was nothing exclusive about the Pegasus symbol, as only two-thirds of Paras wear it anyway.
It is in fact worn by the 5th Airborne brigade, to which only the 1 and 2 Para forces belong - 3 Para, not part of the 5th Airborne, does not wear the emblem.
"The exclusive symbols of the Parachute Regiment are the maroon cap and the winged capped badge and that will not change," he said.
The Parachute Regiment comprises about 1,800 soldiers split into three forces - 1, 2 and 3 Para. Men from 1 Para are currently in Kosovo with K-For, the Nato peacekeeping force.
The new 16th Air Assault Brigade will comprise three helicopter regiments, medics, engineers and gunners.