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Army regiments merge in shake-up

16 December 04 18:43 GMT

Two Midlands regiments are to be merged into a single unit as part of the Defence Secretary's shake-up of the British Army.

Staffordshire along with Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters will merge with Cheshire to form a multi-battalion unit called the Mercian regiment.

Combining 831 years of history each unit will retain their titles within the newly formed regiment.

The Army says there are unlikely to be any cuts once they are amalgamated.

Under the changes Cheshire Regiment will become the first battalion, Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters the second and Staffordshire the third battalion.

The Army says the best of each unit's history will be preserved but there are still fears that the regiments' individual history and reputation could be lost forever.

Walsall MP Bruce George said: "In my opinion, cutting the Army is madness, even if it is only by 1,500 soldiers, because the Army is already over-stretched.

"If the Staffordshire Regiment is amalgamated, and all they retain is their cap-badge and their museum, then they will be a distant memory in 10 years."

Brigadier Chris Murray, Commander of Brigade 143 (West Midlands), told BBC News the pros outweigh the cons of such a merger.

"The merger means there will be more stability for soldiers and their families."

It is not yet known where the three regiments, who cover Worcestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire between them, will be based.

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