WARTIME heroes of the present are set to be welcomed into Littlehampton at a ceremony to grant an elite unit of Royal Marines the freedom of the town.
Hundreds of people are expected to witness the freedom of Littlehampton which will be granted to the 30 Commando Unit IX at a special ceremony on Saturday, October 5.
The occasion is to mark the extraordinary link between Littlehampton and the Royal Marines which dates back almost 70 years.
In 1944 Littlehampton became the base for the 30 Assault Unit (AU). James Bond author Ian Fleming joined the Royal Navy for the war’s duration and was the senior commanding officer for the unit – which was sometimes referred to as ‘Fleming’s private navy’ or ‘Fleming’s Red Indians’.
In 2010, a Devon-based Royal Marine unit was renamed after the 30AU to better reflect its role and continue the former unit’s legacy. It is to this modern day unit the freedom of Littlehampton is being granted.
Speaking about why Littlehampton Town Council is giving the freedom of the town, the town mayor councillor Joyce Bowyer said: “The council felt that granting the freedom of Littlehampton to the 30 Commando IX Group would be an honourable salute to the bond shared by townspeople and the Royal Marines.
“I feel truly privileged to be the one carrying out the duties that accompany such occasion and to be welcoming the troops and the remarkable Royal Band to our Town.”
The ceremony starts at 2pm at Caffyns Field, Beach Road, when the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper will join the mayor for an inspection of the 80-strong troops before the freedom of the town is conferred.
Once the ceremony is complete a march through the town centre, led by the Royal Band, will follow with spectators being encouraged to line the parade route.
The route will see the soldiers passing the war memorial and the Civic Centre, in Maltravers Road, before heading onto Fitzalan Road and into Church Street, where the marines will salute the mayor at Manor House.
The procession will then continue into High Street, up Surrey Street and back towards the war memorial.
The Littlehampton Nautical Training Corps and Littlehampton Sea Cadets bands will be performing in the High Street from 11am.
Free hand-held flags will be given away on the day and residents on the parade route are being encouraged to claim a free large Union Flag to display from their homes.
Claims can be made at the town council offices by Friday, October 4, proof of address must be shown. The Littlehampton Traders’ Partnership is also getting behind the occasion by giving retailers the same opportunity.
Councillor Malcolm Belchamber said: “This is a unique event for our town which will only happen once so it is important as many people as possible come along to witness it, after all it is history in the making. If you can get involved please do so by claiming a free flag or picking up a hand-waving flag on the day to show your support for the troops.”