THOUSANDS of people lined the streets of Littlehampton today (Saturday, October 5) to watch as Royal Marines from 30 Commando were given the freedom of the town.
The ceremony was conducted at Caffyns Field, shortly after 2pm, and marked 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 second world 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 was to this modern day unit the freedom of Littlehampton was granted.
Town mayor Joyce Bowyer, presented the accolade to the commandos, on behalf of the Littlehampton Town Council.
After, the 80-strong marine unit marched through the town, heading down Beach Road, along Maltravers Road and Fitzalan Road, before turning into Church Street, where they saluted dignitaries outside Manor House.
The soldiers continued into High Street and along Surrey Street before finishing back at the Manor House car park.
A private reception was held at The Littlehampton Academy for marines and guests.
Mayor Joyce Bowyer said: “It was an honour and a privilege for Littlehampton to be visited by the Royal Marines and we hope it’s a link that will stay for a long time.”
For the full report, plus pictures, see Thursday’s Littlehampton Gazette (October 10).