RSMS Freedom of The Town of Thatcham

RSMS exercising the Freedom led by Major Mark Huish.

On the 20 th of July 2011 the Royal School of Military Survey received the honour of the Freedom of the Town of Thatcham in recognition of the many years association between the town and RSMS.

The catalyst for the event was the 90 th anniversary of the Royal British Legion, the Thatcham branch lobbying for this honour to coincide with the anniversary. Thanks are due to the branch chairman, Ian Bolton, for his initiative in pursuing this quest. In a remarkably short time scale (such events often several years in the planning) the details of the event were thrashed out.

The ceremony took place in the Broadway in Thatcham after the contingent of soldiers from RSMS marched into the town with bayonets fixed, lead by the Corps Band and followed by representatives of the Royal Engineers Association and the Royal British Legion. Once the RSMS contingent was in position the officers from RSMS took post under the direction of Major Mark Huish before the parade was handed over to Lieutenant Colonel Tony Wilby, the Commanding Officer of 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic). Though the Freedom was conferred on RSMS ie a component school of the Defence Intelligence & Security Centre (DISC) and not on the Corps, the link with the Corps remains strong and hence the presence of the Royal Engineers Association in the form of the Reading & West Berkshire Branch lead by the chairman, Adrian Lovell, and the Geographic Branch, with Mike Payne bearing the standard of the latter.

The inspecting officer was Brigadier Mark Hallas, the Commandant of DISC, and he was accompanied by the Town Mayor, Councillor Lee Dillon. After the inspection the Freedom Scroll was handed over by the Mayor to the Principal of RSMS, Mr John Knight, John reciprocating by handing over a print of the School. The importance of the occasion was also demonstrated by the presence of the Lord Lieutenant for Berkshire, the Hon Mrs Mary Bayliss JP.

Though the weather was somewhat inclement, rain throughout, the enthusiasm of spectators and their numbers was in no way diminished, though one poor soul on parade found he was standing in a rather deep puddle interesting when coming to attention! The Corps Band as always were magnificent shrugging off the slight inconvenience of rain with complete disdain. Though it was predominantly RSMS on parade the Regiment provided all the usual backup administration so necessary on such occasions, the RSM, WO1 Alfie Conetta, playing a vital roll in helping to orchestrate the ceremony. After the conclusion of the event the assembled company decamped to the local cricket club for light refreshments. Hopefully RSMS will have further opportunities to exercise its Freedom of Thatcham before it decamps north.

Corps Band march through Thatcham.


Freedom Scroll.


REA contingent.


REA members.


RSMS Freedomof Thatcham Presentation.