SEVEN hundred ‘volunteers’ will take the ‘King’s Shilling’ in Chester on Sunday in a unique recreation of military history – and one Cheshire village’s amazing devotion to its country.
Just as they did 100 years ago, the Port Sunlight volunteers – all employees of Lever Brothers – will travel to Chester to be enlisted into the 13th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, on Castle Square.
The 21st Century ‘recruits’ will listen to the same stirring speech delivered on September 7,1914 by General Sir Henry Mackinnon – who had sanctioned the raising of The Pals Battalion – before being handed replica King George V Shillings by First World War recruitment sergeants.
Payment of a shilling to army recruits on enlistment dates back to the English Civil War and the phrase “taking the King or Queen’s Shilling” has carried on through history.
Today’s Port Sunlight volunteers will take part in a Great Send Off parade from Unilever Gates to the local railway station before arriving at Chester station at 11.30am.
After marching to the cathedral behind the Lyceum Brass Band they will join the parade to commemorate the Battle of Mons in which the 22nd Cheshire Regiment sustained huge losses in the first battle involving the British Expeditionary Force.
More than 1,000 people – including ex-servicemen and women and dignitaries from across the diocese and beyond – will attend a special service to be conducted by the Bishop of Chester.
The service will be followed by a joint parade through the city, led by the band of the Mercian Regiment, moving off from the cathedral at about 12.45 pm and arriving at the Castle Square recruitment ceremony at 1pm.
The salute in Watergate Street will be taken by The Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Bob Rudd, the Lord Lieutenant, Mr David Briggs and Brigadier Ian Cave, Cheshire Colonel of the Mercian Regiment and President of the Cheshire Regiment Association.