THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN COPIED WITH THE KIND PERMISSION, FROM THE BLACK COUNTRY BUGLE.
FINAL CHAPTER FOR
For 86 yr old Barry Freeman of Stourport on
In 1872 the War Department purchased 20.5 acres of land less than a mile to the city boundary. Construction of the barracks began in December 1874, and was completed by May 1877. In November 1877 the 36th ( Herefordshire ) Regiment moved into their portion of the barracks and a month later the 29th ( Worcestershire ) Regiment occupied theirs. These two regiments of foot were amalgamated in the army reforms of 1881 into the Worcestershire Regiment.
Norton barracks remained the spiritual home of the
The famous `Keep` was listed, so saved from demolition and was converted to apartments, while the cricket and sports fields were taken over by the Worcester Norton Sports Club, which uses the old Depot Sergeants Mess as its clubhouse.
With the completion of the re development in the 1990`s the only part of the former Norton Barracks still occupied by the old Worcestershire Regiment was a one story brick building put up in 1940. This was home to the Worcestershire Regiment Archive, however this closed in March 2011 and the archive moved to the new territorial Army HQ in
For many years Barry Freeman used the archives at Norton Barracks, searching through the thousands of documents and photographs on behalf of former comrades; he also volunteered to sort through some 2,500ft of cine film held by the archive.
Barry was born in Netherton in 1924 but at the age of two his family moved to Hagley and he lived there for the most of his life. Barry was working as a plumber`s mate when he was called up on the 1st of April, 1943, and joined the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He spent the next year training for the Allied invasion of
Barry landed with the Canadians on `Juno` beach on 8th June, 1944, driving a half tracked personnel carrier up the beach. On the 16th June, the 1st battalion Worcestershire Regiment began their departure from
In the meantime Barry had been fighting with his Canadian comrades but when he found his own Battalion was nearby he was tempted to go and join them. Barry said, “We were on one side of the Carpiquet Aerodrome and I knew the
Barry witnessed the destruction of the German Seventh and Fifth Panzer Armies in the Falaise Pocket in August, 1944. “ I remember going up on a ridge early one morning and in the far distance I could just make out the flashes of the American guns as they rained down on the Germans”.
The 1st Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment was part of the 43RD (
Barry fought his way across Northern France,
Barry was de-mobbed in 1946 and returned to Hagley.
For many years the 1st Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment NW Europe 1944-45 group, has arranged annual re-unions for those who served in the
“This really is the end for me,” said Barry, “ with the closure of the Norton Barracks the Old Regiment is no more.”
However, the memory of the Worcestershire Regiment is not about to fade. Thanks to the work of Colonel Jock Bannister, Louis Scully and Angela Arthur, among others, the proud history and traditions of the Regiment have been preserved. For a number of years Angela was the office manager of the regimental Archives at Norton Barracks.
“ she`s worth her weight in gold,” said Barry.
Colonel Bannister leads the NW Europe re-union group, while Louis Scully maintains a highly detailed and authoritative website on the history of the Worcestershire Regiment.
The lineage of the Worcestershire Regiment can still be traced today. In 1970 it merged with the Sherwood Foresters ( made up of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire regiments ) to form The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters regiment ( 29th / 45th Foot ).
Further re-structuring in 2007 saw this regiment combine with the Cheshire Regiment and the Staffordshire regiments to form the new Mercian Regiment.