A NEW era has begun at the former RAF Cottesmore base with the handover of command to the Army.
The Army flag is now flying over the base after it was formally handed over on Sunday to the temporary command of Lt Col Ed Marvin of the 49 (East) Brigade on Sunday. It had been an RAF base for 74 years.
Cottesmore will now house Army personnel including the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, known as The Poachers, which will move in during the summer having spent five years based overseas.
The 650-strong 2nd Battalion is currently based in Dhekelia, Cyprus where troops are performing security duties for the British Sovereign Base Areas.
The people of Rutland already share a firm bond with the battalion, which recruits many of its soldiers from the county. One of the companies is named C Northampton and Rutland Company.
Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “As we say a sad farewell to the RAF, a new chapter for Cottesmore begins and we look forward to the arrival of more Army units into the county.”
“Myself and indeed all the community is looking forward to welcoming our new residents.”
The flag raising ceremony to mark the transition of authority of the base to the Army was witnessed by the outgoing RAF Support Unit Commander, Wing Commander John Turner.
Wing Commander Turner said: “I would like to thank the generations of people, both military and civilian who worked and supported the RAF in the local community during our time here.
“I am sure they will make the army feel just as welcome as they have us.
“We are sad to leave, but we know we are leaving the base in good hands.”
According to MoD officials the Rutland base, known as RAF Cottesmore since 1938, will have a new name confirmed after the Easter break.
Nearly 500 personnel from the 7 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps will also move into the barracks in 2013 when the base will become one of the five regional headquarters for British troops returning from Bielefeld, Germany following the Strategic Defence and Security Review published in October 2010.
RAF Cottesmore, which was home to part of the Harrier fleet, became a satellite of RAF Wittering in March last year. The Royal Air Force took down its Ensign during a ceremony on Saturday.
Rutland is also home to 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, which is based at St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham. It is also due to get extra Army units although details have not yet been released.