THE silver bugle of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) is flying high in County Durham following the launch of a new reserve battalion.

The new 8th Battalion The Rifles, a successor of the DLI, was launched today as part of an Army restructure.

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The battalion will have its headquarters in Eden Armoury, in Bishop Auckland and will have companies in Bishop Auckland, Durham, Pontefract and Shrewsbury as well as detachments in Sunderland, Birmingham and Doncaster.

Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Teale, the commanding officer of the new battalion, said: “This is a great moment for our regiment and our communities that we live in and work in and recruit from.

“We are the modern descendants of the DLI and we have strong links in County Durham which allows us to carry on their traditions.

“Today is a really proud day as the Rifles are re-established in County Durham and the North of England.”

The battalion’s flag was raised at a ceremony at the battalion’s D Rifles Company base at the Army Reserve Centre in Durham.

The flag of the Fifth Fusiliers was lowered, ending a ten-year association, and a standard bearing the emblem of the silver bugle – common to the Rifles and the Light Infantry – was raised.

A parade is due to take place in Bishop Auckland’s Market Place with the Rifles’ band and bugles tonight, starting at 7.30pm.

Washington reserve Daryl Dowdall, D Company Commander, said; “It’s all very exciting.

“We are the newest battalion of the British Army and we are all very glad to be part of it. Recruitment in Durham has been very good in the last couple of years so we hope it will continue to do so. The DLI is still much loved and much respected. As a successor regiment, people give that love to us as well so we do our best to repay that.

“As we grow in County Durham we will be able to go back to providing more support in the future.”

Rifleman Stephen Elliott, a bugler from South Shields whose grandfather served at The Somme during the First World War, said: “I’ve been a reserve since 2001 and I’ve seen the battalion go through a number of changes.

“Now we have got our own identity.”

The creation of the new battalion is part of the Army’s 2020 restructuring, which includes expanding its reserves.

The new battalion will be based across the North-East and will be paired with regular sister battalion 2nd Battalion The Rifles, supplying them with extra reserve combat support.

Lt Col Teale added: “I am extremely privileged to be the first commanding officer of 8 Rifles, a key component of an Army Reserve that is forward looking, agile and modern. Today’s riflemen are enthusiastic, eager to get on and up for a challenge and we want to hear from those who wish to join us.”