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Many livery companies have an affiliation with a unit of the Armed Forces, some with a Royal Navy ship or RAF squadron, and many with an Army regiment.
In 1989 on the initiative of the Master that year, John Reid OBE, The Furniture Makers’ Company decided to form such an affiliation. John, a furniture designer and architect, and also the Lord Mayor’s Pageant-Master, organising the Lord Mayor’s Show each year, was in contact with many service personnel and knew that the 5th Battalion, The Royal Green Jackets, was a Territorial Army unit based in Oxford and Aylesbury which numbered many people from High Wycombe, traditionally a furniture town, in its ranks.
He approached the then Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Poole Warren, about an association between The Royal Green Jackets and the Company. The idea was enthusiastically taken up and the Bond of Association came into effect on 8 May 1989.
To mark the occasion, the Battalion presented a formal framed engrossment of the Bond of Association to the Company and we gave the Battalion a magnificent Campaign Table (Bespoke Guild Mark 218 – Richard Williams).
On 1 February 2007, The Royal Green Jackets together with The Light Infantry, The Devon and Dorset Regiment, and The Royal Gloucester Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment formed a new Regiment – The Rifles. The new Regiment comprises five Regular and two Territorial Army battalions.
Following this amalgamation the Company’s affiliation switched to one of the TA battalions, 7 Rifles. The Battalion HQ is in Reading and its constituent Companies are in London, Abingdon and Milton Keynes. Our particular association was with E Company, based in Milton Keynes.
As part of the Army Strategic Review on 5 April 2014, E Company rebadged to become 678 (The Rifles) Squadron Army Air Corps and so our link with the Rifles was formally reviewed. After consultation with the Commanding Officers of both 2 Rifles and 7 Rifles, it was agreed that our affiliation would switch to 2 Rifles.
However, the Army Strategic Review has now ‘paired’ regular units and reserve units. Regular units have reduced their manpower and in future will rely on the paired unit in order to deploy on operations. Happily for us 2 and 7 Rifles are paired together, so we still maintain links with the latter.
In December 2014 to mark the passing of the affiliation the Master Paul von der Heyde presented Lieutenant Colonel James Bryant, Commanding Officer of 7 Rifles, with a splendid display cabinet, made by Hands of Wycombe.
Recently 2 Rifles moved to Theipval Barracks in Lisburn, Northern Ireland and returned from an operational tour in Kabul, Afghanistan in January 2015. Read the latest news from 2 Rifles here.