THE Royal Green Jackets exercised their Freedom of the City in Winchester last Saturday for the last time.

The parade of 200 soldiers marked the 40th anniversary of the regiment, which was formed from the King's Royal Rifles Corps and the Rifle Brigade.

It also signified the 60 years which have passed since those regiments had the Freedom of the City bestowed upon them.

Crowds lined the streets in the sunshine for what was a poignant day for the riflemen, veterans and dignitaries, as it was the last parade before the regiment merges with the Light Infantry to form The Rifles.

For one Winchester man, the day was especially emotional.

Tom Craze, 83, of Abbots Barton, took part in the very first parade, in 1946, as a member of the Rifle Brigade.

On Saturday, he watched from The Broadway as the Band and Bugles of the Light Division accompanied a drill and inspection by Winchester's mayor, Cllr Sue Nelmes.

Mr Craze, who completed his basic training in Winchester in 1941, and saw action in Italy and North Africa during World War II, said it was a very proud day for him.

"It was very moving to be there, and to hear the sound of the band and the bugles in particular," he said.

Mr Craze met his wife, Barbara, now 79, at a dance in Winchester before transferring in 1948 to the Royal Signals, with whom he served all over the world before his retirement in 1976.

Since then, until earlier this year, he worked in the Royal Green Jackets Museum at Peninsula Barracks, the regiment's headquarters in Romsey Road, as an archivist.

He said Saturday's parade was the first he had seen since 1946.

"It was a very emotional day. It was extremely special because it was the last one the Royal Green Jackets will do," he added.

Mr Craze said that today's soldiers were a lot more smartly turned out but only because, in 1946, the recruits had to perform the parade in battle dress.

After the inspection and speeches from the Mayor and Major General Nick Cottam, OBE, regimental colonel commandant, the Green Jackets asked for permission to march through the city, and made their way from The Broadway to the barracks.

The Royal Rifle Volunteers, along with veterans from the Royal Green Jackets Association and members of the Army Cadet Force, joined them on the march.