DEDICATED soldiers completed their first 30 mile trek as part of an event to follow in the footsteps of heroic soldiers who went to the battle of Waterloo.

On April 9, 1815, the G Troop commanded by Captain Mercer set off from Colchester to Harwich to board their ships and set sail to Belgium and Waterloo.

The soldiers arrived at Harwich either on foot or on a horseback carrying their own guns and weapons.

205 years later, the modern G Parachute Battery, which is also known as Mercer’s Troop, followed their footsteps and completed the 30 mile route for the first time from Colchester Garrison all the way to the Redoubt Fort in Harwich.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Lee Kennedy, 38, who has been the sergeant major of the battery for 16 months, said he organised the event after learning about the troop’s history and connection to the town.

“Soldiers stayed at the Three Cups Inn, in Church Street, Harwich, the night before sailing,” he added.

“It’s definitely important to learn about the history of your troop and to encourage soldiers to remember those who lost their lives at war.

“We retraced their footsteps along the Essex Way to Harwich, stopping in Dedham and Manningtree for water refills, finishing at the Redoubt Fort which was used as a defensive position in 1815.”

The sergeant major, from Harwich, said 70 soldiers who participated, aged between 17 and 43, were split into groups of four or five to follow social distancing rules.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

“Even with the favourable weather the route and distance made for a tough event but the Men of Mercer’s were equal to that challenge,” he said.

“Walking or running in the heat was more of a mental challenge, as well a physical one.

“People had sore feet, sore muscles but when we arrived we had three physiotherapists to give them a leg massage.

“It was more of a mental challenge just because it took up seven hours for the slower team and four and half hours for the fastest team to arrive.

“It was very difficult and harder than initially people thought, but it was good to retrace the footsteps of soldiers who went to fight. We have a lot of respect for them.”

The soldiers finished their day with a barbecue and massage by Harwich Therapy at the Redoubt Fort, in Main Road, Harwich.