CITY council leader Bob Price is urging residents to support The Rifles as they parade through Oxford for the first time.

The regiment was given the Freedom of the City of Oxford, which allows it to parade through the city, i April and will exercise the honour on Sunday.

Starting at 10.30am, the regiment will march from Christ Church through the city centre to St Giles, where there will be an inspection, with speeches and presentations.

About 250 past and present members of the regiment are expected to take part.

Mr Price said: “I’m urging people to come and cheer on The Rifles – it would be great to have a big contingent showing their support.

“It will be a great pageant and hopefully the weather will be good.

“The Freedom of the City was first granted to the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, who were last out at Dunkirk and first in with the D-Day glider landings, so it is not surprising we are carrying on the tradition in the 21st century.”

Major Erik Broderstad, of A Company 7 Rifles, based at Edward Brooks Barracks in Abingdon, said: “This is an honour that we have inherited.

“It will be our first opportunity to exercise the Freedom and that is greatly appreciated.

“There will be 120 soldiers on parade, led by our commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel James Bryant, and there will also be the Waterloo Band.”

The Waterloo Band and Bugles, based in Abingdon, hit the headlines in March when they carried out a flash mob performance in Broad Street, Oxford, in front of hundreds of people. Summoned by a bugler at the top of a college building, they appeared from all quarters to march up and down the street.

Terry Roper, chairman of the Oxford branch of the Royal Green Jackets, backed Mr Price’s appeal to city residents to show their support, adding: “It’s going to be a really good event.”

The Freedom of Oxford was awarded to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry – which would later become part of The Rifles – on October 1, 1945.

It was given as a mark of the city’s appreciation for the regiment’s service to the country, including the raid at Pegasus Bridge at the start of the D-Day landings in June, 1944.

The honour was formally accepted at a Freedom parade on April 10, 1948.

The Rifles came into existence on February 1, 2007, after the Royal Green Jackets – the successor to the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry – amalgamated with The Light Infantry, the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment.

The last time the Freedom of the City of Oxford was exercised was by the Royal Green Jackets in 2006.

The Rifles’ five regular battalions are based in Edinburgh, Lisburn in Northern Ireland, Chepstow in Wales, Bulford in Wiltshire, and Paderborn in Germany.

Its two reserve battalions have headquarters in Exeter and Reading.

A Company 7 Rifles, all reservists, are based at Edward Brooks Barracks in Shippon, near Abingdon, next to Dalton Barracks.