Duke of Wellington's Regiment holds a special place in the hearts of father and son

Brian Sykes and his son Brian in 2018
Brian Sykes and his son Brian in 2018

"For your tomorrow, they gave their today. That's a great saying, and I think that applies for the Dukes."

It's in this spirit of recognition and commemoration that a statue will be unveiled on May 17 as a lasting memorial to the Duke of Wellington's Regiment.

Private Brian Sykes in Cyprus, 1967, in his first post into the Dukes on a peace keeping tour with the UN

Private Brian Sykes in Cyprus, 1967, in his first post into the Dukes on a peace keeping tour with the UN

And where else could it be placed, but Halifax.

"I've marched through Huddersfield, in the Colour Party, and then we'd go and march through Halifax," recalls Brian Sykes, who served with the Regiment for 37 years.

"The Huddersfield public used to turn out, but Halifax was always a huge turnout.

"We used to step off from the barracks in Halifax, in best uniform, and march through, and Halifax was always the best reception.

Officer Commanding Hook Company Brian Sykes in Weeton Barracks, 1996.

Officer Commanding Hook Company Brian Sykes in Weeton Barracks, 1996.

"It's the footprint isn't it. It's the home of the Dukes."

And it will be a proud moment for Brian when he witnesses the unveiling of the statue.

Brian's time with the Dukes saw him rise from Private to Regimental Sergeant Major, then commissioned and reaching Major, serving in Cyprus, Germany, Hong Kong and Bosnia among others, as well as seven tours of Northern Ireland.

It was after one of these tours that Brian was awarded the MBE in 1982.

Major Quartermaster Brian Sykes, peace keeping with the UN in Bosnia in 1994

Major Quartermaster Brian Sykes, peace keeping with the UN in Bosnia in 1994

"Being Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the Battalion is a great honour," he said.

"I joined the Dukes and went into Burma Company. I could have gone to Mechanical Transport, because I had a licence.

"But I wanted to go into a rifle company. When I was posted to Cyprus in 1967, that's the sort of company that stayed with me.

"Then I got posted to Burma Company as a Platoon Sergeant, so I felt like I was back home.

Commanding Officer, Adjutant and Regimental Sergeant Major of the Dukes in Bulford in 1986

Commanding Officer, Adjutant and Regimental Sergeant Major of the Dukes in Bulford in 1986

"My ambition was then to become Burma Company's Company Sergeant Major, and I got that. So that's right up there.

"Then being RSM, and then Quartermaster, and there was no better place to do it than Bosnia.

"It was fantastic. We started with very little - no running water, no electricity, no toilets.

"We just built it up, and kept pressing the system, getting the kit through for the soldiers. It was a real achievement."

Brian says the Dukes' culture of discipline, high standards and camaraderie was infectious.

"I'd been told that the Dukes was a good regiment, which didn't mean much to me back then," he recalls.

Brian Sykes (Jnr) Junior Infantry Battalion, Ouston, 1990

Brian Sykes (Jnr) Junior Infantry Battalion, Ouston, 1990

"But I quickly realised when I joined that it was very strict, but they did the job properly.

"If you're amongst that, then it gets into your system. As a youngster, you're looking at people and thinking 'he's switched on, I'm going to be like that'.

"I don't think it changed a great deal. I first joined the Dukes in Cyprus in 1967. It was a six-month tour, up on the hill sides observing the Turks and the Greeks.

"The Commanding Officer inspected weekly, and we'd be in the best khaki denim, all starched up.

"They didn't have to do that, some units wouldn't have bothered.

"My Section Commander Tommy Martin was strict but fair, he wanted it doing properly. The job was always done right, and people were always willing to teach you.

"We did a lot of tours in Northern Ireland in a professional manner because the Dukes were a highly professional regiment.

"Your training is so valuable when you go on operations, and that's what gives you confidence.

"From the time I joined to the time I left, the Battalion always maintained the highest standards."

Brian also played his part in one of the Dukes' traditions of sons following their fathers into the Regiment.

"My father was in the second world war but didn't like the Army and didn't want me to join," he says.

"I get it from my mother's father, who loved it, and my mother's brother, who was also a good soldier.

"I thought it was great that my son followed me into it. I wanted my daughter to join too.

"I encouraged him, and I got him ready for his trials. I used to put him through his paces, we used to go running.

"I went up to Catterick where he was training recruits to watch a passing out parade, and I was so proud, because he took a really good parade.

"His drill was good, he was smart, and at the end of the parade he was awarded the Commander's Commendation for leadership and management during his tour in Cyprus as a Company Sergeant Major.

"It gives me a lot of pride when I talk to people who say 'I served with your son, he's a good lad', because he's done well.

"But he's done the right thing. Where's he got that? Not all from me, he's got it from the regiment, because he's been amongst people doing the right thing.

"He always wanted to join, and he has no regrets he did."

For an insight into why the Dukes continue to be held in such high regard, Brian recalls a conversation from his time in the Regiment.

"I once said to a Company Sergeant Major when I was Platoon Sergeant and I'd had to go to a Sergeant's Mess,'I've had no details of dress, what we should wear while I'm here, such as at night when you're out of uniform and you're going for meals', and his advice to me was 'wherever you go, whichever Regiment, whichever Mess, you behave as you would in the Dukes' Sergeant's Mess, and you will not be wrong'.

"And those words were absolutely right.

"That's what I said to my son, wherever he was posted, I told him 'do the same as you would do in the Dukes'."

Pvt Brian Sykes (Jnr) Arctic warfare training in Norway in 1992

Pvt Brian Sykes (Jnr) Arctic warfare training in Norway in 1992

Company Sergeant Major Brian Sykes (Jnr) at Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, 2012

Company Sergeant Major Brian Sykes (Jnr) at Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, 2012