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Soldiers get marching orders

The 'Rat Pack' Rifles Awareness Team at HMS Calliope on the River Tyne Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A determined group of ex-servicemen have embarked on a four day march from Tyneside to Edinburgh to raise funds for injured servicemen and women and the families of those killed in action.

The 'Rat Pack' Rifles Awareness Team left HMS Calliope on the River Tyne early this morning.

On their on 110 mile trip they will be carrying an World War One bayonet.

It belonged to the team organiser Paul Cocoran's Great Uncle Harold, who was in the 9th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, also known as the Gateshead Ghurkas.

World War One bayonet to be presented in Edinburgh Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The bayonet is being carried to the Scottish capital in Paul's old footlocker, which he used while serving as a platoon sergeant.

On arriving in Edinburgh they will head to the Redfern Barracks where they will present it to the Rifles commander, Lt Col Dan Reeves.

Retired platoon sergeant Paul Cocoran Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"My Great Uncle Harold was killed on the Somme in World War One at just 21," said Paul. "I have mounted his bayonet with the Durham Light Infantry Cap badge in a box and told my team it is their job to get it up to Scotland by carrying it, changing it round through the group.

"When we reach Redford Barracks on Friday I will open it and present the bayonet to the Commanding Officer to show the link between the County Regiments and the Rifles."

Paul will be carrying a wheelie bin on his back to collect donations as they march through Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

Ex-servicemen on Tyne Bridge as the begin their march to join comrades in Scotland Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The Rifles are the biggest infantry regiment in the British Army as so have seen almost continuous action in Iraq and Afghanistan with a high number of casualties.

"They are a family regiment and so created their own charity to do what they can to help our injured soldiers and support their families.

"Our battalions continue to deploy to Afghanistan and the need for help from their regimental family will continue for many years to come."