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Family, friends and public welcome soldiers home from Afghanistan

Soldiers from three Army regiments have all taken part in homecoming parades in recent days, cheered on by friends, family and the public.

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Soldiers parade through Warminster

3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment parades through Warminster

On Friday, soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (3 YORKS) took part in a post-deployment parade through Warminster in Wiltshire.

This was an opportunity for the town to officially welcome home the battalion after its demanding but successful role as part of 12th Mechanized Brigade in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on Operation HERRICK 16 between April and October 2012.

The Commanding Officer of 3 YORKS, Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning, said:

We have seen considerable progress over the last six months.

We undertook 3,300 patrols, 13 major operations, had 240 contacts with the enemy, and saw a 50 per cent reduction in violence in the area we were responsible for.

Importantly there was a much greater increase in Afghans doing their own security which is what transition is all about.

Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning
Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning leads the soldiers of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment through Warminster town centre [Picture: Corporal Paul Morrison, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The efforts this summer of the battalion and the collective efforts of the wider brigade certainly made a significant difference.

The parade was followed by a service at the Minster Church of St Denys with a role call and an act of remembrance for their nine fallen comrades.

As part of the service the town council granted the Freedom of Warminster to the battalion.

Following the service, the battalion returned to Battlesbury Barracks for the soldiers to receive their Afghanistan campaign medals.

One of those to present the medals was His Grace the Duke of Wellington, Deputy Colonel-in-Chief of the Yorkshire Regiment.

Lt Col Stenning said:

It is a day of pride for this battalion and for all we have done out in Afghanistan.

Ten candles were lit during the service at the Minster Church of St Denys for the fallen of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment [Picture: Corporal Paul Morrison, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Receiving these medals and the Freedom of Warminster recognises the achievements of these men and women.

Also on Friday, more than 300 soldiers from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards paraded through Cardiff city centre after a demanding six-month tour of Afghanistan.

The day began with a memorial service at City Hall to remember Lance Corporal Lee Davies, Guardsman Craig Roderick, Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua and Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas, all killed in action during Operation HERRICK 16.

The soldiers then formed up at Cardiff Castle prior to the march through the city centre to Cardiff Arms Park.

Then, on Saturday, around 100 soldiers from the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, many of them from Merseyside, marched through Liverpool to mark their return from service in Afghanistan.

Soldiers parade through Cardiff
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards parade through Cardiff [Picture: Sergeant Russ Nolan RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The event was an opportunity for soldiers of the regiment’s G Squadron to thank the people of Merseyside for their continuing support, particularly during recent operations in Afghanistan.

G Squadron recently returned from a six-month tour in Helmand province where they used Mastiff armoured vehicles to provide both support and protection to infantry soldiers.

Major Mike Fielder, Officer Commanding G Squadron, said:

It’s been a really busy year and this is a way for us to say thank you for all the support we’ve received from the people of Merseyside.

We’re very proud to be here indeed; we recruit heavily from Liverpool so it means a lot to be parading here today.

Soldiers parade through Liverpool
Soldiers from G Squadron of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment parading on Hope Street in Liverpool with the city's Catholic Cathedral ahead of them [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Sergeant Darren Morrissey from Bootle said:

It’s good to be back and it’ll be great to see my family today.

I am proud to be home; it’s been a long, hard tour and I have been away for around a year.

The weather is a bit different - it was 50 degrees out there and it’s freezing here!

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Sharon Sullivan, added:

It is always a very proud moment for me, and I am sure for the people of Liverpool, when we see the various regiments marching through the city.

Published 3 December 2012