This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Soldiers of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment were welcomed back from operations in Afghanistan by crowds in Cumbria yesterday, 20 May.
In the first of the unit’s 3 homecoming parades this week, more than 120 soldiers of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (1 LANCS) marched through Whitehaven to mark their return from Afghanistan.
Additional parades will take place today in Burnley, and in Ashton-under-Lyne tomorrow, 22 May.
1 LANCS is the North West’s infantry regiment and recruits soldiers from across the region. The unit is based in Catterick, North Yorkshire, and so this was a rare opportunity for its servicemen and women to parade at home.
Around 430 soldiers from 1 LANCS served in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, during the deployment from October 2012 until last month.
1 LANCS led the Transition Support Unit in Lashkar Gah, at first running security operations, then developing Afghan National Security Forces and ultimately handing security over to their Afghan colleagues.
Sadly, a 1 LANCS soldier was killed during the operation. Kingsman David Shaw died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in January from wounds he sustained in Afghanistan.
Of the homecoming parade, Lieutenant Colonel Nick Wood, Commanding Officer of 1 LANCS, said:
The reception we got today was unbelievable. There were thousands watching including schoolchildren, veterans and townsfolk. It is a memory that will stick with me and my soldiers for a very long time.
Kingsman Steven Boyd added:
I knew beforehand that it would be a large turnout, but to get that kind of reception was brilliant.
Kingsman Ben Abbott concluded:
I used to be in the Sea Cadets and to see them all here today with my dad stood beside them made me very proud.
With the UK combat mission in Afghanistan expected to be completed by the end of 2014, it is likely that this was the last deployment by 1 LANCS to the country.