Almost 50 medics from 208 Field Hospital were cheered through the streets of Liverpool, and then paraded outside the historic St George’s Hall where they received their campaign medals.
The reserve unit spent three months from late October 2010 running the British military hospital at Camp Bastion, treating injured soldiers and civilians.
Their families welcomed them back to the unit’s headquarters at Childwall, Liverpool, in January.
In their civilian roles all of the medics work at NHS hospitals across Merseyside, North Wales, Cheshire and Lancashire.
Major Lisa Tierney’s civilian job is Matron for Theatres at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital. She said:
It was amazing walking up Church Street and seeing the crowds clapping; it brought tears to my eyes. This was my first operational tour and it was quite emotional; we were away for Christmas and New Year but we had the support of each other.
Warrant Officer Class 1 Dave Leigh was a ward master at Camp Bastion but, as a civilian, he works in forensic psychiatry for a mental health charity. He said:
The parade has been absolutely amazing for two reasons. First, I’m from Liverpool and so to be able to march through my city is something really special, but also I’m an ex-Regular Army bandsman so it’s good to get out again - it’s made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.
Saturday’s parade through the streets of the city was preceded by a service of thanksgiving at the historic Liverpool Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas, which sits opposite the famous Liver Building.
208 Field Hospital was awarded the Freedom of Liverpool in July 2008 following its first deployment to Afghanistan, and Saturday was an opportunity for it to exercise its privileges under that honour.
The unit’s Commanding Officer, Colonel Peter Jackson, said:
Being here has been absolutely fantastic and it is our public expression of appreciation for the support that the city gives us.
208 Field Hospital is based at Chavasse House TA Centre in Liverpool.
This was the second time in four years that 208 Field Hospital has run the hospital at Camp Bastion. It managed a multinational medical team which included American and Danish medics.
208 Field Hospital is one of 11 TA field hospitals in the British Army. It has centres in Liverpool, Blackpool, Ellesmere Port and Lancaster.