Commanding officer of Royal Anglian Regiment calls on public support for homecoming parades

The commanding officer of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment has called on local people to get behind a series of homecoming parades next month.

Members of the Vikings have returned, whilst others are on their way home, after a six month tour of Helmand Province, which is set to be their last before combat operations in Afghanistan end in 2014.

Attentions have now turned to a series of public parades in the region in November, where the regiment will thank the public for their support during their deployment.

In Diss, on Wednesday, November 7, 150 soldiers will march through the town from 12.30pm when they will be given the freedom of the town. The Vikings will also march through Ipswich on November 5, Romford on November 6, Basildon on November 8 and Peterborough on November 9.

The conclusion of the battalion's fourth tour of Afghanistan will culminate with the handover of security of the area they were patrolling to the Afghan army and police.

During their tour, Cpl Alex Guy, 37, was killed when leading his section to help a group of Afghan soldiers who were pinned down in an insurgent ambush on June 15.

It brings the total number from the battalion killed in Afghanistan since 2002 to 16, and many more have been wounded, some grievously, said Lt Col Mick Aston, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment.

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Lt Col Aston added: 'Over the last ten years we, as your county infantry regiment, have been fortunate to have received the unwavering and exceptional support of the people of our home counties in East Anglia. You have watched the battalion as we followed this path and have been there to support our soldiers at every step. To express our thanks for this remarkable support and to celebrate our return, the battalion will hold five homecoming parades in our home counties in early November.'

'So perhaps you could spare a few minutes of your time to join us and cheer the boys on as they march proudly past with drums beating, bands playing, colours flying and bayonets fixed. I know they will really appreciate your support.'

All soldiers from the regiment are due home by the end of the month.

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