Dragoons arrive back home

Cheers of delight and relief filled the air as proud friends and family welcomed home the final contingent of exhausted Light Dragoons from Afghanistan.

Cheers of delight and relief filled the air as proud friends and family welcomed home the final contingent of exhausted Light Dragoons from Afghanistan.

For six months the regiment from the Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley, near Dereham, has been deployed in the troubled Afghan province of Helmand.

But as the last 100 weary troops from the regiment's B Squadron made their way through the gates last night their coach was greeted by the welcome sight of relatives holding balloons high.

They were treated to applause and whistles from the crowd thrilled to have their loved ones home.

The regiment has not lost a single soldier, despite the ferocity of the fighting.

Sara Godfrey, wife of commander officer Major John Godfrey, said: “It's been really tough for us. We've only been married for 18 months.

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“To know he's in the desert fighting a war yet only being able to speak to him once every two weeks is very difficult. There's a great spirit between the families left behind though. “I can't wait to see him again. It hasn't really sunk in. I've planned a surprise trip to Amsterdam this weekend so we can spend some time together.”

Banners strung from windows read slogans from 'We're so proud of you all' and 'Lads you've done us proud' to 'Welcome home' and 'We love you daddy', while streamers were hanging around the specially decorated cook house.

And while many of the soldiers rushed to the bar for their first pint on British soil those with tired younger children went home to tuck them up in bed and kiss them goodnight for the first time in six months.

During their time at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province the Light Dragoons disrupted the Taliban and provided reassurance and support to the government of Afghanistan and the local population.

As a Formation Reconnaissance Regiment the Light Dragoons are the eyes and ears' of the army. Equipped with Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles they conducted mobile patrols in the south of the Helmand Province to ensure the Afghan government and its own security forces are able to expand their influence in the region.

IN DAD'S FOOTSTEPS

For years Daniel Bartholomew watched as his father went off on tours around the world risking life and limb in war torn countries.

But now the standard issue boot is firmly on the other foot as Warrant Officer First Class Garry Bartholomew has been nervously awaiting his son's return.

Trooper Daniel Bartholomew, 18, joined the same regiment as his father earlier this year and after only a few weeks of completing training he was sent on tour to Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

WO Bartholomew said: “I'm very proud of him. When he left I was more emotional than he was because I knew what he was going to see and what he was going to go through. It's an utter relief he's back. It's fantastic. I'd never realised how nerve-wracking it can be waiting for someone at home while they're off out.”

Wife and mum Rachel said: “I was more worried about Daniel going out because he had less experience than his dad. Garry's been out before and I know he can take care of himself. I'm proud of them both. It is worrying having them both out there but that's the life of the service.”

FATHER AND SON

The father and son duo who hit the headlines earlier this year after it was revealed they were fighting on the front line together were reunited last night.

Sgt Mark Dobbs, 37, and Trooper Lee Dobbs, 20, both work with Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles in Light Dragoon's B Squadron.

And while for a time they were serving with each other, father Sgt Dobbs' tour ended sooner meaning he came home leaving son Trooper Dobbs, who drives a Scimitar, out at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.

Last night as the pair headed to the bar to celebrate the family being reunited once more Sgt Dobbs, the commander of a Scimitar tank, said: “I'm lucky to have had him out there with me.

“While most of the lads I serve with miss home and family, I've got my boy right with me. Obviously I worry about the environment he's in but I'm proud he's there.”

Wife and mum Bea Dobbs said: “It's brilliant to have Lee back. I never thought he'd join up with his father he always wanted to be a fireman. It's great being together again. I knew Lee would come back safely, I just knew.”

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