Photo Gallery: Royal Anglian soldiers welcomed home from Afghanistan

The last main tranche of East Anglian troops serving in battle-scarred Helmand Province are back on home soil after returning from what is expected to be their unit's last combat tour of Afghanistan.

A group of 86 soldiers and officers from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment arrived back at their barracks at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire last night after their flight back from Camp Bastion.

Of about 650 Vikings who deployed in spring, only 16 are now left in Helmand, attached to another regiment. They are due to fly home on Sunday.

Those who returned last night were welcomed with cheers from the families and loved ones who had waited more than six months for their return.

Major Guy Foden, officer commanding C Company, was greeted by his wife Becky and 20-month-old twins George and India.

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He said: 'I am just glad to have everyone back. There is a general sense of relief that comes over you. When you march around to where the families are waiting and that big cheer that goes up – it feels really good.

'They (the twins) have got huge since I last saw them. They weren't really walking before I left them and now they're toddlers.'

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The battalion was responsible for maintaining security in the Nad-e Ali district, while training and mentoring their counterparts in the Afghan army and police to help them eventually assume responsibility for their country's security when British combat operations end in 2014.

Major Foden said: 'The company has made some huge achievements. We were in a fairly complex area of Nad-e Ali and we have managed to prevent the insurgency from bringing violence to the population centres – a situation which was in the balance when we arrived.

'We have enabled the Afghan security forces to improve and to start to take the lead in the area. As a battalion, the progress made during this tour has been remarkable.'

Around 150 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment will march through Diss town centre on Wednesday, November 7 when they will be granted the freedom of the town.

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

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