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Big welcome home for the Rifles
CROWDS lined the street on Monday to give a big welcome home to Bulford-based battalion 4 Rifles.
The battalion has returned this month from Afghanistan and the regiment has had no fatalities or loss of limbs during this current deployment.
The Rifles, who have the freedom of Salisbury, marched twice around the city centre, the first in quick time, the second in double time, before medal presentations.
City Mayor Penny Brown said: “We are delighted to welcome home the 4 Rifles following their successful deployment in Afghanistan, as the Rifles have the freedom of the city.”
Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Tom Bewick said: “The crowds were absolutely fantastic, and the welcome from the community was quite phenomenal. As a way of marking our return, I do not think that it could have gone better.”
“It was a great tour and the first tour where we can honestly say that we came back with no serious casualties, no one killed or with serious injuries.
Following the parade, the battalion returned to their barracks where they were visited by their Royal Colonel, The Duchess of Cornwall, who met families and presented soldiers with their operation medals.
She was greeted by Lt Col Tom Bewick and given a short brief on the battalion’s tour in Afghanistan.
She then walked around one of the garages which had been transformed into family’s area for the day and spent 45 minutes talking to wives, children and sweethearts of the soldiers. Rifleman Thomas Nash, 19, said: “I told the duchess about the tour and how different it was from the last one,” he said. “She is easy to talk to; she is just an ordinary person.”
Six-year-old Alfie Ward was not in the least overawed by the royal visitor as he explained to her in great detail about his magic Advent calendar. The Duchess then moved to the square where almost 2,000 friends and families were seated for the parade. She gave a short address in which she welcomed the battalion back and said they had undertaken their tour “with your characteristic professionalism, determination and unique 4 Rifles spirit”. “I am assured by my spies that you have excelled yourselves,” she added. “I believe that whatever the future holds for you, your courage and commitment in Afghanistan have greatly enhanced the reputation of 4 Rifles and the British Army as a whole, in my eyes the best army in the world.”
She then presented medals to the men on parade and was treated to the whole battalion marching past in double time to the Band and Bugles of The Rifles.
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