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Special service for soldiers back from Afghanistan
A SERVICE of thanksgiving and Remembrance was held at Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday to celebrate the return of Tidworthbased 1st Mechanised Brigade from operational duty in Afghanistan.
More than 1,300 soldiers representing all the brigade’s units from across the UK, resplendent in service dress with medals and boots gleaming, made an impressive sight as they moved across The Close to the cathedral.
Joining the soldiers were the relatives of those who had been killed during the tour, three soldiers serving with 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS) who were killed by an IED on April 30, plus four other soldiers who died in the UK during the tour.
Invited guests included the Minister for Defence, Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne MP and the Mayor of Salisbury, Penny Brown.
The Dean of Salisbury, June Osborne, welcomed everyone and the service was conducted by three military chaplains from the brigade.
The Salisbury Cathedral Choir and organist were joined by the band of the Royal Signals. Buglers from 4 RIFLES sounded Last Post and Reveille, and Pipe Major Neil MacNaughton from 2 SCOTS piped Flowers of the Forest.
It was a simple yet very moving service, with seven candles lit as a memorial to those who had died.
Brigadier Rupert Jones read the first lesson; the Command Sergeant Major WO1 Nichols Hedges read the Act of Remembrance and WO1 Philip Clough, RSM of First Fusiliers, read the Kohima Epitaph.
More than 6,000 personnel from the brigade deployed on Operation Herrick 18 from April to October as Task Force Helmand (TFH), the first and, thankfully, the last deployment that the brigade will undertake in Afghanistan.
Brigade commander Brigadier Rupert Jones said: “With the focus of the brigade being Tidworth and Bulford it is a great privilege for us to be hosted in Salisbury today.
“I think it is very important at the end of a tour that you do commemorate your fallen, and sadly we had others back here in Britain who died. It is important to remember them and also pause and remember the Afghans who died during the tour as well.”
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