Cheering crowds welcome troops

PUBLISHED: 10:26 29 June 2010 | UPDATED: 22:07 07 July 2010

ABOUT 1,000 flag-waving supporters lined the streets of Thetford to cheer home troops on their return from duty in Afghanistan.

ABOUT 1,000 flag-waving supporters lined the streets of Thetford to cheer home troops on their return from duty in Afghanistan.

The rousing parade through the town centre celebrated the homecoming of members of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment (1RTR) after a battling six-month deployment in Helmand Province.

The 120 soldiers of D Squadron, based at nearby RAF Honington, marched from Melford Common to Castle Street and King Street led by their squadron leader, Major Mike Taylor.

They were accompanied by a full marching band from the Royal Air Force College in Cranwell.

As warm applause and cheers rang out, the squadron posed for photographs before enjoying a civic reception at Kings House.

Thetford mayor Pauline Quadling said: “As mayor of Thetford it is a great honour and privilege to welcome back D Squadron from their tour of duty in Afghanistan.

“We are so proud of these soldiers and their families and it gives the community much pleasure in being able to warmly welcome them to Thetford and safely home.”

D Squadron is part of the Joint Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Regiment, a specialist unit comprised of 1RTR and 27 Squadron of the RAF Regiment.

The squadron was deployed to Afghanistan in December and played a leading role in providing armoured support to the main ground assault troops during the recent Operation Moshtarak.

As they paraded through the Market Place on Friday, the salute was taken by the mayor, RAF Honington's station commander Gp Capt Nick Bray and Lt Col Gavin Thompson, commanding officer of 1RTR.

Capt Graeme Hutton of 1RTR said: “The guys were made to feel incredibly welcome. They were overawed by the number of people who turned out to support them.

“It was a great day. For a lot of them it would have been the first time they have seen this support from anyone other than their friends and family, so it is really nice to see the general public turn out in such numbers.”

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