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Crowds turn out to honour troops

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 21:55 07 July 2010

Welcome home parade

Welcome home parade

Thousands gathered in the heart of a Suffolk town to pay their respects to 150 gunners who returned last week from duties in Afghanistan.

Thousands gathered in the heart of a Suffolk town to pay their respects to 150 gunners who returned last week from duties in Afghanistan.

For the past six months the members of 27 Squadron RAF Regiment, based at RAF Honington, have been stationed in Kandahar, with responsibility for protecting

the major Nato airbase there from rocket and small arms attacks and explosive devices buried in the ground.

Their parade through Bury St Edmunds on Saturday came just days after they flew back into the UK via RAF Mildenhall.

During the parade, the gunners were accompanied by the full marching Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

The parade took them up Abbeygate Street, into St Andrews Street South and around the Arc shopping centre before returning to Angel Hill to take the salute outside the town's Tourist Information Centre.

The mayor of St Edmundsbury, Patricia Warby, said: "We are delighted to be able to honour the service these men are giving their country.

"They have been working in very trying conditions, which they will have left only four days before."

Members of 27 Squadron were sent to Afghanistan in July last year, less than a year after returning from Iraq.

Some gunners who were badly injured during the tour as a result of improvised explosive devices

joined colleagues during the

parade.

In addition to the parade, a stall was set up at the Pillar of Salt on Angel Hill selling an anthology of poems written by service people and their families. The aim of the book is to raise money for Help for Heroes and the RAF Benevolent Fund.

RAF Honington received the Freedom of the Borough of Bury St Edmunds in 1972 recognising its close associations with the town since 1937.

The duties of the gunners of 27 Squadron in Afghanistan have been handed to 2 Squadron, which is also based at RAF Honington.


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