Sunday, September 20, 2009
Soldiers who have taken part in some of the fiercest fighting in Afghanistan are returning to a Wiltshire base later to be reunited with their families.
Members of the 33 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 26 Engineer Regiment played a key role in Operation Panther's Claw in Helmand during a six-month deployment.
At times, they were working in temperatures above 46C.
The squadron will be welcomed home by friends and family at Swinton Barracks in Tidworth, at about 1600 BST.
Squadron Commander Major Andy Hanna said every soldier had had their "mental and physical reserves tested to the very limit".
During Operation Panther's Claw, the Royal Engineers were required to block or control 13 bridges over a canal as other troops pushed forward in a major offensive against the Taliban.
They also cleared lines where homemade explosives had been laid and blew holes in enemy compounds.
Major Hanna said: "Whilst we witnessed the bloodiest summer of fighting since operations began in the south of the country, it has not been all offensive.
"The Squadron completed the most ambitious construction project outside Camp Bastion to date, it handed back a school to the local people and significantly enhanced the protection to the International Security Assistance Forces and the Afghan National Security Forces within its area of operations."