Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards are returning to base in Hampshire after what a senior officer called a "demanding" Afghanistan tour.
The battalion suffered the loss of seven of its soldiers, including its commanding officer, during six months duty in Helmand province.
Family members are expected as the 650 troops arrive back in Aldershot.
Major Dai Bevan said it had been "a very anxious six months for all the families".
The Welsh Guards' commanding officer, Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe MBE, 39, became the most senior British army officer to die in action since the Falklands War when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand province in July.
An 18-year-old trooper from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, Joshua Hammond, from Plymouth, died in the same explosion when an improvised explosive device was detonated under their Viking armoured vehicle.
Six other Welsh Guards have also been killed during the tour.
The Welsh Guards are based at Lille barracks in Aldershot.
Maj Bevan said: "Clearly everyone is extremely excited about the return of the battalion.
"The last six months has been an incredibly successful tour for the Welsh Guards but equally it has been an extremely challenging and demanding tour."
He said the Guards had been part of a coalition helping the people of Helmand build peace and stability in a troubled region.
"The Welsh Guards have faced the challenges with typical professionalism and determination and earned the respect of local and Afghan population," said Maj Bevan.
"However, the Welsh Guards have suffered significant losses during the tour and our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this difficult time."
He said the 650 soldiers formed part of a larger battle group with coalition troops, mostly notably Estonians.
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