Monday, April 19, 2010
A company of soldiers serving in Afghanistan have finally returned by coach after their journey home was held up by the volcanic ash flight ban.
More than 100 soldiers were due to arrive at Dreghorn Barracks, Edinburgh, on Friday after a six-month tour of duty, but were unable to fly to the UK.
The members of B Company, 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, or 1 Scots, had to wait in Cyprus.
They then flew to France and travelled the last leg by coach and ferry.
Maj Graeme Wearmouth said: "To be perfectly honest it went immensely smoothly and I have to say that, after the last seven months, if that is what it took to get home it wasn't an issue at all for us.
"We have got to remember there are still troops out there waiting in the bottleneck to get here so in many ways we are the lucky ones.
"I think it was initially disbelief that it was a volcano that had done it - if you had asked me of all the reasons I could have come up with many, but this came out of left field."
He added: "We were on a one-way trip home so the boys kept smiling throughout.
"The sense of humour that has sustained them through the whole six, nearly seven, months of campaigning in Afghanistan saw them through what is frankly a mini-adventure at the end of a very tough and serious one."
The company has spent the past six months in Helmand province as part of the 3 Rifles Battlegroup.
"There has been highs and lows. There is no doubt that Afghanistan is an immensely challenging place to operate in but we can see, in even our short time there, progress," Maj Wearmouth said.
"We have left, without a doubt, a better place than we found. We have started to see the smiles come back on the faces of some of the Afghans we have operated with and we have started to make friends out there."