Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 13:30 UK

Veterans help mark TA centenary

Territorial Army (generic)
Thousands of TA members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan

Territorial Army soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are among hundreds who have gathered to mark the centenary of the reserve military force.

A service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral was followed by a parade to a reception at London's Guildhall.

Pte Luke Cole, 22, from Wolverhampton, who was awarded the military cross for his actions in Afghanistan, attended.

The regimental mascot of the Royal Welsh, Shenkin the goat, led the parade wearing a special green coat.

The Pikemen of the Honourable Artillery Company lined the steps of St Paul's for the arrival of soldiers and guests.

Role recognised

Pte Cole had already been shot in the leg in Afghanistan when he left his cover to help an injured comrade, before being shot again in the hip.

The soldier said the centenary celebrations were a good way of letting people know about the TA.

Commanding officers tell me how vital their Territorials have been to the delivery of each mission
Gen Sir Richard Dannatt
Chief of the General Staff

"The TA is being recognised for what they do. People don't realise that the TA actually go on tours and see action," he said.

Female TA soldier Cpl Cat Creed, 43, from Chesham, Bucks, a driver with 151 (London) Transport Regiment, spent six weeks in Iraq at the start of the conflict in 2003.

She said: "The TA has always been seen as Dad's Army. It's good that they are getting a bit more recognition for what they are doing, especially because we do go out on tour."

'Huge dedication'

The TA constitutes a quarter of the British army's manpower, and almost 15,000 have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, told the reservists: "I would like to express my sincere gratitude, on behalf of the Army, to all Territorials for the time, dedication, skills and courage that they continue to give.

"In every operational theatre I visit, commanding officers tell me how vital their Territorials have been to the delivery of each mission.

"Finding the time to make the commitment needed to achieve the highest professional expectations of military life, at home and on operations, requires huge dedication."


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