Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Saturday, 8 May 2010 11:05 UK

Profile: 3 Rifles battlegroup

Members of 3 Rifles battlegroup on parade in Edinburgh
Members of 3 Rifles battlegroup have paraded through Edinburgh

They incurred losses on a scale not seen in the British army for half a century.

Now the 3 Rifles battlegroup has paraded along Edinburgh's Royal Mile before loved ones grateful both for their sacrifices and to have them back home.

The troops were deployed to Helmand Province in October 2009 and, in a six-month tour, incurred no fewer than 30 deaths from among their ranks.

It represents the heaviest casualties suffered by a British army battlegroup since the Korean war.

During their deployment, the 1,400-strong battlegroup - which included members of 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland - was based in the Sangin area of Helmand, widely regarded as one of the most difficult areas for anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said the unit had been termed "the most battle-scarred unit in Afghanistan".

Eileen Green, whose son Richard was killed on duty with the battlegroup, says she will watch the march with mixed emotions.

She will be "sad, because obviously it's not going to be my son that's marching past - but happy in another way, because those lads have come home".

Cpl Richard Green
Cpl Richard Green was killed while serving in Sangin

Ms Green added: "They are Richard's friends, so it's really good that they've come home safe and I'm sure their parents will be so proud of them."

The Rifles were formed in 2007, but trace their heritage back to the Rifle Regiments and Light Infantry Light Companies popularised in the TV historical drama Sharpe.

The infantry regiment is set apart from the rest of the army by its own unique idiosyncrasies.

The term "Rifleman" is used to describe every soldier, from the newest recruit to the most senior officer. In drills, the command "attention" is never used as troops are meant to stay permanently alert.

Welfare officer Cpt Craig McBurney has been offering support to bereaved families, and says the task was the toughest job of his life.

He adds: "Being back here and dealing with the emotions; the worry of the children, the wives; the bereavements; the injured; the wounded - dealing first-hand with all those people and trying to make them feel as special and important as they can, which they really are, has been draining, absolutely."

Among those watching the parade will be Rifleman Michael Maxwell, who would have been taking part but for injuries incurred in the line of duty.

He hopes the march will help people understand the sacrifices made by his comrades.

"A lot of casualties are going to be there, obviously, that can't walk, and it shows the public what we've been through," he says.

"I still feel guilt at the back of my head that my boys done a six-month tour and, unfortunately, mine was cut short.

"I really, really, want to go back out there because I loved it - I'm serving my country and it's my job."



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