Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Prince gives Afghanistan medals

The Prince of Wales talks to soldiers
The regiment will parade through Derby and Nottingham

Soldiers from the Mercian Regiment have received their Afghanistan campaign medals from the Prince of Wales.

Vicki Holmes from Nottingham, whose son Kieron Hill was killed in the summer, was presented with the Elizabeth Cross, which honours relatives of the fallen.

The 2nd Battalion saw fierce fighting in Helmand Province and played a key role in Operation Panther's Claw.

The prince, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, gave the awards to about 80 soldiers at Sandringham in Norfolk.

Mercian soldiers returned to the UK nearly two months ago after spending six months in Helmand Province.

Protocol breach

Five members of the regiment were killed during the tour.

L/Cpl Kieron Hill, 20, died in an explosion while on patrol with the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment in May

Mrs Holmes said: "I'm honoured to be receiving it, but I'd rather have my son home. It's nice the country recognises there are people out there dying for their country."

Pte Dean Housley, 25, from Heanor, was injured by a explosive device in Helmand province in October.

"I lost my leg just below the knee but when I got into surgery, when I got into Bastion, all the stuff that was left below my knee cap was all smashed up and there would not have been enough to have a prosthetic on.

"So they cleaned it up to the knee, which is what it is now and it is coming along, it is healing quite well."

By inviting the troops to receive their medals at Sandringham, the prince broke with protocol which usually sees the house reserved as one of the Queens residences.

Four hundred soldiers from the regiment will march through Derby on 4 December and Nottingham the day after.

The Mercian Regiment was formed on 1 September, 2007, and incorporated the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment, now 2 Mercian (Worcesters and Foresters).

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