Page last updated at 11:34 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 12:34 UK

Afghan tour soldiers go on parade

Troops in Market Drayton
Crowds lined the streets for the parade through Market Drayton

About 300 soldiers returning from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan have taken part in a homecoming parade.

Members of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment, based at Tern Hill barracks, Shropshire, were reunited with their families last week.

Crowds lined the streets as the soldiers marched through Market Drayton before a service at St Mary's church.

Soldiers and their families are also expected to attend a service at Shrewsbury Abbey on 16 October.

After the service at the abbey, troops were expected to march along the town's Abbey Foregate.

On Tuesday, bugles, pipes and drums were played during the parade through Market Drayton.

'Great honour'

The battalion was led by their regimental mascot - an Irish Wolfhand called Brian Boru VIII.

In common with the soldiers on parade, the dog also wore desert combat uniform.

The soldiers were in Helmand Province during their six-month tour, where their duties included moving a hydroelectric turbine to the Kajaki dam.

Lt Col Freely, commanding officer of battalion, said: "It's a great honour for us to be invited to parade through Market Drayton.

"We have not been based at Tern Hill for long, but the people of the town have taken us to their hearts and couldn't have been more welcoming to the regiment as a whole."

He said the parade was an opportunity to thank residents for their continued support, particularly during the recent tour.

"Our arduous tasks in Afghanistan are so much easier to bear in the knowledge of such strong support in our home county," he added.

Service to welcome home soldiers
29 Sep 08 |  Shropshire
Battalion returns home after tour
09 Oct 08 |  Shropshire

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Rye and Battle Observer Crowds welcome soldiers home - 15 hrs ago
Shropshire Star Our heroes on parade - 22 hrs ago

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