The sun shone over Liverpool on Saturday as soldiers from the 2 Rifles regiment were welcomed home from Afghanistan, after six months on the front line
The occasion marked the end of one of the bloodiest tours in recent military history, which left 24 soldiers from the The Rifles’ bigger battle group dead and 80 wounded. More than a thousand people gathered outside St George’s Hall as wreaths were laid on the war memorial in honour of those who lost their lives.
Crowds sang Liverpool anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as the regiment stood to be inspected and greeted by Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Mike Storey. He said: “I am honoured to be able to host 2 Rifles at the Town Hall and to watch them marching through the city. The regiment has provided an essential military role, serving in operations all over the world, risking their lives for the safety of others.”
Warren Richardson, 24, from Huyton was shot twice in the leg whilst in battle and now faces life on crutches. He said: “I’m just glad to see the blokes home, they’re all safe. They are like your brothers... I was out early because of my leg and I was worried sick about them."
Over 100 Riflemen marched through the streets of Liverpool in desert combat uniforms at 140 paces per minute, a distinguishing characteristic of the infantry regiment. Warren followed behind the march on crutches with fellow Rifleman, Nathan Hau, as support.
Friends and family clapped and cheered as the regiment paraded through the city centre, marching from St George’s Hall, along Church Street and ending at Liverpool Town Hall. As they marched, tears were shed by some soldiers as they remembered the comrades that they lost. Some Riflemen wore wristbands inscribed with the regimental motto, ‘Swift and Bold’, that they had bought to support the injured, with proceeds contributing towards medical care.
Corporal Daniel Farrell, 25, from Kirkby said: “It’s the lads, you know as a group we just have to keep each other going. We kept each other going when we had bad times. We had to perk back up again.”
Some crowd members held banners and posters to praise the recently-returned soldiers and walked alongside as their heroes made their way through the city centre. After the march the Lord Mayor hosted a private reception with the 2 Rifles soldiers at the Town Hall.
By Louisa Collington & Sam Fleet, JMU Journalism TV
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YouTube: Sam Fleet reports; Pic: 2 Rifles completing a march of honour on Church Street, Liverpool