Young and old, men women and children all gathered in their hundreds this week to welcome back the brave 1 Mercian Regiment after their six-month, demanding and dangerous tour of Afghanistan.
People lined the streets around Birkenhead’s Hamilton Square, waving flags and cheering as the troops marched past, saluting the mayor outside the Wirral museum.
More than 500 Soldiers from 1 Mercian, along with the Ghurkha’s, paraded proudly around the sun-drenched main square as overjoyed families, friends and onlookers cheered and clapped. The regiment recruits from mainly Chester and the Wirral area, with a lot of their manpower hailing from the Wirral.
Captain John Elms, the regiment's welfare officer, told JMU Journalism:
"It’s absolutely fantastic. The last solider came back on the 29th of
October and it was just a great relief."
The troops were deployed in the south of Afghanistan in Helmand
province, where most of the 9,000 British forces are based. The aim of
the Mercian’s mission out there was defeating any Taliban threat and
securing ground from the enemy, so that the local population could
remain safe. 1 Mercian’s tour was marred by the loss of 12 soldiers,
who were also remembered at the parade on Tuesday.
Captain Elms added: “Listening to what the soldiers have got to say,
and transitioning them from battlefield to barracks... well, it was a
As the troops marched through, the cheers from the crowds grew, with many women and children coming out to support their husbands, dads, brothers and loved ones.
The support received by the troops will not go unnoticed, as they plan to give more back to the community: Captain Elms said: “With the amount of support we have had, it wouldn’t be fair for us to switch off and not recognise what the local people have done in the Wirral. We’re going to continue to keep the profile of the Mercian regiment and keep doing things for the local community, with projects and fundraising events.”
The Mercians will now begin a period of rest and recuperation before they return to the regiment and prepare for their next deployment.
By Ayden Feeney
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The Regiment marched through Hamilton square to show their thanks to the people of the Wirral