Gallery: Ipswich does soldiers proud as residents turn out in force for parade

UNDER an overcast November sky, large and enthusiastic crowds from across the county cheered and applauded our boys yesterday as the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment – The Vikings – paraded through the town.

And Ipswich and Suffolk turned out in force to welcome home the battalion and pay tribute to the courage and professionalism of the servicemen and women.

Among them was Hannah Taylor, 18, whose brother Danny was among those on parade.

Hannah said: “We have come to see my brother Danny who has come back from Afghanistan and to thank them all for what they have done for their country.”

Mum Natalie was also among those watching.

She said: “I am a very proud mum. It has been a worrying time and it is brilliant having him home, back safe and sound and in one piece..”

As the battalion marched on to the Cornhill, the crowd broke out in spontaneous applause in a mark of appreciation.

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Addressing the battalion, Ipswich Mayor Mary Blake welcomed the troops home paying tribute to the soldiers’ courage in the past months and years.

She said: “Ipswich is proud of its association with you and proud of the difficult and dangerous job you do on our behalf.”

The mayor paused during her speech to remember the 16 soldiers from the battalion who have died since its first deployment to Afghanistan back in 2002.

After the parade, The Vikings’ commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Mick Aston said the battalion was hugely proud to take part in the celebrations and were relieved to be home.

He said: “Today has been hugely important for the battalion and means a great deal to us. This is where many of our soldiers come from and this parade means we can connect with the people of Suffolk.

“This is the end of the fourth tour of duty in a ten year involvement in Afghanistan. The men will have experienced a range of emotions – they will be proud and relieved to be home and they will have a sense of achievement for a job well done.”

Troops will also be marching through Romford today, Diss on Wednesday, Basildon on Thursday and Peterborough on Friday.

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