Hundreds of well-wishers lined the streets of Plymouth to see Royal Marines marching through the city centre (st July) to thank the community for supporting them during their service in Afghanistan.
Cheering crowds of families, friends and others packed up to six deep on Royal Parade gave the marines a warm and heartfelt welcome as they were led proudly down the main street by a rousing Royal Marine Band.
About 250 Royal Marines comprising the UK Landing Force Command Support Group and the Headquarters Command Staff of 3 Commando Brigade, based at Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth, took part following their service in operations in Afghanistan.
Deputy Commanding officer of 3Commando Brigade, Colonel Martin Smith took the march-past salute with the Lord Mayor of Plymouth. Colonel Smith said: “This is a special day for us because it gave us the chance to say thankyou to the people of Plymouth for their support before, during and after our time in Afghanistan .
“The music by the Royal Marines Band stirs the spirit. It certainly made us feel extra proud and made the lads march a little faster and more upright. I was extremely proud of the lads.
“It is always important for morale that we feel we have the support of families and the public of Plymouth especially as we are a Plymouth unit, when on operations and particularly during Afghanistan .”
He also reflected on the affect of losing members of the unit, adding: “We must not forget our fallen comrades at this poignant time. It has to be said we never get used to losing our own. It is a life-changing experience for us as comrades, but of course especially for the families and friends who are bereaved.”
The units were comprise HQ staff – commanders who directed operations and the Landing Support Group – advance force communication specialists.
The Commanding Officer of the Landing Force Command Support Group Lieutenant Commander Andrew McInerney said: “Our job in Afghanistan was reconnaissance and intelligence processing and we enabled signalling. It was at very high and intense tempo because of the rapid counter-insurgency and working with so many different agencies and against a determined and resourceful enemy.
Corporal Simon Gibbons said: “It is good to see the people of Plymouth and for them to see us marching in uniform and to let them know we appreciated their support. It means a lot to have the people of Plymouth and wider behind us when we are in theatre. Materially we got letters and well-thought welfare parcels from families and kind members of the public. These are of great comfort, especially when we are in ever-present danger – even in the bases we were targets for rocket-propelled grenades.”