More than one thousand Plymouth-based Royal Marines, Sappers and Gunners from 3 Commando Brigade, paraded through Plymouth on Armistice Day to mark their return from a successful six-month tour in Helmand, Afghanistan.
Hundreds of loved ones and well-wishers braved storm force winds and driving rain to gather on Plymouth Hoe and along Royal Parade in the city centre on Friday (11 November), as troops from 3 Commando Brigade Headquarters, 30 Commando IX Group, 42 Commando, 29 Commando Royal Artillery and 24 Commando Royal Engineers marked their homecoming with a Remembrance Service and marching parade which included injured personnel, some in wheelchairs.
The day of ceremony began with a medals ceremony for 30 Cdo IX Group on Plymouth Hoe, followed by a full parade form up on Plymouth Hoe for an Armistice Day service and Roll of Honour for the men lost during the six-month tour. This was followed by the national two-minute silence, signalled by a gun round from Plymouth Citadel (home of 29Commando RA) and then a march through the city of Plymouth with VIP salute taking place on Royal Parade.
3 Commando Brigade led Operation Herrick 14 for the past six months, the biggest Afghanistan deployment involving military personnel from the South West in several years.
Speaking about 3 Commando Brigade’s achievements in Afghanistan, Brigadier Ed Davis, Commanding Officer of 3 Commando Brigade, said the campaign in Helmand is very much on track thanks not only to the efforts made during 3 Commando’s tour, but because of the hard work and sacrifice of those on previous tours.
He paid tribute to the Service personnel who had been a part of Herrick 14: “It has been humbling to see the sacrifice and the professionalism of our people. Their humanity and their desire to reach out to the people of Helmand and their insatiable desire to make a difference has been inspiring.”
The Royal Marines, Sappers and Gunners from the parading Commando units based at RM Stonehouse, Bickleigh and the Royal Citadel have strong links with the people of Plymouth with many in their ranks coming from the city and surrounding areas.
A large turn-out and warm welcome is expected from Plymouth residents who have been loyal supporters of the troops during their demanding deployment.
Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, spokesman for Headquarters 3 Commando Brigade, said: “The timing of the 3 Commando Brigade homecoming parade could not be more poignant. As we march through our home city of Plymouth on Armistice Day, at the forefront of our thoughts will be those who made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Herrick 14 as well as those who have fallen in previous conflicts.
“The parade will also be our opportunity for the Royal Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Brigade to thank the people of Plymouth and our families for the tremendous support they have given to us over the last six months that we have been serving in Helmand.”
Officiating at the march and medals parade were Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, Plymouth Lord Mayor, Brigadier Ed Davis and Under Secretary of State for Defence Lord Astor of Hever. Special guests at the event included bereaved relatives.
After the parade the troops will disperse to host their families at their units before continuing with their well-earned leave.