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"Lions of Basra welcomed home"

David Vallis reports in the Salisbury Journal -

Cheering, flag waving crowds gave a hero's reception to soldiers from 4th Battalion The Rifles - the Lions of Basra - when they marched through Salisbury on Tuesday.

Thousands of people lined the route from the Cathedral Close into the city centre, in what was possibly the biggest welcome home given to troops locally since the end of the Second World War.

And they burst into spontaneous applause and cheering as the 522 soldiers from the Journal's adopted regiment, led by the Band of The Rifles, passed by.

The soldiers themselves appeared surprised by the scale of the turnout and the emotional, charged atmosphere.

As the parade arrived at the Guildhall and "fell out", the battalion's proud Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Sanders said: "It was just amazing to march past so many people. . .

The soldiers only returned to their barracks at Bulford Camp a fortnight ago, after a successful but gruelling and sometimes tragic six month deployment in Iraq - and were invited to parade through the city by Mayor, Kevin Cardy, to give local people the chance to honour them.

The 4 RIFLES Battlegroup was based at Basra Palace for the first four months of their tour in Iraq, and the soldiers successfully withstood rogue militia, who attacked them with more than 2,000 mortar and rocket attacks, 400 rocket-propelled grenade attacks and 100 Incendiary Explosive Devices.

However, the Battlegroup hit back twice as hard, mounting several successful operations to detain numerous senior insurgents.

Via An Englishman's Castle


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