Returning soldiers to march in town

Soldiers attending the funeral of Harold Percival at Lytham Crematorium last week
Soldiers attending the funeral of Harold Percival at Lytham Crematorium last week

More than 120 soldiers from across the North West will parade in St Annes next week to mark their return from Afghanistan.

Men and women from the 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment will march through the town centre on Wednesday, following a mid-morning service at St Annes Parish Church.

It will be the second of three homecoming parades across the region.

The battalion is part of the North West’s Infantry regiment and recruits soldiers from throughout the region. The unit is based at Weeton Barracks.

In April, some 400 of the battalion’s soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and during the tour closed several UK bases, supported operations run by the Afghan National Security Forces and successfully handed control of Nad-e Ali to the Afghans. It was the last time soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster’s will have served in the country in such numbers.

Lt Col Neil Unsworth, commanding officer, said “It is a genuine privilege to be invited to march through St Annes on our return from Afghanistan.

“It will be a proud moment for all of us.

“The support we have had from the people back home in the Fylde while we have been on combat operations in Helmand has been amazing.

“It made a real difference and I’d like to publicly thank everyone who took the trouble to write and send parcels.”

Fylde mayor Coun Linda Nulty said: “The people of Fylde are very proud to be associated with the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Lancaster’s and I urge everyone to turn out in large numbers to show support for their efforts on our behalf.

“They did so for the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment in Kirkham in 2010 and I’m sure the Lancaster’s will see the same enthusiasm.

“These brave men and women have recently returned from their duties in Afghanistan – and we are relieved that they have all returned safely to Weeton.

“The citizens of Fylde should never forget that these soldiers put themselves in harm’s way on behalf of our country.

“While it will be a joyful occasion, we will not forget the sacrifices made by our local heroes, Sgt Nigel Coupe and Lance Cpl Stephen Burrows, who died on previous tours of duty to Afghanistan. We will respect them as we celebrate and give thanks for the safe return of their comrades.”

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