Kent

Canterbury cheers soldiers home from Afghanistan

Hundreds of soldiers have marched through Canterbury to celebrate their return from active service in Afghanistan.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were dressed in kilts with their bayonets fixed.

Large crowds cheered as the soldiers exercised their freedom of the city.

The march was headed by the battalion pipe and drums. Troops were accompanied by their mascot, a black Shetland pony.

Maj Neil Brown said: "There is a lot of emotion. There is euphoria at coming home, there is euphoria at being safe and bringing men home.

"There is also excitement at doing the parade through such a beautiful city. The support has been fantastic for all the Scottish soldiers in an English county."

Image caption The battalion's Fijian choir sang at the service at Canterbury Cathedral

'Tremendous honour'

The battalion had been on tour in Helmand province where their roles included partnering the Afghan National Army and police in providing security.

Pte Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua, 24, died in an explosion near the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province in January.

Following the parade, a service was held at Canterbury Cathedral in memory of the Fiji-born soldier.

Lt Col Adam Griffiths, the commanding officer of the battalion, said: "It has been a tremendous honour and a chance to say thank you to all the people of Canterbury who have supported us so much over the last few months, and indeed all the time we have been here."

The last time Scots soldiers paraded through Canterbury dressed in kilts and with their bayonets fixed was in 1834 when the Duke of Wellington presented them with their colours.

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