Lancashire

Duke of Lancaster's Regiment back for homecoming

Battle-weary soldiers from the north west of England enjoyed an emotional reunion with their families.

About 85 members of 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, arrived back at Catterick Garrison after a six-month tour of Afghanistan.

Wives, mothers and children looked on as the soldiers marched on to the square at Somme Barracks.

Three soldiers did not return after being killed in battles with insurgents during the deployment.

Cpl Taniela Rogoiruwai, L/Cpl Jordan Bancroft, from Burnley, and Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce were killed while on operations.

After the formal homecoming parade ended, the soldiers were mobbed by their loved ones.

Ryan King, 27 was hugged and kissed by his wife Steph, 28 and three-year-old daughter Ebony from Blackburn.

Mrs King said: "It is fantastic. It has just been so emotional all day, just waiting for the past two hours and when they just came through it was amazing. I'm so proud."

Her husband said: "Today has been great. It took two or three days to get back from Afghanistan.

"It has been a long time. Just glad to be back. It was mentally tough more than anything, it was just so hot all the time."

Cpl Mark Bilsborough, 30 and wife Petra, from Preston, were also reunited.

He said: "It was nerve-wracking day, but good. I have been away for so long.

"I haven't seen her and just on the phone is different, a lot different. It was tough tour."

Major Paul Blakesley, of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, told the BBC the deployment had helped bring extra "stability and security" to the region.

"All tours are tough... I can guarantee they'll be happy to be home today," he said.

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