Somerset

Mixed feelings as Royal Marines return from Afghanistan

Sgt Danny Smith, and son Oliver, aged 4 Image copyright bbc
Image caption The first wave of marines to return to Taunton were met by their families on Wednesday

The return to Somerset of more than 80 Royal Marines from 40 Commando after a six-month tour in Afghanistan has seen mixed feelings from families.

In April, 670 marines from Norton Manor Camp were sent to Sangin. Fourteen died and 11 were seriously injured.

Monday saw scenes of joy as marines were greeted by their families. The first wave returned last Wednesday.

Robin Hollington, whose son Richard was killed, said the unit's return to their Taunton base was "bittersweet".

Rebecca Clarke, the wife of marine Keith Clarke, said: "I've been awake since half four, feeling really nervous and apprehensive as to what it was going to be like.

"It was like our first date, or like seeing him down the aisle when we got married. It was bizarre."

Upon his return, 40 Commando's commanding officer Lt Col Paul James said: "We had a difficult tour, there's no escaping that. But that overwhelmingly has been balanced with this sense of achievement."

Image copyright Other
Image caption Marine Richard Hollington died in hospital after being injured in Helmand on 12 June

Robin Hollington's son Richard became the 300th member of the UK forces to die after being wounded in a blast in Afghanistan.

Of 40 Commando's homecoming, he said: "Whilst we are clearly delighted that everybody who is coming home is coming home, there's that bittersweet part of it which means Richard isn't."

He said he was unsure if he was going to attend the homecoming parade in November.

"I really don't know if it's something we will go to," Mr Hollington said.

"In part there'll be so much joy from the families who have got their loved ones back and do they want a few families who would put a dampener on it?

"Do we become those people that are looked at with pity? Or is it something Richard and the other lads would have wanted? I don't know."

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