Last Welsh Cavalry troops leave Germany after 50 years

Image caption German General Michael Matz salutes troops from The Queen's Dragoon Guards

The last Welsh troops bade farewell to Germany over the weekend, bringing nearly 50 years presence in the country to a close.

Since the end of World War Two, various Welsh regiments have been stationed in Germany for periods of time.

But the final soldiers from The Queen's Dragoon Guards (QDG), better known as the Welsh Cavalry, are now moving to their new base in East Anglia following army reorganisation.

At a moving ceremony on the parade ground at Dempsey Barracks, Paderborn, the QDG were told they would be sadly missed.

The city's mayor, Michael Dreier, said: "Today it is not just the end of a long and important era in Paderborn's history, it is also a time to say goodbye to very good friends.

"There are lots of emotional memories and a deep and honest sense of gratitude."

Image caption A ceremony was held on the parade ground at Dempsey Barracks, Paderborn

Around 75 veterans, most of whom had made the journey from Wales, ended the ceremony with a poignant march.

Soldiers serving with the QDG today, and their families, have mixed feelings about leaving Paderborn.

For years, British troops stationed in Germany enjoyed benefits including generous living allowances and tax-free perks.

Quality of life

Sgt Gareth Roberts, from Newport, sitting with his wife Calais and four-year-old son Kayden, said: "Germany's been really good, the summers are long, it's always clean and everything's on time.

"It's been great for our children."

Around the barracks, huge amounts of material are getting packed up to be put on trucks in the next few weeks. Everything must go, from the regimental silver to, bizarrely, a Russian-built T55 tank called 'The Gate Guardian'.

Image caption Capt Tim Jones explains the role of the 'Gate Guardian' tank

"We liberated it from Iraqi forces in 1991," explained Capt Tim Jones, from Ewloe, near Wrexham.

"It goes everywhere with us."

Maj Simon Farebrother, the QDG's second-in-command, said they had been well looked after by the local community over the years.

"While there's sadness to be leaving, there's also great excitement. We have a great camp in Swanton Morley in Norfolk. It'll be a great new home for us."

At their height, British forces in Germany numbered some 75,000.

By 2018, it is expected the last units will have left for bases in the UK, bringing the curtain down on more than 70 years of British military presence east of the Rhine.

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