Wales

Newport freedom march for Royal Welsh

An infantry battalion which has completed two tours in Afghanistan - losing three soldiers - has exercised its right to march through Newport.

The Royal Welsh regiment was given the freedom of Newport in 2001.

This month, the families of two fallen two soldiers of 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh were given the Elizabeth Cross, in recognition of their loss.

The regiment's 2nd battlion B Company is deployed to Afghanistan in August.

The march through Newport by 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh on Saturday concluded with the city's mayor presenting the regiment with a copy of the reaffirmation scroll marking the traditions and links between the two.

The parade included The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh and was led by Billy, the regimental goat.

On 1 May, the battalion's A Company marked their official return from Helmand province with a parade through Brecon, Powys.

At that event, the families of Pte James Prosser and Pte Richard Hunt were presented with the Elizabeth Cross, the decoration in the Queen's name awarded to the next of kin of armed services personnel, in a mark of national recognition of their loss.

In August last year, Pembrokeshire-born Pte Hunt, who grew up in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, became the 200th British soldier to die in the conflict.

His vehicle patrol was hit by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during operations in Musa Qaleh in the north of the province.

He was airlifted back to the UK but died in Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham.

Explosion

In September last year, 21-year-old, Pte Prosser, from Cwmbran, Torfaen, was killed in an IED blast whilst driving a Warrior vehicle.

A Company was deployed to Afghanistan in July last year, taking over from its sister C Company.

L/Cpl Christopher Harkett, 22, of Pontardawe, Swansea, died after an explosion near Musa Qala on March 2009, a month after C Company was deployed.

The widow and father of L/Cpl Harkett were presented with the Elizabeth Cross at a ceremony in August last year.

Both A and C Company formed part of Operation Herrick, which entailed working with and mentoring the Afghan National Army.

Newport's mayor, Councillor Bill Langsford said: "We are privileged to welcome the Royal Welsh back to Newport and delighted that we will be able to reaffirm their freedom of the city.

"It is a particular honour for me to present this reaffirmation and one which the regiment well deserves."

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