FOR the soldiers it was a welcome return to home soil – for the public, a chance to thank them for their bravery in Afghanistan.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of the Capital yesterday to cheer on a parade of troops back from a tour of duty in the war-torn country. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards marched from the Castle Esplanade down the Royal Mile to Canongate Kirk to mark their return to Scotland after six months in Helmand Province.
Proud family members, locals and veterans lined the street to applaud them as they made their way down the hill in the sunshine, led by the regimental pipes and drums.
The impressive march, which took place at 11.30am, finished with a thanksgiving service to commemorate the loss of Craftsman Andrew Found, who died in an explosion, and show gratitude to those who supported the soldiers.
Captain Chris Majcher, who has been with the regiment for three years and grew up in Edinburgh, said the troops were “overwhelmed” with the local support.
He said: “Because we’re a Scottish regiment we’re continuously grateful for the support we have had. We’re here to appreciate that and to attend a memorial service to remember Craftsman Found, who was killed in June. After this we’re back to our base in Germany, where we’ll return to our jobs training on the tanks.”
David Yeates, 70, an ex-staff sergeant who is now a member of the Veterans Association Scotland, said he was proud to watch the troops.
He said: “We’d do anything to support the guys. We found that before there was not so much interest in the military, but now the public is incredibly supportive. The support we get is first class and everybody has been cheering today.”
Local Mary Davenport, 23, who took to the pavement to watch the parade, added: “I don’t have any family in the army but I think the least we can do is support the people who work so hard for us. I also find the parades very inspiring, and you can see how focused the troops are.”
George Grubb, Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, said: “Edinburgh is enormously grateful to the soldiers for their bravery and sacrifices in service of this country.”
Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Bartholomew, Commanding Officer of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, said: “The soldiers return home very proud of what they have achieved.”