Riflemen from 1st Battalion The Rifles, who recently returned from operations in Afghanistan have participated in a Homecoming parade through the streets of Gloucester City following a short service of thanks in the historic Gloucester Cathedral.
To the musical accompaniment of The Rifles Band, 1 RIFLES were joined by Riflemen from 6th Battalion The Rifles, Gloucestershire Army Cadet Force, the Rifles Regimental Support Team, veterans and officials from Gloucester City Council as they marched around the City centre of Gloucester to raptures of warm applause from the spectators who had gathered to watch the parade.
Speaking of the parade and of his time in Afghanistan Captain Cullum Welch, Second-in-Command A Company, said: “Although Gloucester has a close association with the Regiment it was fantastic to see so many people turnout to see us march, particularly as we marched up the High Street. To hear the spontaneous applause that came from the crowd was really nice and very welcoming for all of us that have been away.
To hear the spontaneous applause that came from the crowd was really nice and very welcoming for all of us that have been away. Captain Welch
We had an incredibly successful deployment, the first for many of the Riflemen. Where A Company were in the West of Kabul we worked in a truly coalition environment that saw us operate as an integrated company with two of our platoons and two platoons of Australian soldiers mixed together; something that we have not done before. We also worked closely with the New Zealand army so our location had a very Commonwealth feel to it.”
The 395 Riflemen from the Battalion who deployed to Afghanistan on Op TORAL formed part of the British Army’s contribution to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force mission, called Operation Resolute Support, as the Advisor Force Protection.
The key tasks undertaken in Kabul varied from leading on base force protection tasks and providing the Quick Reaction Force to responding to incidents in the city and undertaking training packages for personnel entering theatre. B Company 1 RIFLES alone conducted around three thousand missions while in theatre. In addition the Battalion also provided force protected movement for many senior coalition advisors as they travelled around the city. Figures that included a number of senior General’s from the United States as well as a visit from General Sir Nicholas Carter, GCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Gen, the Chief of the Defence Staff and a fellow rifleman.
Throughout their time in Afghanistan the Battalion worked tirelessly forging successful partnership with the Coalition most notably US, Danish, Estonian, Mongolian, Australian, New Zealand and Turkish Forces earning praise for their professionalism and diligence to support the Afghan Government and Security Forces and the long term peace and security in Afghanistan.