More than 300 troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan marched through the streets of Winchester to the sound of drums, cheers and heartfelt applause today in an emotional homecoming parade, one of the first such events since the start of the 2003 war.
Thousands of people turned out to welcome the service personnel – from all three branches of the Armed Forces – as they paraded through the historic Hampshire town accompanied by brass bands and fluttering flags. Two Chinook helicopters from nearby RAF Odiham saluted the troops with a flypast.
After marching up the medieval High Street, the men and women were treated to a reception in their honour hosted by the county council, where they were presented with a glass tankard and bottle of local beer each and ceremonial scrolls for each unit.
Attending the march were troops from the Rifles and the King’s Royal Hussars, the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, the frigate HMS Richmond, RAF Odiham and the 4 General Support (Medical) Regiment.
That’s nice, isn’t it?
Unlike in the United States, where returning service personnel are regularly treated to heroes’ welcomes, public anger at Britain’s involvement in the conflicts – particularly Iraq – has discouraged many councils from publicly honouring troops.
Yeah, right, speaking of which, have you seen the preview for the latest Witherspoon-Philippe Contribution to the American War Film Library?
It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? About two years behind the times, but ooh, how duplicitous and meaningless our parades are!
Anyway, it’s nice to see the Brits putting on a parade.