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'Guardian angel' soldiers collect medals after Afghanistan tour

PUBLISHED: 16:30 02 August 2019

More than 100 soldiers from B (Suffolk) Company 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian took part in a unique exercise in Finland as part of a joint expeditionary force involving nearly 1,000 soldiers Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018

More than 100 soldiers from B (Suffolk) Company 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian took part in a unique exercise in Finland as part of a joint expeditionary force involving nearly 1,000 soldiers Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018

© MoD Crown Copyright

Soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment - who have spent months serving in Afghanistan and South Sudan - received a hero's welcome as they collected medals for their tour.

Before the final exercise British private troops are familiarised with specialist kit and equipment before moving out for the final phase of the exercise Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018Before the final exercise British private troops are familiarised with specialist kit and equipment before moving out for the final phase of the exercise Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018

Presented by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester, the regiment's 1st Battalion took part in the medal parade at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich on August 1, with soldiers from Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk in attendance.

Among them were 280 soldiers who, as part of NATO's support forces, served in Afghanistan from September 2018 to April 2019.

The soldiers - known as 'guardian angels' - were in non-combat roles, focusing on training and advising Afghan forces in the city.

Working with Estonian, Finnish, Australian, American and Danish allies they formed the Kabul Security Force.

The Woolwich-based unit landed in Finland in early June and spent 10 days with the Guard Jaeger Regiment in and around the Finnish capital, Helsinki Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018The Woolwich-based unit landed in Finland in early June and spent 10 days with the Guard Jaeger Regiment in and around the Finnish capital, Helsinki Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018

Major Nick McGinley of Company C (Essex) said: "Providing force protection to NATO advisors within the centre of Kabul which included the Presidential Palace, Afghan ministries and embassies was a high-profile task.

"Strategic advising only happens if the Company enables the movement and protection of those advisors.

"During the deployment, the men of C Company have delivered over 2000 missions; we feel justifiably proud of our role and the soldiers' professionalism."

Private Samuel Barton of Company B (Suffolk) said: "

It is the first time any British Army unit has been involved in bilateral military manoeuvres of this kind with the Finnish defence forces and involved urban warfare training on Santahamina island Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018It is the first time any British Army unit has been involved in bilateral military manoeuvres of this kind with the Finnish defence forces and involved urban warfare training on Santahamina island Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018

Suffolk's Company B also took part in the first-ever bilateral Finnish-British exercises, close to Helsinki on the island of Santahamina, with a total of 1,000 soldiers conducting urban warfare training.

Roses were worn on the hats of all the participating soldiers in a tribute to the 260th anniversary of the Battle of Minden on August 1.

The predecessors of the Royal Anglian Regiment, the 12th Foot, consider it to be one of their proudest battles.

The 12th Foot marched upon the French Cavalry at the battle in 1759, picking red and yellow roses from the hedgerows as they went and placing them in their headdresses - with the colours now used in the patches the regiment wear to identify themselves.

At the end of the day, after a productive day troops are briefed for the next days activities in urban warfare training Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018At the end of the day, after a productive day troops are briefed for the next days activities in urban warfare training Picture: CPL ANDY REID / MOD Crown Copyright 2018

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Moxey MBE, said: "This year's 260th anniversary is particularly special as it offers us not just the chance to reflect on those famous actions but also as the opportunity to recognise the service and commitment of the modern day infantryman."

Some 80 soldiers from the battalion were also deployed alongside 39 Engineer Regiment on a UK peacekeeping mission to South Sudan.

Based in Malakal and Bentiu, their primary tasks were base security and force protection for the engineers as they completed the construction of hospitals and roads.

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