Lancashire's heroes parade for loved-ones on homecoming
Nothing says British summer like a puddle inside a tent.
But it takes more than a torrential downpour to shake the brave men of the second battalion of the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment and their proud families.
On a flooded parade ground at Weeton barracks they were welcomed home, putting on one final show of pomp and ceremony for their nearest and dearest.
Troops from the Weeton-based battalion have been deployed to all corners of the globe in the last year. Yesterday they came together as one to celebrate their homecoming.
Lt Colonel Rob Singleton, from Preston, is the battalion’s commanding officer. He paid tribute to the troops who have been serving as far away as Iraq and the Falkland islands.
He said: “It means a great deal to us. We have had a great experience over the last 12 months with our soldiers deployed on four continents helping to ensure the security of the United Kingdom.
“Occasions like this are about the battalion, about bringing everybody back together and celebrating a return from operations, to show our appreciation to family and friends.“We cannot go on deployment without the support of our family and friends.
“We are one big family, we have to make sure we look out for one another.”
Soldiers from the battalion have served in Cyprus, supporting UN Peacekeepers, in Kenya and Uganda, where they have carried out training and in the Falklands and Iraq.
Lt Col Singleton led the UK mission to the middle east to help in the ongoing fight against ISIS.
He said: “I was extremely proud to take a group from Weeton to the middle east. We spent a lot of time out there training 16,000 members of the Iraqi security services to defeat Daesh.
“We are professional soldiers, we enjoy going overseas on missions, but it is good to be home.”
The battalion have paraded through a number of Lancashire towns, including Blackpool and Chorley, in recent weeks having been granted the freedom of the boroughs. And Lt Col
Singleton is delighted by the support shown.
He said: “We are a Lancashire regiment, we recruit from the county and we get fantastic support.”
Lt Col Singleton is as pleased as anybody to be home.
He said: “I am a human being, I have a family just like everybody else and it is wonderful to return home and to parade for them.
“Today was a little different to 50 degree heat in Iraq but the soldiers stood rock steady, I am proud of them.”
The battalion is now preparing for future deployment including missions to the USA, Kenya and Belize.
Kinsgsman David Cottenden, 23, from North Shore was among those marching.
The former Highfield Academy pupil had returned from his third overseas tour, having deployed to the Falklands.
He said: “It’s a long way from home and a very tough place to work.
“You know you’re a long way from home.
“To come back and have the battalion back together, to see your fiends again, that’s what this is about for me.”
Steph White, 51, lives at Fleetwood Marina.
Her son, Gavin, 27, was returning from Iraq.
She said: “You’re always a little anxious when they are out on deployment. To have them home and see them parade is great.”