Thousands Welcome 16 Air Assault Brigade Home
More than 10,000 people lined the streets of Colchester to welcome the town’s soldiers home after a six month tour of Afghanistan.
Some 600 troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade marched through the cheering crowds ‘with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and Colours flying’.
16 Air Assault Brigade, based at Colchester’s Merville Barracks, exercised the Freedom of the Borough of Colchester on Tuesday June 7th 2011 to thank the town for its ongoing support.
The parade, led by The Band of The Parachute Regiment, took the soldiers along a packed High Street, with the salute taken at the Town Hall by Mayor of Colchester Cllr Helen Chuah; Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex; and Brigadier James Chiswell MC, who commanded the brigade in Afghanistan.
Parade Commander Lieutenant Colonel Gary Wilkinson OBE, Commanding Officer of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 PARA RHA), said: “The parade was a very emotional occasion, which demonstrated the unbreakable bond between 16 Air Assault Brigade and the people of Colchester.
“The support we receive from Colchester, both when we are on operations and in barracks, is incredible and we cannot thank the local community enough. Colchester is part of the team and the town’s support was key to the success of our recent tour of Afghanistan.”
Lance Corporal Joanna Brownlow, of 16 Air Assault Medical Regiment, described the crowds as “overwhelming”.
She said: “I was very proud to be marching through the crowds with my colleagues. It’s fantastic to know we have this support from the public in our home town.”