Call to back Norwich soldiers

Ben KendallThe bravery of East Anglian territorial soldiers on the frontline in Afghanistan will be recognised at a medal parade next weekend.Ben Kendall

The bravery of East Anglian territorial soldiers on the frontline in Afghanistan will be recognised at a medal parade next weekend.

Lt Col Dennis Vincent, commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, has urged members of the public to turn out in force to support the men at the event in Bury St Edmunds on May 23. The battalion, nicknamed the Steelbacks, recruits from areas including Norwich and Lowestoft.

Lt Col Vincent said: 'In order to serve their country, these fine young men put both their life and civilian employment on hold for a year. So I now ask for public support to demonstrate to them that the people at home really do understand and appreciate the sacrifices they have made.

'I would therefore urge you to spread the word to drum up support for this parade. Please also pass on this message to your personal contacts, particularly those who are opinion formers or persons of influence.

'Ask them to support the Steelbacks and encourage others to do likewise. In short, take to the streets of Bury St Edmunds to show support for your local territorial army soldiers, home from war.'

Eleven Platoon was the first to deploy, forming part of the force protection company in Kabul. During their six month deployment, and despite a number of attacks, they maintained the security of the international headquarters and the busy city centre.

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Lt Col Vincent said the 32 soldiers, including many from Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire gad a lasting affect on the people of Kabul, gaining an outstanding reputation for firm, but compassionate action.

Twelve Platoon followed, serving with the Household Cavalry Battle Group in Musa Qalah, Helmand Province. Their role was to support the Afghan security forces and assist the return to normality.

'Their 30 soldiers, again from across the regimental area, were steadfast in their duties, including many battles with the Taliban,' Lt Col Vincent said. 'Because of this, life in Musa Qalah has begun to thrive, with a busy market and bustling streets; and the Afghan security forces have grown in capability, to the point of taking over some of the responsibilities.'

About 60 soldiers will be on parade at 11.50am on Sunday, May 23, on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds. Following the parade, the soldiers will march to St Mary's Church for a thanksgiving service at 1pm.