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‘Exceeding all expectations...’ SUCH are the vagaries of the British

Marines of 40 Commando, thousands of people paying their respects. Except that one took place in glorious autumn sunshine, the other barely three miles away, was lashed by wind and rain. The sacrifi ces of the green berets during six bitter months in Helmand were remembered on home turf, fi rst in the presence of their Captain General at Norton Manor camp, then on the streets of nearby Taunton at a public homecoming parade. Some 2,500 friends and family gathered at 40

weather. Two ceremonies, one day apart, 700 or so Royal

Fourteen men from 40 Cdo were killed during the tour of duty. The families of 12 of the fallen headed to Somerset to receive the recently-instituted medal, which is presented to the next of kin of Servicemen and women killed in the line of duty.

Aside from the dead, the commando suffered upwards of 50 serious casualties in Helmand, many victims of booby traps and improvised bombs left by the insurgents. With the aid of sticks or assisted by comrades,

Cdo’s base for a medal presentation with the Duke of Edinburgh performing the honours. To the green berets he presented the Afghan Medal; to families, the Elizabeth Cross.

medals from the duke. They had, said their Commanding Offi cer Lt Col Paul James, striven to be present at this ceremony. “It was a fantastic occasion, a very proud day,” he

they rose to receive their

said. “There were more than 2,500 people in Norton Manor, probably the largest ever gathering here. “There is an element of sadness for those families

for whom we weren’t able to bring back their sons or their husbands.” Having been honoured by royalty and loved ones, 24 hours later the commandos were fêted by the people of Taunton in foul weather.

Secretary Dr Liam Fox, and Taunton Deane’s Mayor, Cllr Jefferson Horsley; the latter told the green berets that across the district there was “a sense of togetherness and support that goes beyond normal relationships even expected in garrison towns”.

were umbrellas), as Taunton ground to a halt to offer its support, applauding the Royal Marines as they marched past. A Guard of Honour was inspected by Somerset’s Lord Lieutenant, Lady Gass, Defence

Despite the wind and rain, banners and Union Jacks large and small were plentiful on the streets of Somerset’s county town (as

we can brave the weather. 40 Cdo Royal Marines has returned to the warmest of welcomes after a tour in which their hard work and sacrifi ce has made us here at home safer.” It’s estimated half of Taunton’s populace watched proceedings – a turn-out which, said Lt Col James, “exceeded all our expectations. The people of Taunton are always fully behind us and today marching through the town meant a lot to us.” ■ Fourteen members of 40 Cdo RM lost their lives during their latest tour of duty in Afghanistan: Sgt Steven Derbyshire, L/Cpl Michael Taylor,

Christopher Harrison, Stephen Walker and Stephen Curley, and Mnes Adam Brown, Scott Taylor, Jonathan Crookes, Matthew Harrison, David Hart, Steven Birdsall, Anthony Hotine, Richard Hollington and Paul Warren.

Picture: LA(Phot) Vicki Benwell, RNAS Yeovilton Cpls And from Dr Fox: “If they can brave the Taliban Our new website...

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