On Wednesday 20th February 2019 1st Battalion Welsh Guards took part in a Homecoming Parade in Cardiff. Forming up inside the grounds of Cardiff Castle at 1200 hrs for an inspection by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Dianne Rees, prior to marching around the city centre, led by Regimental Band and then back around in front of the castle for an “Eyes Right” to the Lord Mayor before attending a reception at Cardiff Arms Park.
The Battalion has recently completed an eight-months tour of Afghanistan as part of Op TORAL, the British Army’s contribution to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, called Operation Resolute Support.
“As the Welsh Regiment of Her Majesty’s Foot Guards we are always delighted to return to our roots and, where possible, we never miss an opportunity to do so,” said Colonel (Retd) Tom Bonas, the Regimental Adjutant.
“We are always greatly touched by the warm welcome we always receive throughout Wales and of course when we parade through the capital, where we were honoured to receive the Freedom of the City in 1957. Being home in Wales always means so much to all Guardsmen and, wherever we are deployed around the world, it remains at the very heart of all we do.”
Major James Aldridge MBE, the battalion Second-in-Command, said the Welsh Guards had fulfilled a significant role last year on Operation Toral and was now looking forward to what’s next.
He said: “We deployed back to Afghanistan for busy eight-months tour of Kabul in 2018. The battalion capitalised on its core role of protecting NATO’s partnering and mentoring force during an unpredictable period of the Afghan Parliamentary elections and political offers of reconciliation.
“In doing so, the 1 Welsh Guards Battle Group bridged the gap between the withdrawal of US troops and the strategic uplift from about 650 to more than 1,000 UK soldiers. We worked alongside the UK’s multi-national partners with the aim of constructing robust civil and military Afghan institutions capable of progressing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan towards reconciliation and ultimately peace.”
The homecoming parade effectively closes the Op TORAL chapter for the battalion and marks the end of their time in 11th Infantry Brigade as a Light Mechanised Battalion. On February 27 the Welsh Guards revert to Light Infantry under Headquarters London District, which brings a return to state ceremonial and public duties.
Major Aldridge said: “We will provide street liners for this year’s Queen’s Birthday Parade, and troop our colour on next year’s. In between that we will deploy a company group to the Falkland Islands in August and another company group to Belize in February 2020, all the while building up to a battalion-level exercise in Kenya in late 2020.
“We will also say farewell to our barracks in Pirbright, our home since 2014, when we move to Windsor in August 2019.”
For more photographs of the Battalion Homecoming Parade, by kind permission of Mr Neil Rice see here.