Welcome Home 40 Commando
PUBLISHED: 10:44 18 June 2013 | UPDATED: 10:44 18 June 2013
The parade, organised by Taunton Deane Borough Council in partnership with the police and 40 Commando, saw an estimated 15,000 well-wishers give the Marines a tumultuous greeting as they paraded through the town centre, headed by HM Band Royal Marines (Plymouth) to mark the end of their final seven-month tour.
The unit was the first Royal Marines into Afghanistan and the last out as the drawdown of forces approaches.
Mayor Cllr Libby Lisgo spoke on behalf of the community when she thanked those who have served in the war-torn country over the past 12 years and paid special tribute to the men and women who had lost their lives, including Cpl David O’Connor who was killed while on patrol during the latest deployment.
As the clouds parted to reveal blue skies, Cllr Lisgo said: “The sun is shining. Taunton is as its best for its best.”
Commanding officer Lt Col Matt Jackson said his troops were proud to be able to exercise their Freedom to march through the town, adding: “We genuinely puffed out our chests today on this special occasion.”
The 700 Marines, who successfully helped the Afghan National Forces take lead responsibility for security and military tasks, then had the honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh officiate at their medal parade.
HRH, as honorary Captain General of the Royal Marines, was the guest of honour at 40 Commando’s base at Norton Manor, near Taunton.
Afterwards, Captain Jack Broughton, second in command of 40 Commando Logistics Company, hugged his wife Gillian and son Thomas 21 months and said: “It’s great to have my wife and lad here. It is great to be back home and to see Thomas so much bigger than when I left seven months ago. The town centre parade was very uplifting and shows how much people have been thinking of us while we were away.”
Three charities also joined forces to show their support on the day: The Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC), The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund (RMCTF) and Go Commando (GC).
The charities have a different remit and mission statement but they all have one common aim - to provide financial support and services to all Naval Service Personnel, whether members of the Royal Navy or Royal Marines Corps and their families.
A spokesperson for all three charities said: “It also shows the families that we are behind them all 100% and continue to be for the future which is extremely important.”