SOLDIERS who marched through Basildon have “saluted” and thanked the thousands of residents’ who lined the streets of Basildon to show their support.
More than ten thousand people from Basildon, South Essex and other parts of the county, lined the town centre of Basildon last week to welcome home the Royal Anglian regiment.
The soldiers carried out the homecoming parade last Thursday to mark the end of the troops’ final tour in Afghanistan.
After they were given a heroes welcome in the town, the Anglians regimental secretary Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Hodgson OBE sent a heartfelt message of thanks to South Essex residents.
He said: “The Royal Anglian Regiment would like to thank Basildon Borough Council and the people of Basildon for the magnificent support and warm welcome given to the soldiers of our 1st Battalion - The Vikings - at their Homecoming Parade.
“Our soldiers saw, with their own eyes, the thousands of well wishers on the streets, which will be their lasting memory of a truly great day.
“This generosity of spirit, given by all sections of the community, mattered greatly to The Regiment and has been most humbling.
“The outpouring of goodwill has strengthened further the morale of our soldiers and made them feel that they, and the difficult job that they are called upon to do, are both valued and appreciated by the nation they strive to serve.”
He added: “We recruit our soldiers from you.
“They are your sons, your brothers, your husbands, your fathers, your cousins, your nephews and your uncles. So your kindness and support has strengthened this special bond between the people of Basildon and their county infantry regiment.
“We salute you.”
Last Thursday thousands of people, from young children to Second World War veterans, lined the town centre as the Royal Anglian marched through the town to St Martin’s Square. The Duke of Gloucester also welcomed the troops home.
A military covenant - which sets out the relationship between the nation, the state and the Armed Forces and outlines Basildon’s moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families - was also signed by dignitaries.