Our heroes’ homecoming

The Homecoming of the Yorkshire Regiment from Afganistan, Huddersfield..18th October 2012..Picture by Simon Hulme
The Homecoming of the Yorkshire Regiment from Afganistan, Huddersfield..18th October 2012..Picture by Simon Hulme

IT was a day of celebration and sorrow as Yorkshire’s soldiers were welcomed home.

Church bells rang, the sun shone down and hundreds lined the streets to cheer on 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.

Around 170 soldiers marched through Huddersfield last Thursday to celebrate their return from a six-month tour of Afghanistan.

Led by the Band of the King’s Division, the company assembled in the town centre where Lt Col Nigel Rhodes asked for a moment of silence for the fallen.

The regiment lost six men from its Corunna Company during the tour, including 20-year-old Cpl Jake Hartley, of Dewsbury.

Cpl Hartley’s mother Nathalie and his brother Ethan joined the other mourning families to watch the parade.

She said: “They had such dignity.

“I could see the pain in their eyes and vice versa.

“It was a shock for me when I saw them because straight away you think of your own.

“He should be with them, he should be there.”

The Mayor of Kirklees, Coun David Ridgway, said he was ‘so proud’ of the returning solders.

He said: “We are Yorkshire people, you are our regiment and we salute you.”

The soldiers marched on to Huddersfield Parish Church for a special homecoming service.

Outside the church, Major Edward Colver, commanding officer of the Corunna Company, thanked the people of Huddersfield and Kirklees for their support.

“It’s always great to come back to West Yorkshire where the roots of our regiment lie,” he said.

“We expected a few people to come out but we really didn’t expect the reaction we got today.”

He said the homecoming meant everything to the soldiers and gave them recognition for doing a ‘superb job’ in Afghanistan.

He added: “I lost six people from my company. It was a very difficult time, it happened extremely early on in our tour.

“We had to show resolve to get on and do what we’d been trained to do, otherwise our heroes would have died for no reason.”