Cheshire soldiers are heading off to and returning from two of the world’s most torrid war zones, Iraq and Afghanistan. DAVID HOLMES reports
THE Prince of Wales presented medals to 170 soldiers who recently returned home after six months in Iraq.
Prince Charles, colonel-in-chief of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), invited the soldiers and their families to his London residence Clarence House, to be presented with their Iraq campaign medals.
The battalion has 550 soldiers and the 170 selected to attend the Clarence House event were those for whom the recent tour in Iraq was their first tour of duty in the country.
Lieutenant Colonel Ian Cave, 1 Mercian’s commanding officer, said: “It’s a great honour for my soldiers to receive their Iraq campaign medals from The Prince of Wales.
“The chance to come to London with their families and friends, to be presented with medals, is a source of huge pride for the soldiers and marks the end of a successful and demanding tour in Iraq.”
1 Mercian deployed to Iraq last November, returning to the UK in May. Elements of the battalion were stationed in Basra (at the main airport base), while one ‘company’ of men (about 120 soldiers) deployed north to Baghdad and another company deployed further south to the port of Umm Qasr.
The battalion recruits its soldiers from Cheshire, within the old county boundaries of Cheshire, south of the Rivers Tame and Mersey, including Wirral, Stockport, Macclesfield and Chester. The battalion’s UK base is in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.
The Mercian Regiment was formed in September 2007, with the amalgamation of three neighbouring county infantry regiments, including The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment. Although a new regiment, its proud history through the antecedent regiments can be traced back over 300 years.