Emotional scenes as Royal Welsh soldiers return from Afghanistan


This is the tender moment a young father returning home from a gruelling tour of Afghanistan swept up his four-month-old daughter – for only the second time.

Emotional scenes as Royal Welsh soldiers return from Afghanistan

Brave dad Lt Benedict Large kissed and cuddled baby Annabel and wife Kirsty, 24, as he returned home with his 98 comrades from B Company 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh.

He had last seen little Annabel when she was just three days old.

The troops, which have been in Helmand Province since last July, were given a heroes reception after marching back to their barracks in Tidworth, Wilts., yesterday.

Choking back the tears, Kirsty Large said: ”I’ve been looking forward to him coming home – I can’t wait for us to be a proper family together.

”I’ve got a couple of bottles of champagne waiting back at home and we are going to have a lovely meal together tonight.

”I’ve been really, really excited about this for so long.”

Overjoyed 15-month-old Honey Allen ran into the arms of dad Private Martin Allen.

The pig-tailed youngster, who wore an army camouflage dress with a proud Welsh badge, was scooped up and kissed by her homecoming hero.

Emotional scenes as Royal Welsh soldiers return from Afghanistan

The, 99 members of B (Rorke’s Drift) Company marched into Lucknow Barracks at Tidworth, Wiltshire yesterday where they were greeted by more than 300 relatives.

Friends and family waved flags, held up inflatable daffodils and ran forward to embrace their loved ones, who played an ”integral” part of Afghan security.

They were providing a ”ground-holding” role near the regional capital of Lash Kah Gah for much of the time.

Four soldiers were injured during operations, but there were no fatalities – though the battalion previously lost three soldier in 2009 tours.

Proud parents Dan, 55, and Liz, 53, Chronick surprised their, son Lt Nathan Chronick, 28, by flying over from their native Canada to meet him.

He said: ”I have absolutely no idea it was such a surprise. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all.

”I wasn’t expecting anyone to be waiting for me – I thought I would just be carrying my bag in by myself.”

His weeping mum Liz, a ballet teacher, originally from Barry, South Wales, said: ”It was all very last minute, we only booked the flight on Friday.

”We decided to come out because we suddenly realised because we realised how important it was for him to have his mum and dad here.

”We will be here for him when he needs to talk. He loves doing his job, We are just so proud of him.”

Emotional scenes as Royal Welsh soldiers return from Afghanistan

Also in the crowd was 21-month-old Leo Tracey – wearing a custom made uniform to match that of his homecoming dad, Private Liam Tracey, 21, from Newport.

Liam’s fiance, Lucy Delve, 22, said: ”I am so very excited to have him home.

”I had Liam’s outfit custom made so he could match his dad. It was absolutely horrible when he was out there

”It is amazing, absolutely amazing to have Liam home. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe he’s here.”

Troops marched through the army barracks at 4.50pm yesterday – marking the end of two years of operations in the war-torn country for 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh.

Since Christmas, B Company has also been providing security for the rebuilding of Highway 1 route, a road vital for communications in Afghanistan.

A Welcome Home parade for B (Rorke’s Drift) Company will be held in Cardiff on April 30.


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