By Clare Carswell
THE MAN in charge of 1 SCOTS during a gruelling six month tour of Afghanistan will lead his troops on an emotional homecoming parade down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh today (sat) – before standing down as Commanding Officer.
Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Herbert – who lost three men while on deployment – said he was “immensely proud” of his warriors and thanked the anticipated thousands expected to greet them today.
Speaking as preparations geared up with a march through Colinton yesterday (fri), he said: “Marching in Edinburgh is always a delight.
“It is our home, the city where the Royal Scots was formed in 1633, and where many of our soldiers are from.
“We are hugely proud of our association with the people of Edinburgh, and I grateful to them for coming out in force to support their Battalion.
“The First Battalion has had a tough tour in Afghanistan.
“Three soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice, others suffered life changing injuries. On a day like today, we inevitably think of them and their families.
“They will never be forgotten.”
The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, suffered as some 400 comrades endured fierce fighting in Helmand Province while training the Afghan security forces.
Afghan Campaign Medals will be handed out to around 190 soldiers in a ceremony at Holyrood Park later today, but thoughts will turn to those who never returned.
He said: “I take comfort though in knowing that their sacrifice was not in vain.
“We made a tangible difference during our time in Southern Afghanistan, and I am rightly proud of what all ranks have achieved out there.
“The Medals Parade is a significant event, and it is fitting to do it here in Edinburgh, in front of the general public.
“Ordinary people doing extraordinary things, day in and day out on behalf of our Nation.”
In an interview with Garrison FM yesterday (Friday) from the battalion’s base at Dreghorn Barracks.
Lt Col Herbert admitted it was “fantastic to be back” and said he and his team had been “completely overwhelmed” by the reception they have had so far.
The distinguished officer is confident that the work of the UK soldiers is making an impact adding: “I believe we are making progress. I take great courage in that.”
“It would be lovely if people could come out to support the fine young men for what they did for the country.”
He added: “It’s also a good chance for us to say thank-you to the public too.”
Next week there will be a new Commanding Officer of 1 Scots and Lt. Col. Herbert will assume a new role in training troops in Wiltshire.
He admitted there will be a tear in his eye this weekend as he bids farewell.
He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed working with this battalion”.
“Over two years I’ve spent a great deal of time abroad, I have a very patient wife. We will move back to Wiltshire where I will be training troops.”
“It will be a slower pace of life,” he added.