Prince Harry in Scotland to honour war dead
Brigadier Andrew MacKay, 52 Brigade’s commanding officer, told The Scotsman this was the first time that 52 Brigade had been deployed in this form since the Second World War. “We thought it was important to properly mark that fact and commemorate those who lost their lives,” he said. “There is no better place to do that than Edinburgh as the city where we are based. “It’s all the more important that we do this, given the events of this week.”
He added: “In my view, the wider British public, whatever their views of Afghanistan and Iraq, recognise the extraordinary job our soldiers are doing in very demanding circumstances and are very supportive. “But events like this are very important to connect with the public and society as a whole.” He also underlined that Prince Harry, who spent ten weeks with 52 Brigade in Afghanistan until his whereabouts were revealed in an American blog, will be just one of many soldiers who served with the brigade.
“Obviously, we are pleased to have him, but this is about 52 Brigade and all those who served in it on the recent tour of duty,” he said. “We lost 24 British, Danish, American and Czech soldiers and representatives of all the families will be there as well.” In total, 7,500 soldiers were deployed under 52 Brigade from October 2007, until handing over command to 16 Air Assault Brigade in April 2008. The Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles, a former army major, said that he was pleased to see the military carrying out more parades such as today’s. “When I was serving, we were instructed not to go out in our uniforms because of the IRA threat and the number of parades of this nature dropped,” he said. “Overnight, uniforms disappeared from view and that put a great distance between the armed services and the ordinary member of the public. Events such as the one today are very important because they help put the military back in our communities and this hopefully means that they will receive a lot more support.”
Lest we forget …
THE parade will begin in Johnston Terrace in Edinburgh city centre at 10:30am.
The soldiers will then march to the Royal Mile and straight to St Giles’ Cathedral where they will take part in a private commemoration service at 11:15am.
The service will be attended by Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, and Soren Gade of the Danish ministry of defence.
The best viewpoint will be at the corner of the High Street on the Royal Mile and George IV Bridge.
There will be 200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Royal Marines representing the units which came under the strategic command of 52 Brigade in Helmand Province.
While on deployment in Afghanistan, a total of 24 British, Danish, American and Czech soldiers lost their lives.
They will be remembered along with members of the Afghan National Army, police and civilians employed as interpreters who were also victims of the conflict.
Troops fire 2m bullets
BRITISH troops in Afghanistan have fired more than two million rounds of ammunition since December, figures revealed last night.
Bob Ainsworth, the armed forces minister, said 980,000 5.56mm bullets – the type used in the army’s SA80 rifles – had been fired.
A further 930,000 7.62mm rounds and 186,000 .50 calibre rounds used in machine guns were also fired. Figures include rounds used in training.
As troops began operations in Helmand Province in 2006, the then defence secretary John Reid said he would be happy for them to leave “without firing a shot”.