Gallery: Troops from Colchester & Wattisham commemorate end of service in Afghanistan

Some 1,000 members of 16 Air Assault Brigade based at Colchester Garrison, whose troops were among t

Some 1,000 members of 16 Air Assault Brigade based at Colchester Garrison, whose troops were among the first and last to serve on operations in Afghanistan, have joined togethe with civilian support staff r to pay tribute to its 58 soldiers killed while serving in the country. - Credit: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC

Around 1,000 soldiers attended a commemoration service marking 16 Air Assault Brigade’s operations in Afghanistan .

The brigade, based at Colchester Garrison, was among the first in and last out of the country, and lost 58 troops during the conflict.

Apaches from Wattisham Flying Station, attached to the brigade, also served.

The parade at Merville Barracks included music and the reading of the names of those who gave their lives.

Reverend Alan Steele, the brigade’s senior chaplain who also served on three tours of Afghanistan, said: “It is important that we, as a brigade, gather together to mark this moment and pause to reflect on our overall involvement in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan was a demanding commitment and we have learned much over the last 13 years. It is appropriate, therefore, to take time to consider all that has been achieved and the brigade’s contribution to bringing stability to Afghanistan.

“It is appropriate, too, to acknowledge this contribution was achieved at the cost of the 58 soldiers who died while serving in Helmand, and to remember them and honour their sacrifice, as we now prepare to face our next operational task in a very uncertain world.”

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Captain Joe Scrivener, of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, deployed on the brigade’s three tours of Helmand.

He said: “It is very important to gather like this to formally bring our involvement in Afghanistan to a close and it was a very poignant service.

“I knew many of those killed, some as close friends, and to hear their names read out was extremely moving.

“The three tours were the best of times and the worst of times, but we did what was asked of us and I am extremely proud of the positive effect we had in Afghanistan. When I left in 2011, schools and shops were opening and the Afghan National Army was growing in capability and confidence.”

Major Simon Wilsey, of 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, completed five four-month deployments flying the Apache.

He added: “This service has been very important to gather the entire brigade together and reflect on what we have achieved in Afghanistan and pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”