Gallery: Woodbridge soldiers honoured for Afghan tour

HUNDREDS of Woodbridge-based soldiers have been recognised for their achievements on operations in Afghanistan.

Members of 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) yesterday received medals for their six-month deployment at Rock Barracks.

Before the parade, a dedicated community centre was officially opened by Brigadier James Illingworth OBE ADC, the Deputy Commander of Joint Helicopter Command.

The Barnsdale Community Centre has been named in honour of Corporal David Barnsdale, of 61 Field Squadron, 33 Engineer Regiment.

The 24-year-old, from Tring in Hertfordshire, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on October 19 last year.

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During the tour the building has provided a focal point for families, as Kate Clark, the wife of Major John Clark, officer commanding 9 Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers, explained: “It is wonderful to have this centre, which brings all the welfare services and support under one roof.”

Some 560 soldiers joined yesterday’s parade, including two squadrons from 22 Engineer Regiment, based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, who were attached to 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) for the deployment.

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Lieutenant-Colonel Frazer Ross, the commanding officer of 23 Engineer Regiment, said: “This is a wonderful day for the Regiment, to see the boys get the recognition and appreciation they deserve in front of their families.

“These soldiers should hold their heads high and be proud of their achievements.”

Sapper Graham Blackett, 32, of 9 Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers, said: “It was my first tour of Afghanistan and an excellent experience.

“I was working on re-supply, so I was driving between Camp Bastion and the sites across Helmand Province where the regiment was working and bringing them the materials the guys needed to do their job.

“It feels brilliant to be back home and I’m very proud to receive my campaign medal.

“I joined up to serve my country, I’ve done that and it’s great to receive the medal as an acknowledgement.”

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