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The soldiers themselves seemed to be humbled by the reaction of the public in Romford, and were pleased to be home.

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The regiment’s ten-year mission in Afghanistan has now come to an end.

Pte Lee Kirk, 21, told the Recorder: “Out there I think some people are find it harder than others, but relatives back here know nothing about what we’re doing while we’re there.

“They have to try and continue their lives while worrying about us and looking after kids and everything in their lives. I think it’s kind of harder for them than us.”

Pte Adam Ford, 19, said: “We didn’t expect anyone to turn out to see us really. When you’re away you don’t know how anyone back home is feeling about what you’re doing.”

Sgt Michael Smith, 30, has been in the regiment for 13 years. He said: “The change has been amazing, the Afghan army are extremely professional, far more than people here would believe.”

The regiment’s commander, Lt Col Mick Aston, added: “We were only able to pass over areas to our Afghan counterparts because we had confidence in them.

“It hasn’t been without some hard fighting as well, we faced a very active insurgency, but it is a big achievement for this battalion.”

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