The Dukes homecoming as it happened

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Soldiers from The 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, the Duke of Wellington’s, marched through Halifax town centre today (Tuesday) in their homecoming parade.

The soldiers have recently returned from a gruelling six month tour of Afghanistan.

Roads have been closed for the parade, which will see over 400 soldiers march through the streets.

As it happened

11.35am: The Dukes are preparing to march outside the Shay.

11.40am: The massed ranks of soldiers are now in lined up ready to leave the Shay. Led by the core of drums from the 3rd Battalion and the band of the Kings Division based at Weeton, Bradford, they are escorted by police out of the Shay and into Hunger Hill.

11.45am: Onlookers who have braved the awful weather are warmly applauding the Dukes, who have their bayoneta fixed, as they make their way through the town centre.

11.47am: The parade enters Westgate where crowds numbering several thousand are greeting the soldiers with applause and taking photographs, as they continue on their march with their heads held high.

11.49am: Shops have emptied and staff are looking out of the windows from Northgate house as the parade moves into Crossley Street.

11.52am: The Mayor of Calderdale John Hardy, in full regalia, and other councillors applaud as the march goes past the Town Hall and into Southgate with huge crowds around them.

11.59am: The parade has now entering the Piece Hall where huge crowds have gathered to greet the boys.

12.02pm: They are now in position at the Piece Hall and are waiting for the Mayor are a rousing reception. The Mayor will then deliver a speech.

12.12pm: The Mayor of Caldedale is meeting with the troops. Several dignitaries from across the region are present.

12:20pm: The Mayor of Calderdale addressed the crowds and praised the links between Halifax and the regiment.

12:24pm: He said: “We all understand the importance of the operational tours. You know you have the full support of friends, family, loved ones and the grateful nation.”

12:26pm: “Since the start of the tour in February we have lost 10 brothers in arms,” he said, and the crowd applauded.

12:30pm: Commanding Officer Colonel Zac Stenning thanked the people of Halifax for allowing the parade in the town.

12:33pm: “The support has been truly humbling. We are grateful to you all.”

12:35pm: He paid tribute to those who are recovering from injuries and those who lost their lives. “They will be deeply missed.”

12:36pm: He also announced the regimental medal will be awarded to Major Bob Heron, who has lived in Halifax for 14 years.

12:42pm: After music by the band, the troops made their way out of the Piece Hall, bordered by the crowds, towards Halifax Minster.

12:52pm: The Halifax Minster in filling up nicely. Over 800 will sit inside, with the proceedings relayed on big screen to those who can’t get in.

12:53pm: John Hardy, Mayor of Calderdale, told the Courier: “This is amazing, absolutely stunning.

“The pride in people has shone out. They are so proud to be here and the soldiers are proud to be part of it.”

1.30pm: After making their way into the Minster, the service is about to begin.

1.40pm: Rev Canon Hilary Barber welcomed the regiment and guests to the Minster. Candles were lit for the 10 fallen soldiers.

2pm: The Bishop of Pontefract, Right Rev Tony Robinson, is addressing the congregation. He told the regiment “a good solider makes a difference in the world” and that “on behalf of the nation, the people of West and South Yorkshire know the difference you have made fighting the war on terror so far from Halifax.

He added that the soldiers had seen first hand the intensity of war and returned with a mixture of painful and proud memories.

“It’s important for us to honour those memories and say thank you for responding to the cry ‘your country needs you’.

The service is expected to finish at around 2.30pm.

2.30pm: The colour-party collected the colours and led the regiment out of the Minster. They will now make their way back to the Shay where the soldiers will have a private reception.

Commanding Officer Zac Stenning said it had been “a special day” and that “the reception given at the Piece Hall was memorable.”

One onlooker, Howard Swindles, whose son Robert is in the Battalion, said it had been a proud day.

“They’ve had a fantastic reception. I didn’t expect so many people. I’m absolutely chuffed. They’ve all got families and I hope they have a good Christmas.”

Another, Kirsten Allchin, 31, of Highroad Well, attended with friends. She said: “I was sat at home and thought the boys are coming home, so I said we should come down and support them.”

Tomorrow the soldiers will attend a service at York Minster before they break up for five weeks.

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