Northamptonshire soldiers receive Afghanistan medals ahead of homecoming parades

Private Darren Walpole, of Kettering, with his parents

Private Darren Walpole, of Kettering, with his parents

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Days after returning from Afghanistan two soldiers from the north of the county have been presented their Operation Herrick campaign medals.

The soldiers – Private Darren Walpole from Kettering and Private Matthew Arrowsmith from Irthlingborough – are members of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Private Matthew Arrowsmith, of Irthlingborough, a member of C 'Northamptonshire and Rutland' Company' the 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, with his parents after a parade to receive his Operation Herrick campaign medal

Private Matthew Arrowsmith, of Irthlingborough, a member of C 'Northamptonshire and Rutland' Company' the 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, with his parents after a parade to receive his Operation Herrick campaign medal

The Battalion deployed for one of the final tours of Helmand in September last year and were heavily involved in training Afghan Security Forces and the closing of some of the main bases and protection of the largest base, Camp Bastion.

The Battalion’s Northamptonshire and Rutland C Company, to which Pte Walpole and Pte Arrowsmith belonged, deployed to Helmand in February and only returned last week having spent the past few months protecting Camp Bastion.

They also supported the Afghan security forces on their missions into the desert and green zone to prevent insurgents getting close to the base.

Pte Arrowsmith, 19, pictured left, said: “It was good to get out there and do a good job. We worked with the Afghans who were very good and very keen.”

His proud parents Sarah and John were there to watch him on parade, and Sarah said: “I can’t describe it, we are just very, very proud of him and it’s great to have him home.”

Pte Walpole, 22, added: “It feels good to receive our medals. A lot of hard work has finally come to an end.”

Major General Simon Porter, President of the Royal Anglian Association and was the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment from 1997 to 1999, presented the soldiers with their medals.

The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Johnson, said “It has been a great day here with our families and wider regimental family and every single soldier can be proud of the job they have done.

“It has been an incredibly satisfying tour to close three bases without difficulty because the Afghan National Security Forces enabled us to do it. They are a competent, incredibly professional and capable security force. I asked more of them then they ever asked of me and they delivered every time.

“We now look forward to our homecoming parades next month which gives us the opportunity to thank the people of our recruiting area for their unswerving support whilst we were in Afghanistan.”

The 2nd Battalion will be welcomed to Corby and Kettering on Monday, July 21, in special homecoming parades organised by the respective councils. The battalion has also receieved the freedom of each borough.