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04-12-07, 11:53 AM #1
Battle-worn Commandos Heading Home
12 April 2007
BATTLE-WORN COMMANDOS HEADING HOME
Americans take over Afghan role
By James Moncur
BATTLE-WORN marines were preparing to head back to their Scots base yesterday after completing a gruelling tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Troops of 45 Commando handed over control of Helmand province to the US 12th Mechanised Brigade at an official ceremony.
Some of the marines, from the Condor base, near Arbroath, have already returned to Scotland.
The remainder are due home by the end of the month.
They will travel via Cyprus for a two-day "decompression" stop.
Last night, the wife of one of the marines said she could not wait to see him.
The mum-of-two, from Broughty Ferry, Dundee, who did not want to be named, said: "I won't believe he's home and safe until I see him in the flesh and give him a big hug.
"The last few months have been a real strain for all of us because whenever I hear someone has been hurt my heart drops."
The troops of 45 Commando are part of the 2000-strong 3 Commando Brigade, which has been in Afghanistan since last October.
Many of the soldiers have fought hand-to-hand against the Taliban.
The battles in and around the town of Sangeen, in Helmand, have been described as among the fiercest and most brutal involving British forces since World War II.
One group of 28 soldiers fired more than 17,000 rounds between them in a single day in February.
Top brass have hailed the tour as a great success - but it came at a price.
The unit lost eight men - four from 45 Commando and four from their attached artillery battery 29 Commando.
But the brigade have not let up. An armoured column of 250 troops launched a ferocious strike at Taliban fighters just four days ago.
They smashed into Sangeen down the main road from the north and drove off Taliban forces who had been attacking a small British "platoon house".
The speed and force of the operation took the rebels completely by surprise.
Despite mounting a weak counterattack, the insurgents could not stop the marines linking up with American troops from the 82nd Airborne Division from the south.
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