Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Battle-Weary Troops Come Back Home; North Soldiers Reunited with Families

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Battle-Weary Troops Come Back Home; North Soldiers Reunited with Families

Article excerpt

Byline: Andy Hughes

DOZENS of battle weary troops from the North East were welcomed home by their proud families last night following a gruelling six-month tour on the front line in Afghanistan.

More than 100 members the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, known as the North East Gunners, have returned home from the war-torn country.

Crowds of emotional families applauded coach-loads of troops as they arrived at their base in Alanbrooke Barracks, near Thirsk, in North Yorkshire, yesterday. The troops were based in the notorious Helmand province as they continued their battle against the Taliban. But war was the last thing on the minds of the soldiers who embraced their families for the first time in half a year.

One person delighted to be back was Gunner Shaun Saunders, from Boldon Colliery, South Tyneside. The 21-year-old hugged and kissed wife Amanda, 19, and joyfully lofted their one-year-old son Jay in the air as he stepped off the coach.

It is the second time Gunner Saunders has toured Afghanistan. He said: "It's great to be back and see the wife and, of course, little Jay.

"When you're out there time goes so slowly, and it feels like I've been waiting for this moment forever.

"It's the second time I've been out there, so I knew what to expect. In fact, this time wasn't as dangerous as last time I was there in 2007, when we were getting pelted all the time, but every tour is tough.

"I'm going to take some well-deserved rest and chill out with the family now. …

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