VIDEO: War heroes receive a country's thanks

Soldiers based at Thorney Island who put their lives on the line in Afghanistan and Iraq have received medals for their services.

Major General Barney White-Spunner, the General Officer Commanding 3rd Division for the United Kingdom, was guest of honour at the event on Tuesday to recognise the 21 Air Assault Battery's actions.

A medal parade was held at the Thorney Island base camp with a marching band to salute their achievements.

To see a picture gallery from the medal ceremony click here.

After receiving his medal, Gunner Tom Coates said: "It was the first time I have been out there and I left just a few days after my 18th birthday. I kept in contact with my family when I was over there. They are very proud."

Captain Martin Wells, an Attack Commander in the north of Basra, was over the moon when he returned from duty in September to see his baby daughter Harriet for the first time. His wife Alison and Harriet were there supporting him at the ceremony.

The battery had a formal dinner and celebratory event afterwards.

During his speech Major General White-Spunner said: "Iraq is very good news at the moment. Progress has been made.

"As Iraq comes to some sort of conclusion, the quality of life in Basra is getting better and better.

"It is really important you realise all the efforts that have been made are beginning to pay off. None of that would have been achieved without you."

The 21 Air Assault Battery was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq in March this year to support Desert Hawk – known as 'the eyes of the battlefield'. By November all of the 21 Battery had returned home.

The mayor of Havant Cllr John Smith, his wife Hilary and the Commander Royal Artillery for the Division, Brigadier Nick Ashmore, were also present at the ceremony.

Assistant Adjutant Rachel Cameron-Dick said: "I think the medal ceremony went very well – everyone was happy.

"It's good to get recognition and we do really value the support of the local community. It's nice to show people what we're doing."

The 21 Air Assault Battery is part of the 47th Regiment Royal Artillery and was formed in 1947 as a Coastal Artillery Training Regiment.

Now an Air Defence Regiment, it consists of four batteries: 31 (Headquarters) Battery, 10 (Assaye) Battery, the 21 (Air Assault) Battery and 25/170 (Imjin) Battery.

Don't miss our video report from the ceremony, and our comprehensive photo gallery – log on to www.chichester.co.uk

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