MARCHING with pride, the soldiers known as the Lions of England celebrated a historic return home on Saturday.

Soldiers from Bolton were among the 2nd battalion of The Duke of Lancaster regiment, which formally took control of Weeton Barracks just outside Blackpool.

The regiment has not had regular soldiers based in the region since its formation in 2006 and on Saturday celebrations marking the fifth anniversary of the regiment’s formation were held with about 160 soldiers taking part in the parade before raising the Regimental Colours to mark the unit’s official arrival.

The 2nd Battalion returned to the North West from a three-year tour based in Cyprus. It supported operations in Afghanistan as the Army’s theatre reserve battalion.

The homecoming celebration parade in Weeton was attended by families, old comrade associations, cadets, Territorial Army and Regular Army Soldiers.

Fallen soldiers were also remembered on the day.

During the tour six “friends” made the ultimate sacrifice, including Darren Deady from Westhoughton.

Kingsman Deady, aged 22, died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on September 10 last year after he was shot in Afghanistan on August 23.

Proud Bolton soldiers spoke of their honour at marching in the parade.

Lance Corporal Liam Tunnah, aged 21, from Horwich said: “You feel really proud marching in front of your family and friends “The parade marks the fifth anniversary of the regiment and we paraded in memory of those we have lost. Knowing people are supporting us makes us feel very proud and raises morale.”

Kingsman Ben Schofield, aged 20, from Farnworth, added: “You are away from your family for a long time and when you see them it can feel awkward, so to be together like this is important and the support you get from family and friends is massively important.”

Kingsman Anthony Sotheron, aged 20, from Farnworth, said: “Many people don’t understand what it is like to be in Afghanistan so to be part of a parade like this really helps and having the support of family and friends, who you can talk to.

“I lost a captain and so this tour is in memory of him and others who we have lost.”