MORE THAN 70 soldiers were last night (Thursday, December 20) due to return home from Afghanistan – the last of 500 troops the Government promised would return before the end of the year.

The personnel from the 1st battalion, Mercian Regiment, were due to arrive back at Catterick Garrison late last night ready to spend Christmas with their families.

They are the last of 500 troops the Government pledged would return home from Afghanistan before the end of the year.

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They left Camp Bastion on Wednesday morning and were flown to RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, before returning to their base at Marne Barracks in Catterick.

Tim Zillessen, a spokesman for military units connected to Catterick Garrison, said 74 people were due to return to the barracks.

He said: “It is part of the government’s intention to return 500 troops before the end of the New Year. These are the last of the 500.”

Dozens of soldiers from across the North of England have returned home from Afghanistan as part of the planned reduction in troop numbers.

The first of the 500 troops from Catterick-based 4 Mechanized Brigade were flown back to the Catterick Garrison barracks earlier this month, when personnel from Burma Company, 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, returned to the North Yorkshire base.