THE FIRST troops from 4 Mechanised Brigade were welcomed back to their base at Catterick Garrison by cheering family and friends today (Wednesday, February 27) after a six-month tour in Afghanistan.

The soldiers are all part of 1st Battalion Scots Guards based at Bourlon Lines in Munster Barracks.

The 72 guardsmen and women from the Headquarters Company were mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces from Forward Operating Base Ouellette in Helmand Province.

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Lance Corporal David Hughes, 28, from Peterlee, was met by girlfriend Leah Stewart, 20, from Catterick, his parents and their partners.

He said: “I’m very happy to be back – I had my last leave quite late so it has not been long since I was home but it is nice to know I can get back to normal for a while.

“This was my second tour of Afghanistan and I have done one in Iraq – each time I was doing a very different job.

Miss Stewart added: “I’m very happy to have him home – it felt like a long wait even though he was only recently on leave.”

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Howieson, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion Scots Guards, said: “The first battalion group has returned and they will be delighted to be here.

“We have been dealing with security in Helmand – training and developing the Afghan National Security Forces.

“Although there have been reports recently about attacks on British troops, my experience was that they were resolutely professional.”