They marched through the streets of Sheffield proud to be home and glad to be alive.
The 250 men and women of the 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery were all recruited from the Sheffield area to the ‘Chestnut Troop, so-called because they used chestnut coloured horses and officially named so by Wellington after the Battle Of Waterloo. The troop has just returned from Afghanistan from a tour of duty where no lives were lost. Every son, dad, sister and brother returned intact for which we are all thankful. There are many opinions on the deployment of our soldiers overseas and not all are positive. But despite the misjudgments of our politicians and the anger of those who protest against military action around the globe, one thing shines out. These are men and women of whom we can be proud. We may not all agree with their deployments but their is no doubting their loyalty, discipline and dedication. Girls and boys who join the army as teenagers have to grow up pretty quickly. They have to take responsibility for themselves, their comrades and their equipment as they learn to do vital jobs, often in the line of enemy fire.
As we anticipate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War we should remember how these tragic wars began.
Much of the motivation to send our troops overseas is to try to prevent conflicts from building to the point where many nations and alliances are drawn in to a prospective global conflict.
But even minor skirmishes - and recent military actions have been far from minor - have their tragedies and casualties.
This time there were no grieving families and no funerals to attend. There may never be real peace in the world and our arnmed forces will be called into action in future. But for now we are thankful for their safety and proud of their courage.