RAF squadron to get heroes' welcome in Norfolk

Emma KnightsThe people of Swaffham are to give a heroes' welcome to an RAF squadron which recently returned home following a gruelling tour of duty in Afghanistan.Emma Knights

The people of Swaffham are to give a heroes' welcome to an RAF squadron which recently returned home following a gruelling tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The II (AC) Squadron based at RAF Marham has been patrolling the Afghanistan skies since April to help keep the Nato-led troops on the ground safe by looking ahead for possible enemy activity.

Now they have returned to Norfolk, Swaffham plans to pay tribute to the work of the squadron by hosting a welcome home parade on Friday August 6.

Swaffham mayor Ian Sherwood said: 'Swaffham Town Council sincerely hopes that all residents, businesses and visitors of all ages will be able to give our returning airmen a real Swaffham welcome.

'We want this to be a homecoming parade that they deserve and a thank you that they will remember for a long time after the day.'

Wing Commander John Turner, Officer Commanding II (AC) Squadron, said: 'It is a great honour for the personnel of II (AC) Sqn and supporting units to parade through our local town, Swaffham.

Most Read

'The support that we have received from the people of Swaffham and the wider community of Norfolk has been greatly appreciated by the Squadron and RAF Marham during what has been an extremely busy deployment.

'My team have done a superb job and should be justifiably proud of their achievements.'

The parade involving about 130 RAF personnel will start at 11am from West Acre Road and move along Lynn Street to the Market Place.

Here the squadron members will be presented with Op Herrick medals by Air Vice-Marshal Steve Hillier who is currently Air Officer Commanding Number 2 Group and who was the Officer Commanding II (AC) Squadron at RAF Marham from 1998 to 2000.

The II (AC) Squadron's air and ground crew took responsibility for the Operation Herrick Tornado Detachment from IX (B) Squadron in April and during their tour crews flew 500 sorties and clocked nearly 1,700 flying hours providing support for ground-based forces.

The squadron has now handed over responsibility to 13 Squadron which will be the last to go out on tour to Afghanistan from the base before responsibility is handed over to RAF Lossiemouth.

From 6am until 1pm on the day of the welcome home parade all vehicles will need to be off the town's Central Car Park in the Market Place and Pedlars Car Park

From 8am until 1pm parts of West Acre Road, Lynn Street and the Market Place will be closed to traffic. Diversions will be put in place and the A1065 will remain open.

A number of road junctions will be closed. These are: where Coronation Grove meets West Acre Road; where Spinners Lane meets West Acre Road; where Lynn Road joins Lynn Street and West Acre Road; where Oakleigh Drive meets Lynn Road; where Ash Close meets Lynn Street; and where Lynn Street meets the A1065 near Mangate Street.