Hundreds of soldiers based at Catterick Garrison who recently returned from a six-month United Nations Peacekeeping tour in Cyprus have been presented with their medals at a special parade and were praised for their exceptional professionalism
The Royal Lancers, based at Cambrai Lines in Munster Barracks, had to patrol the buffer zone also known as the “Green Line,” that has divided the Turkish north and the Greek south for over 40 years, during their deployment.
In all 450 soldiers from the Regiment took part in the parade at Cambrai Lines when 275 soldiers were awarded their UN medal.
The Inspecting officer, Brigadier (Retd) Andrew Hughes CBE, Colonel of the Regiment, heaped praise on the troops especially as it was their first operational tour since they formed as The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own) just two years ago.
“Thank you to all of you on parade. It has been outstanding and very impressive considering you have had only a few days to prepare.
“But I also must mention the great work you have done in Cyprus. In particular, what you showed me walking down the line in Cyprus as part of the UN peacekeeping tour was very impressive.”
Major Graham Collingwood, Padre to the Royal Lancers, said many people did not think that an operational tour in Cyprus was as challenging or dangerous as one in Afghanistan or Iraq.
But he added: “People should not forget that the last British soldier to die on Op Tosca in Cyprus was only back in 2015 so we are happy for your return, most especially, the safe return of every soldier that deployed.”
The peacekeeping mission is one of the longest running United Nations missions.
The British contribution is known as Op TOSCA. The buffer zone extends approximately 180km and is divided into three Sectors.
The British soldiers were responsible for the central part of the buffer zone, known as Sector 2, covering the city of Nicosia.
The unarmed soldiers patrolled by vehicle, foot or by mountain bike, working to maintain the peace and stability and performing an important liaison role with local people and local authorities.