Dec 15 2009 by Johnathon Menzies, Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
The Black Watch soldiers parade through Perth
PEOPLE from across Perthshire flocked to the centre of Perth at the weekend to cheer Black Watch soldiers recently-returned from Afghanistan.
Thousands braved the cold to show their support for local heroes during a piped procession, carried out with typical military precision.
Scone soldier, Private Liam Salter (19), said it wasn’t until he saw the number of people lining the Fair City’s High Street that he realised what he’d achieved during The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland’s seven-month tour of duty.
The former Perth Grammar pupil said: “It’s great to be back. When I was marching down the High Street all I could think of was how proud I was.
“I feel like I’ve done something that people will remember me for, something worthwhile.”
Pte Salter’s mum, Wendy, admitted she was “choked-up” when she caught her son’s eye whilst watching the procession alongside her husband, Bob, and the rest of the family.
An emotional Mrs Salter said: “Every time I heard a soldier had been killed out in Afghanistan I just hoped and prayed it wasn’t Liam.
“I’m so, so, so proud of him.
“But, if I’m honest, I almost feel guilty that my son’s come home and he’ll be with the family for Christmas – because there are several others who aren’t going to be in that position this year,” she added.
Pte Salter’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cartwright, paid tribute to the battalion’s ability to adapt to any situation the on-going conflict in Afghanistan’s Kandahar and Helmand provinces could throw at them.
Lt Col Cartwright said: “They were involved in over 20 operations, including some of the most dangerous The Black Watch has ever experienced.
“I want to commend the lads for their speed of thought, determination and their resilience.
“And to stress to the families of the fallen that their sons’ sacrifices will always remain in the hearts of the battalion,” he said.
The Lord Lieutenant, Brigadier Mel Jameson, said he felt “extreme pride” whilst saluting troops as they marched past him outside the council chambers on Perth’s High Street.
Brigadier Jameson continued: “They’ve just returned from a very difficult, challenging and traumatic tour and – as they walked past – I felt the same as any other local resident out there, extreme pride.
“It’s a great relief that they’ve returned home and they thoroughly deserve some hard-earned time off over Christmas.
“But, of course, there were six men who lost their lives whilst serving in Afghanistan and our thoughts, prayers and best wishes must go to their families,” he said.
Major Ronnie Proctor, who is also curator of The Black Watch’s museum inside Perth’s Balhousie Castle, said he wanted to thank the people of Perthshire for their support.
Major Proctor told the PA: “I’ve been to almost all of the recent parades, in Inverness, Dundee, Forfar and Dunfermline, but it really is fitting that we finish our homecoming celebrations in Perth.
“It was excellent to see the boys receive such a great welcome. The locals did them proud, I’d expect nothing less.
“There must have been thousands of people out there and it shows how close the people in this part of the world feel to The Black Watch,” he said.