Troops Given Freedom Of The City

Army medics who helped save the lives of wounded soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan are due to be given the freedom of their home town in Hampshire.

The members of 33 Field Hospital, some of whom returned to the UK on board HMS Albion on Wednesday because of the volcanic ash travel disruptions, are to march through Gosport town centre. The medics, described as the "silent heroes of the war'', will then be the guests of honour at a ceremony to award them the town's highest honour, the Freedom of the Borough.

Local schoolchildren will line the streets waving flags as the medics receive the honour from the Mayor of Gosport, Councillor Diane Searle, along with Dame Mary Fagan, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and the commanding officer of 33 Field Hospital. The choirs of Alverstoke and Leesland Junior Schools as well as the Band of her Majesty's Royal Marines will also perform Amazing Grace for the civic event.

An Army spokesman said: "From their base at Fort Blockhouse, the troops were deployed on a six-month tour to Helmand manning the field hospital at Camp Bastion, providing frontline medical support treating British and coalition forces, Afghan security forces and Afghan local civilian casualties. "Many soldiers and civilians alike owe their lives to these medics as they administered life saving treatments to trauma cases and critically injured personnel.''