Hundreds of people lined the streets of Aberdeen today to welcome home the soldiers of the Highlanders after a nine month tour in Afghanistan.
The military spectacle was greeted with delight from the crowds gathered along the city centre parade route, who loudly cheered their appreciation.
The troops were led by their own pipes and drums, and set off from Albyn Place, before heading down Union Street to the Castlegate.
The 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 Scots) has strong roots in Scotland and has traditionally recruited heavily from the north-east, as well as the Highlands and Islands.
The Highlanders have just finished active duty in Afghanistan, and were responsible for the safe closure of US and UK forward bases in the country.
This included the handover of the multi national Manoeuvre Battlegroup to 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 Rifles) in Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province.
As the battalion marched past the Town House, the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, George Adam, in his role as Lord Lieutenant for the city, took the salute alongside Lieutenant General Sir Peter Graham.
There then followed a short ceremony at the Gordon Highlanders Memorial on the Castlegate.
The Lord Lieutenant said there was really strong support for the armed forced in the Granite City, which has close historical links with the troops.
“People are very proud to see the Highlanders coming back to their historic home,” he said.
“They have had a long tough deployment in Afghanistan and this was a chance for everyone to line Union Street and show how much we appreciate them.”
Later in the afternoon the troops performed a special ceremony at their former home – now the headquarters of transport operator, FirstGroup.
Members of the old Gordon Highlanders also made an appearance for the historic occasion.
The bus depot was the base for the Royal Aberdeenshire Highlanders between 1862 and 1914, and the barracks are steeped in history.
The granite building on King Street still retains the original 1862 facade, and two plaque’s highlighting the building’s military history.
Lieutenant Colonel Leigh Drummond, who led the parade, described the journey through the city centre as “fantastic” and added that they were privileged to return to the building that was once “home”.
“It was a real privilege to come back to what is one of the barracks most active recruitment areas. Receiving such a great welcome from the local people lined up four deep, and the council as well, was tremendous,” he said.
“It really has been an absolute delight for us, and the boys have thoroughly enjoyed it. They are all so happy to be back.”
While on active duty in Afghanistan, the 4 Scots were separated and deployed to various camps.
Yesterday was one of the first opportunities they have had to march together as a regiment again.
Lt Col Drummond added: “The troops were covering different areas so it has been special for us all to be together again.
“Coming back to this building has been tremendous. We are very proud of the history and links we have here. It was very important for us to come back to the place where we come from.”
The Lord Lieutenant once again took the salute at the bus depot, and inspected the guard.
First Aberdeen director Joe Mackie welcomed the troops to their former headquarters and said it was fantastic to see them return.
“The depot has a real history behind it, and it is great to have them back. We are just so proud of the premises we have got and the link we have with the military in Aberdeen,” he said.
“They wanted to come here because of what it represents for them. They came here four years ago and it was a special moment, as it has been this time.”