light’s out: Candle symbolically blown out to mark end of Afghanistan mission

Lance Corporal Dale Leadbetter, 25, from Shipley, extinguishes a candle as the last group of soldiers from The 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment returned to Warminster. Picture: Cpl Paul Morrison
Lance Corporal Dale Leadbetter, 25, from Shipley, extinguishes a candle as the last group of soldiers from The 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment returned to Warminster. Picture: Cpl Paul Morrison
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a flame has been ceremonially extinguished to mark the end of an operation in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Dale Leadbetter, 25, from Shipley, of The 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (3 YORKS) blew out the candle to mark the end of deployment.

The candle was lit outside the entrance to Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster, Wiltshire, back in February, when 3 Yorks sent their first soldiers to join 12th Mechanised Brigade’s Operation Herrick 16 in Helmand Province.

LCpl Leadbetter was the youngest soldier on the tour.

Family, friends and colleagues welcomed home the last of the Regiment’s returning soldiers on Tuesday.

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning said: “The candle has been lit for nine long months and this event marks the return of the final elements of the Battalion to the UK.

“I am extremely proud of the soldiers and officers of 3 YORKS and all they have achieved in Afghanistan. The courage, dedication and selfless commitment of the soldiers has been of the highest possible standards.

“The support from the families and elements of 3 YORKS who remained behind has been truly humbling and clearly they have been critical to the overall success whilst deployed.”

During the deployment 3 Yorks lost nine soldiers. The Regiment will parade in Halifax on Tuesday December 4, and York on Wednesday December 5.

Meanwhile, two British soldiers shot dead by a man wearing Afghan police uniform were named yesterday as Lieutenant Edward Drummond-Baxter, from Durham, and Lance Corporal Siddhanta Kunwar, 28, from Nepal, of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles. They were attached to 40 Commando Royal Marines and at a meeting with Afghan uniformed policemen when one man opened fire, the Ministry of Defence said.