Paras visit Whitehall to pay respects 08 January 2009

Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Tony Hobbins lays a wreath at the Cenotaph accompanied by Rt Hon John Hutton (right), Secretary of State for Defence, and Bob Russell MP for Colchester.

Paratroopers from Colchester Garrison have paid their respects to fallen comrades at the Cenotaph in London.

More than 50 sergeants and warrant officers from 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, laid a wreath at the Cenotaph and held a two-minute silence among the bustling traffic, during a visit to Whitehall.

A group of the paratroopers had earlier visited 10 Downing Street for tea with the Prime Minister while some had the opportunity to go up to the bell tower to look at Big Ben.

They also visited The Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners, where they met former members of The Parachute Regiment before returning to Westminster for a tour of the Houses of Parliament.

The tour of Downing Street was arranged after 2 PARA had written to the Prime Minister's Office during their operational tour in Afghanistan last summer.

During the tour, 2 PARA lost nine paratroopers, plus another six soldiers from the supporting battlegroup.
Colour Sergeant James Child, of 2 PARA, said: "The visit to London is very important to the Regiment as it is a day for us to remember and honour our fellow PARAs who lost their lives during the tour.

"Among the 55 attending, two of the soldiers were also injured on tour, so it is particularly poignant for us all to be there.

"We were honoured to receive the invitation to visit 10 Downing Street and given a fantastic reception. We were personally taken on a tour around Downing Street by the Prime Minister, seeing aspects that the public do not get to see."

Video report: 2 Para in Helmand's Green Zone last summer: