SOLDIERS and officers from the Welsh Guards are on the march — after nearly two years in Aldershot they are relocating to Wales.

On March 5 Adam Ingram, the Minister for the Armed Forces, confirmed the 1st Battalion would be leaving Montgomery Lines and going to St Athan next May.

The regiment came to the Garrison in June 2000 after 2Bn The Parachute Regt moved out in April of the same year.

Commanding Officer Lt Col Robert Talbot-Rice said original plans to go to Northern Ireland changed after it was agreed to reduce the military presence there.

"The decision came as quite a surprise to us, following a decision made to withdraw a battalion from Northern Ireland, and it was fortuitous that the battalion could go to St Athan, which was one of a very small number of barracks which were available."

As a light role battalion he said it would concentrate on supplying troops for Northern Ireland as and when necessary.

"The battalion has really enjoyed being in Aldershot," he said.

"It has been an exciting role and the families have settled into the community very well.

"It will be a shame to leave behind some of the friends we have made here."

The battalion has just finished training for a six-month peacekeeping tour in Bosnia, where it will be deployed next month.

Alan Harvey, vice-president of the North Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, paid tribute to the regiment, saying the community would remember them with fondness.

"When the Paras left and we learned the Welsh Guards were coming there was a warm feeling that a family regiment was joining the town, and they merged seamlessly into the area."

Founded in 1915, the Welsh Guards served with distinction in the First and Second World Wars and the Falklands conflict.

Pictured are Benjamin Smith and his dad L Sgt Mark Smith.