1. ITV Report

Home in time for Christmas

Dozens of soldiers from across the North of England have returned home from Afghanistan as part of the planned reduction in troop numbers.

Last night Burma Company, from the First Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, arrived back at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire and will now get to spend Christmas with their families.

Burma Company had completed their mission of training the local police in Patrol Base Nahidullah in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand Province. Last year the Government announced that 500 British personnel would leave Afghanistan by the end of 2012, as the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) take increased responsibility for security in the country. £70 million a year in funding has been promised by the government to Afghan security forces.

Nahidullah is the first of the large British bases in Task Force Helmand’s Area of Operations to be closed as the drawdown of troops gathers pace.

"This area was hard fought over but a very active police force has come in over the last couple of years. There are over 200 police officers serving here and they have security locked down effectively. The police are ready to take on the security of the area . They are running their own operations independently, they have asked for little bits of support but they were operating very much on their own from the beginning of October."

– Major Ed Fraser, Burma Company Commanding Officer

The Duke of Lancaster's regiment recruit heavily from across the North of England with the majority of soldiers coming from Lancashire and Cumbria. Although serving in Afghanistan, they did enjoy some home comforts whilst there.

As one of the larger bases Nahidullah had support from civilian contractors who provided everything from satellite television and internet access to laundry facilities. But during the closure process, the facilities were removed and the base reduced to more basic levels for the troops that remained until the final day.

After a few weeks off, Burma company will return to Catterick to provide support to the battle groups who are due to replace the First Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment in Afghanistan next spring.