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Exclusive: 100 soldier heroes held at airport
Days after the report about RAF personnel near Peterborough comes this exclusive report from the Yorkshire Post.
More than 100 Yorkshire Regiment soldiers were forced to wait on a plane at a British airport for five hours because they presented a security risk, it was claimed last night.
The soldiers, who were returning from fighting on the front line in Afghanistan for one week's "rest and recuperation" endured a nightmare wait because, they believe, of the uniform they were wearing.
Last night MPs described their treatment as "clumsy and insulting" and "outrageous and unacceptable" while the Ministry of Defence said that what had happened had clearly been "a mistake".
The soldiers' plane was due to land at the Oxfordshire RAF base Brize Norton but freezing fog forced a diversion to Manchester Airport.
In spite of touching down at 5.30am the 128 soldiers of the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment – also known as the Green Howards – were unable to leave the plane until 11.30am.
By that time the plane had been diverted away from the passenger terminal and to the freight terminal.
The soldiers, many of whom had been in direct combat with Taliban forces just hours before, were then forced to stand in freezing weather until coaches could pick them up 50 minutes later.
90 soldiers were then transferred to Brize Norton by coach while the others made their own way home from Manchester. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence could not confirm whether they were asked to change out of military uniform before continuing their journey.
With no money on them – it was waiting in Brize Norton – the troops were not able to eat at a service station en-route, going without food between 5am and the late afternoon as well as losing a day they had planned to spend with loved ones.
Serving soldiers are not allowed to comment, but a friend of an officer on board said: "I was appalled at this shabby treatment of our very professional troops doing a most dangerous job. These gallant men should be praised and applauded in public areas, not treated like unwelcome criminals. The treatment at Manchester Airport must be official policy. This makes the insults even worse."