EAST Lancashire soldiers returned home this weekend from Afghanistan — just in time for Christmas.

The soldiers, all from Burma Company of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (1 LANCS), came home as their patrol base has been closed and the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) take responsibility for security in the region.

The battalion is part of Task Force Helmand, currently led by the British Army’s 4th Mechanized Brigade, known as ‘The Black Rats’, and Burma Company are the first of the 500 British troops to be sent home from Afghanistan as announced by the Prime Minister last year.

The troops were based at Patrol Base Nahidullah in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand Province.

Their role was to advise, train and support the police to bring security and stability to the region, but that job is now complete. Nahidullah has now been closed, the first base of its size to have shut in Task Force Helmand’s Area of Operations.

The Commander of 4th Mechanized Brigade, Brigadier Bob Bruce said: “In terms of the campaign this is the most obvious example of progress during our tour so far.

“The important thing has been enabling the Afghans to take a firm hand on the security situation in this area allowing the Task Force to close Nahidullah.”

The troops from 1 LANCS have now returned to their North Yorkshire barracks and, following some leave, will be responsible for providing support to the battle groups deploying to Afghanistan in April 2013, when Burma Company will be reunited with the rest of the Battalion.