Volcanic ash: Soldiers return after gruelling trek from Afghanistan

A BATTALION of Scottish soldiers finally made it home from Afghanistan yesterday after travelling by land across Europe.

The 110 members of B Company 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland arrived at Edinburgh's Dreghorn Barracks last night after a six-month tour in Helmand province.

The troops were due to arrive home on Friday but were forced to spend several days in Cyprus and eventually travelled via coach and ferry back to Scotland.

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The troops are the only Scots battalion currently in transit, but another group, 3 Rifles, is due back next weekend.

It is hoped flights will have resumed in time for the 220-strong group to return.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is also considering plans to fly troops wounded in Afghanistan to coalition partner countries such as Germany for treatment if UK airspace remains closed because of the cloud of volcanic ash, it has emerged.

Normally, wounded troops are flown home and treated at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.

However, wounded soldiers might be flown as far as the United States for treatment, with the most badly injured evacuated alongside wounded US soldiers via an ash-free southern Europe route to Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "We have made alternative arrangements with coalition partners to bring back wounded troops if necessary."