Soldiers from the Royal Scots Borderers, the first British troops deployed to Sierra Leone in the fight against Ebola, have now returned home.
The members of battalion, part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, are now safely back at their home base at Palace Barracks in Holywood, Northern Ireland.
They have been speaking of their pride in being able to help on the frontline after answering the call to deploy at short notice in order to help establish infrastructures as West Africa was devastated by the onslaught of the disease.
The soldiers were the first from the UK aid teams to arrive and immediately integrated with the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces in order to provide security for all British aid workers, establish helicopter landing sites and escort conveys across the country so that help could be brought to bear.
During their four months they were also closely involved in the safe evacuation of several international healthcare workers who needed treatment for suspected Ebola virus.
Their skills in adapting at short notice to the operation has earned international praise and cemented friendships with the Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
Despite the pressures the soldiers were also able to make time to pay their respects with a memorial service at King Tom Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Freetown for fallen comrade, Lance Sergeant Charles Frederick Robertson from Galashiels. He had been serving with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and succumbed to disease while posted to the King’s African Rifles during WW2. And they also took time out to spend time at the SOS Village Orphanage at Makeni which is home to over 150 children, many of whom have lost their parents to the Ebola outbreak.
Corporal Stephen McKeown, Section Commander of B Company, 1 Scots found the visit to the orphanage moving.
He said: “It was not only memorable but so rewarding. To be with children who have probably lost just about everything and to be able to give them a reason to smile, albeit for a short period, makes everything so worthwhile.”