SOLDIERS from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 5th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland paraded through Canterbury to mark being awarded the freedom of the city.
Thousands of residents waving flags and Christmas shoppers stopped to applaud on the battalion, known as 5 Scots, as they marched a parade to celebrate the award and their homecoming on Sunday.
The 500 soldiers carried guns with bayonets drawn to exercise their right to pass through the city bearing arms for the first time.
The parade started at Station Road West car park and was led up the High Street by regiment's mascot Cruachan, a Shetland pony, the pipe band of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the brass band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Colonel of the regiment, General Andrew Graham was presented the Freedom Scroll by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury Cllr Carolyn Parry in Rose Lane.
Then they marched to Canterbury Cathedral via Canterbury Lane and Burgate for a special service of thanksgiving and remembrance.
A traditional drumhead altar, an altar made from drums covered in the regiment's colours, was built before the service was led by the Very Rev Dean Robert Willis.
Reading were given by Corporal Scotty Millroy and Sergeant Lachlan McNeil before an address by the Argyll's chaplain Padre Colin MacLeod.
It was cited that the award was in recognition of the "excellent relations" that exist between the community and the battalion "which has served with distinction in many theatres of war and conflict".
The troops flew back after a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in October.
The battalion was split during the tour with A company in Garmsir, the most southern British outpost in Afghanistan, B Company in Lashkar Gar, the capital of Helmand Province and D Company in Musa Qala in the north.
Sadly one soldier, Lance Corporal James "Jimmy" Johnson, 31, was killed by an anti-personnel mine while on a vehicle checkpoint patrol in the Lashkar Gar in June.
Sixteen other soldiers were injured during the tour, sustaining gunshot wounds and injurious from rocket propelled grenades.
Commanding officer of 5 Scots Lieutenant-Colonel David Richmond was evacuated from Afghanistan after being shot in the leg by a Taliban gunman in June.
He said: "It gives me great pleasure to accept this enormous honour.
"The last two years have really seen a change in our ability to integrate into the local community.
"Knowing that we have the support of the city of Canterbury and the people in it really does make a difference and we thank you for it.
"To receive this honour gives us a tremendous high."