Thousands of veterans at service commemorating op banner 50th anniversary Credit BFBS 170819
Northern Ireland

Op Banner: Veterans Commemorate 50 Years Since Army's Longest Deployment

A service has been taking place in Northern Ireland.

Thousands of veterans at service commemorating op banner 50th anniversary Credit BFBS 170819

Thousands of veterans are in Northern Ireland at a service commemorating 50 years since the start of Operation Banner, the British Army's longest continuous deployment.

Operation Banner saw troops first deployed to Northern Ireland in 1969 at the height of the Troubles.

Veterans and relatives of those who lost their lives in the unrest marched through the city, just 10 miles from Belfast, which was once the site of a number of bombings and shootings during the Troubles.

Wreaths were also laid at the memorials, which are scattered through the city.

For veteran Chris Perkin, it was the first time he's returned to Northern Ireland since his tour.

"It's 30 years since I've been back," he said.

Thousands of veterans at service commemorating op banner 50th anniversary Credit BFBS 170819
Under Operation Banner, troops were deployed to assist the police in Northern Ireland (NI), and the operation lasted from August 1969 to July 2007.

Speaking ahead of the march, Mr Perkin said: "I think this is going to be the biggest parade we're going to have for Op Banner.

"It's remembering friends and people who have died.

"To come here and remember people for this parade is an honour."

Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Arlene Foster, and Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan also paid their respects.

Ms Foster said she was "grateful" that there's a generation who never lived through the Troubles, after her father was shot in his own home during the conflict.

She said: "It is important that those who served during that time are remembered and recognised and I think that is what today is all about."

Ms Trevelyan echoed Ms Foster's comments, saying: "It's such an honour to be here".