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Welsh Guards march in historic Victory Day parade in Moscow; Battalion joins troops from US and France for first time since 1945.

Byline: Clare Hutchinson

WELSH soldiers yesterday made history as they joined French and US troops to march across Red Square to commemorate the end of World War II.

More than 70 soldiers from 1st Battalion Welsh Guards took their place at the historic ceremony, which involved 15,000 troops representing international coalition forces from around the globe.

This was the first parade of its kind in Russian history and marked a departure from recent years when the anniversary of the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany has been an occasion for veiled criticism of the West from Russian leaders.

Guardsman Joseph Hurrell, 21, from Cardiff, was among the Welsh Guards to take part in the parade.

"It felt great to be here meeting different nations and being a part of something that is really big," he said.

"You don't forget marching on Red Square just because of the scale of the parade and the reason why we are here.

"My grandfather was in the Navy and the Second World War. I definitely feel proud to be here representing my country and him."

Major Dai Bevan, the company commander, who attended the official function immediately after the parade, said: "It was a real privilege.

"To follow the parade and have lunch with the Russian president and other world leaders was an enormous honour and the Welsh Guards are deeply grateful for the hospitality showed to us throughout our trip."

The Victory Day Parade, held in temperatures approaching 27C, saw the Russians put on a formidable show of their military strength with aircraft flying over the Kremlin as 161 tanks and trucks carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles rolled off Red Square.

Foreign leaders in attendance included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, China's Hu Jintao, Israeli President Shimon Peres and acting Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.

Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and France's Nicolas Sarkozy had been expected to attend, but stayed home to respond to developments in Europe's financial crisis.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said: "At this solemn parade, the soldiers of Russia, the states of the CIS and the anti-Hitler coalition march together.

"Only together can we counter present-day threats.

"Only as good neighbours can we resolve problems of global security in order that the ideals of justice and good triumph in all of the world and that the lives of future generations will be free and happy."

The Russian government spent pounds 26m - more than a billion Russian rubles - on staging the ceremony.

A breathtaking fireworks display in front of the Kremlin rounded off the event.

It dwarfed the Moscow Victory Parade of 2009, which saw more than 9,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and vehicles marching in the parade, the largest held in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.

This was only the second time in the contemporary history of Russia when armoured fighting vehicles took part in the Red Square parade.

But amid the nationwide assertions of strength and pride were violent reminders of the unrest that plagues Russia's Caucasus republics.

A bomb placed by the side of a road near a Russian military base killed two people in a car and a sapper was killed when he approached another bomb in the city of Kaspiisk - where a Victory Day parade bombing in 2002 killed 43 people.

A third explosive device was found and disabled at the entrance to a park in the city of Makhachkala.

CAPTION(S):

NATIONAL PRIDE: British soldiers of the 1st Battalion 2 Company Welsh Guards march during Victory Day Parade, at Moscow''s Red Square yesterday
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 10, 2010
Words:587
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