08:05AM, Friday 22 August 2014
The Coldstream Guards are safely home from Afghanistan.
They are expected to receive a massive welcome in Windsor today as the leave Victoria Barracks' Sergeant's Mess Gate in Victoria Street at 10.55am to march through the town.
Among those taking part will be company commander Major Crispin d'Apice, 37.
He arrived home at Gratton Drive, Windsor on Monday to find his own personal 'welcome home' banner covering the front door after six-and-a-half months away.
It had been lovingly prepared by his wife Mimi, 38 and the couple's children Hettie, four, Gigi, three and Lily, one.
Mimi said: "Making that banner kept the children from getting too excited. Then it started raining and we had to keep bringing it in - but we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow as Crispin arrived home."
Crispin said: "I have never been so glad to see some English drizzle."
While he was away Mimi had coped with each of her children catching chicken pox, while finding time to appear in the 100 strong Military Wives Choir in the War Horse Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.
Meanwhile Crispin's time in Kabul had brought back memories of his first tour of duty - in Helmand in 2007 when he was helping train Afghan troops.
He said: "This time it felt more secure, a lot more settled.
"When you fly over land that desert before it has become fields. People have the money to buy fuel to pump the water that will let them grow plants.
"People in Afghanistan are the same as us. They want to raise children, send them to school, raise their crops."
There was a another big difference between Crispin's first tour and the new one.
He said: "The worst part was missing my family - I had not been married with children before. That makes a really big difference. We had Skype and everything but it was very different from being with them."
Mimi and Crispin met as schoolchildren in Dorset. He always knew he would go into army - being the fourth generation of his family to do so.The 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards will be marching through Windsor today to celebrate their return from Afghanistan.
The parade leaves Victoria Barracks from the Sergeant's Mess Gate in Victoria Street at 10.55am, marching up Clarence Road, Charles Street, Goswell Road, Barry Avenue, River Street, Thames Street, High Street and Sheet Street, returning to the barracks by 11.20am.
The usual Guard Change will also take place, leaving the main entrance of the barracks in Sheet Street at 10.45am.
Thames Street, High Street and Sheet Street north of the traffic lights at the junction with Victoria Street will be closed for three quarters of an hour.
Pick up a copy of next week's Express for more coverage of the homecoming parade.
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