AN estimated 30,000 people lined the streets of Taunton town centre to welcome home the men of 40 Commando this morning.

There were cheers, clapping and flag waving as people showed their appreciation for the Marines' efforts during their six-month tour of Afghanistan.

Rain fell throughout the march and inspection outside the Market House.

Taunton Deane Mayor Cllr Jefferson Horsley told the crowds: "They are indeed special to us."

Lady Gass, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, told the Marines: "Everyone is very proud of what you have achieved."

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox attended the event.

He said: "If you can brave the Taliban, we can brave the weather."

He added: "We're all here today to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and duty of our Armed Forces and in particular 40 Commando."

Don't miss our eight-page souvenir pull-out in the County Gazette today, pictured below.

Somerset County Gazette: County Gazette Marines front

You can get your Somerset County Gazette with the pull-out from local newsagents - or call our subscriptions department on 01823-365203.

We're offering a 20% discount on copies of photos from the Royal Marines parade - click here to order yours.

There are also lots more photos from the day in our gallery - click on the photos in the Related Links section below.