PRIME Minister David Cameron paid tribute to Royal Marines from Norton Manor Camp-based 40 Commando after they handed over control of the deadliest region in Afghanistan to the Americans back in September 2010.

After UK forces formally handed over responsibility for security in Sangin province to the US Marine Corps, Mr Cameron said the deaths of more than 100 British troops in the province had not been in vain.

“Our troops have performed magnificently in Sangin and I pay tribute to the thousands who have served, to the over 100 who have given their lives and to the many who have been wounded," he said.

“They did not die in vain — they made Afghanistan a safer place and they have made Britain a safer place and they will never be forgotten.”

One thousand Royal Marines and other British service personnel were then redeployed in central Helmand.

READ MORE: Remembering the 14 bravest of the brave Commandos killed in Afghanistan.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “The level of sacrifice has been high and we should never forget the many brave troops who have lost their lives in the pursuit of success in an international mission rooted firmly in our own national security in the UK.”

Of the 337 UK deaths in Afghanistan since 2001, more than a third have been in Sangin.

In the last tour alone, 40 Commando lost 14 of its servicemen.

Taunton's MP Jeremy Browne also praised the contribution of 40 Commando Royal Marines in a speech at the LibDem conference in Liverpool.

He said: “They will be returning home to Taunton this autumn without 14 of their men, who have fought and died in an inspiring and heroic quest to bring greater security and stability to the people of Helmand


And the Commanding Officer of 40 Commando, Lt-Col Paul James, thanked County Gazette readers for their support during the Marines’ deployment in Sangin.

He said: "As we return to Norton Manor Camp after nearly seven months away, I felt it important to publicly recognise and show our appreciation for the overwhelming support your readers have given to the unit.

“It has been magnificent and deeply appreciated.

“We have been humbled by the Gazette's ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ campaign; the boys are tremendously grateful for all the support shown and very much feel an intrinsic part of Taunton, and Somerset.”

Lt-Col James also confirmed 40 Commando would be holding its homecoming parade through Taunton in November.