Armed Forces Day parades take place around Wales
- 28 June 2014
- From the section Wales
More than 800 service personnel, cadets and veterans have marched through central Cardiff to end a week of celebrations for Armed Forces Day.
First Minister Carwyn Jones paid tribute at a special service in Coopers Field following the parade.
Guests from the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch thanked Mr Jones for the sacrifice of Welsh soldiers who liberated the city in 1944.
Abergavenny, Swansea, Bridgend, Pembroke and Wrexham also held events.
This year's annual parade will also mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
A team of cyclists from 's-Hertogenbosch have brought a Davy lamp - dubbed a torch of freedom - to Wales from the Dutch city's British war cemetery as a gift to the country whose soldiers liberated the area known as Den Bosch from the Nazis.
A total of 146 Welsh soldiers, part of 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, died during a four-day battle to free the city in October 1944.
The lamp will be presented to the first minister by the mayor of 's-Hertogenbosch, Ton Rombout, to symbolise the coming home of those who died.
Elsewhere, the Royal Navy's HMS Enterprise sailed into Cardiff on Friday for two days to support the Armed Forces Day events and help with the launch of the Wales at War project which, led by the National Library of Wales, is creating a digital resource reflecting on the war.
HMS Enterprise's commanding officer, Commander Derek Rae, said: "Armed Forces Day gives us the opportunity to connect with the public whose interests we defend, often at long range and out of sight."
Speaking in advance of the parade, Mr Jones said: "This year's Armed Forces Day event is particularly poignant as it marks many key anniversaries, including the liberation of 's-Hertogenbosch during which so many Welsh soldiers lost their lives, and the centenary of the First World War, a conflict that has shaped modern Wales and the world."
He added that the day was also about showing continued support for the armed forces today.
"We owe our serving military personnel and veterans a huge debt of gratitude. Their commitment and sacrifice both here and overseas helps ensure our freedom and safety," he said.
The parade will begin at Cardiff Castle at 10:30 BST and will proceed through the city centre, followed by a special Drum Head service in Coopers Field at 12:00 BST.
Other events taking place in Wales for Armed Forces Day include:
- Swansea - military exhibits and displays in Castle Square from 09:00 BST with a flag raising ceremony at 11:00 BST. The 215 City of Swansea Squadron Military Band will march from the Grand Theatre to Castle Square from 14:00 BST.
- Bridgend - town centre events from 10:00 BST including a parade and ceremony led by the Veterans Association along with displays and stalls
- Pembroke - a parade led by the 948 Squadron ATC Band starting at 10:30 BST and proceeding to Pembroke Castle for a service
- Abergavenny - a parade starting 18:00 BST through the town past the World War 1 memorial followed by a church service at 18:30 BST. The event also marks the start of the town's World War 1 centenary events.