The borough cemented its relationship with one of the hardest-hit battle groups in Afghanistan on Monday, by officially giving them the Freedom of the Borough.

Representatives from the 2nd Battalion the Rifles attended the ceremony in Croydon town hall, with councillors and the families of two soldiers killed in action, Peter Aldridge and Danny Simpson.

Brigadier Richard Toomey, deputy colonel commandant, accepted the honour from mayor Margaret Mead in a special ceremony in Katharine Street.

The Rifles suffered heavy losses in Afghanistan in places like Kajaki and the town of Sangin, where Croydon Rifleman Danny Simpson was killed while on a routine foot patrol.

The 20-year-old father died in an explosion minutes after being injured in another bomb blast with Rifleman Joseph Murphy as he was being carried to safety.

In October more than 6,000 people lined the streets of the town centre, waving flags and cheering at a homecoming parade.

Brigadier Toomey said: “This is an important way for officers and riflemen to cement the relationship between them and the places they come from.

"So when a city or a town gives us the Freedom it is one of the biggest privileges that can be bestowed upon us.”