ABOUT 30 soldiers will pass through Bishop's Waltham on Thursday (August 21), as part of a 300-mile march to London from Plymouth.

The soldiers from Blandford and Headley Court will carry a stretcher symbolising all those service personnel injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They started from Plymouth Hoe on today (August 18) and will march to the Tower of London, raising funds along the way for the Help for Heroes charity.

Exercise Mercury's March is expected to be completed in five days, covering around 60 miles per day.

The soldiers will be joined on the route by the mayors of Southampton, Exeter, Honiton, Dorchester, Blandford, Guilford and Leatherhead and will be greeted in London by Bryn Parry, the founder of Help for Heroes.

The chosen route takes the soldiers along the old Admiralty Shutter telegraph route used over 200 years ago during the Napoleonic war. The 30 hilltops en route used to house the old shutter telegraph system.

The stretcher will be draped with a Union Flag and a scroll containing a roll of honour of injured personnel.

The march was started with a gun salute from the Citadel and with the Lord Mayor of Plymouth walking the first leg alongside the teams.

They will arrive in London on Saturday (August 23) to a black tie function organised by Help for Heroes with music from the band of the Blues & Royals of the Household Cavalry. Maj Gen Patrick Cordingly, DSO is to be the guest speaker.

Further information can be found on the website www2.army.mod.uk/mercurysmarch.