BOMB disposal experts and the relatives of their fallen comrades were praised for their “extraordinary sacrifices” by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall yesterday.

The Royal couple visited Vauxhall Barracks in Didcot to meet soldiers from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, part of the Royal Logistic Corps, and their families.

They laid wreaths offering their sympathy after meeting relatives of servicemen who died fighting the Taliban.

During a tour of the barracks troops explained the complexities of the latest hi-tech bomb disposal equipment before the Royal couple joined soldiers and families at the regiment’s Memorial Wall.

The Rev Dr Paul Swinn, the barracks’ chaplain, then led a minute’s silence and a prayer of dedication.

The memorial features plaques remembering 26 soldiers from the regiment who have died trying to defuse deadly devices.

The plaques include ones dedicated to Staff Sgt Olaf Schmid, 30, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross following his death in an explosion in Afghanistan in October 2009, and Captain Dan Read, 31, who was killed in a bomb blast in January last year, after defusing 32 roadside bombs in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Staff Sgt Schmid’s mother Barbara was among relatives who met the Royal couple.

Capt Read’s widow Lou was presented with her husband’s Queen’s Commendation for Bravery by Prince Charles.

The Prince laid a wreath at the memorial and wrote on the attached card: “In proud, admiring and profound grateful remembrance of quite extraordinary selfless service and courage.”

The Duchess of Cornwall’s tribute added: “In everlasting memory of your selfless service and enormous sacrifice.”

The Royal couple were shown specialist equipment including a ‘wheelbarrow’ bomb disposal robot and other equipment used by the troops to make explosive devices safe.

They also watched a demonstration by Corporal Amy-Jane Harrop, 23, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, and three-year-old black labrador Louis.

The search dog sniffed out an explosives strip previously made safe then hidden alongside the officers’ mess at the barracks.

Cpl Harrop said: “These dogs can save lives. Louis hasn’t yet been deployed on operations but that’s imminent.”

The family of Staff Sgt Brett Linley, killed in an explosion in Afghanistan last July, was presented with the Elizabeth Cross.

Operation Herrick medals for service in Afghanistan were presented to Warrant Officer 2nd Class Ken Bellringer, who lost both legs above the knee in an explosion in November, 2009, and to Captain Ciaron Dyer.

Capt Dyer, 32, who attended the ceremony with his wife Harriet and daughters Lizzie, five, and Bea, two, was shot by a sniper at Sangin, in Afghanistan last year.

He said: “These visits don’t come around very often, so it’s very special for the guys and their families.

“On July 5, I was clearing an explosive device when I was shot through the right wrist by a Taliban sharpshooter.

“The bullet took out one of the arteries and damaged my tendons and nerves, so it has been a long process to recover.

“Generally, morale is quite high. We have taken a number of injuries and deaths but despite that, we’re doing the job to the best of our abilities.”

WO2 John Froom, 38, who also demonstrated equipment for Prince Charles and the Duchess, added: “It’s a numbers game out there.

“There are hundreds of devices in the ground and the insurgents cobble them together, which makes them inherently dangerous. The visit today is welcome recognition.”

WO2 Andrew Goodwin, a 33-year-old father-of-three, was presented with the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.

He defused two improvised explosive devices on October 24, 2009, while under fire.

Capt Judith Gallagher also received the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.

It is understood that Prince Charles asked to visit the barracks after meeting the regiment’s commanding officer, Lt Col Gareth Bex, last year.