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Commanding Officer‘s Foreword
The last two weeks have been probably the busiest for the Regiment and personally for me, since we arrived two months ago. We are firmly in our stride with the Sapper capability being needed everywhere. The RSM and I visited 29 Armd Engr Sqn throughout the areas they are operating. Working alongside 1 RIFLES, we got to most of the outstations that they are based. I went on a foot patrol to see Cpl Morrison and his lads who were isolated in a small Patrol Base with little by the way of comfort. He has to work the lads for 18 hours a day in order to complete their important mission – that of enhancing the protection of the small fort from which they operate. We also deployed our dive team following a loss of a local national in the NEB canal. Feared drowned, the team, led by Sgt Robinson, moved to the canal to conduct a search of the waterway. The divers were central in a wider Combined Force operation to locate the man. The team did a magnificent job all day, but sadly were unable to locate the young man. Despite such a depressing reason to deploy the team, it proved our divers and responsive capability as Sappers. My main effort this week was to go on patrol with TALISMAN. 77 Armd Engr Sqn uses its troops mounted in special vehicles to lead our forces around Helmand. They move at the front of any convoy in order to detect and destroy any Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). They work as a complete team, with dedication, selfless attitude and a real comradeship – each member of the team has a job to do, and they rely on each other, there is no room for complacency or mistakes. To deploy out onto the ground in order to face the insurgents chosen weapon, they must find the IEDS before they cause damage either to our equipment or soldiers. As you can imagine, it requires nerves and concentration – to second guess the enemy and outwit him is probably the most important skill these guys have; it saves lives. The most important part in the TALISMAN lies with the front vehicle. It moves across the unknown in advance of the main force and tries to read the ground and select a safe route. I sat inside the vehicle during the last mission and saw the 4 man team work in unison, despite uncomfortable heat and the ever present threat if IEDs. Led by a sergeant, there is a driver, gunner and an observer that monitors everything on CCTV. The team watched for enemy activity and signs of possible bombs whilst trying to select a safe route for the RLC logistic convoy that followed in the wake of the TALISMAN vehicles.
29 AES - Featuring LCpl Jehu Birthday Bonanza
37 AES - Including ‗A Territorial Sapper on Tour‘
44 HQ & SP SQN Read all about the second best Gym in Camp Bastion 77 Talisman Sqn Featuring the TALISMAN LAD
11 Field Sqn - Featur- 39 ing 3 Troopl ‗The Wombles‘ The Big Tache Off— Can you spot your Tache? NEW! 49
How a Tache should really look
Even more laughter from the Toe-Jam Times Messages from the editor Issue 7 03 November 2011
I was impressed in everything I saw during that patrol. The lads in the TALISMAN Squadron do an amazing excellent job in making Helmand a little safer to move around. In particular to those 4 lads in my vehicle – they know who they are – their calm, training and concentration is second to none, and I have every respect for them. Finally, to you all at home in either Paderborn, Hameln or Aldergorve. I hope the last few weeks, including half term, have been an opportunity to relax with your children and to do some of the great events organised by the Rear Operations Group. Thankfully, we are now one third of the way into the tour and R&R is about to commence—time is really flying out here. And, as with all the Newsletters, I hope you find these pages an insight into life out here in Helmand Province. Lieutenant Colonel Kev Copsey - Commanding Officer
29 Armoured Engineer Squadron
Officer Commanding‟s Foreword
Another two weeks in Helmand has flown by and the Squadron remains in great shape and has gained an excellent reputation for its work. Plenty of tasks across both areas has seen us continuing to support the British and Afghan forces brilliantly, every man is working tirelessly and we are making a visible difference. Our only concern is based on knowing that winter is coming and that means rain; our workload seems to go through the roof when the infantry start to get wet! 5 RIFLES are out here with us now and the last of 3 Commando Brigade is departing. With the COs visit last week (you may have seen the update on Facebook) I have seen the vast majority of the Squadron. I am continually struck by the impact small gestures from home can have on us, more than I thought I would be. A birthday card or letter on your bed when you return back to the Troop means the world, a slice of fruit cake or new shower gel to share lifts the whole Section and voices on BFBS turns a difficult day into a great week. On behalf of everyone I express thanks to all the families and friends – it really does make the job here more satisfying. Planning for the return to Paderborn, Medals Parade and Post Operational Leave has continued here and I know it is important to us all. I hope to be able to give some dates to the Squadron soon, I certainly will as soon as the Regiment is able to and then let you make arrangements for Easter and Spring next year. Enjoy the stories in this edition and I hope the pictures give you vision of how we work, rest and play (thank you to Mars for that line!). We are always snapping away and there are more images on the Facebook page so I hope you can find the people you are supporting. Finally I can report that the first group is departing on R&R, spirits are really high but so are the expectations for the items that will return from UK and Germany. Hot favourite is ―can you bring back a pirate copy of the new Inbetweeners Movie?‖! Si Carvel
Home from Home from Home – Spina-Kota to Attal
By Spr „BLING‟ Bingham, 4 Tp
To provide better Engineer support to the Queens Royal Hussars, 4 Tp moved from CP Spina Kota to the west of Lashkar-Gah across the Helmand River to Patrol Base Attal in the east of LashkarGah. A move of over 30 miles was made possible with assistance from 44 HQ & Sp Sqn and the Close Support Logistic Regiment to move the armoured plant and equipment. Spr Bingham tells his side of the story. Life in ‗Spina‘ was looking good; we had started our own little routines, most nights we would have someone cooking for everyone out of the 10 man ration packs, movies were playing every day on repeat on the BFBS channel as well as some very competitive card games. We had the joys of showering out of a bag and going to the toilet in a bag! Every morning we were woken by the wonderfully thoughtful children, throwing stones over the fence on to our tents as they walked to the nearby school. The locals in the area where happy for us to be there giving them that security (or providing a benign target for their mischievous kids) so it was a good place to be. After only being at Check Point (CP) SPINA-KOTA for two weeks we were given orders to move on to Patrol Base (PB) ATTAL, on the other side of the Helmand river, where we will be based to cover our Area of Operations (AO) for any engineer task. There were mixed emotions amongst the troop because in CP SPINAKOTA we had our own area of the CP with our own welfare area but at PB ATTAL we would be mixed in with the infantry. On the flip side PB Another days work down, ATTAL does have actual toilets, shower blocks, three properly cooked time for dinner meals a day by the chefs, a bigger gym facility and a wifi signal. So in the long run we knew we would be better off. A week before the road move a small advance party went up to PB ATTAL to prepare for the arrival of the whole troop and crack straight on with some tasks inside the camp. These tasks were to create suitable areas for personnel to stand with their weapons along the existing Hesco wall of the perimeter in order to aid the overall camp security. They required two sets of wooden steps on each side of the PB, in all there were 11 platforms to be made so our only ‗chippy‘ (carpenter), Spr (Jedward) Thorpe, had quite a job on his hands. It took the rest of us a couple of days to collapse our accommodation back in CP SPINA-KOTA and pack the four ISO containers worth of stores and kit. Everything was now ready for the road move. We were assisted by 44 HQ & Sp Sqn, carrying our four ISOs and two plant vehicles. When they arrived to collect our stores they had four EPLS trucks (big trucks) and two low loaders (big long trucks) as well as their own Protected Mobility (PM(armoured)) vehicles for security. Picture 4 CP SPINA-KOTA wasn‘t a big CP, especially for large vehicles, so the two low loaders had to stay outside to be loaded. All the EPLS trucks were loaded one at a time within the limited space available. As soon as the plant vehicles were loaded up we shot off ahead to PB ATTAL in our own convoy of four PM vehicles so that we could be Vehicles loaded, there was just there ready to receive our kit. enough time for a photo
The smooth journey took roughly about an hour. It was good that we were moving late in the evening because during the day passing through the district centre of Lashkah Gar can be pretty hectic; there is always an absolute sea of locals passing through at the markets and pressing across the streets. When we arrived everyone was eager to get in and grab a bed space to set up a bed for the night (most challenges are diminished as long as there is somewhere comfortable to sleep at the end of the day). All the ‗Planties‘ (Plant Operator Mechanics) though had to wait to unload the plant. It was about midnight when the convoy arrived at PB ATTAL so the quicker we were able to unload our equipment, the quicker we were able to wrap ourselves up in our sleeping bags. After a little lie-in (0730hrs) it was breakfast and then straight into organising the equipment within the store. Once everything was sorted we needed to start preparation for each section task. 10 Section, ably led by Cpl ‗Mac‘ McLaughlin, were to build an ammunition bunker. 11 Section, under the keen eye of Cpl ‗Why-eye‘ Debenham, were tasked to build ‗firing platforms‘ (these are areas for personnel to stand for self defence against attacks on the compound). Last but not least, 12 section, under the tutelage of Cpl ‗Arry‘ Monks, were given the task of upgrading the road outside of camp in order to link it up with the main tarmac road. 10 and 12 section‘s task though had to wait until the aggregate and desert fill was delivered from a civilian contractor. There was also a civilian plant vehicle hired to help carry out our tasks. The tasks all together were planned to take two weeks to complete but the guys are well motivated and we should finish a little bit early, that is if the forecasted rain (I know, I couldn‘t believe it either) doesn‘t slow us down Hard at work but someone is definitely by severely altering the conditions outside. missing a shovel Now we just look forward to life, granted a more comfortable life, in PB ATTAL and future tasks. Oh and also the looming R&R window.
4 Troop - Looking good lads
Patrol Base (PB) Nahidullah Upgrade
By Spr Shaw 6 Tp
6 Troop, with an element of surveying in the form of ex 29 Armd Engr Sqn morph suit fanatic Spr Tim Jervis, were given the task in preparing PB Nahidullah for the winter. A number of tasks will had to be completed to ensure the showers, toilets and electrical supplies could survive the winter and also to prevent the PB from flooding. First on task was Spr Danny Johnson and his plumbing team, unpopular at first with the infantry but soon they were praised by them! Unfortunately the plumbing team would have to turn off the water-supply for the PB, dismantle and then remove all of the drainage pipes. The guys then had to start from the lowest part of the PB working their way up installing all the new pipe work and yes all the pipe work did include the poo pipes! Once completed the showers that once were no more than a trickle now resembled a power shower in a spa, well done boys!
Last piece fitted and job done!
Second on task would be the electrical team with Spr Matty Bale leading his team. Similarly to the plumbing task they would have to locate all cables across the PB and then plan new routes for all of them. Spaghetti junction springs to mind! Matty and his team would sort out the jungle of cables to make them 'pleasing to the eye' and work without constant power cuts. Judging when to turn the power on and off was probably their most difficult task because as we know there is currently a Rugby World cup on the go (with Wales doing very well) and a very keen Fijian community in the camp from 4 SCOTS! There are some guys you just do not want to upset but they did very well and completed all jobs to a very high standard.
Does this pipe make up for my rubbish tache?
Easily the hardest man in 29, Spr Thompson and his Jedi LCpl Walker would be in charge of the most demanding task Plant operating. These two boys would be working the longest hours of the task, digging all the drainage ditches and french drains so the rain water has places to go that isn‘t our accommodation. Along with this they would have to re-shape some of the roads to allow freedom of movement for all vehicles. The two guys would argue it is very hot in their diggers but we all know the air-con is keeping them ultra cool, when working. To gain access to the toilets and showers we would have to build decking and steps. Spr Black and I built 4 block pillars for the wooden decking to sit on. Cpl Tommy Tucker took charge of this task with his team including the best looking guy in Afghan, Spr 'Charles Bronson' Chadwick. The task ran very smoothly, and was completed in less than 2 days. Sun downers on the decking at 6pm to celebrate! Although still on-going, the task is going very well, with even Lt Tomsett getting his hands on a shovel. Morale is high and all the lads are getting on well, probably due to the fact LCpl 'legend' or 'leg-end' Isaac has returned after 22 days road tripping around Afghanistan.
“I have told you once, now get out, its my turn”
6 Troop take a more relaxed approach to the group photo
LCpl „Jedi‟ Jehu Birthday Bonanza
By SSgt Snell SHQ
Each Saturday evening those ‗in the rear with the gear‘ in JOB Bastion take time out for a couple of hours to break from the norm. These Saturday evenings are organised by individuals and usually consist of games, quizzes and alike. This particular evening was organised by LCpl ‗Jedi‘ Jehu. It was his ‗Birthday Bonanza‘! so the games were orientated around classic party games ready for his own 30th Birthday on the Sunday. With a full crowd in attendance and broken down into five equal sized teams the games commenced. The first classic being ‗pin the T2 pants on the Jedi‘, (T2‘s are the top layer of protection for the groin area). With a mask to cover the eyes and a Santa hat to keep it in place, the individual was spun round at extreme speed by Pte ‗JPA‘ Ogunnusi and then let loose to find the ‗Jedi‘ on the board whilst being directed by their team mates (and the rest of the crowd shouting loudly to disorientate). After a couple of falls and near misses, (Cpl Phil Collins was a little disorientated to Fun and games at the Birthday party say the least and that‘s without his specks!) Cpl Abbott was the victorious winner with his ‗Jedi‘ seeking skills. Thank goodness it was not a real person; it would bring tears to your eyes. Round two, the cake eating contest - bring in the chocolate cake! This challenge should not be underestimated as anyone who has eaten a piece of tour chocolate cake will vouch for both its density and stickiness. The game started with each person receiving their block of cake which had to be eaten straight from the plate – no hands, no cutlery! This proved to be a messy affair but a couple of pro‘s showed their true skills. Capt ‗Longbow‘ Mayland demonstrated his prowess by taking a wide stance, hands behind his back and head diving into the block of cake. LCpl ‗Jedi‘ Jehu demonstrated the chocolate beard effect which actually suited him, but Picture 15. the winner was LCpl ‗Birthday Bear Hug‘ Potts who took the title with splendid display of cake hoovering. No piece of cake was big enough for this man “What are you looking at? Have I got something on my face?”
Game three saw the teams move onto the darts board. Nothing difficult here you may think? All we had to do was hit a balloon to either have points deducted or increased. Oh, you could see who the darts players were! Over all winner was Sgt Jimmy ‗Uncle Fester‘ Bellis showing a touch of the old men‘s clubs with a Phil ‗The Power‘ Taylor type display. Onto round four, Spoof! This game consists of nerve and a lot of bluff! This consisted of five different team members holding one hand out and guessing how many accumulated coins were in the group. Spr Taylor was the first one out therefore winning the game. It came down to a show down between Sgt ‗The axe‘ Alecks and Capt Kev Cameron for last place. Beyond belief ‗The Axe‘ came last!
More games…………. The final round was a general knowledge quiz and for once the questions hadn‘t been taken out of a Nuts or Zoo magazine. The Officers‘ team of course took the round but they couldn‘t win overall. More games…………. The winners were Cpl Daz Abbott, LCpl ‗Ginge‘ Hanlon, Cpl ‗Ooogley‘ Tiley and Spr Pete Sutton who took home a mystery box filled with Sandbags, Mars Bars, Pop Tarts and Cafe Latte energy drink but also the star prize of a trip the Apache flight line to be shown round. Spr Darby made the most of the visit by planking on the roof, well done but not sure how much it was appreciated by the pilots. All participants had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and well done to ‗Jedi‘ for being a cracking host!
The winners - looking pretty pleased with themselves
37 Armoured Engineer Squadron
Officer Commanding‟s Foreword
Or is it….. the OC has been very busy this week or so he tells me, I‘ve certainly not seen him in the office that much! Then again it‘s been said that I don‘t get out much! It‘s been a busy two weeks and to be fair Maj Boxall has been pulled from pillar to post. He has been to MOB Price to meet the incoming British Battle group who will be taking over from the Danes in the New Year and been to see our troops in the North to chair a board that focused on the development of one of the main bases (its all Engineery stuff you see). Right now he is in another Danish base preparing for another board to develop another base that we are going to expand when we take over. In a round about and long winded way that‘s why I am writing this introduction. I can assure you that the OC is going to regret that decision… I was going to be ‗all nice‘ about him but after the ‗card game for one‘ comment in the last article (which I have only just noticed) I shall not hold back! (Sorry Rachel!). It seems like time has stood still a little bit since the last news letter, the guys on the ground continue to work really hard and I have been very proud of the feedback coming in from across the board. Things have really started to move forward and we have begun to close off some of the outstanding tasks from the last tour as well as bringing many of our own to a successful conclusion. We had our first ‗real test‘ this last few weeks when some deliberate damage was caused to a main, rather important transit route for the locals, in the northern part of our area of operations. It meant that 9 Tp had to scramble out of the gate and drawing on all their combat engineering skills, design and implement a solution at short notice. A job well done which you can read about below. R‘n‘R has finally started and the first member of the squadron is away. Young Sapper Peace got the short straw and was on the very first flight. Please bear with the R‘n‘R, we appreciate that it is an emotive issue but there is little we can do if flights are cancelled or moved. The boys may not arrive home exactly when expected but I can promise that they will all get R‘n‘R. We will push out some details on how you can find out about flights etc soon. We are in the unique position of having a new and ‗gucci‘ piece of equipment to test in theatre and Spr Evans, Broxton and Pascoe are back in Bastion along with Cpl Bugler and Cpl Robertson getting trained up as we speak, it‘s a great opportunity and hopefully one that we will be able to tell you a little more about in later weeks. So back to the OC…. And you thought that I had forgotten. What can I tell you about Maj Guy ‗Haribo‘ Boxall. As some of you may not be aware, allow me to explain how the OC got his nickname. During the course of the last year being his 2IC I have noticed a curious and oft remarked oddity. The OC has a rather insatiable appetite for Haribo of all kinds and shapes. Tangfastics are his particular favourite and he has been known to sniff out the opening of a packet at 100 paces. I have, on several occasions, caught him wolfing a whole bag before 7am, in fact this ravenous desire is only matched by his obsession with coke-a-cola. I have come to the honest conclusion that the OC is powered by sugar alone. Only one question remains…. Just how does he still have all his own teeth? Revenge is sweet! Once again, I hope this finds you all well and you have all managed to see the photos on facebook. I‘ll sign off now and let you get to the troop updates below. As ever please do not hesitate to get into contact with Sgt Sean Killen on the rear operations group if you have any issues you need assistance with, and as ever please do let me know if there is anything we can do from here. Take care of yourselves. Dominic Riley
Elite Divers Deployed in Helmand?
Or - mucking about in the water without finding anything!
By Sgt “Robbo” Robson (AKA the small man) 7 Tp
The dive team crashed out to look for something that was washed away by the current in the NEB Canal. Sgt Robbo Robson received the call and sprung into action like a coiled spring and ran to the Danish Operations Centre to get the Geo ‗geeks‘ to bring up some imagery of the area. Capt Scott was kind enough to book a flight through the RAF to collect the Dive Team and equipment from BSN and Sgt Robson from PCE on the way past. The RAF being the good eggs that they are decided to leave the Dive Team and equipment in BSN and go straight for the small man (that‘s Sgt Robson The Dive equipment out and ready to go to all of you that are confused by the last bit). This didn‘t phase the small man, he went to site without the team to conduct a RECCE whilst waiting for the RAF to get the rest of the team from BSN. Once on site Sgt Robson was given the lowdown on the incident and had a chat with eye witnesses. The small man (Sgt Robson) made his plan (have you worked out who is writing this article yet?). By this time the rest of the team had turned up (thanks RAF people). One last brief before the search begins The small man deployed on a foot patrol to see the area and test the speed of the water (0.4mps, not fast enough to deter these elite machines). On his return to the CP the team was briefed on the task ahead. It was decided to deploy the divers at first light and get the assistance of a United States Search Team to clear the Canal banks for the Divers. The British High Assurance Search Team Commanded by Sgt Flash Gordon was also moved to the CP to clear the banks of streams branching off the Canal if required.
Hours before the sun was up the small man had the team out of bed rechecking all the equipment prior to starting the task. Once the Americans who were looking after us were in place the Divers leapt into action and moved to the position where the first diver would deploy. LCpl Webster was the first diver in the water, it was obvious that this was the first Operational dive for the young Dive Store Technician (DST), as the normally calm whipper snapper drank his first set of oxygen in a record 30 mins. In his defence he was fighting against the current and having to fight through reeds on the canal bed to search. Once Robbo wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes, LCpl Dan Ginger Nuts Hutton was dressed up and continued the search as Spr Lovell was recharging the diving sets (slightly slower than Webby could use the air). After a respectable 45 mins from Dan, LCpl ―Sick note‖ Dudding continued looking.
A diver surfaces to conduct a change over
After 5 waves of diving it was not looking like we would find what we were looking for. We were now approaching a sluice gate where hopefully our search would end. Every effort was made by the ANA to find the Mirab (a local man that controls the water for the community) to ask him to remove a padlock that was holding the sluice gate open. The ANA could not find the Mirab so the padlock was forcefully removed enabling the sluice gate to be closed and the search to continue without any danger. On completion of the search on the South side of the Culvert it was decided call a halt to the search. The divers stripped out the diving equipment and we moved back to the CP for a debrief.
Route Green Upgrade
By Spr Rumbelow, 7 Tp
For over a week 20 section (7 Troop), based in MOB Price, were given the job to amend route green, from PB Viking to PB Shir Agah, two Danish bases north of the large Geresh District Centre. It was split down into 7 different tasks along a mud route that was frequently used by local nationals. The point being to improve the route for them and make it less dangerous to drive it. Before the task was to begin the section was in place ready to receive delivery of the first batch of stone. This was complicated slightly when 50 civilian trucks (intended for a different task elsewhere) decided to travel down the route that we were to upgrade. After a lot of confusion we finally explained where they were supposed to be and all 50 trucks went back down the route and we hope to the correct destination, and we were free to carry on with the job.
Hard at work in the Afghan heat
The first task was to repair a culvert that had been previously damaged by the use of heavy military vehicles, this was a theme that would continue throughout the route upgrade. The task was completed quickly and we soon found ourselves back inside PB Viking for the evening preparing for the next task. On returning to the site the following day however we discovered that much of our hard work had been wasted and that several parts of the repaired culvert had been stolen overnight!
Local Children come and say Thumbs up for a job well done
We moved onto several other culvert repairs in an area that can best be described as ―spaghetti junction‖ of tracks and streams. This allowed several members of the Section to get their feet wet inside the numerous ditches while they dug out the existing banks to make the repair, particularly Spr Taylor who was frequently seen with soaking wet boots. While this was going on Spr Themaras was busy using his Light wheeled tractor to do some earthworks alongside a local national contractor, Naieem, who was complementing him on his ―nice shiny tractor‖. Spr Themaras was pleased for the compliment until Naieem pointed out that the reason that it was working so slowly was because of his skills as an operator. Brilliant! LCpl Harris was having troubles of his own further down the road where he was attempting to explain the process of laying the new road surface to the group of civilian contractors working with him. Even with the use of an interpreter this proved difficult, especially when one of the drivers decided that he was going home for the day… at lunch time. Frequently while we were working groups of local adults and children came to gather around us and watch us work. Many of the children would come and play nearby and LCpl Ferguson even managed to get a few of them to help with the digging. During the task we were required to return to Camp Price to refuel and do vehicle maintenance. This visit coincided with a visit from a Danish Iron Maiden tribute band! This gave the Section some well earned rest for the evening at a live concert on the vehicle park before returning to site on the following day to carry on with the task. In all it went really well and it was great to work with the local contractors. The task went smoothly overall and the locals seemed really genuinely pleased with the results.
A job well done deserves a good rest!
Patrol Base Clifton rebuild
By Cpl Cooper, 8 Tp
The task of rebuilding Patrol Base Clifton was no easy feat. The Patrol Base itself should be in the army manual of how not to build a patrol base! It was quintessentially the worst camp in North Helmand. The troop valiantly took on the job of rectifying it with Cpl Simpson leading the assault. In a short period of time Cpl Simpson had his men ripping down walls which Sapper Bell took far too much joy in. They then moved onto the task of rebuilding new towers, putting up razor wiring, condemning ablutions and moving the gym - which was a work out in itself! We had civilian tractors and dump trucks to assist us on the task. These would have been great asset except the dump truck had no back door to keep the fill in! This became problematic when it drove up the hill, in to camp, as most of its fill would slide out the back much to the lads‘ amusement. Sapper Carter-Smith was appointed chef as he was given light duties by the medic after an incident with a mouse and a knife. The story goes that he jumped when he saw a mouse and stabbed himself in the arm. But not to worry, he is recovering well and his cooking skills are improving daily, the proof of this was the ‗spaghetti bolognaise night‘ which was enjoyed by all and washed down with some alcohol free vino!
The rebuild is off to a great start
Meanwhile my section has been bounced around Helmand, more recently transiting back and forth through the desert; bringing essential supplies and personal to PB Clifton. This was a task that the section took on with great diligence, pushing our two vehicles, and at times a Tractor, to new levels of cross country driving. The convoy was led by ―tanky‖ LCpl Wright who often forgot he was in a pimped up Humvee and not a tank, pushing the vehicles and drivers to their limits. In other news the No Limit Texas Poker players are starting to emerge, however in my opinion none of them should give up their day job and go to Vegas. Devilfish has no need to worry!
A Territorial Army Sapper on Tour
By Sapper Mackrill, 8 Tp
My Op HERRICK experience all began back on the 10th of January this year, having just enjoyed an extended Christmas leave from 42 Engineer Regiment (Geo) where I work as a civil servant. I had not even turned on my computer when the phone rang, the voice at the other end said simply, ‗You‘re not mobilising with the London Regiment you‘re going to 35 Engineer Regiment in Germany, any questions? No, good. One last thing I‘ve emailed you your flight details and training programme for the next 4 months, just as well you have a supportive employer any problems give me a call!‘ Upon arrival in Barker Barracks, Paderborn we were met by the Squadron Sergeant Majors and detailed off to our accommodation for the next few months. I was attached to 8 Troop 37 Armoured Engineer Squadron as a combat engineer. 8 Troop welcomed us and very quickly erased the line between TA and regular with all members of the troop offering advice and guidance on the best nights out and occasionally some trade related advice and tips. Before I knew it I was in Afghanistan, with the initial training package complete, waiting to get on a helicopter to the Patrol Base (PB) where the troop would to be based. My first task was to learn how to A Sapper looking confused by operate the water system which the washing facilities? supplied the PB. After a week of running the water unit I was told I would be going with my section to another base, this came as a God send as to be honest the water system is far from an exciting job to begin with and its boring as hell after a couple of days! I was top cover on the rear vehicle for the move, this was a very new experience for myself as normally back with my TA Squadron I‘m driving the boss's vehicle!
Hard at work in one of the many Engineer vehicles
Once we arrived at the PB it was straight to work stripping out watch towers and replacing walls which were on their last legs. This task was possibly one of the best and worst experiences of my mobilisation so far. The strip out of the tower was emotional to say the least as everything had to be done by hand due to the confined area we had to work in, but on the other hand while rebuilding it I started to learn all the tricks of the trade which would help me with the tasks ahead. Looking back over the last 5 months, it has been a very challenging experience with many high points and a few low points after all it‘s a very different world compared to my civilian life! But I can honestly say the camaraderie in 8 Troop has made this mobilisation the great experience that it has turned out to be. Unfortunately in the TA you hear many bad things about peoples experiences while working with the regular army, thankfully I will be able to go back and tell people 8 Troop truly is where legends are made and what a great experience I had while part of 8 Troop and 37 AES.
Good photo 8 Troop
By Spr Gibson, 9 Tp
‗Eight Engineers left as men, they returned as warriors‘ As the dawn sun rose on a mild Thursday morning, Cpl Anderson led 25 Section out on their second mission into bandit country. Their destination – Checkpoint (CP) Salat, a small infantry checkpoint on the edge of the green zone. Here, only the thin ribbon of tarmac that is ‗Route 611‘ separates the Mercians from the infamous green zone area. Their mission – to transform the dilapidated frame of HESCO into a glorious fortress for the ISAF and Afghan police forces inside. As the eight Engineers emerged from their vehicles, they were greeted by three smiling Afghan police faces; Diego, Sinbad and Woggle-Eye, whose company was one of the many highlights of the days that lay ahead. Work immediately began on extending the tired shell of CP Salat, the whole section working at a furious pace under the cover of the imPuckering up - 9 Troop showing off their Tache efforts pressive firepower of the Danish battle tanks. The 120mm cannons, with their thunderous bark, were on a supporting mission on targets in the green zone. As work closed on the fourth day, the heavens opened with a spectacular thunderstorm! The next morning, Cpl Anderson was re-tasked back in FOB Ouellette and passed the reins of power over to our Section 2IC, LCpl Monaghan and work continued to a successful conclusion three days later. 25 Section returned to FOB Ouellette early on the 13th October, leaving behind a menacing fortress that now contained new accommodation, over-head protection, toilets, showers, improved sangars and even a gym area for the combat troops inside. Diego was happy with that, as for Woggle eye we were never sure where he was looking so he might have been happy at that!
Back in the FOB and it is all smiles
Heroes on Route 611
By Spr Washington, 9 Tp
It‘s late in the evening when some damage is done to a large culvert on Route 611, leaving a huge hole in the road and making the main route running through this area of Helmand is unusable. Not for long! 9 Troop is tasked to provide a section to go and repair the devastation and have the route back up and running by the morning. Under the command of Cpl Vinante, the top blokes from the troop are sent on the job as it is a high profile task – myself and Spr ‗Robbo‘ Robinson are the obvious choice as the plant operators! As the task may take all night, we can both swap in on the plant if needed. As we leave FOB OUELETTE, the first rain of the tour starts thundering down. We make the short journey to inspect the job, stores are unloaded (HESCO, pickets and shovels should do the job) and the real heroes, the plant operators, get involved. I start by digging out all the damaged road pieces. The visibility is poor and the wheels dig in every time I try to dig. I persevere; my effortless skill and years of experience behind the wheel of the plant make the task progress. Once the area as been cleared of all the debris, I hand the plant over to Robbo. The rest of the section battle with the elements and set the HESCO on level ground. By this time, lightening is splitting the sky, rain is pelting down and we are all reminded of what ‗cold‘ feels like! It‘s 3am, and with the task almost finished, we start to think about getting back to our beds. Civilian vehicles are waiting at either end of our task site for this major route to be opened once more. I jump back in the plant to complete the final stages of the construction and make sure the road is as smooth and usable as possible. The site is levelled and the stores packed away – another job complete for the plant heroes. Early days on task
Life in the Reserve Troop
By Spr Jones 246
To be told you're on the Reserve Troop for OP HERRICK after shortly arriving straight from training is an honour. To know that you've impressed enough in short time that people want you to go on tour takes away the 'sprog' nerves and builds confidence. But it is also sour with the sweet as you know you aren't likely to actually go. Much of the daily Reserve Troop routine is typical barracks duties but obviously we need to be ready to deploy, aside from the equipment and administrative side the priority is our physical training. PT has got harder but enjoyable since the Regiment deployed, mixing equipment races, running and circuits mixed with wrestling, making PT a lot of fun as well as hard work. Also on one very wet day we had a mud run through water almost waist deep. Its brilliant and the gym have mentioned that they will soon be rolling out a progressive new programme. There have been recent opportunities to test ourselves as well. Spr Allcock put a team together to compete in the Royal Engineer half Marathon at 26 Engineer Regiment Tidworth. It was no ordinary route, much of it was cross country, up and down hills. Entering as a minor unit we came third. Hohne have the Iron Soldier competition on 8 November 11 and some of the lads have entered as a team with some individual competitors. Reading a review from last year‘s race it's a gruelling 12.5km. Very shortly everyone in Reserve Troop will be heading to Camp Bastion to complete the RSOI package that the deployed lads did at the start of their tour. It's only a short time in theatre but it will allow us to deploy much quicker if we are needed. As a final note a message from all of us here in Barker to the lads, stay safe, keep on grafting, we're very proud of you and from myself to 8 Tp, I'm looking forward to joining you, if not on tour then when you get back next year.
“G4. It just Happens…Apparently”!
Two months ago 37‘s G4 Pre-Advance team were on the conveyor belt to Afghanistan; where has the time gone? The whole team is now settled in to a kind of routine which takes them on a daily roller coaster ride of peaks and troughs of emotions and panic. All in a day‘s work though. This edition has come round so fast that we‘ve not had time to write down stuff that‘s been going on. We‘ve had more quad bike antics, a BBQ and some challenging times which have brought both tears of laughter and frustration. The QM has been let loose on a quad bike after a few weeks of being grounded after he broke the last one. Even though he was an avid motocross rider ‗back in his day‘, he was heard saying that his quad didn‘t wheelie in third, therefore it‘s clearly broken. He hasn‘t been let out since. With a 24km/h speed limit in BSN it was a recipe for disaster. To rid him of his frustration he has been fighting through a three hour phys‘ session each day to get rid of a small belly tyre…to no avail we must add. Spr ‗Briefcase‘ Stinton, new to the G4 Blog has had a delayed deployment due to the need for ballistic lenses. These lenses finally made it after a round-the-world trip to reach him. As soon as he was ready to deploy, he flew the nest and will be missed for his wit and humour. His parting wise words being that he ―didn‘t understand the Ghurkhas as he can‘t speak Napoleon‖. Although back to full fitness, the SQMS has made limited progress on ‗Dickie‘s Op MASSIVE‘ programme. This has been due to a geographical challenge in locating the gym and a slight delay in getting the lid off his tub of muscle powder. Along with the SQMS, SSgt ‗Facebook‘ McDermott thought it would be funny to sneak up on one of the guys in the Resources Yard in the middle of the night. The funny bit soon went sour as they were caught out at their own game and chased off with death threats. Just before any blows were exchanged it became apparent that the Resources guys were on the watch for thieves in the yard. A classic back-fire…time on recce guys! QM‟s quad bike traction test…It failed!
Dickie and the offending tub
Robbo, our vastly experienced and athletic Plant Cpl has again displayed his physical prowess, being recently likened to Paula Radcliffe…no, no, no, stop there; we‘re talking about the stopping part, not the athletic speed and distance. Although it‘s said that he‘s so fine tuned, like an F1 racing car that he has to have a pit-stop during a run out. Oddly he never suffers the same fate when playing a marathon session of table tennis. Cpl Steve Bugler is new to the G4 world, but it‘s taken a surprisingly short time for him to pick up the mannerisms and clichés of the SQMS. Being referred to as the ‗SQ‘s Mini-Me‘ didn‘t go down too well though. Probably because he can easily get the lid of the muscle powder on his own. QM‟s Parish Notice: 1. SQMS Dickie Page and Spr G Sealy have both had birthdays recently; Happy Birthday to you both.
Just to finish off with, a few QM‟s Top Tips: 1. When playing a joke, ensure you maintain the element of surprise. 2. When you lose the element of surprise, don‘t squeal like a girl as you get chased and caught. 3. SSgt Si Anderson is not going bald; it‘s just the way he cuts his hair. 4. Putting on a smaller T-shirt doesn‘t make your guns look any bigger. 5. If you want to look your very best, SSM Steve Driver has a job lot of fairground mirrors if anyone is interested. Take care…until next time, remember, ―24/7 - G10 for Men” (and some girls).
Special delivery birthday cakes.
44 HQ & SP SQN NEWS
Officer Commanding Foreword
Well it has been another busy couple of weeks for the Sqn since I last wrote my introduction for the 44 HQ & Sp Sqn slice of the Trojan Times. Thankfully we have had no more rain however the temperature has dropped enough in the evenings and early mornings to warrant wearing a fleece. The CO did comment that it may be an ‗age thing‘ as I was stood wearing my issue warm weather jacket zipped up to my neck as a young Sapper exited the gym dressed only in a pair of shorts and trainers, I will leave you to decide. The Construction Supervision Cell (CSC) is potentially the smallest department in the Sqn; however it is definitely one of the busiest. Every member of the department has now deployed forward on numerous occasions to carry out reconnaissance tasks in support of construction tasks for the Field Squadrons. This is only the start of their work load, on return to Camp Bastion they then have to complete technical drawings and reports for each task surveyed. Initially on arrival in Afghanistan the CSC personnel believed they would struggle to get out on the ground, how wrong could they be! Other than the CO, RSM and Force Protection Multiple, they have covered more locations and gained more air miles within Helmand Province than any other department in the Engr Gp. The REME Light Aid Detachment (LAD) for the duration of the tour is fully embedded within the HQ & Sp Sqn. The LAD has an absolutely critical role in the maintenance and repair of some 240 equipments held by the Engr Gp. The main base for the LAD is with Camp Bastion however due to the spread of equipments throughout the Engr Gp locations there is a constant need to fly specialist mechanics forward to repair damaged and broken kit. The LAD is doing a fantastic job ensuring that we maintain a high level of serviceability in all areas whilst also maintaining a rear base facility for the more intricate repairs. As always I will finish with a big thank you to all the families and friends who continue to support their loved ones deployed in Theatre. My darling wife has managed to get me crated (only coke not beer) by sending me eight e-blueys, in one go, containing photos. Let‘s see if anyone can do better.
THE DEPLOYABLE ENGINEER WORKSHOP (DEW)
Article by the Q in the DEW
The Deployable Engineer Workshop (DEW) is located in the resources yard, it is a fully equipped self contained workshop manned by military tradesmen from throughout the Regiment.
Not one but TWO signs!! The role of the DEW is to provide manufacturing capability to the in theatre Engineer Regiment. To provide this the Dew is manned by a small permanent team consisting of myself; WO2 Derek Smith (the Q in the DEW); Cpl ―Coops‖ Cooper (the Screw in the DEW); LCpl ―Jedi‖ Jehu (the DEW JEDI & carpenter); our excellent electrician Spr (now LCpl) Jim Owen; and the newly arrived willing welder LCpl Quinliven. We also have the legendary LCpl ―Webbie‖ Webster (Blacksmith) who believes that he adds a bit of style & class to the workshop. Other tradesmen are surged into the DEW from the Squadrons as priority tasks come in. Working alongside the DEW tradesmen are two Locally Employed Civilians (LECs) who provide the local flair. The DEW has now been fully operational for five weeks on Op HERRICK 15 with tasks coming in from all over Task Force Helmand. These include map boards, command tables, ladders, gates, barriers and repairs to equipment . Due to the weather conditions & heavy use the DEW requires a lot of maintenance mostly by Coops & Jim Owen . A major event in the DEW recently was the well deserved promotion of Spr Owen to LCpl Owen by his OC. Another significant event was the 30th Birthday of JEDI Jehu. The DEW is a tidy workshop and therefore a happy workshop, the Star of the DEW in this period was LCpl Jim Owen for his selfless commitment towards work in the DEW. This man really enjoys his job, check out that smile, or is he just really pleased with his tache?
Camp 124 Gym Extension
By a member of 44 Hq & Sp Sqn
Once the mandatory RSOI was out of the way and the handover from 54 HQ & Sp Sqn completed, 44 HQ & Sp Sqn set about making its small part of Camp Bastion more homely. The Chief Clerk took up the mantle of heading up a welfare committee with the aim of improving the welfare facilities within Camp 124. The first priority was to improve the camp‘s gym equipment. Although 124 had a small gym its equipment was in a poor state of repair. Within days the Chief Clerk had managed to get us a range of new gym equipment. However, he had been too successful and had managed to get us allocated far more equipment then the current gym area could cater for. This was when the Regimental Construction Supervision Cell was called upon to extend the lean-to area at the back of the gym. Spr Bakeberg produced a design (some may say an over-design) for a new shelter extension and with the help of the SQMS, Resources and the DEW materials were made available for the construction. With a deadline for the delivery of the equipment on the 4 Oct 11, work began on site. Over two evenings ten large post holes were dug through the solid compacted ground that the camp stands on, even the MPF was seen to take his top off and pick up a shovel! The start…... When the wooden upright posts had been concreted into the holes, the remainder of the wooden structure rapidly grew with the help of anyone who was available. The final stage of construction was fixing the ‗wriggly tin‘ sheeting to the shelter to make the roof, followed by the laying of a floor and plastic grid paving to access the area. When finished, the extension was very aesthetically pleasing, only later spoilt by the Clerk of Works (Electrical) when he installed a spaghetti looking arrangement of wiring to provide power to the shelters lighting. From design to completion the task had taken just over a week. Since the completion of the shelter the facilities have been well used. Visitors to Camp 124 have left impressed and envious at the gym facilities, particularly the shelter structure. The Regimental Construction Supervision Cell now finds it is regularly called upon from other organisations requesting advice and design drawings for a copy cat schemes for their camp.
By Spr Bakeberg
When Sgt Fox was tasked with jazzing up the 44 Sqn gym I had a good idea that it might end up with CSC. Sgt fox is very good at being a Chief Clerk but it would take an Engineer to design a new Gym. We were in dire need of some new gym equipment. Most of the existing gym benches and equipment were so deteriorated by the sun and constant use that it was decided we needed to replace them. I was told I would be in charge of designing, resourcing and constructing a shelter for the new gym equipment. After I had found out the requirements for extending the existing sheltered area so that all the new equipment would be sheltered from the elements, I had to come up with a design for a structure that covered an area of 51 square metres. I measured up the site and went to the drawing board (PC) to No matter how big the job, there is start work on the design of the structure. I had to find out exalways time for a photo. actly what building materials we had available and worked from that. I came up with a timber structure that would be embedded in concrete foundations with a roof. After the drawings were complete, SSgt Hammett and I had to get all the materials together. After many signatures and running around collecting everything we were able to scrape together we just about had all the supplies we needed. I had to go out on a mission for a few days, when I came back the CSC SSgts informed me that they had already dug half of the holes required for the footings. So I went out to mark out the rest of the footings, but when I got there I noticed that the Clerk of Works Electrical had dug the holes in the wrong positions. So I marked out all the correct positions of the holes, got a few lads together and dug the holes in the right position. Having been told we would get a works party SSgt Hammett, LCpl Webster, Spr (Stan) Boardman and I got started on the construction of the gym. We also had some help from the Carpenter up in the DEW to start off the structure, SSgt Lee was also there to fit the lights. It was slow hard work but in the end the ‗Hammett & Bakeberg Construction Company‘ managed to get it built. We had to endure continuous heat, sun and sweat, but it was rewarding to see the end result. 44 Hq & Sp Sqn are now the proud owners of the 2nd best gym on Camp Bastion 1. The new 44 Sqn gym, with a professional Royal Engineer touch
Me again and I can say that the weather has changed again since my last blog to you. We have not had any more rain but the days have cooled off and the nights are very chilly. I must say there are some funny sights around here at the moment trying to keep warm, and yes there are some that insist on wearing vests and shorts. (they never learn). Personally I am wrapping up warm. I think that is the end of my sunbathing. Anyway back to the blog.
27 October 2011 For the fourth of my blogs I have visited two dads that work in completely different areas, but never the less, carry out very important jobs out here. The first dad I met today was WO2 (SSM) Jim Blower. Jim is the SSM of the Sqn that checks all the roads and tracks that we use are safe, a very difficult job indeed and Jim is the senior soldier within this Sqn. He sets the standards that his men need to aspire too and ensure that those standards are followed. Jim will also ensure that all the men and women in his Sqn have all the correct training to carry out their jobs and inevitably keep us safe. He will be the font of all knowledge when required by his OC, Tp Comds, SNCOs and JNCOs and be the sounding board when needed. Jim can often be seen pulling wheelies on his Quad bike around Camp bastion. Jim would like to send his love to his wife Lorraine and their children Laurie (19), who is studying Archiology at Northumbria University and liam (15) and wants to say he misses them and can‘t wait to see you all on R&R. The second dad of the day is LCpl (Our Terry) King. Now Terry works in the operations Room (ops rm) within the HQ Sqn as a communications specialist. Considering the job we carryout here can sometimes be dangerouse, Terry has a really important role ensuring that al the men in his Sqn are trained how to use the radio equipment that they take on operations and that the ops rm he works in can communicate to them and their vehicles. Now Terry is also becoming a bit of a brew KING and is renownd for his skills at making coffee. Being a keen Everton FC fan he can often be seen cheering himself up with a coffee when they lose. Terry would like to send a special message to his wife Kelly and their children, Callum (7), Kaitlyn (4) and lsighton (11 mths). I am very proud of you kids, keep up the good work at school and the help you are giving mummy around the house and I am sure that Father Christmas will bring you all you ask for. Kelly; it won‘t be to long until I am home babe and I love and miss you all very much. Keep doing what you are doing and time will fly by.
To finish off, we managed to visit the Apache Attack Helicopters and had a really good time.
LCpl (Top Gun)
Me on the 30mmCannon
Well kids that‘s me off to the KFC for a zinger burger with WO2 Si (max muscles) Reynolds who I think lives there.
Remember every day away is a day closer to seeing you
Ellie out X
77 TALISMAN SQUADRON NEWS Officer Commanding Foreword
Dear Friends and Family of The Talisman Squadron,
Greetings from Afghanistan! Those who deployed with the main body of the Squadron have been here for approximately 2 months. We have now established a routine and settled into our living space. Most importantly, we have now adapted the way we were trained to meet the realities of our environment. This process will continue throughout our tour and there will be plenty of challenges ahead. We will also need to keep an eye to the future and 25 Fd Sqn, who will replace us. They are actually deploying to Jordan for their main training event as I write this. The six months since we were on our way out to Jordan seems a long time ago now.
The last couple of weeks have been relatively steady for us with troops having a reasonable amount of time before going onto the ground. That has recently changed and we now have 2 troops out, with plenty in the pipeline. The work is becoming more interesting and varied – perhaps as the Ground Holding Battle Groups become more familiar with our capabilities?
All remain on good form; we are keeping fit and healthy and are always appreciative of your support, in whichever way that is received. We are thinking of you and looking forward to seeing you on R and R, which for some is not far away at all!
Take Care Major Sam Hughes
Dangerous Dave and Buffalo Bills
By LCpl Dave Walker 10 Tp
After not doing any carpentry for over 3 years, being tasked with building a welfare facility for the Sqn seemed quite a daunting task! With just a hammer, saw and a tape measure that SSgt Warren had randomly acquired; we got on with it. Most of the help I received was much appreciated but there were certain people like Spr 'H' Harrison who would try their hardest and still make my job twice as long. Padres help was definitely more valuable! I was given a long list of things that had been requested for the facility, but we were not given any wood, so at first we were salvaging old pallets and packing. In time, we did get some wood and cracked on with picnic tables and benches. The hardest part of my job was not biting when people would come in to the welfare tent, wobble a chair and make stupid comments about how dangerous it was when it hadn't even been finished. It would happen every day without fail. At the end of our time as duty wood butchers we achieved quite a lot in such a short time. We Timber on its way kitted the welfare room out with benches (which were later moved by air to the smoking tent!!!) chairs, tables and even a projector screen. I did, however, have the last laugh at the next troop that had to carry on with the task. I would have my revenge at those that mocked me! Laugh no more at my picnic benches! Even the Padre was on available to lend a helping hand
When one of the other troops took over, they carried on making benches but, clearly, the workmanship was not as good as mine. Highlight of the ‗revenge period‘ was the Squadron Operations Officer, Capt ‗Bus-stop‘ Bostock, screaming like a little girl as the bench toppled over in the middle of the Saturday night quiz. Buffalo Bills is coming on a treat now and the Sqn at last have somewhere to congregate, watch TV and chill out. Darts anyone?
11 Tp go north!
By SSgt Steve Salter 11 Tp SSgt
After the completion of another Logistic supply convoys, we had the prospect of a steady 5 days to prepare for the next one, that was until Capt Mike ‗Troopy‘ Barrett returned from the morning Orders Group with the call of ―Do you think we can roll out tomorrow morning?‖ Well after a bit of rapid calculations it was decided that we could, especially if it meant a different task. A busy day of vehicle preparation was completed under the watchful eye of Cpl ―Ole Man‖ Dickson, with Spr Jamie Van-V earning rare praise from our Fitter Section for his vehicle. Well done V! Cpls Gary Webster and Yaz Yaravoli set about collecting all of the search equipment from the surprisingly strict Troop Search Storeman, Spr Dale Broadley. This sounds simple but ‗blood from a stone‘ comes to mind. Not even Troopy can get anything on faith with this one!
I do not think you will get home in that? After a long day for all, with REME putting another good show of getting all our vehicles through, we were ready to go. After a brief sleep, we were off with the usual slickness. Despite SSgt ―Homing Pigeon‖ Salter carrying out a route deception plan (he got lost – in camp!) we got out of camp pretty sharpish. With Sgt ―Eddie‖ Edwards leading the way (Staff was sacked), quick but bumpy progress was made. Some moaning was heard from the rear of Spr ―Sid the Sloth‖ Blanchard‘s wagon about the bumps (it‘s the rollers lads, honest!) we managed to get through Geresk in a little over 15 minutes, no mean feat for such a busy town!
When we turned onto the route in question, we used our search team and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to search the route, with Yaz's boys searching through a group of compounds. It made the locals stop and stare, nearly making some poor local fall off his bike as he tried to out ruin its progress as it flew along the road. As we finished the route search we were intending to stop at one of the patrol bases for the night, looking forward to some well earned rest. As soon as we pulled in, Troopy disappeared only to reappear 5 minutes later with another task. We were to perform a security patrol of the route we had just cleared. Winner! We set off with our usual box of tricks to move around in darkness and scanning for any wrong doing. Much to the disappointment of our heavy machine-gun operators, our presence seemed to have put off the bad boys. Shame because they have been itching to get stuck in with these weapons! The following morning was the return leg and we were soon all safe back in Bastion in time for tea and medals and, of course, the dreaded weekly checks, thanks SQMS! But this isn't the end of the tail. As the guys took all the equipment off the wagons, the Americans decided to take a strike against Talisman itself, as one of their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle's came down fast after a training flight and crashed into the vehicle compound less than a metre from 11 Troop. The lads will claim they just looked around to see ―what it was‖ but the girlie scream is still ringing in my ears! Our plan to hold it for ransom was foiled as they watched us through the UAV‘s little camera! We decided not to risk an international incident and gave it back, but next time it‘s going on eBay!
Out on patrol
The run „up north‟
By Spr Nel 12 Tp
Last Friday saw 12 Troop deploy on our first deliberate Op. This was to be for 4 days and everyone was looking forward to getting out of Bastion for a while. We were just the 12 Troop, no logistic convoys following behind us to slow us down! We made good time travelling along Highway 1, a good road that is tarmac. We headed east through Gereshk where we encountered a lot of traffic. There were vehicles of all shapes and sizes and in various states of disrepair. It was amazing how some of them were still going. There were people everywhere as the main road passed through a major market and it gave us our first proper glimpse of Afghan normal daily life. Everyone had to slow down whilst going through the market area which enabled a couple of cheeky kids to climb onto the vehicles and to get a free ride down the high street. Once through the hectic market we were again able to make good progress to our destination of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Oulette. By now everyone‘s bum in the vehicle was numb after spending so long sat on it. Needless to say it was a welcome relief to arrive at the FOB. The view from the FOB was breathtaking, if you are into that kind of thing. The Troop settled in by getting out our cot beds and setting up our own temporary home between the vehicles and under the Afghan sky. That evening the majority of the Troop slept under the stars, which were amazing. Day 2 saw 2 tasks for us to complete. One was a short run to a Check point about 5 km away where we were to lead some vehicles to provide essential stores and some essential engineer supplies. We then went to a Patrol Base however on the way we had a pause due to two vehicles getting bogged in some soft sand, so much for an early finish!! Once they were recovered we cracked on and our artillery lads managed to get their first flight of the T-Hawk UAV of the tour, which they were chuffed about. They were to go on and complete 8 flights in total, it was about time they did some work!! On day 3 we had a further two Check Points to visit to deliver stores and supplies. It was not all work, and time for Op Massive was still found with Staff doing pulls up at the rear of our vehicle closely followed by Sgt Terris in-between catching some rays. There is always time for a pull up or two
Is that a space ship?
Day four saw us return back to home sweet home, Bastion. The last four days were really good and I could do that for the next six months. It was really good to be just 12 Troop on our own and doing our own tasks.
I can not believe the food is that bad
It‟s a hard life in the LAD
By SSgt Simmo Simpson 77 Sqn Fitter Section
We‘ve had a change over the past two weeks. After an LAD get together we decided that we were working all far too hard so we came up The LAD monkey-ing with a new daily routine that around seems to be working well so far. We now start around half nine where upon we have a brew and decide on the plan of action for the day, this lasts roughly until NAAFI break at ten where the darts come out. Darts are always hotly contested and the games have been having a tendency of running on slightly longer than the NAAFI break period but are always finished by lunch time. We usually manage to fit a movie in during lunch break and are back in work by midafternoon.
A lot of hard work has gone into the upgrade of our darts area and we are happy to announce that it is now complete and fitted with overhead lighting for the extra ‗Lakeside‘ feel. Cfn Sean Mellam is starting to show the rest of us a clean pair of heels when it comes to hitting doubles so we now incorporate a half hour practice session in the afternoon to give the rest of us a chance when it comes to hitting that big check out. A pilot you say?....Trust me the girls will not fall for that one!
On a slightly more serious note, aside from playing darts, we have had another extremely busy couple of weeks. Work is a constant cycle of preparing for operations, conducting the operation and then the repair and regeneration of all the vehicles on their safe return to camp. Intermingled with the massive work load we do manage some downtime, Cfn ‗Poppet‘ Wainwright is still on the path to massiveness while LCpl Craig Walkers‘ moustache continues to colour a deeper shade of ‗African Sunset‘ much to the amusement of everyone else. Again we would all like to pass on our thanks for the continued support, letters and parcels from home.
The LAD team
Again…...the girls will not be fooled
Introducing the Seniors
By WO2 (SSM) Jim Blower
You‘ve read all the stuff from the lads and I thought it was about time to introduce the people who do all the work in the Sqn, the Staff Sergeants and Sergeants! I know that they carry the burden without much praise so now is the chance to ‗big them up‘. I‘m sure you‘ve heard it all before – ‗they just tell the lads what to do and they do it‘ and you may be right. Coffees and teas don‘t drink themselves you know! There is a group of them who work so hard, they need to lie down at lunchtime. For reasons of anonymity, I will just call them John, Bruce and Pat. Now these 3 amigos reckon that it is essential to get some valuable vitamin D each day, so like good, keen blokes, they manage their time to ensure they get some sunrays. Now it is far from me to criticise but some of the lads have started to mistake ‗John‘ for a locally employed civilian and have started to place orders for curries with him. John and Bruce are also on Op MASSIVE (the building of muscles) but appear to have misunderstood the reason and have been spotted eating their bodyweight daily in the
Exciting, US rations cookhouse.
Pat (or McNab as he is known) is very aware of Operational Security (OPSEC) and insists on having no photos taken of him. I‘ve got some though. The rest of the lads, on the other hand, love the The Flying Engineers
Where is the „hear no evil speak no evil?‟ camera! Jay and Ed love flying in helicopters so much that they have applied to do the Army pilots course.
One of the true heroes of the Sqn is Mick. Now Mick is in charge of putting things on shelves and not giving them out, a job he does extremely well. He is even known to smile, but I think that is just an urban myth. However, he is getting a run for his money by Ski. Ski deals with the paperwork for the trucks in the Sqn and is equally a ‗happy-go-lucky‘ soul. Ski and Mick have been known to go off together to have a ‗good smile‘ – although this is only a rumour. To allow us to communicate out here in Afghanistan, we have the 2 Andys. Each one brings their own unique skills to the party, although we are still to find out what those are and where the party is. To be fair, flights on helicopters are quickly arranged by ‗Andy the Check-in-chick‘ and the quad bike is constantly booked out by ‗Andy the Quad‘, although nobody knows what he does with it. I think he rides around pretending to be me. The trucks in the Sqn would not even move if it wasn‘t for Pete and Al. Both can be found on a daily basis up to their elbows in grease and oil, but More Seniors……….. enough about their fetishes! Al is thinking of joining ranks with Mick and Ski but Al does smile once in a while so was instantly excluded from that unique club. Pete just sends letters to all and sundry in the hope that a) he might make a friend and b) he gets sent some goodies from one of the number of rubbish soap opera‘s on TV. His current prized possession is his signed poster of the cast of Coronation St, which he displays in his bed-space and kisses goodnight to each cast member.
Last but by no means least is Steve. The reason I have left Steve until last is because I More Seniors……….. thought I would give him one final chance to explain his moustache. Alas, he has still not given a good enough reason (apart from his love of Queen songs and Magnum PI re-runs). I can only assure all the readers that this ‗child scarer‘ monstrosity will be removed before we get home. Moustache wax would make a good present for Steve. You‘ve heard about the seniors, well what about me you ask? As the Squadron Sergeant Major, I am like Mary Poppins – practically perfect in every way! NEWSFLASH – The ‗tasche‘ has gone!! And to finish off...one more Senior
28 OCT It seems to me that a happy sapper is one who either has a saw or screwdriver or hammer in their hand! That has certainly been my experience recently as I have watched Bastion‘s rival to Ikea taking shape in various places. The ability to make picnic benches, tables, settees, notice boards, picture frames and just about anything else out of pieces of good, and some not-so-good, wood has been shown to be something at which 35 Engr Regt excel. In spite of their claims that they joined to be just about anything else but chippies, the ingenuity, creativity and at times brute force of many is great to watch and in which to be involved. Somewhere on a camera there is a photograph of me kneeling on top of a large piece of board on top of a picnic table, with a circular saw dangerously close to my knees! Proof that a padre has many aspects to her role! Being part of a winning quiz team on two occasions also seems to be a part of my role as Talisman Sqn hold regular quiz evenings in their newly acquired and furnished (see above) welfare area. No names mentioned but I always knew I could trust the LAD to be ahead of the game! I have had opportunities to get out to other main bases and visit RHQ and part of 37 Sqn. (Obviously involved more helicopter flights but so far have been able to keep my stomach where it should be! Also having the RSM check up on me to make sure that I am NOT taking travel pills seems to be all part of his remit?!) All seemed well but a sense that the first few months are done now and the adrenalin rush and surge is over, places are sorted out, working areas and systems in place and… hmmmm, this is for real now and there is still a long way to go. I am sure that is echoed at home where the initial rush of visitors, trips out and reorganising of family dynamics is over with the same sense of….this is for real now and there is still a long way to go. We all deal with these changes in different ways and all need to respect each other‘s ways of doing so. As we enter a period of Remembrance at this time of year we face one of those tensions that bring us to a point of uncomfortable reflection. We gladly accept the blood-red poppy as a symbol of those who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of peace and yet, here in Afghanistan, the poppy represents, in stark reality, all that we are standing against. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. God keep you Padre Clare Callanan
Remember, remember the fifth of November Gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder and treason
Q U S N L M H D G R I E L K R X P L O T E R I F N U F R U O E D O L P T R E A S E B M E V S K R O W
Something to colour
FIREWORKS GUNPOWDER BONFIRE
TREASON PLOT NOVEMBER
Don’t forget the Fireworks code Children and stay safe.
The Big „Tache‟ Off
One theme which is frighteningly obvious with all the photos that are submitted for the Trojan Times is the amount of Moustaches that are being grown around Helmand. Here is a select few of the best (worst). „Can you spot your tache?‟
The Big „Tache‟ Off
And now how a „tache‟ should really look.
This week in Toejam we turn our attention to nature. Our resident wannabe David Bellamy; Tuisis Pastiticus has been studying the RHQ fauna for several months now. Risking life and limb to get close to these wild and dangerous beasts, he developed a bond with them. ―I had to search hard and when I found them it was hard to gain their trust. They are naturally suspicious creatures but I was able to win their trust by keeping them up to date with my movements and ensuring my reports and returns were in on time‖ In another Toejam first, he reveals all about the wild and fascinating creatures that put the ‗mental‘ into Regimental Headquarter: Alandicus Scottimus (Banteras Ludicous) Sex: Female. Species: AVATAR. Nicknames: Scotty, Alandapops, ‗the female Chuck Norris‘ Distinguishing features: Blue Skin, Large Hands. Characteristics: 1. Full capacity for speech but speaks in its own diverse random language often associated with English but with no discernable structure. Extreme athleticism. Cannot be contained in a room without severe danger of bouncing around it. Highly allergic to all forms of alcohol WARNING do not let this animal drink alcohol - a highly volatile reaction will occur!
Natural Habitat: In the gym or on any form of two wheeled, self propelled transport. Nichodimas Piperas (Banteras Toobusimus) Sex: Male. Species: Ape. Nicknames: Pipes, Piper, Nicodemas. Distinguishing features: Back combed hair over bald pate - barrel like chest. Characteristics: 1. 2. 3. Broad ‗I‘m carrying the rest of RHQ like‘ shoulders Tendency to get lost on trips without warm kit. Zero tolerance for the species ‗Tooeyessees‘
Natural Habitat: Stuck to his office chair, taking phone calls from people he dislikes about stuff he couldn‘t care less about.
Jimus Ryandyle (Banteras Whitticus) Sex: Male. Species: Howler Monkey. Nicknames: Jimmy, IO. Distinguishing features: One eye brow permanently raised (and very bushy) Characteristics: 1. 2. 3. Sardonic Wit. Utter distain and intolerance for those with a poor grasp and grammar and language. Highly inflates opinion of self worth and belief that all other types of Banteras are being carried by the sheer epic output created by Benteras Witticus.
Natural Habitat: Buried up to head and shoulders in papers and books, manning phones when Banteras Toobusimus has managed to escape the fold. Gusolas Angoolicas (Banteras Epicus). Sex: Male. Species: Unknown. Nicknames: Adjt, Adjutantalness, Gus. Distinguishing features: Electric Shock coloured hair, built like Garth Characteristics: 1. 2. 3. Totally unshakable. Drier than the Sahara desert sand in a salt factory. With the addition of alcohol will be found shirtless and guming at all passing females sleeps alone.
Natural Habitat: Making coffee for Banteras Daddicus. Willimus Talorus (Banteras Jackimus) Sex: Male. Species: Jackdaw. Nicknames: Pirate, Will Turner, Willhelm Tightfisteinstein. Distinguishing features: Laid back, carefree attitude, dust coated wallet. Characteristics: 1. 2. 3. Tendency to wear eye patches and say ―Yarr, I‘d get the round in but, OH NO I seem to have left my wallet behind, AGAIN‖. Parrot shaped divot on RH shoulder. Ability to make money vanish, un able to open wallet.
Natural Habitat: In bed.
Jenicus Oconicus (Banteras Confusicus) Sex: Female. Species: Unknown. Nicknames: Jen, Jems. Distinguishing features: Ditzy Characteristics: 1. 2. Natural state is confused - about what she does, where she is and what the hell is going on. Suspected interloper from outside the planet ‗35‘.
Natural Habitat: Chief milk lady and brew maker for Alicus Mcccckkkkekers often found in the brew making area. Bernicus Peakus (Banteras Cocomus Reporticus). Sex: Female. Species: Fox. Nicknames: Bernie, COCO, Beanie. Distinguishing features: Flame coloured hair. Characteristics: 1. 2. 3. Likes to be in control. Collects photos of half naked men (with the lame excuse of ‗before and after‘ photos). Terrifying to the specises ‗Tooeyessees who she hounds with Media requests.
Natural Habitat: Homeless - will turn up on your door step with a camera and notebook in hand. RegiSargiMajoricus (Banteras Hardicus) Sex: Male. Species: Unknown (maybe bionic) Nicknames: RSM, Mr Mutch. Distinguishing features: Grizled veteran of war. Characteristics: 1. 2. 3. 4. Ability to spot a lack of discipline at 20 paces. Ability to spot a lack of administration at 30 paces. Fearsome bite. Eats fire and batteries only (may have once eaten a baby - unproven)
Natural Habitat: Spontaneously appears in the place of ‗most slackness‘ without warning. Can often be found with Banteras Daddicus.
Alicus Mcccckkkkekers (Banteras Grumicus) Sex: Male. Species: Mother. Nicknames: Sir, Al, ****** (unpronounceable surname). Distinguishing features: Huge bark, angry, whirlwind busy, epicentre of work. Characteristics: 1. 2. 3. 4. Likely to snap at any moment. Email diarrhoea (with complete disregard for the English language - may have spent too much time around Banteras Ludicous). Verbal diarrhoea. Most terrifying enemy of the species ‗Tooeyessees‘ likely to swamp said species with work that they are unable to complete.
Natural Habitat: Found in a variety of locations bullying all other forms of Banteras Tooeyessees. Kevicus Maximus Copsicus (Banteras Daddicus). Sex: Male. Species: Silverback. Nicknames: Big Kev, Col, CO, Sir. Distinguishing features: Battle hardened winged warrior (ref: world according to Copsicus). Characteristics: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Strong features. Huge library of war dits. Army of loyal followers. Ability to spread death and de-rankification in any situation especially to anyone ‗lofty‘ Often found shadowed by Banteras Grumpicus, Banteras Epicus or Banteras Hardicus.
Natural Habitat: Comfortable in all environments, less minefields or the back of a HUSKY.
Glossary Ranks Spr - Sapper LCpl - Lance Corporal Cpl - Corporal Sgt - Sergeant SSgt - Staff Sergeant WO2 - Warrant Officer Second Class WO1 - Warrant Officer First Class Lt - Lieutenant Capt - Captain Maj - Major Afghanistan specific terms Op - Operation, mission, task (not surgery) PB - Patrol Base CP - Check Point SANGAR - A watch tower which is manned 24 hours a day to provide protection to a base Stag - standing in the sangar keeping watch and providing protection JOB - Joint Operating Base FOB - Forward Operating Base NES (S) - Nahr-e Saraj South NES (N) - Nahr-e Saraj North NDA - Nad-e Ali TFH - Task Force Helmand ISAF - International Security Assistance Force ANSF - Afghanistan National Security Force ANA - Afghan National Army ANP - Afghan National Police IED - Improvised Explosive Device SAF - Small Arms Fire SOP - Standard Operating procedure Sub Units Tp - Troop Armd Engr Sqn - Armoured Engineer Squadron Fd Sqn - Field Squadron HQ & Sp Sqn - Headquarters and Support Squadron
HESCO - Large flat packed containers made of thick strong wire containing a large sandbag. The sandbag is filled with sand to produce a large protective brick. The individual HESCO blocks are then used like giant bricks to produce a protective wall for our bases. HLS - Helicopter Landing Site Barma - Our drill used to find Improvised Explosive Devices with a hand held metal detector. Equipment MASTIFF - Large armoured troop carrier with a with a heavy machine gun for protection. TALISMAN - A series of vehicles used to clear a route of improvised explosive devices. HUSKY - Another type of large armoured vehicle. MWT - Medium wheeled tractor (dump truck). SLDT(P) - Self Loading Dump Truck (Protected) Apache - Ugly looking attack helicopter. Chinook - Large helicopter featured in the film Big Friendly Giant. Sea-king - Royal Navy helicopter used as search and rescue in the UK. Merlin - Medium to large Royal Air Force and Navy helicopter used to move Troops around from base to base. Messages from the Editor
Thank you for all of the support from home. The Facebook page is going well and the support is appreciated by all. I am aware there are articles being written at home for the Trojan Times and I will be doing my best to get them in to the next edition. Please keep taking photos of the events laid on by the welfare team back in BFG and Aldergrove. The lads appreciate seeing what you have all been up to and that you are coping as well as you can with them being away.
If you hear any news about anything that might have happened in Afghanistan, which gives you cause for concern in any way, please get in touch with the Welfare Office on +495251101213. We will ensure that the team holds the most up to date and accurate information so that they will be able to advise you appropriately or deal with the issue. In the event of any casualties they will be able to clarify the situation, in accordance with the wishes of the individual or family. Many thanks
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