Soldiers return from tour of duty
FIVE SOLDIERS from the Territorial Army returned home to north Suffolk this week from a six-month tour of Iraq.Privates Jonathan Bell, Adam Crossman, Marcus Lehman, Kevin Pollard and Jamie Smartfrom A Company, East of England Regiment (Volunteers) returned to Lowestoft from the war-torn country.
FIVE SOLDIERS from the Territorial Army returned home to north Suffolk this week from a six-month tour of Iraq.
Privates Jonathan Bell, Adam Crossman, Marcus Lehman, Kevin Pollard and Jamie Smartfrom A Company, East of England Regiment (Volunteers) returned to Lowestoft from the war-torn country.
Working together as part of a platoon, the five carried out foot patrols, manned vehicle checkpoints and escorted vehicles around Basra International Airport, ShaibahLogistics Base and Basra Palace.
Postman Pte Bell, 22, said: “Whilst based at the Palace we were accommodated in a villa in the grounds, the grounds were beautiful and had obviously been well kept, but you can't beat home.
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Pte Crossman, 20, a motor mechanic, spoke of his culture shock and the local people.
“It was a real eye-opener. Working with local interpreters we were able to talk to the local people, the majority of the people were thankful that we were there and were very welcoming. Of course there were the odd few that really didn't want us there, but we had a job to do, we just got on with it.”
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Norwich Union worker Pte Lehman, 30, said he had missed home and his partner Wendy and was looking forward to getting into a normal routine, but would always remember the terrific heat and the Iraqi people.
“When we first arrived the heat was unbelievable - it felt like we were walking into an oven but we gradually acclimatised.
“The people were very nice, they were always trying to sell you little gifts. I bought a dish-dash, which is what the men wear and I also bought back some old money to keep as a reminder of my time over there”, he said.
The five missed Christmas but according to father-of-two Pte Pollard, the time flew.
The forty-one-year-old painter and decorator said: “We were too busy concentrating on the work we had to do. It was a bit like a normal day, although we did have Christmas dinner and decorations. We didn't have the build up to Christmas like we would have had back here. There was no High Street to shop in, or TV commercials to watch, so we didn't miss it that much because we weren't reminded of it as much as if we had been back home.”
CaptainTam Steele, Permanent Staff Admin Officerat the St Peters Street office in Lowestoft, said: “All the soldiers have done a great job. They have a lot to be proud of and the Company is pleased to see them back.”