Why Justin's late for his honeymoon

By John HowardAVOIDING the enemy, lethal spiders and wild dogs is not everyone's idea of the honeymoon period – but this was not the traditional post-marriage holiday for Justin Copland.

By John Howard

AVOIDING the enemy, lethal spiders and wild dogs is not everyone's idea of the honeymoon period – but this was not the traditional post-marriage holiday for Justin Copland.

Justin, a 20-year-old soldier, married his fiancee Polly, but then found himself sent to serve in the war against Iraq before the couple could go on their honeymoon.

The signaller with 3 UK Division Signal Regiment, spent 14 weeks in Iraq, helping ensure the military's communications were up and running, but has now returned home to East Anglia and is preparing to go on his honeymoon in the Canary Islands.


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Justin and his wife Polly, from Rendlesham near Woodbridge, were married in January after he got permission for a short weekend break, but was posted to the Gulf two weeks later.

"At the time we were near Salisbury getting all our equipment ready to go out there and I had to ask permission to come back and get married," he said.

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"I was sent out to Kuwait and Iraq and, serving with the signals, we had to set up a network for the soldiers, like mobile phone companies would. Basically, we provided the infantry with communications.

"We moved in to one place near Basra and the fighting had only stopped one-and-a-half hours before we got there. As we drove up we saw burnt-out tanks."

Justin added: "There were wild dogs running about and camel spiders out there too, twice the size of a tarantula, that inject anaesthetic and then eat away at you while you sleep.

"In Iraq it was 50 degrees C nearly, you would break in to a sweat just walking back from the shower. It was an experience, will help my career, but not one I enjoyed."

Justin still managed to find time to smile and, as an Ipswich Town fan, was keen to fly the flag for the Blues in the desert at every opportunity.

"In Iraq it was too hot to sleep in the tents, it was boiling all night long and we slept by the side of our trucks.

"It will be 30 degrees C in Lanzarote and everyone has been saying 'Surely you do not want to go somewhere hot?' But it will be a bit different when you have a can and are by the pool."

Polly, 20, said the couple were looking forward to having some time together away and added: "When Justin was out there, for the first couple of weeks the whole family was addicted to the news, watching television all the time.

"When the war was over and we started hearing from him and getting letters, it was a lot better. I am just pleased to have him home."

Justin was born and raised in Ipswich, joining the Army at the age of 16. His wife was born in Norwich and also served in the Army, but left to be a mother. The couple have two children, Tamsin, two, and Tia, nine months.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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