I returned to the UK last week, after a few months with the Army in Afghanistan, in Helmand Province. Without getting official permission, I can’t and won’t go into detail about my time there, not that I have any great secrets to reveal.
Mainly I was bored; quite often I was amused, or annoyed; a very few times I was scared. I saw extraordinary stoicism from British and Afghan casualties. I greatly admire the soldiers I served with- both my fellow reservists and the regulars. I am particularly grateful to several of them, for their competence in difficult situations, or for their generosity in teaching me essential skills.
Before them, there were the NCOs at Chilwell, who clearly gave a damn about the soldiers they were sending off; the girls at the opticians and the dentists, at least half of them wearing the hijab, who helped me get ready and wished me luck. And I remember the guards at Nottingham station, who asked me where I was off to, and when I told them, shook my hand and told me to stay safe.