12/11/2011 Remembrance Week


12/11/2011

Gethin Jones is in Afghanistan to honour those that have fought there, and reflect on all the other servicemen and women who have taken part in past conflicts.


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Transcript


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I'm in Camp Bastion, Helmand province, the heart of British

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operations in Afghanistan. We'll be celebrating the heroic jobs that

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our armed forces do, as well as reflectsing on those who've given

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their lives, both here and in past conflicts around the world. This is

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Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday, the day we honour those who have given

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their lives for their country. In the lead up to this National

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Service of Remembrance, we tell the real stories of the people who

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march past the Cenotaph on Whitehall. Coming up on today's

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programme: A former paratrooper remembers his biggest battle on the

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Falkland Islands. Your instinct is to take cover. But you're in a

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minefield. We hear from the forces' original

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sweet heart, Dame Vera Lynn. thought, right, just a lipstick

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will have to do and that's how I worked, with my kaki and lipstick.

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That was a necessity. And I'm privileged to be in the

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operation room on a front-line patrol base.

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By using all the intelligence they have in here, they've identified

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The term band of brothers is often used to describe the camraderie in

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the ormed forces. The -- armed forces. The next story shows how

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deep the bonds are and how they can last forever.

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In 1982, these four young lads were just 17 years old and true brothers

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in arms. 29 years on, Mark Eyles-Thomas

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fondly remembers his friends. Jason Bert was an East Ender, a

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Londoner, very good looking, handsome chap. He knew that and

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could work that with the ladies. Neil Grouse talked to his family

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all the time, you know, his sister, his brother. He was very family

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orientated. Ian Scrivens was a lad from Yeovil, in the West Country,

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and talked funny and had a tractor, but he didn't. Mark, Jason, Neil

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and Ian were junior Paras, the first step to becoming part of one

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of the most elite units in the British Army, the Parachute

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Regiment. How can you sum up being a paratrooper? When you pass out,

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it's the proudest day of your life. I'm not sure that a lot of people

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understand what you've gone through or will ever understand. It doesn't

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matter how bad the situation is, you're still expected to go on.

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There's still more you could do. I've been part of one of the

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greatest regiment that the British Army have had ever. I will love

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that to the day I go. In April 1982, their unit was sent to the Falkland

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Islands, a remote UK overseas territory in the South Atlantic,

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which had been invaded by Argentinean forces. You're with

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your friends. We were cocky little 16-year-olds. Imagine what we're

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going to be like now, when we get back. We're going to be 18, medal,

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money, oh, everyone's going to love But for these soldiers, the reality

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of war was about to hit home, when the order was given to secure mown

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Court Suzanne Lenglen. The date of this mission was -- secure Mount

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Longdon, the date of the mission was set. We got together to say

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happy 18th birthday to Neil Grouse. We congregated on his basher, where

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he was sleeping. We had a cup of tea and a chat about saying happy

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birthday and let's hope it's a good party this evening and all that

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kind of thing. And you know, because of what we're doing tonight,

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when we get back, we'll make sure it's a super special one. But for

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this group of boys, success would come at a high price.

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As they prepared to go to battle, three Paras commanding officer

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addressed the men He ended with the words "May your God go with you."

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It's the first time I thought, oh, hang on, some of us aren't coming

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back from this. The realisation hit me like nothing else had hit me

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throughout the period I'd been there.

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Mount Longdon was six kilometres from the base, therefore the

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element of surprise was vital. As they moved forward, they walked

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straight no a minefield. All hell broke loose from that moment. The

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whole place just erupts with a firefight. You're instinct is

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immediately to go to ground and take cover. But you're in a

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minefield. My whole body knew what was going on. The weapon was

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shaking in my hand, you know. Whether that be from the cold, from

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the intensity of the moment, from fear, it doesn't matter. I just

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related to what was happening to me at that time. This is the biggest

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fire work display that you have ever seen in your life, but with no

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fun behind it. It was sheer violence to kill you. Mark, Jason,

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Ian and Neil made it through the minefield unscathed and continued

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their advance with their unit to Mount Longdon. The initial parts of

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getting up to Longdon were chaos. It's pitch dark. You would pick up

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the occasional silhouette moving. It could be an Argentinean, could

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be one of your own. You really didn't know. You could hear the

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Spanish being spoken or whatever, because it was that close. But it

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would be right of you, left of you, you know. It was absolute chaos.

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When they reached the base of Mount Longdon, the atmosphere changed

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dramatically. It was a full moon that night. You can see the glint

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of the bayonets and the Metal. You could see the breath on the blokes.

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Time just stops. It just stands still. It's just, there is nothing.

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No-one's talking. There is no noise whatsoever. Then charge. This has

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got to happen quickly and all the time, we're running across that

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ground, we're vulnerable. They were under attack from Argentinean

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snipers, positioned on high ground. As we were running, I felt Jas go

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down. I acrawled back to retrace the steps. There's Jas. He was

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laying with his face down. I turn him onto one shoulder and he had

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been shot. 17-year-old Jason Bert died instantly, but Mark had no

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time to grieve, as another of his friends was badly wounded. It was

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then Scrivs, called out again to say "I'm actually with Neil. He's

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in a bad way." Scrivs had stabilised him and put a dressing

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over the wound. This was it in real action, where a man was trying to

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do everything for his friend. Scrivs said to me, "We've got to

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move him. We can't stay here. He's out in the open." Eventually the

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sniper was going to get us. I put my hand on to say, "-- "Right we'll

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move him." As I went to put my hand ond his shoulder, he was shot.

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second of Mark's close friend Ian Scrivens had lost his life in the

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line of duty. On his birthday, and in a life-threatening condition,

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Neil Grouse was stretchered off the mountain. The held him and I think

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he knew that this was it. He spoke of his family, of how much he loved

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them. Incredibly brave with his impending fate. Yes, he thanked me.

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He said... "Thanks, Tom" Two words. Just personal moments, you know,

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very difficult. Mark's three best friends had all made the ultimate

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sacrifice. You know it's all over. Jas is dead,

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Ian Scrivens is dead, Neil Grouse These three friends and the other

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37 paratroopers who lost their lives are commemorated here at the

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Aldershot Cemetery. I love coming here. I sit on a bench, have a

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drink, have a chat, tell them about what's going on in my life. These

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are just their new bed spaces. That's where they rest. The truth

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is you're just coming to visit Afghanistan has been a war zone for

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over 30 years. As a result, local communities have been destroyed.

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Everything we take for granted back home, like running water,

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electricity and education, are non- existent here. But there's a team

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within the British armed forces who are working alongside the local

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people to change this. I'm flying to Checkpoint Jeka,

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which is in the heart of Helmand's infamous Green Zone. In the past,

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areas like these have been ruined by brutal fighting. I'm here to

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find out from sergeant Neil Shinner how British troops are helping to

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rebuilt these local innocent communities. Back home in the UK,

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we hear a lot about the bad news about the fighting, about the

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kinetic activity. But it's not all negative. There are positives as

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well. You're part of that. It can be very positive. I'm a

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stabilisation operator. Stabilisation seems to be the big

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word here. What exactly does that mean? Put it into context, within

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the UK, we take everything for granted. We've got our schools. We

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have got our hospitals, medical centres, decent roads. However,

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within this country, there is nothing. So British troops like

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Neil are working hand in hand with Afghan soldiers and civilians in a

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number of community projects. They build roads and drill wells, but

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the most important thing is education. So Neil is taking me to

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see a newly built school. The school is not far from this

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checkpoint. We're going to be on foot patrol. But we still have to

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be in all the gear and my particular favourite, the nappy. It

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might not look the best, but it's all about protection.

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Just out there is Helmand. That's where the danger is. We have the

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team around us, just in case. The moment we walk out of these gates,

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we'll be exposed to the threat of attack. We're in the heart of Green

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Zone, then? Yes. Very peaceful, isn't it? At the moment. However, I

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will probably say two years ago, it would have been a different story

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around this area. That's what it is, it's predominantly around here,

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it's just a farming community. We're talking wheat, corn, a lot of

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them have fruit trees, pomegranate. This is the school. This is it?

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It's not the kind of standard you would probably see in the UK. So,

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this is a typical classroom. As you can see, anybody in the UK's

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looking at this will probably think "it doesn't look much." once we

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have carpets down, the rugs, the pillows that they sit on, a white

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board, the teacher, we've got kids learning. The school is a massive

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part of any community. So all the time you're trying to instill that

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trust back into the authority, the local authority and the local

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police. You can do that through a I think we have our first pupils.

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Hello. Shake hands? Hello. When you can count to ten, I'll give you my

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watch, OK? The children I've met today will finally have a base,

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somewhere to come to every day to get their education in this

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fantastic set up. Hopefully, they won't be influenced in the future

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by the bad, by the Taliban. They'll take a different route, that route

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will be a peaceful one and a normal As we head back to the base, the

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atmosphere changes around us. Have they seen something? Oh my God,

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they have been spooked by something. Such the strangest thing, at such a

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peaceful community. It can change just like that. Improvements are

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being made, so, hopefully, these children will have a safe place to

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live very soon. We have a saying out here that the people are the

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prize. Everybody who operates out here does believe that. Eventually,

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we will be able to leave and leave this country in a better state than

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what we found it, when we first Still to come: We hear the

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courageous story of a Royal Marine who survived a Taliban bomb. After

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that, I knew this is it, nothing's going to stop me, simple as.

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This series is all about exceptional bravery, courage and,

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in the case of our next story, the ability to cope in extreme

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environments. In the Second World War, Burma rifleman Major Neville

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Hogan was part of an elite special force known as the Chindits.

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Chindits role was to challenge the Japanese at jungle warfare. We

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became special because we went behind the lines. The Chindits were

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the pioneers of jungle guerrilla warfare and the brainchild of Major

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General Orde Wingate, the British man who named them after a feature

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of Burmese temples. Chindit, dragons in Burma, they keep away

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the evil spirit. Wingate being Wingate, Chindit, a forceful name -

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Chindit. Before the war, Burma was part of the British Empire, but in

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1942 the Japanese invaded in a bid to control the country's natural

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resources and extend their power into South East Asia. The only way

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to forge a successful counterattack was to have a special army of

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soldiers. You trained to be a Chindit, you had to survive in the

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jungle. You did everything at the double. You never walked. You

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trotted the whole way. The only way to get deep into the Burma jungle

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behind enemy lines was to fly in by gliders. You are up in this glider

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and you are freezing cold. The next moment and the pilot said, and they

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have released us - there's no more noise. Then you are coming down, it

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is getting hotter and hotter. You can feel the heat going up your

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nose. We were supposed to come down at 75mph. We were coming down at

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150mph because of the hills. They didn't cater for the hills. It

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didn'ts the paddy field, hell breaks out. -- it hits the paddy

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field, hell breaks out. There's weeds coming up through the window

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and you are sitting there and you can't do a damn thing about it.

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After landing, Neville rounded up his secret army and prepared for

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battle. My full title was Recognisance Platoon Commander. I

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go ahead of the column, the column is 400 men - that's a lot of men -

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and a hundred mules. I have to find where light planes can land to take

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away our wounded. On 5th March, 1944, 3,000 Chindits, Wingate among

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them, began their mission into the heart of Burma. They faced two

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enemies - the Japanese and the jungle. There's the jungle with the

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trees with the creepers coming down. You have to hack your way through.

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Then there's the elephant grass. That's grass seven-foot-high. They

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have sharp edges and you have to walk through it. Your clothes are

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torn. Then the dust coming down on you. Sometimes a column would do

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eight miles a day, starting at 4.30am in the morning, finishing at

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5.00pm, doing a 12-hour day. You only do eight miles because the

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jungle is that thick. All I can remember is the man in front of me,

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or the mule with his tale in front of me swishing. The Chindits were

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an international fighting force. had some wonderful troops. I was

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born and bred in Burma, and it was tough for us. I never saw one

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person go back one foot. If we went forward in line, we were all there,

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to fight. Initially, the Chindits had taken the enemy by surprise,

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but soon the Japanese were fighting back. I was a soldier. I took what

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came. Even in the jungle when you are ambushed, your heart goes into

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your mouth and fear takes over. Then you fight. And you keep on

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fighting. And you are all over the place looking. Fire and fire quick.

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Get them first before they got you. Then when you stand up, "Oh my God,

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I'm still alive!" You are glad to be alive, that's all. To survive

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behind enemy lines for long periods, the Chindits had to be supplied by

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air, but this wasn't reliable, so they had to be resourceful. You get

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bamboo as thick as that and the green is hard. Where the join is,

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that is the soft spot. You cut that, there is water in there to drink.

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The British boys are not used to that, it is about that long. Bamboo

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you must cut upwards and you must go where the join is. They do it

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this way. The foliage was so dense it was easy to get lost so it was

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important to follow strict instructions, even when going to

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the toilet. You had to go in pairs. You walked about 10, 15, 20 paces

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away from the column, the two of you, then you would turn your backs

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to each other and then you did ten paces out and you dug a hole and

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you did your business and you came back - they don't come back,

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they've done a wrong turn. Surviving in these conditions was

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tough. Always hungry, always dirty. Always wet. You were wet with the

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rain, you were wet with fear. All your clothes were always damp and

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wet. Just tired of being tired. I cried at night sometimes. All you

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can think of is food. So Neville and his comrades ate whatever they

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could find. I thought about monkey, monkey flesh is very lovely. They

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only live on berries. They had blowpipes because they couldn't

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fire a gun because it would give our position away. Neville fought

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and survived for four months, deep in the heart of the Burmese jungle.

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But the severe conditions caught up with him in 1944. I was in hospital

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having been bitten by rats. I had pneumonia and malaria. Then Dame

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Vera Lynn came round. I said, "Kiss me, Vera." And I can tell everybody

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you kissed me. I met her again a few years back. I said, "You kissed

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me on 25th July 1944." She said, "How can you remember that?" I said,

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"I was 21 years old!" Neville was then sent to release interns from a

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Japanese camp where he met a girl called Glory Rose. By the time I

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got to her camp, there was no fighting, the Japanese had

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retreated. I was amazed at what he had done during the war. I didn't

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believe anybody could do so much. She was cooking, making rice cakes.

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I thought he was a bit of a nuisance, disturbing me cooking!

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LAUGHTER Happy, always smiling. A damn good cook. I'm very proud of

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him. Neville and Glory Rose were married in 1949 and celebrated

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their 62nd anniversary this year. For Neville and his fellow Chindits,

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their legacy lives on. What the SAS is doing now, they are taking it

:24:51.:24:58.

from us. And I could be quite dangerous even now, I think. We are

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proud that we were the Chindits. Everyone did their bit. Otherwise

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you could not have overrun Burma. Every single one was a warrior. I'm

:25:09.:25:19.
:25:19.:25:21.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the British mission

:25:21.:25:27.

here in Afghanistan. For many, it's changed their lives forever. Pete

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and Laura met when they were 16- years-old. But little did they know

:25:31.:25:37.

it would be the beginning of a very special journey. As corny as it

:25:37.:25:42.

sounds, I was the waitress and he worked in the kitchen. I really

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enjoyed working with her. She had a great personality and sense of

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humour and good looks - that always helps! We had a little bit of an

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involvement then, but it never became anything special, so we go

:25:57.:26:02.

back a long way. But they soon drifted apart and Pete decided he

:26:03.:26:08.

needed a serious challenge. I don't know what went off in my head, what

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about the Marines? Why not? Let's give it a go. I definitely felt

:26:13.:26:18.

when I had that green lid on my head I was six foot tall and

:26:18.:26:26.

bullet-proof. In 2008, Pete was nearing the end of his second tour

:26:26.:26:33.

of Afghanistan when his life was turned upside-down. That morning we

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were packing up the vehicles, the mission had been finished and we

:26:37.:26:42.

were on the move back to Camp Bastion and then it would have only

:26:42.:26:49.

been ten or 11 days and I would have been flying home. I was the

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second to last vehicle and we literally started to move off and

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that's all I can remember to be honest. Pete's vehicle had driven

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over a buried bomb. He lost both his legs, suffered severe burns and

:27:05.:27:13.

had a fractured spine. My first real memory of it was I was lying

:27:13.:27:18.

in Selly Oak Hospital and obviously I couldn't sit up. In my head I was

:27:18.:27:23.

thinking, "This is it, that's me, done and dusted." What have I got

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for myself? Got no legs. Can't sit up. Can't do anything. Who is going

:27:29.:27:34.

to love me? Despite being a double amputee, the first hurdle Pete had

:27:34.:27:40.

to face was a major back operation which was successful. After that, I

:27:40.:27:46.

knew, right, this is it, nothing is going to stop me now, simple as.

:27:46.:27:52.

This is done, I'm getting out of here. In an awe-inspiring three-

:27:53.:27:56.

months Pete was ready to be fitted with two prosthetic legs. When I

:27:56.:28:00.

stood up for the first time, it was brilliant. I just felt like

:28:00.:28:05.

nothing's going to get in my way. Pete quickly mastered the art of

:28:05.:28:09.

walking, but this was just the beginning. The opportunity came up

:28:09.:28:17.

to do two weeks skiing in Bavaria. I thought, "Let's find out!" It did

:28:17.:28:22.

take a lot of messing about to get the balance. I wouldn't know where

:28:22.:28:27.

to start trying to guess how many falls I had, like, per day, or per

:28:27.:28:35.

week. Now, it's brilliant. I loved flying down the piste, at stupid

:28:35.:28:45.
:28:45.:28:45.

miles an hour, waiting to get told off! Through the grapevine, Laura

:28:46.:28:50.

learnt of Pete's injuries. I wanted us to be friends again because I

:28:50.:28:54.

realised that actually life is too short and it was very nearly him

:28:54.:28:58.

not coming home. So that was when I thought, right, stop being too

:28:58.:29:04.

proud, so I dropped him a message and quickly got a reply back.

:29:04.:29:12.

typed back to her and I said, "Of course I remember you." I couldn't

:29:12.:29:17.

really forget! We started chatting and then we met up. When he gave me

:29:17.:29:20.

a hug outside the pub, it was like we have rewound the last couple of

:29:20.:29:30.
:29:30.:29:33.

I knew then, when we first met up, I felt, yeah, I do still have

:29:33.:29:38.

feelings for her then, obviously, if I'm feeling like this right now.

:29:38.:29:42.

It didn't take long for there to be a bit of a romance starting up.

:29:42.:29:48.

Then he told me that the ski season was just about to start, so

:29:48.:29:52.

although we went on our first proper date and we could be a

:29:52.:29:57.

couple, he was going to leave the country for six months to learn how

:29:57.:30:00.

to ski and to ski race that. Was probably the big turning point in

:30:00.:30:05.

my life. By now Pete was already racing for the Combined Services

:30:05.:30:10.

Disabled Ski Team. Now firmly together, Laura was there for him

:30:10.:30:16.

wherever he was in the world. I've had a bad day on the slope or

:30:16.:30:22.

anything, then I know, phone her up, have a chat to her. Then I know,

:30:22.:30:25.

funnily enough, about five minutes later, I'll have a great big smile

:30:25.:30:29.

back on my face. The other side of that, there are

:30:30.:30:35.

the highs when he's picked up gold medals. I've had phone calls at

:30:35.:30:39.

work to say "I've just won a gold." The one thing you want to do is be

:30:39.:30:43.

there and give that person a big hug and a kiss. When possible,

:30:43.:30:47.

Laura travels to be by his side. Cheering him on from the side lines

:30:47.:30:52.

isn't always easy. When I heard that he'd crashed out, the course

:30:52.:30:56.

was on hold. There was no other racers allowed on and that the

:30:56.:31:02.

doctor was with him. That was very much a hands over the face and just

:31:02.:31:05.

basically waiting for every minute to tick by until I saw something

:31:05.:31:13.

that showed me that he was OK. March 2010, Pete was asked to carry

:31:13.:31:18.

the Paralympics torch in Vancouver. That day was extra special. Laura

:31:18.:31:23.

was out there and it was my 25th birthday. I couldn't ask for

:31:23.:31:27.

anything better to be honest while time that he was carrying the

:31:27.:31:32.

torch I had the proper cheesey, proud, girlfriend grin.

:31:32.:31:36.

As Pete prepared to leave with his team-mates, he had a sudden change

:31:36.:31:43.

of plan. Next minute, he gets off the bus and I'm thinking "What are

:31:43.:31:45.

you doing?" We've already said goodbye and had the tears. I'm

:31:45.:31:52.

waiting now to wave you off into the distance. I got my phone out of

:31:52.:31:59.

my pocket and I text a couple of the lads on the coach to say "Do us

:31:59.:32:07.

a favour, just get thor look this way." He's texting on his phone.

:32:07.:32:12.

You've come off the bus. We're going to have go goodbye again and

:32:12.:32:16.

you're texting somebody. What are you doing? I'm talking to her,

:32:16.:32:21.

saying yes, darling, of course darling, I'm going to miss you,

:32:21.:32:26.

very much and keeping an eye out to see when everyone's looking. She

:32:26.:32:33.

can see me. "What are you looking at? "I look and everyone's there.

:32:33.:32:39.

Just get down on one knee and asked her to marry me. I was just so

:32:39.:32:44.

blown away. Obviously the answer was yes. Then the next thought was

:32:44.:32:48.

"You'd better be able to get back up. Because I certainly can't live

:32:48.:32:53.

lift you off the floor." Just after getting engaged, Pete was offered

:32:53.:32:57.

the chance of a lifetime, to be part of the British Paralympics ski

:32:57.:33:07.
:33:07.:33:08.

team. Just have to wait and see what happens. Obviously he's

:33:08.:33:11.

representing this country again, this time on the ski slopes rather

:33:11.:33:16.

than on the battlefield. I am very proud of that. Proud of what he

:33:16.:33:23.

does. It's been a roller coaster ten years for Pete and Laura and it

:33:23.:33:27.

doesn't look like stopping. In February this year, they found out

:33:27.:33:31.

they were expecting. We've got a lot going on. We have the baby

:33:31.:33:34.

arriving at the start of the ski season and a wedding at the end.

:33:34.:33:44.
:33:44.:33:45.

Lots to get organised. Laura's brilliant. Simple as. She's

:33:45.:33:50.

helped me out in so many ways. just love having Pete in my life. I

:33:50.:33:55.

couldn't imagine not having him around. She's one in a million. I

:33:55.:34:02.

love her to bits. I'm delighted to tell you that

:34:02.:34:07.

Laura gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, called Ava.

:34:07.:34:17.
:34:17.:34:18.

Congratulations to Pete and Laura Over 9,500 British troops are

:34:18.:34:21.

deployed here in Afghanistan. In the lead up to Remembrance Sunday,

:34:22.:34:25.

I'm proud to be introducing their stories and those from past

:34:25.:34:32.

conflicts around the world. Since the beginning of the Second

:34:32.:34:36.

World War, over 16,000 men and women have given their lives

:34:36.:34:42.

serving their country. The National Memorial Arboretum in the heart of

:34:42.:34:46.

the Staffordshire is the UK's year- round centre of remembrance, a

:34:46.:34:52.

living and lasting memorial to commemorate and celebrate them all.

:34:52.:34:56.

In July, Her Majesty the Queen visited to pay her respects to

:34:56.:35:06.
:35:06.:35:09.

those who laid down their lives In the Second World War, British

:35:09.:35:13.

efforts to keep morale high gave rise to some of our most treasured

:35:13.:35:18.

entertainers. Dame Vera Lynn is without doubt the

:35:18.:35:25.

original forces sweet heart. It all started when she joined the

:35:25.:35:28.

Entertainment National Service Association, known as ENSA.

:35:28.:35:33.

boys had their own idea of what they stood for, every night

:35:33.:35:41.

something awful. So many people who had never been on stage before,

:35:41.:35:46.

suddenly decided they wanted to be a performer. They weren't always

:35:46.:35:52.

that good. Formed in 1939 by impressario Basil Dean and the

:35:52.:35:55.

British Government, an army of performers were posted around the

:35:55.:35:59.

world to entertain troops during the Second World War. If you were a

:35:59.:36:04.

working artist and you joined up, you were made good use of, I can

:36:04.:36:08.

assure you! They may not have been fighting, but they certainly about

:36:08.:36:14.

their bit. Dame Vera was just 20 when she signed up for ENSA. She

:36:14.:36:19.

already had plenty of experience. My mother put me on the stage when

:36:19.:36:26.

I was seven. I went through all the singing, the dance bands, before I

:36:26.:36:31.

started in the real profession. It was great experience. It's a good

:36:31.:36:36.

background, you know, to be able to hold people's attention in a smoky

:36:36.:36:44.

hall in a working men's club, with no microphones. By 1940, Dame

:36:44.:36:49.

Vera's sweet voice and girl next door appeal was already a huge hit

:36:49.:36:55.

with our armed forces. I'd been broadcasting to overseas and the

:36:55.:36:59.

boys and I thought it would be nice to go and see them in person, you

:36:59.:37:05.

know, actually where they were fighting and sing to them as me and

:37:05.:37:12.

not just over the radio. So I approached ENSA and suggested that

:37:12.:37:16.

I could go overseas somewhere. They said, well, where do you want to

:37:16.:37:24.

go? I said, well, Europe gets a lot of ENSA parties, so I want to go

:37:24.:37:29.

somewhere where they're not getting a lot of entertainment, if any.

:37:29.:37:34.

They said, well, Burma is the only place that nobody wants to go to. I

:37:34.:37:42.

said, well, that's where I want to In 1944, Dame Vera arrived in Burma

:37:42.:37:45.

and even though everything was rationed, it was still important

:37:45.:37:50.

for the young singer to look her best. I took a nice pretty dress

:37:50.:37:55.

with me, because I thought I would need it. I only wore it once. It

:37:55.:38:02.

was much too hot. So I just lived in kaki all the time. Make up, of

:38:02.:38:08.

course, was a no-no. I tried it once and was per spiring. It all

:38:08.:38:13.

came off, so I thought, right, just a lipstick will have to do. That's

:38:13.:38:20.

how I worked in my kaki and a lipstick. That's was a necessity!

:38:20.:38:24.

And a little bit of lippie went a long way, as thousands turned out

:38:24.:38:32.

to see her. I never imagined singing to 6,000 in one go. It was

:38:32.:38:37.

rather wonderful really, you know, just to be a little platform and

:38:37.:38:41.

look out and see all these chaps out there, spread quite a long way

:38:41.:38:45.

away. It was rather nice really to be the only girl among so many

:38:45.:38:54.

chaps. People ask me "How did they treat you?" I said, "Absolutely

:38:54.:38:58.

perfect gentlemen they all were. Treated me with the upmost respect.

:38:58.:39:04.

There was never any saucy calls or anything like that." But it wasn't

:39:04.:39:08.

only large groups Dame Vera sung to. On one occasion two injured

:39:08.:39:13.

soldiers had a special request. They were poorly. They couldn't go

:39:13.:39:17.

to the concert. So I went to visit them and sat on their bed and

:39:17.:39:27.
:39:27.:39:27.

chatted. They said "Will you sing We'll Meet Again?" I sang it to

:39:27.:39:30.

them # Don't know where, don't know

:39:30.:39:33.

when... # It's just something from home and

:39:33.:39:39.

that means everything. This became her signature tune. Wherever she

:39:39.:39:44.

went her pianist went as well. It didn't always go to plan. He sat

:39:44.:39:50.

down to play the piano and the sides fell off, clatter, clatter.

:39:50.:39:54.

Some of them jumped on the stage, picked the sides up, put it back

:39:54.:39:59.

and carried on. Mucking in with the boys and making

:39:59.:40:04.

the best of a challenging situation was all part of the job.

:40:04.:40:08.

appreciate what the boys were doing, you had to live with them. I

:40:08.:40:13.

wouldn't have felt comfortable, you know, if I'd lived a few miles out

:40:13.:40:19.

in a hotel. Goodness knows where the hotels are. No hotels. There

:40:19.:40:25.

weren't even any houses, let alone hotels. And being in tropical

:40:25.:40:31.

climates, she had to learn and adapt quickly. You had a bowl of

:40:31.:40:37.

soup. You'd have to be very nifty with your spoon, get it under the

:40:37.:40:40.

flies and whip out a spoonful quickly. That's what you had to do.

:40:40.:40:45.

I don't know what I lived on, I came back all right, a bit thinner

:40:45.:40:50.

than I went. I wasn't very fat to start with! During the Second World

:40:50.:40:54.

War, thousands of ENSA artists performed over 2.5 million shows

:40:54.:41:03.

worldwide. I used to go in and just talk to them. This is what they

:41:03.:41:07.

just wanted. They didn't care whether I sang or not, just that I

:41:07.:41:11.

was there, having a chat, talking about London and the Blitz, to be

:41:11.:41:16.

able to pass on messages and tell them "Don't worry about us. We're

:41:16.:41:23.

fine." Getting plenty to eat, you know, to reassure them that they

:41:23.:41:29.

were -- we were doing all right. For the troops who had been away

:41:29.:41:34.

from home for so long, the morale boost was massive. The boys

:41:34.:41:40.

appreciated so much all the ENSA artists going out there. One chap

:41:40.:41:47.

said, "Now you're here, home doesn't seem so far away. "Dame

:41:48.:41:52.

Vera sang to British troops in Egypt, India, and Burma and will

:41:52.:42:00.

always be our Forces sweet heart. The war brought out a lot of talent,

:42:00.:42:05.

you know, some not so good, but a lot of stars were made through

:42:05.:42:10.

entertaining during the war. It's one of the most important things

:42:10.:42:17.

that I did in my career. I always look back on it with happiness,

:42:17.:42:23.

actually. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I know the boys enjoyed it.

:42:23.:42:31.

That was all that mattered. Wouldn't have missed the experience

:42:31.:42:41.

Just being out here amongst today's servicemen and women, I can see how

:42:41.:42:45.

important it is to have a small bit of home nearby. I'm glad to say the

:42:46.:42:55.
:42:56.:42:57.

tradition of entertainers coming The British camp here in

:42:57.:43:02.

Afghanistan was built in 2006 and is situated in the middle of the

:43:02.:43:07.

desert. It's the largest overseas military camp built since World War

:43:07.:43:10.

II. Camp Bastion is the engine room of all the operations here in

:43:10.:43:15.

Afghanistan. We're now going to find out what life is really like

:43:15.:43:21.

for the troops on the front line. ( Every day these Chinook helicopters

:43:21.:43:25.

ferry men and essential supplies to British soldiers throughout Helmand

:43:25.:43:32.

province. I'm lucky enough to have been given a seat in one.

:43:32.:43:39.

I'm flying over the deadly Green Zone to visit the men of A company

:43:39.:43:44.

1 rifles in the Nahr-e Saraj region. I want to discover what day-to-day

:43:44.:43:49.

life is like for soldiers on the front line in a patrol base.

:43:49.:43:54.

This one I'm in at the moment is in the heart of the Green Zone. I'm

:43:54.:43:57.

heading up to the watchtower to how close we actually are to the front

:43:57.:44:01.

line. The watchtowers or sangers are the

:44:01.:44:05.

main form of protection for a patrol base. They're heavily armed

:44:05.:44:09.

and offer a vantage point over the countryside to prevent Taliban

:44:09.:44:15.

attack. Rifleman Josh Scorah is on duty. What are you looking for?

:44:15.:44:20.

General pattern of life. If there's no locals around, that's a bad sign,

:44:20.:44:24.

because if Taliban is in the area they will generally warn off the

:44:24.:44:30.

locals not to come out. What are those white flags over there in the

:44:30.:44:36.

trees? Basically, they're Taliban flags. The Taliban come in, put

:44:36.:44:43.

these flags up in certain areas. They'll booby trap them, put some

:44:43.:44:52.

sort of anti-tamper device or IEDs on the ground. ISAF troops don't go

:44:52.:45:02.
:45:02.:45:02.

Those Taliban flags, which are 100 metres away, are a clear reminder

:45:02.:45:07.

that we are in a dangerous place here and that's why these guys are

:45:07.:45:17.
:45:17.:45:22.

Major Boswell has been commanding A-Company for the past six months

:45:22.:45:26.

and he and his men have made it their own. This is where the action

:45:27.:45:31.

is. This is the frontline for us. So we have this patrol base which

:45:31.:45:36.

is an old Afghan compound which we have added things to over times. We

:45:36.:45:41.

start cutting wood and putting up roofing, making camp improvements.

:45:41.:45:46.

Within your Company, you have a carpenter, a welder, a former

:45:46.:45:51.

bricky, a painter. Just seeing these random qualifications that

:45:51.:45:55.

the riflemen have from various walks of life and how that can come

:45:55.:45:59.

together to create one big construction company is amazing! It

:45:59.:46:04.

can be the most simple thing. Like creating a drainage system for

:46:04.:46:09.

brushing your teeth, or putting up a shower curtain made from some old

:46:09.:46:14.

manure sacks. Everything around us has been built and produced by the

:46:14.:46:18.

riflemen? It's done by the riflemen in conjunction with the field

:46:18.:46:22.

engineer troops. Of the 9,500 British troops in Helmand, a third

:46:22.:46:29.

endure the simple conditions of frontline compounds like this one.

:46:29.:46:34.

One of Major Boswell's riflemen, Jamie Thornton, has agreed to show

:46:34.:46:39.

me his regiment's creative DIY skills. This is the washing machine.

:46:39.:46:44.

The what? This is the washing machine. It's a cement mixer! I

:46:44.:46:50.

don't know if that is bizarre or ingenious. Ingenious. Hot water

:46:51.:46:56.

into this cement mixer and... it on like usual. Leave your

:46:56.:47:03.

washing in, throw it in, go brush your teeth, come back, rinse it,

:47:03.:47:07.

that's it. It gets the sweat and irrigation water out. What about

:47:07.:47:12.

the tumble drier? That's the sun! Even the sleeping quarters are far

:47:12.:47:17.

more basic than I thought they would be. This is our crib. Welcome

:47:17.:47:27.
:47:27.:47:30.

to the crib. We have a mouse problem at the moment.

:47:31.:47:37.

confirmed so far! Pretty good going. It's not possible to go for a quick

:47:37.:47:46.

jog outside the walls so each base has its own gym. Exercise is not

:47:46.:47:51.

just about the body, it also helps concentrate the mind because

:47:51.:47:56.

soldiers like Jamie need to be ready and alert at all times.

:47:56.:48:01.

normal day is going out that gate and doing what we do, doing what we

:48:01.:48:05.

are trained to do. Your normal day is different to many people's

:48:05.:48:13.

normal day. Suddenly, the base seems empty and an eerie silence

:48:13.:48:18.

descends. It is quite quiet around the camp today. Where is everybody?

:48:18.:48:23.

It is very quiet. Most of the riflemen are on this operation

:48:23.:48:30.

today. We are trying to bait the insurgents out. This is the

:48:30.:48:35.

operations room. This is where they are keeping an eye on the guys on

:48:35.:48:43.

the ground. The Ops Room is the hub of any operation. It is where Major

:48:43.:48:48.

Boswell co-ordinates his men in battle. By using all the

:48:48.:48:52.

intelligence they have in here, they have identified two members of

:48:52.:48:59.

the Taliban. They are waiting now for the all-clear to engage. Major

:48:59.:49:03.

Boswell listens carefully to all the updates on the ground. And

:49:03.:49:09.

finally he makes his decision. are tracking the guy in the white

:49:09.:49:18.

jacket. The commander. That's it. Everyone's got their job,

:49:18.:49:21.

everyone's communicating brilliantly. It's an extremely

:49:21.:49:31.
:49:31.:49:37.

job at hand and they are focused on that. Let's go for it! OK. Through

:49:38.:49:40.

Major Boswell's leadership and precision team work between the

:49:40.:49:46.

troops on the ground and in the air, the mission is a success. More

:49:46.:49:49.

importantly, with only two weeks of their tour left, none of A-Company

:49:49.:49:53.

were killed or injured on the mission. The boys who have just

:49:53.:49:56.

arrived back here have been on the patrol we were watching from the

:49:56.:50:01.

Ops Room. It is baking hot. They kind of get on with it. They must

:50:01.:50:05.

have been on foot patrol for five hours. Unfortunately, not all

:50:05.:50:15.
:50:15.:50:16.

missions are like this. As Jamie reminds me. My mate, he was a

:50:16.:50:21.

double amputee. I was in a checkpoint at the time. I found out

:50:21.:50:26.

that he was blown up. I went and saw him in Selly Oak. That was

:50:26.:50:30.

really horrible. I was walking down the corridor - it's a long corridor

:50:30.:50:35.

- I had a bit of a cry, as you would. It was quite horrible to see

:50:35.:50:39.

him. One thing I have learnt from this place is to live life to the

:50:39.:50:43.

max. You don't know - you see people come and go all the time in

:50:43.:50:51.

the Army. Jamie's moving story about his friend is a reminder of

:50:51.:50:57.

the reason I have come to Afghanistan. There's a special

:50:57.:51:01.

place set aside in this patrol base, the memorial, the names of men and

:51:01.:51:05.

women who have fallen in battle in this area are always remembered

:51:05.:51:15.
:51:15.:51:16.

How many have been seriously injured? How many have been lost?

:51:16.:51:21.

We have had a lot wounded, an awful lot seriously wounded and we have

:51:21.:51:26.

only lost two. Over time you learn to box it up. There's some demons

:51:26.:51:30.

out there that we will deal with when we get home, together. Right

:51:30.:51:39.

here, it is one big happy family. Nothing can really affect them. --

:51:39.:51:44.

that. Spending time here has given me an insight into how our troops

:51:44.:51:50.

live on the frontline. It is really basic here, really harsh conditions.

:51:50.:51:55.

But friendships get them through. Ef are I time -- every time they

:51:55.:51:59.

leave those gates, they put their life in danger. For that, they have

:51:59.:52:06.

my utmost respect. With loved ones serving abroad, the

:52:06.:52:11.

worry and anguish for friends and family at home is immense. Sadly

:52:11.:52:18.

for some, that worry turns into the news they never want to hear. In

:52:18.:52:25.

2003, Kate Darbyshire met Steven, a Royal Marine. He made me laugh. He

:52:25.:52:31.

was just strong and passionate and had a lust for life, really. If

:52:31.:52:38.

there was any kind of party, he would be in the middle of it. We

:52:38.:52:44.

both probably wanted children at some point. But Ryan came sooner

:52:44.:52:51.

than what we both expected, really. In a good way. Ryan was born in

:52:51.:52:58.

2004 and two years later, Callum arrived to complete their family.

:52:58.:53:02.

He was a great dad. He was hands-on from the start and amazed me,

:53:02.:53:08.

really. I think he changed the first nappy, it wasn't me - it was

:53:08.:53:13.

him. He did the first bath. I used to come home from work and he would

:53:13.:53:17.

be at home and the boys would have their tool bench out and the tools

:53:17.:53:21.

and they would be working at the side of him. Got them involved in

:53:21.:53:27.

everything. Now, to this day, they play Army on the floor with their

:53:27.:53:32.

friends and they do dress up. They have the real things so, for them,

:53:32.:53:40.

it was great, that their dad was a real soldier. In 2010, Steven was

:53:40.:53:46.

posted to Afghanistan for the third time. He phoned as often as he

:53:46.:53:52.

could and he used to ring at like around 6.00 because that would be

:53:52.:53:56.

the time that usually we would all be in, I would be home from work

:53:56.:53:59.

and if the boys had been playing out, they were getting ready for a

:53:59.:54:05.

bath. We all got to speak to him. I used to write to him probably

:54:05.:54:10.

nearly every day. Half of the time I was talking rubbish, really. It's

:54:10.:54:16.

just sending him something to know that we are thinking about him.

:54:16.:54:20.

Kate and the boys made sure he had a little something from home.

:54:20.:54:26.

had a separate part of the trolley that would be for their dad and

:54:26.:54:30.

goodies and for the rest of the lads as well. Parcels are like free

:54:30.:54:34.

to send. So it was a case of sending as many as we can and they

:54:34.:54:38.

used to help me pack the parcels, we used to weigh them together, we

:54:38.:54:42.

used to wrap them together. They would decorate the boxes, put

:54:42.:54:47.

stickers on. So I bet he was made up when his delivery arrived.

:54:47.:54:51.

was a massive morale boost for Steven who as a Royal Marine was

:54:51.:54:59.

often away from home. For us as a family, actually where he was going

:54:59.:55:03.

was a bit irrelevant, it was more the length of time that he would be

:55:03.:55:07.

away. He could have been away training somewhere for six months

:55:07.:55:11.

in a safe environment, but we missed him and he missed us. It is

:55:11.:55:16.

a long time to be away from your family so when they do come home,

:55:16.:55:23.

it's the best feeling ever. Steven was stationed in one of the most

:55:23.:55:29.

hostile areas of Helmand Province. Part of me was always worried

:55:29.:55:32.

because of the environment over there and everything and what he

:55:32.:55:36.

was doing. And the situations that he could have been in. He's been to

:55:36.:55:43.

Northern Ireland, to Iraq twice, this was his third tour in

:55:43.:55:49.

Afghanistan and I think to me in my mind he was invincible, I suppose.

:55:49.:55:55.

There was never any doubt in my mind that he wouldn't come home.

:55:55.:56:00.

The last conversation we all had with him was on the Saturday before

:56:00.:56:04.

he died on the Wednesday. He had phoned at dinner time and the boys

:56:04.:56:09.

had been playing football and we had just got in. Callum had

:56:09.:56:15.

answered the phone but he had pressed the button so he was on

:56:15.:56:19.

loud speaker, which is good now in a way because I heard the whole

:56:19.:56:22.

conversation and he spoke to Callum and asked him what he had been

:56:22.:56:26.

doing at nursery and about playing football that morning. He had spoke

:56:26.:56:32.

to Ryan and I had obviously said in my letters that he's doing really

:56:32.:56:37.

well at football and he's won such a medal and he had won a

:56:37.:56:42.

goalkeeping award the week before. He said to Ryan, "I hear somebody

:56:42.:56:47.

is like a fantastic footballer!" I could see Ryan's face, he was like,

:56:47.:56:51.

"How does my dad know that when he weren't here?" The last thing he

:56:51.:56:59.

said to him was, "You will have to show me when I get home." Four days

:56:59.:57:08.

later, Steven was shot and killed. I remember I was putting my make-up

:57:08.:57:15.

on in the mirror. I watched my mum walk into me through the reflection

:57:15.:57:20.

of the mirror. I have never in my entire life seen my mum look like

:57:20.:57:24.

that, ever. When people say things like this happen and you get a gut

:57:24.:57:30.

feeling and you know, I did know. But all I could think about at that

:57:30.:57:38.

moment was protecting my children and if they could have another day

:57:38.:57:45.

where they didn't know then that was - for me it was the right thing

:57:45.:57:51.

to do. I just said to them, you know, your dad's in Afghanistan and

:57:51.:57:56.

you know like you play Army outside with your friends and you hide and

:57:56.:58:01.

you pretend you are snipers and I said, "Over there, the snipers are

:58:01.:58:08.

real and the guns are real. The bullets are real. This morning your

:58:08.:58:14.

dad's been out and he's been shot." I had conversations with them both

:58:14.:58:19.

for like hours and hours and hours, just answering question after

:58:19.:58:24.

question. And it is child questions like, "If somebody was shooting at

:58:24.:58:30.

him, why didn't he duck?" And, "Why didn't he crawl on all fours?" "Why

:58:31.:58:40.
:58:41.:58:43.

didn't he shoot him first?" It's awful as a parent, it is the - the

:58:43.:58:49.

conversations are those that you shouldn't have to have. I don't

:58:49.:58:55.

remember being five and three. I don't know what their memories of

:58:55.:59:04.

their dad are going to be like. And it's my job to keep his memory

:59:04.:59:11.

alive and not let them forget because he was amazing and he was

:59:11.:59:20.

their dad and they need to know how amazing he was. Steven is the first

:59:20.:59:24.

thing I think about when I wake up every morning and he is the last

:59:24.:59:28.

thing I think about when I go to bed at night. I am fortunate in the

:59:28.:59:34.

fact that I have got two bits of him for the rest of my life and the

:59:34.:59:39.

biggest injustice I could ever do to him would be not to look after

:59:39.:59:45.

them properly. That is what makes me get up in the morning. Like all

:59:45.:59:51.

families of fallen servicemen and women, Kate, Ryan and Callum were

:59:51.:59:59.

awarded the Elizabeth Cross. I am so proud to have that in our

:59:59.:00:08.

possession. All little boys think their dads are heroes, but theirs

:00:09.:00:18.
:00:19.:00:24.

It's been an absolute privilege to spend time with our Armed Forces

:00:24.:00:27.

out here in Afghanistan. I would like to thank them and everybody

:00:27.:00:30.

else who have shared their experiences with us this week.

:00:30.:00:36.

On the eve of Remembrance Sunday, Gethin Jones is in Afghanistan to honour those that have fought there, as well as reflecting on all the other servicemen and women who have taken part in past conflicts around the world.


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