Episode 5 Remembrance Week

Episode 5

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.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to Episode 5. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



I am here in Afghanistan with thousands of men and women from our


Navy, Army and Air Force. I am privileged to be stirred among them


today, remembering those that perished in World War One and all


the other confits that followed. Today is Armistice Day. We are


remembering the fallen in all wars. To honour those that made the


ultimate sacrifice, a two-minute silence is absurd this morning, at


the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. -- silence is


observed. Coming up on the programme today, I battle a


downwind to load vital goods heading to the front line. That was


pretty full on. Kate Derbyshire remembers the


father of her young sons, who gave his life in the line of duty.


They play Army with their friends. For them it was great that their


Dad was a real soldier. And I talked to an emergency nurse,


who flies into the heart of danger to treat our injured troops.


amount of dust that gets blown in, and you can hear nothing.


With loved ones serving abroad, the worry and anguish of friends and


family at home is immense. Sadly for some, that worry turns into the


news they never want to hear. In 2003, Kate Derbyshire met Steven, a


Royal Marine. He made me laugh. He was just strong and passionate. He


had a lust for life, really. If there was any kind of party, he


would be in the middle of it. We both probably wanted children at


some point. Ryan came sooner than what we expected, really! In a good


way. Ryan was born in 2004 and two years later Callum arrived to


complete their family. He was a great Dad, very hands-on from the


start. He amazed me, really. I think he actually changed the first


nappy. He did everything. And I think he did the first Bath. I came


home from work on Sundays, and he would be at home with the boys,


with the tall bencher out, and they would be working beside him. -- to


all bench. They play Army on the floor with their friends. They


dress up. But they had the real things. For them it was great that


their Dad was a real soldier. 2010, Steven was posted to


Afghanistan for the third time. phoned us as often as he could. He


used to rain at about 6 o'clock. -- to ring us. That was when I would


be home from work. And if the boys were playing out, they would be


coming in. So we all got to speak to him. I used to write to him,


probably every day. Half of the time I was probably talking rubbish,


but it was just sending him something to know that we were


thinking about him. Kate and the boys always made sure that he had a


little something from home. There was a separate part of the trolley


that would be for their dead. -- for their father. Parcels are free


to send so we sent as many as we could. They used to help me pack


the parcels, we would wake them together and they would decorate


the boxes with stickers. I bet he was made up when his delivery


arrived. This was a massive morale boost for Steven. As a Royal Marine


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


was going was irrelevant sometimes. It was more the legs of time that


he was away. He could be a way training somewhere in a safe


environment. But we missed him and he missed us and it is a long time


to be away from your family. When they do come home, it is the best


feeling ever. Steven was stationed in one of the most hostile areas of


Helmand Province. Part of me was always worried because of the


Environment over there and what he was doing and the situations that


he could have been in. He has been to Northern Ireland and to Iraq


twice. This was his third tour of Afghanistan. I think in my mind he


was invincible, I suppose. There was never any doubt in my mind that


he would not come home. The last conversation we all had with him


was on the Saturday before he died on the Wednesday. He had phoned at


dinner time. The boys had been playing football. We had just got


in. Callum had actually answered the telephone but he had pressed


the button, so he was on loudspeaker. That is good now in a


way, because I heard the whole conversation, and he spoke to


Callum and asked him what he had been doing at nursery and playing


football that morning. And he spoke to Ryan. I had said in my letters


that he is doing really well at football. He had won a medal and a


goalkeeping award the week before. And he said to Ryan, I hear that


somebody is a fantastic footballer and I could see Ryan's face


giggling. He did not know how he could no when he was not there. The


last thing he said to him was he will show me when you get home.


Four days later Steven was shot and killed. I remember I was putting my


make-up on in the mirror. And I watched my mum walk into me. In the


reflection of the Mirror. I have never in my entire life seen my


mother look like that ever. When people say that things like this


happen and you get a gut feeling and you know, I did know. All I


could think about at that moment was protecting my children. If they


could have another day where they did not know, then that was, for me,


the right thing to do. I just said to them, your Dad is in Afghanistan,


and you know how you play are the outside with your friends and you


hide, and to pretend you are snipers and things like that. Well,


the snipers are real, the guns are real and the bullets are real. And


this morning your Dad has been out and he has been shot. I had


conversations with them both for hours and hours. Just answering


question after question. And there are childish questions like if


somebody was shooting at him, why did he not dark? And why was he not


crawling? Why did he not shoot him first? It is awful. As a parent,


the conversations that you just should not have to have. I don't


remember being 5 and 3. I don't know what their memories of their


dead will be like. -- their father. It is my job to keep his memory


alive. And not let them forget, because he was amazing and he was


their father. They need to know how amazing he was. Steven is the first


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


I think about when I go to bed at night. I am fortunate because I


have two bits of him for the rest of my life. The biggest injustice I


could ever do to him would be to not look after them properly. That


is what makes me get up in the morning, sometimes. Like all


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


rewarded the Elizabeth Cross. so proud to have that in our


possession. All little boys think their fathers are heroes, but


Camp Bastion is in the middle of nowhere. All the essentials that


the troops need come through this area here, which is called the ramp.


I am about to meet Sergeant Shepherd to find out all about it.


Sergeant Shepherd. Nice to meet you. Just in time for my shift.


Basically what they are doing is positioning the transfer load to


get the items off. My staff get it into place, lower it down, and we


jump on and do some pallet pushing. Are you feeling strong today?


Always! The British military effort in Afghanistan would grind to a


halt in a few days without the hundreds of tons of ammunition,


food, spare parts and medical equipment delivered by air every


week of the year. Believe it or not, all of this is airmail. They are


only allowed to send two kilograms or less. That is a lot of letter


I am looking to see what is what. And they'll in there, medical


supplies. Packed amongst all of this, hundreds of blue bags. All of


them are mailbags. They all get put in as one so that they can go to


the Post Office for distribution to the personnel. It will be up the


Post Office in 15 minutes. The morale boost of a letter from a


loved one or friend is mass about here. -- massive out here. This is


where all of the Post gets delivered. They receive up to 3000


bags per week. In the lead-up to Christmas this number is


considerably higher. Every day post reaches our fighting troops on the


front line, but when they need emergency supplies, they get their


in dramatic style. I am here to meet Sargeant Gibbs, who makes this


happen. How important is it to you and your team to get these loads,


this essential equipment, to the soldiers in the field? If the


control base is not accessible by road, and the only way in and out


is by air, then that is an essential feature. They are also


used for emergency supplies. A much -- how much responsibility do you


have to get the supplies out to soldiers that really need them?


Even at night if we get a phone call to construct a load, it needs


to be done and we take our job very seriously. Are you here every day?


Seven days a week, 365 days a year. Can I have a go? Going to there and


you will be rigged up with a top, helmet and some gloves. Then you


will be good to go. They netted loads are carried underneath the


It looks spectacular, but it is not just for show. They can drop the


loads without having to land. It avoids the risk of coming under


That was pretty full-on. It is kind of a small process, in what is a


huge chain of events, to get the essential equipment and soldiers.


The down draught is about 100 miles an hour, and you really feel it.


Taught me through it, no disasters? You're happy? Yes, I'm happy.


Heathrow and Gatwick, Camp Bastion is the third busiest UK-run airport.


It is not just the smaller, essential things, like mail, food


and drink which get delivered here, it is also larger things, too. This


is incredible, there's about 65,000 tons of equipment on this C-17


aircraft, including another aircraft! There's a Merlin


helicopter in there, which touches the bottom and the top, it fits


perfectly! It is no small unpacking job. It took the guys on the runway


six hours to unload the Merlin helicopter. And now, I'm going to


find out what it is like for a soldier to receive that mail when


they're miles and miles away from There are hundreds of patrol bases


and checkpoints across Helmand province. I'm heading to where 42


Commando Royal Marines are based. It is too loud to talk to anyone,


so all you can do is sit back and Everything these guys do is amazing,


that was just a smooth operation. Also got to see a bit of


Afghanistan. It is beautiful, so green, all the kids playing in


their backyards, waving to the helicopter, and the rifleman at the


back waving back. He has done that journey hundreds of times. It is


great to be here, this is Control base number five, I'm looking


forward to meeting the guys. 42 Commando have been living here for


six months. I have asked one of the boy is to open the post he has


received over the last couple of days, to see what kind of things


get sent out. This has been sent to you? Yes, because obviously we need


extra helicopters out here. My brother assented to me. Are you


serious, somebody has sent you this? Yes, it gets nippy at night.


Do you look forward to it, when the post comes? Definitely. What is the


best kind of thing you can get, to boost morale? It depends on the


person, and where you are. Anything to make your life easier. For me,


monkey suits and helicopters, for other guys, it might be a book, it


might be DVDs or anything like that, if they have got a family, anything


from their children. It is not just packages and letters. These are e-


blueys, electronic letters, It is not hard to see that post in


any form is an emotional lifeline to back home. I caught up with


Major Jason Durup to talk about the tour. How would you sum up the


efforts of your team over the last six months? With pride, more than


anything else. The resilience and tenacity shown by the Guy's is


something I would never have imagined them to be capable of,


especially the younger guys, the courage to go out on patrol, day


after day after day, where they have seen their friends being blown


up or shot, the morale they have got is sky high, and they keep on


going, it amazes me. But it has come at a cost, hasn't it? We have


had a number of setbacks. Each time you get a setback, you have to pick


yourself up off the floor again, look at what you're doing, satisfy


yourself that you're doing the best job possible. We have had four


people killed in the last six months, 12 others wounded in action.


One bunch of guys in particular have lost three of their very close


mates. And they're still going out now. They know I'm proud of them,


Still to come - I catch up with an emergency nurse who puts her life


in danger every day here in Afghanistan. I sit up the top, and


you can see out of the back, and you're thinking, I wonder what's


going on out there. For our next story, we hear about a famous tank


battle, fought under one of Britain's most charismatic


commanders. 88-year-old war veteran Albert Pond has been invited to


speak to local primary school children about his experiences in


the Second World War. Good morning, children, I'm Captain Pond, I'm


here to talk to you about the vicious battles in North Africa, at


Alamein, on 23rd October 1942. Don't call this war in the desert


of North Africa was pivotal, as it was a crucial Allied supply route.


If we had not won that battle, I would not be here today talking to


you. There would not have been no England. In 1941, Albert was 18,


and a trained mechanic, signed up with the Tank Regiment. They made


sure that you were fit for the tanks. They did not want crews who


would panic. They would stand a tank on its end, and rocket about,


and you were in there. They really did put you through your paces. I


grew up quick, you had to. At 18, I was in command of a tent with three


men in. I had their lives in my hands. After his initial training,


Albert was posted to Egypt. thought we had gone into another


world. The heat just hit you. The sweat ran off you. Millions of


flies would get you why you were eating your food. You had to put a


mosquito net over the top of your head and eat your food underneath,


to stop the flies from getting on it. Make sure you're safe from the


scorpions, they could kill you as well. When you go into a hot


country, especially in the forces, you're supposed to be acclimatised,


but we were not. The aim was to stop them attacking the oil fields.


Albert was under the command of one of the most influential leaders in


the Second World War, General Montgomery. When he came out, he


had little white legs, a very slim build chap, and the Aussies, the


Australians, they said, what the hell have they sent out here now?


Because he did not really looked the part, to take over command of


the Western Desert. But he did a wonderful job, and how he did it is


through sheer cunning. He had a vehicle sent out into the desert


with information in it, in a satchel, and made out it had been


hit, and the people in it disappeared. The Germans fell for


this hook, line and sinker, and to confuse them even further,


Montgomery had thousands of cardboard tanks made, which looked


real from the air. It was put on the coastal sector, all these dummy


tanks, even three-ton trucks, so the German aircraft spotted these


tanks coming up, they thought they were real ones. Rommel thought,


that's where the offence is coming from, but it wasn't. General Rommel


was a renowned German leader, and in the days before the battle,


Montgomery made sure every man in his army understood the importance


of victory. He came around in his car, with a three-ton truck, with a


map on the side of the canvas, and let the map down, and he would


stand there, and point to different places, and he said, this is what I


expect. Our mandate from the Prime Minister is to destroy the Axis


forces in North Africa. It can be done, and will be done. Remember,


we're going to finish with this chap Rommel once and for all.


he had his forces in place, Montgomery took the Germans by


surprise, launching a massive attack. It started on 23rd October


1942. When all those guns were ordered to fire at the same time.


15 miles of guns, side by side, they lit the sky up. The ground was


trembling. And we sat out in no- man's land, listening to those


shells whistling over all night. You think, am I going to survive


this? Because this is hell let loose. When you go in a tank battle,


like we were going into, you had to make sure you were not firing on


your own chaps. Those chaps would churn up the sand, like salt.


That's how it was. Every man for themselves, the Germans the same.


As tank commander, Albert carried an awful extra burden. You're


responsible for your men. You have revolvers. If you get hit and


you're trapped in that tack, you would be burnt alive. It's your job


to shoot the crew - which I never had to do, thank heavens.


battle went on for 12 desperate days, and then, a sudden change.


went from the heavy fighting, over 12 days, to the lull, when the


Germans decided to pull back. Germans were overwhelmed, and they


retreated, but Albert and his men were too exhausted to celebrate.


Something inside of you, you just went numb. You looked at one


another and thought, thank heaven that's over. I'm lucky to come out


of that alive. You were really lucky. Winning this battle came at


a huge puppy cost. More than 50,000 men lost their lives. Our


Remembrance Day is a must, in London, at the Cenotaph, when you


see those thousands of people marching past, you always think of


those still lying in cemeteries abroad, and how lucky you were to


survive it and come back home. For the past four years, a small


community in Wiltshire has been making its own tribute to our


fallen servicemen and women. As the sun rises over Wootton Bassett, the


local residents are beginning their day. How are you? Fine, thank you.


The people of Wootton Bassett have always been kind. They're always


willing to help, in whatever way they can. It is a very friendly


town. People do not want to leave Wootton Bassett once they come to


live here. It has felt like a family here, because we're not a


massive town. I can walk around the town, and it is, morning, how are


you? And I like that. Wootton Bassett is home to around 12,000


people, young and old, all of whom play a vital role. I was 14 when I


noticed that Wootton Bassett did not have a war memorial, and that


was when I asked the British Legion, why is that? I guess they thought


it was quite strange that a young person should be interested. I was


very lucky that a good few members of the community got behind me, and


we worked together to try and get a This symbol of remembrance was


unveiled in 2001 and Jai will always be proud of it. I see the


memorial on the High Street and if some flowers have blown off it, and


if one of the vases has fallen over, if I don't pick it up there and


somebody else will. I cannot help putting it when I go past. In 2007


this humble market community was brought together when a fallen


serviceman was repatriated through the High Street. We were taken by


surprise. We decided that we would go and stand by the side of the


road. People just came and joined us as the time went on. It has just


got bigger and bigger. Everybody leaves. There is nobody left in


this pod. We all stand outside. -- in this pub. The shopkeepers close


the doors, come out and pay their respects. As more servicemen and


women made their journey through the town, the part played by each


member of the Community fell into place. Being on the High Street and


so close to the war memorial, we were getting family members coming


in, British Legion people coming in. Some of them were driving a fair


distance to get here. The least we could do was put a cup of tea and


coffee on for them. It is such a difficult day for them. You just


want to make it as easy as possible for them. We have all got small


roles to play. People know what they are going to do and where they


will be. It just happens. I look after the Union flag. I lowering it


to half mast and I raised it again in the evening. Maurice is there to


make sure that I get it in the right place. OK. From these early


repatriations, small but poignant gestures have grown. When we


started, we did not have the church bell tolling. On this particular


day, the bell-ringers were having their practice. Would we mind if


they told the bell? We said of course not. This High Street is


like any other, until the bell tolls. Everybody is laughing and


joking, talking to each other. If they have not seen each other for a


long time, catching up on different things. And then the bell tolls,


and it just goes completely quiet. We think that even the birds know


that something is going on because they stop chirruping. For those


making their final journey, only one word is spoken to announce


You see the families come in, and the hearse comes by. You hear the


family crying. It is very painful to hear it. And as they passed by


the shop, that was always when I got a lump in my throat, thinking


it is goodbye. Your heart goes out to the people that are left behind.


I just can't imagine what it would be like. I really can't imagine.


Your heart just sinks. It does, it just sinks. You don't want it to


happen. You just don't want it to happen at all. 345 servicemen and


women who paid the ultimate price have passed through the High Street


of this humble community. And for a respectable way in which these


ordinary folk have come together, they have been bestowed royal title.


It is the first in the UK for over 100 years. I just feel it was the


least that we could do. It is a great honour. But we did not do it


for recognition. We did it to share our respects to the fallen. -- to


show a respects. You are being honoured for the way in which you


have honoured the sacrifice of servicemen and women. This


community has come together in most extraordinary way. The town rich in


tradition and secure in its sense of values. We are just Wootton


Bassett. We are still a little Lorrie Lawton works at the NHS


Whittington Hospital in North London as a paediatric emergency


nurse. I love looking after children. They are much better than


adults. If they like you, they like you, and if they don't, they tell


you, basically, get out of my face. I like that and I think I can build


a good rapport with children. Keep going. Good girl. Fundamentally, I


absolutely love my job. I love going into work and making a


difference to children. I want you to walk on those early for today


and then no crutches tomorrow. Although Lorrie loves her day job,


she wanted a different type of challenge. I was always fascinated


as to whether or not I would do well in the military. I like the


thought of being in the military but I did not like the thought of


doing it full-time. In 1997, she joined the RAF Reserves, with one


particular goal, to look after patients in the air. If you have a


diving accident, you need a flight nurse to fly you back home to make


sure that you are safe and that can be a real challenge when you are


30,000 feet in the air. I take a huge amount of pride in that job. A


patient gets on and get off in a better condition, then I have done


my job. For over 14 years, Lorrie has juggled her CV and military


jobs. The role of RAF reservists is a mystery to some. I get irritated


when people say and I in the TA. I am not, actually! I am in the RAF


Reserves! Then you have to explain because they do not realise the RAF


has reserves. I get the best of both worlds. Lorrie has completed


three tours of duty which is worlds away from her day job in London.


is not the injuries but the volume of patients that you are seeing at


the same time. If you see that many patients at once on civvy street


you are having a really rough day. But in the military that can


transpose itself every other day as the amount of patients that he was


seeing and nobody can prepare you for that at all. -- that you are


seeing. Seeing patients with frontline trauma takes its toll.


you become really hardened to it, then you should not do the job.


Some cases stick with me and I wonder how they are getting on. If


you don't have compassion for them, you should not be doing the job.


But being at the sharp end of nursing does have its perks. Most


people will do anything for medics because they know, at the end of


the day, we are there if one of them gets injured, it or shot. We


are there to help them. They usually bend over backwards for us.


There next time Lorrie will be treating our frontline casualties,


she will be part of an elite team. The next tour is on MERT. We fly


into the point of injury. If you got shot, your mates would stop the


first aid and then you would call for us and we would fly in, we pick


them up and take them back to Camp Bastion. MERT, Medical Emergency


Response Team, save lives every day. In the 80s seven-year history of


the RAF Reserves, Lorrie will be the first emergency nurse to deploy


one of the toughest jobs in nursing. I feel ready to do it. I just need


to go and do it. I caught up with Lorrie in Camp Bastion after her


first MERT mission. Down the bottom on these seats is weather


protection guy sits, and their kit is ready to go. Mine is here. The


doctor sits next to me. Opposite we have the two paramedics. So is this


is you. Who do you talk to during the flight and on the way back?


can talk to two lot of people so why have two radios. I did not


realise that. This one is to the air crew and this to the medical


team. Sometimes I have a blank look on my face apparently because there


is so much information coming in! You can hear the escorts and the


air crew and the medical team. I end the link between the medics and


the air crew. -- I am the link. have been on your first MERT


mission. What was it like? In all honesty it was a bit scary. The


doctor kept telling me to take a big breath and to do it nice and


slow. He kept saying that to me and so when the casualty came on, I to


go big breath and did it nice and slow. -- I took a big breath. As


the rump comes down, the dust gets blown in and you can hear nothing.


It is chaos and confusion. When all of this is happening, are you just


standing here waiting? Yes, looking out the back, wondering what will


be coming in. I sit at the top and you can see out of the back. You


are thinking, I wonder what is going on out there. Actually, I


have no control what happens outside this aircraft. I cannot


stop people firing at this aircraft. I can't do anything about it. So


you just sit there thinking, well, we will just wait. We were only


expecting one casualty but two came on. I did not see the second one


until I looked around and I thought, oh, there is another one. I did not


even know that one was on that. So for my first mission it was not too


bad. Not a bad start. Do you ever have that moment when you wonder


why you signed up for it? I often think that! What am I doing? I


should go home! What are you doing? I love it and I think I can do the


job well to help the patients that are coming on and I have got the


skills to be able to help somebody survive their injuries may be.


are chatting now in this Chinnock, but if you got a call, if they got


a call, we would have to get out immediately, wouldn't we? This is


real life, right now. Unbelievable. It has been a pleasure meeting you.


All the best for the rest of the tour. Stay safe. I will do, believe


you me! It has been an absolute privilege


to spend time with our armed forces out here in Afghanistan. I would


like to thank them and everybody else that has shed their


experiences with us this week. Hearings their tales of bravery,


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.

Download Subtitles