Brotherly bond boosts Gwent soldiers far from family
12:10pm Friday 27th September 2013 in News
THERE are many Gwent soldiers currently based in Alberta, Canada, training with the Royal Welsh. Chris Wood met some of them during a visit to the base.
Lance Corporal Sean Marsh, 19, a former Caldicot Comprehensive pupil, signed up when he was 16 as his uncle had been in the army and it appealed to him with the lack of work at home.
Former Argus paper boy Jamie Parsons, 25, from Ringland, had always wanted to join the army, but his first love was football.
The striker was in the Cwmbran Town academy. But, when his passion died, he decided to sign up for the army last year. thinking he would regret it if he didn’t.
The trip to Canada at the start of August was his first time on a plane and while he misses girlfriend Hannah Parry back home, he said the troops keep themselves entertained, with a favourite way of passing the time, having grappling contests with each other.
He also spent four days in the Rockies white water rafting, but added: “There were a few scary moments like when I fell off and the instructor had to come and get me.”
One man who wasn’t enjoying his time in Canada was sapper Daniel Mackerness, 19, who had been building bridges ready for tanks to use and blow up during the operation. While putting a piece of metal into place, he tore a muscle in his arm. This means the former Cwmcarn High School pupil is in the barracks designated for sick and wounded soldiers. They pass the time by watching films on their iPads, listening to music or just sitting around chatting.
One man out on manoeuvres in a tank was Lance Corporal Christian Morgan, 22, from Ebbw Vale. It is his second time in Canada and he said: “I enjoy it. , it’s nice, a change of scenery. I miss my wife but it’s nice to get away to different places.”
Fusilier Peter Harris, 27, from Lliswerry, Newport, has been in the army for ten years and been to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the most dangerous area he has experienced was Lashkar Gah, saying: “On foot patrol, there were a lot of contacts, roadside bombs, our tank was hit. You can’t think about it at the time, you’ve got to keep your mind on the job. It is only when you look back, you think ‘that was quite heavy’.”
Fusilier Harris also describes being mortared every day in Iraq.
He describes his fellow soldiers “like brothers” which is helping him deal with being parted from his wife Lauri, 28, and children Luke, 11 and Samuel, 19 months, back at home.
He said: “It’s horrible, he’s 19 months now and started walking, it’s things like that I miss. It is killing me, it gets a bit emotional. But, we become like brothers here, we have a big bond.” It helps a bit as does knowing we’re here for a purpose.”
Lance Corporal Chris Read, 28, from Newport has been in the army for 12 years and been to Iraq three times. But, he describes work in Afghanistan as “the most hairy”.
He said: “Insurgents would take pot shots at us, there’d be improvised bombs on the roadside, my tank got hit three times in one day and the commander was shot in the arm as he came out. It was hectic.”
He is looking forward to getting home with partner Sherie due to have a baby next January.
Fusilier Darren Norris, 25, from Newbridge said: “There was no work about at home, which was part of the reason I joined the army. But, it has given me some wonderful experiences, I would never have come to Canada otherwise.”
Comments are closed on this article.