Soldiers dig in for historic victory
3:20pm Friday 30th March 2012 in News
INJURED servicemen helped reveal the remains of a Roman building in Monmouthshire this week.
A team of 32 soldiers from the Rifles regiment, together with students from the University of Leicester and veterans, have been working on a dig at Caerleon Army Training Camp since Monday.
It’s all part of Operation Nightingale, an army project which uses archaeology to help rehabilitate servicemen.
Soldiers, some of whom have suffered double amputations, gunshot wounds, explosions while in vehicles and burns, worked on the site digging trenches and revealing the walls of a Roman building.
The groups have been staying and socialising in the area all week, giving soldiers from the same regiment the opportunities to make friends and build a network of support.
It also gives them a chance to find out how their skills can be used outside the military.
Father of four Corporal Steven Winterton, 32, from 1st Battalion the Rifles, based at Beachley Barracks, is starting university in June to study archaeology and ancient history.
Mr Winterton, who suffered nerve damage after he was injured in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009, said: “It gives us something else to think about, instead of worrying about what life is going to bring.
“It gives people new skills as well, there’s a lot of transferable skills that we have learned within the military that we’re able to transfer to archaeology.
“We’re used to opening up holes and living in them, nowwe are opening up holes and seeing what’s in them.”
Some of the skills used by soldiers to detect improved explosive devices in Afghanistan can be put to use on a dig, according to Ministry of Defence archaeologist Martin Brown.
“If there’s different patterns of stones, if the soil has been changed and been put back in, that’s exactly how we work here,” he said.
Sergeant Dermot Walshe, who developed the project with Mr Brown, said: “Some of these guys will be medically discharged when it’s right for them. This gets them used to working with civilians and gets civilians used to working with soldiers.”
The current group of soldiers finishes on Sunday – but Operation Nightingale will continue at Caerwent for another two weeks, while six weeks are planned at a former Saxon cemetery on Salisbury Plain.