Trooper Jonny Ritchie of the Royal Dragoon Guards is back in Afghanistan after R&R at home in Northern Ireland. Here he reflects on getting back to work.
Hello again! Back from R&R; brilliant time at home in Northern Ireland, great to see family and friends, get out for some drinks (just one or two mind…) and unwind for a short period. On returning to duty and while collecting my kit in Camp Bastion, ready to get back out with our Mastiffs and still on a high from R&R, the reality of being back out in Afghanistan started with news from the RSM that no serving soldier wants to hear. The sad news being Trooper Ashley Smith had been killed. My feelings from R&R disappeared instantly and they turned to the utmost sadness. I would like to say on my behalf and from the rest of the lads in 3rd Troop, B squadron: our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends back home. Fare thee well Tpr Ashley Smith, rest easy.
Later, I was picked up from Bastion and taken down to Camp Price, to carry on my role out here. Spent the first 2 days catching my feet again, getting rid of jet lag and doing maintenance on the Mastiffs. Then I joined the Troop Leader’s group of Mastiffs as the gunner for Cpl Stead, heading down to PB2 to take over from the Troop Sergeant’s group as QRF. So what has QRF in PB2 involved? Being very busy is definitely a start! We’ve been called out to recover one Mastiff from PB4 that had lost a wheel in a IED incident. We have also been taking a lot of mail to the PBs and CPs or, as some call it, delivering morale. Early in the week we also joined D Squadron in PB2 to hold a vigil for Ashley Smith.
Most of our days while on QRF have started at sunrise and ended in the dark of night. All I look forward to at the end of each day is a cold shower and bed. Why a cold shower I hear you cry? Well the temperature out here is unbelievable, holding in the high 40s. Being in a PB there is no air-con which means no escape from the heat. We also took the CO of 1 RGR to a shura and to see the work on a new school being built in our AO. As the changes become visible and you see improvements, it really keeps you going in our job to stabilise, rebuild and pass over control. Until next time, bye for now.