The children are full of the same energy and vitality as those many of us have left behind

Major Simon Doyle is the Officer Commanding C Company of 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR) known as the Tigers.  Simon has responsibility for Area of Operations Centre-South, as a part of Combined Force Nad e-Ali, headed by 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS).

Major Simon Doyle - OC C Coy 1 PWRR
Major Simon Doyle – OC C Coy 1 PWRR

Ganja jungle

The company has now completed one month in charge of AO Centre South of Nad e-Ali District and it is fair to say that we are now well settled into living and working in Afghanistan. The boys have made the checkpoints into comfortable areas to live, decked out with flags and banners from home, pictures of their loved ones and all manner of improvised furniture made from the ubiquitous Hesco cages.

Our days are filled with patrols and guard duties as well as the more mundane camp tasks such as preparing meals, accounting for stores and trying to winterise the camps before the bad weather sets in. Fortunately we have had no rain here yet to speak of and the days remain bright and warm with few clouds in sight; this of course means that it does get very cold very quickly as soon as the sun sets and it is getting harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning!

When the boys head out on patrol they are often accompanied by members of the Afghan National Army or the Police who will lead on engagements with the local people. Of course every time we go out on patrol there are always a large number of children who surround us with cries of ‘Chocolate?’ or ‘Pen?’… Wherever possible the children receive boiled sweets or nuts left over from our ration packs or even toys and gifts sent out by families and friends from home. The children are full of the same energy and vitality as those many of us have left behind, and seeing a smile appear on their faces during a patrol allows us to feel closer to our own children – until your pens disappear from the front of your Osprey body armour after the kids have pulled an Artful Dodger’-like pickpocket routine on you! As well as children there are many other things that can lighten the mood on a long hot patrol, for example turning around the corner of a long wall and being confronted by a football pitch sized marijuana field.  This has happened on a number of occasions, with many photos being taken by the soldiers as they pass through this ganja jungle. Needless to say there will be strict kit inspections before we leave theatre…

Lt Jamie Frampton engaging with the local population in Nad e-Ali

Lt Jamie Frampton engaging with the local population in Nad e-Ali

PG Tips

Morale is regularly boosted over here whenever the mail arrives – this is usually delivered by Helicopter to PB SAMSOR and then moved forward by vehicles to the other checkpoints. As the helicopter lands the doors open and we wait to see how many mail bags are ready to be bundled out – often there are over 15 bags of parcels and letters full of messages and gifts from home. Everything is gratefully received over here with magazines and books passed around after being read and dusty guard rooms made cosier by children’s paintings and boxes of PG Tips! As well as the mail there is the weekly telephone call to look forward to – 30 minutes on the satellite phone is never enough to say everything you want but the phones are always in demand with a queue for the one or two handsets guaranteed every night. As they are satellite phones they only work outside in view of the sky – this was not a problem when we arrived but now a full 30 minute conversation leaves you very chilled, with Christmas phone calls promising to be a bit of a winter survival test!

Lives improving steadily

The other guaranteed way to boost morale here is to have a search dog arrive at the CP for a day or two, ostensibly here to find IEDs or bullets. Almost every soldier here enjoys petting the playful Cocker Spaniels and Labradors, or playing fetch with them once an operation is complete. Everyone is in good spirits at the moment, lucky to be in a quiet area of Afghanistan, where we can really engage with the locals and see their lives improving steadily as a result of the security we are supporting.

It is only two weeks to go now until the first of our R&R flights heads home so you can be rest assured that we are all looking forward to seeing our loved ones again, and are eternally grateful for the wonderful support you have given us so far.

Soldiers of C Company engaging with the local population in Nad e-Ali.

Soldiers of C Company engaging with the local population in Nad e-Ali.

15 thoughts on “The children are full of the same energy and vitality as those many of us have left behind

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write this article. It brings a smile to my face to know that wherever a British soldier goes, he takes a little bit of Britain (PG Tips) with him, making the place comfy. Unilever ought to sponsor you!

    It is heartening to know that the children are keen to get the sweets and pens. Although our soldiers have a difficult and dangerous task to perform, it is made far easier if they have the respect of the locals and they cannot help but warm to you if their children like you too. Hearts and minds may be an old fashioned saying, but it is as true today as it was years ago, that if the locals like you and can see the benefits you provide for them, then they reciprocate.

    I was amused about the dogs and how they are spoilt rotten by the troops. The fact is that pets (dogs and cats) can provide a bit of familiarity with home, a bit of relaxation and affection, to help the soldiers unwind after a tense day. I know that the dogs are there for a serious task, one that involves saving a soldier from stepping on an IED by detecting it early, but the importance of the play they provide cannot be underestimated. I suspect that if cats were provided too, there would be very few rats in the compounds!

    Take care on those winter nights. Afghanistan has such harsh extremes of climate. Lets hope that all your guys (and gals) return home safely to their loved ones at Christmas.

    Please give my thanks to all the troops keeping us safe at home.

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  2. I would just like to say what a wonderful job your all doing over there. I am the Director of a registered Children’s Charity based in Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The Charity is called Aid Reaching Children. We have previously taken 7 convoys of aid into Kosovo during the war, and realise how important it is for the children to have toys etc during these hard times in their country. We would be willing to send loads of pens, toys etc out to the soldiers to hand out to the children if someone from the Army is willing to take it out to them. If anyone can put me in touch with someone from Logistics I would be grateful. Many thanks and keep up the great work lads we’re all proud of you. Our contact email is aidreachingchildren@gmail.com

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  3. I allways did love the British Army. Everytime i met some of you guys or were training with you i had fun with you guys and enjoyed your company. And i never douted your fighting abilities. My hat is off to you brothers. Aaron Daniels US Army Retired

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  4. Thanks for jotting down some words on behalf of C Coy I really appreciate it and felt a bit closer to my loved one.The news of search Dog team has given even more relief to those who pray each and everyday for their safety back home. Maintaining a high morale and safety at the same time I wish you all C Coy alongwith all serving soldiers in Afghanistan a happy safe return to home.

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  5. You should take alittle…Counterterrorism Task Forces,From all Allies Also.
    These “Cult” Gang member Regimes,here in the United States(Ohio)…Are Way out of Control.One thing i am Not Understanding is,Why are these “Regimes”,Still Functioning.Why are they Still allowed to,Make Insurgencies,Militants….and travel them across the world,To Blow up our “Embassy”.These people are Raising their Children to be..Insurgencies.
    This Has Happened…Time and Time again.
    They Marry Young girls…They Abuse Their Son’s,They send them all Out to be “Militants”…At a Very young Age.
    This is making me very,very angry…
    I have a International Tribunal Name Change Already.
    Should i Change my name Again..To Protect Innocent Civilians?
    I would only have 2 or 1 Letters Left.

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  6. its great to hear how you are all getting on..especially as my son is out there with your regiment…and to hear about what your doing..is just wonderfull,i feel very much at ease to hear your all ok…thank you for your blog,many parcels are on the way …thank you and take care..we are all very proud of you all…a soldiers mum…xx

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  7. Many thanks Major Doyle for taking the trouble to post . Our son is attached to 1PWRR and every piece of info. is greatly appreciated to the family at home . We also have a need to hear from our ” boys ” , as much as they need to hear from us , they are never far from our thoughts and prayers . Keep on doing the sterling work that makes us all proud , stay safe and return home soon . God bless you all .

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  8. Thanks for this, Simon! Great to see your picture and I can hear your voice in the written word! Printing this off to share with your York “family”.
    God bless,
    Tim Jones

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  9. Well done the Tigers. Lovely to hear how you’re getting on. As with all our boys and girls who are in Afghanistan helping to make the world a safer place, you have my utmost respect and best wishes for a safe return home to your loved ones.

    Nigel (an old soldier)

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