Corporal Paul Birkett is a Communications Systems Operator (CS Op) currently stationed with 1st United Kingdom Armoured Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment (1 (UK) ADSR) based in Herford, Germany. He recently deployed on Op HERRICK 15 where he is employed as Communications Centre (COMMCEN) Operator/Commcen IC.
He is responsible for transmitting, receiving and distributing messages within Main Operating Base (MOB) Lashkar Gah. Secondary duties include providing support via telephone to outstations around the area and monitoring the communications systems.
During December the temperature has dropped rapidly. In our accommodation which was lovely and air conditioned during the summer, the thermostat has now been changed over to heat the room in order to keep us warm. A few of the lads were reluctant to get out of bed in the mornings as it was below freezing, but we are just happy to have some heating, as most Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) do not.
The time has also come where members of the Troop are starting to depart on their two-week Rest and Recuperation (R&R). The two-week break back home enables us to relax and catch up with friends and family. The first two personnel to go are Cpl Andy Southwood and SSgt Paul Smith who will be home for Christmas. For Sgt Taff Lewis this will be a relief as he will be getting much needed respite from the daily banter which has been relentless since our arrival in theatre.
Sgt Lewis and LCpl Andrews have had to deploy out to a number of the Patrol Bases (PBs) that we are responsible for, in order to do some equipment upgrades and engineering checks. LCpl Andrews was not too impressed as he struggled to keep warm during the road moves; as an open top Jackal is not the warmest of vehicles in December. Maybe he should go onto a crash weight gain diet as there is hardly anything to him.
We had a rather interesting and amusing morning last week when the boss and I were awoken by an explosion. I jumped out of bed cursing, but I was glad I made it up first, as I managed to see the startled boss don his helmet. He left the body armour off preferring his striped pyjamas instead – very dashing I must say. We then realised it was not so close to our location, but some 500m away.
Christmas is now approaching fast and becoming more noticeable as the gifts and presents are starting to fill our communications equipment room. LCpl Chris Simpson is organising a day’s activities for the Troop on Christmas Day to keep us full of spirits and entertained. I’m sure we will have fun on the festive day, although our thoughts will be with our families back home.
I would like to say a happy Christmas to my darling girlfriend Carol and sorry for not being home.