Herrick 18 Stories Part 1: Chefs, Cherry Bakewells and the Combat Granny

Captain Mau Gris

Captain Mau Gris

Captain Mau Gris is team leader for the British Army’s Combat Camera Team (CCT) based in Afghanistan throughout the summer 2013 as part of 1 Mechanized Brigade. Op Herrick 18’s CCT also includes Sergeant Barry Lloyd – video cameraman – and Sergeant Barry Pope – photographer.

Meet the team

This is the first blog for the combat camera team out here in Helmand, Afghanistan. We are here to get the stories of our service personnel back to the UK. That can be words, photos, radio and video. It’s that simple. We get to travel all over Helmand province covering anything and everything forces related in Afghanistan.

So here is the team: Sgt Barry Lloyd is our video guy. All the video stuff you see over this summer is shot by him. He’s the strong silent type who likes to scowl while he thinks. He says he’s a former extreme unicyclist, I am not really sure what that is but it sounds impressive. He’s a plastic Scouser from Southport and the most experienced of us all. He’s already done a tour as a combat camera team photographer.

Sgt Barry Pope, His Holiness, from Dundee, is our photographer. He is a former chef who has spent the last two years training people in photography. Now frankly, he just wants to be able to take some of his own. He is a motorcycle instructor with a fetish for Cherry Bakewells, but only the Mr Kipling version!

Then there’s me, Captain Mauricio Gris. I am the team leader. The son of a Mexican father and Irish mother, I began my Army career in the Household Cavalry. I am the principle writer/interviewer for the team, so all the spelling mistakes, howling grammar and boring questions are mine.

First jobs of the tour

Major Marie Semple. Photographer - Sgt Barry Pope RLC

Major Marie Semple. Photographer – Sgt Barry Pope RLC

We arrived about three weeks ago and completed our in-country training to make sure we were up to speed with the latest intelligence and training. It was then straight out into the field finding stories.

First up is 55-year-old Army nurse Major Marie Semple, who at the tender age of 43 decided she wanted to join the Army as a nurse. Marie immediately got mobilised to go to Iraq. Now she is on her third tour, the second of Afghanistan.  She can still run and tab with the best of them, easily running a mile and half in 12 mins 30 secs. Marie is affectionately known as ‘Combat Granny’ by her work colleagues.

Following our Combat Granny story came a chef award ceremony. 4 Mech Brigade, the outgoing unit who have almost completed their tour, were recognising eight of their 81 chefs.  These Army chefs will routinely be cooking for 50 people three times a day for the full six months in some of the most austere locations in Helmand.

Read about one of the commended chefs here

We also visited the Thunder Lab in Herat Province in the west of Afghanistan. The Thunder Lab is an English School for prospective Afghan helicopter pilots. We met two young future RAF pilots teaching the Afghans English, all by themselves in an American camp with a few Italians.

Ok guys, that’s it for the moment. Next time I promise less about us and more about the men and women we meet on our travels.


Follow Mau on Twitter: @mau_gris

3 thoughts on “Herrick 18 Stories Part 1: Chefs, Cherry Bakewells and the Combat Granny

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