Soliders make will before heading to war

DANGERS facing young soldiers leaving Suffolk for Afghanistan were brought home to them when they were reminded to make a will.“Have you made a will?” was one of the last minute questions for soldiers from 23 Engineer Regiment as they queued up at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge.

DANGERS facing young soldiers leaving Suffolk for Afghanistan were brought home to them when they were reminded to make a will.

“Have you made a will?” was one of the last minute questions for soldiers from 23 Engineer Regiment as they queued up at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge.

They took their turn in the sports' building to check up on life insurance, ensure that their medical and dental records were in order, examine their passports and identity discs and obtain American dollars.

These checks for their deployment papers, after weeks of preparation for a tour lasting between four and six months, brought home to the soldiers from 61 (field support) squadron the task awaiting them.

Although they are not on the front line they will play just as vital a role as everyone else in the dangerous Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan as part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade.

They leave behind the Army's most modern barracks, opened two years ago at a cost of £80million, and they will live in rather more primitive conditions on a landscaped scarred by fighting in temperatures of more than 100F.

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They will have access to modern technology to keep in touch with loved ones. Email access is provided but the days will be long and tiring involved in construction jobs.

Nineteen-year-old Charlie Allsop has a pack of cards and a Playstation in his kit bag. Sapper Allsop said: “The experience of it all, that's what I'm looking forward to. I will miss my girlfriend but I'm not really worried about anything else, I just want to go out there and do my job.”

Matthew French has three tours of Iraq and two tours of Kosovo under his belt. The 29-year-old lance corporal leaves behind a wife, Stephanie, a six-month-old son Brandon, Madison, two, and stepson Lewis, nine.

He said: “This is going to be a less relaxed tour than going to Iraq because there is more danger. I am definitely going to miss my family and will send them letters and emails.”

Hundreds of troops left Woodbridge in March for Afghanistan, another 60 are flying out from RAF Brize Norton, and the deployment means there is no Open Day for the public.