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Op Telic (Iraq), Jan-May 2003

I was mobilised in January 2003 with 2 1/2 weeks notice, to serve with the Westminster Dragoons (MOD Site) on Op Telic. The WDs are an NBC (Nuclear Biological & Chemical) Reconnaissance & Decontamination unit - ie one of the most expensive car washes in the world, although we are unusually enthusiastic about the army ethos 'fighting soldier first, specialist second'.

Very few friends or relatives of mine (or indeed many of the other members of the WDs) are military or know military people, so it was quite a new experience for all of us. Except of course for the older relatives who had been through it all in much more desperate times 60 years ago!

I managed to send some emails home, and then my parents and friends very kindly typed up any letters I sent and distributed them on the same email list so everyone was kept in touch. Apparently some people find them quite amusing so here are most of them: 3 Feb (bit of news), 4 Feb (wot more news already), 6 Feb (end of basic training), 15 Feb (end of less basic training), (break for leave), 1 Mar (waiting for the green company). 'Blueys' (aerogram letters) from theatre: 10 March (respray scrawl), 11 March (to A Coy), 19 March (to mum & dad), 19 March (to Chez), 19 March (to A Coy), 20 March (Iraq), 30 March (Iraq), 31 March (That Email), 6th April (Chester GOSP), 10th April (3AAC), 12ish April (email from Kuwait), 21st April (Peace Keeping in Al Qurnah), 23rd April (Peace Keeping in Al Qurnah), 26th April (Peace Keeping in Al Qurnah). There were a few more but a rather overzealous friend burned them in case there was anything 'sensitive' in them. They were in a similar style... You know who you are... We know where you live... :-)

There's a shambles of a diary, which is not yet complete: Callup: wakeup callup, short notice, hyperactiveChilwell: testing, paperwork, pay, becoming a regularGrantham: training drinking sleeping trainingKnook Camp: preparing kit, training, leave, Chelsea barracks, travelling with HM ServicesArrival: Meeting the regulars, proving ourselves, bad management. • Attached: Join G Sqn JNBCR, waiting for go, kit prep kit prep kit prep, bits of retraining, sand storms. • The War Starts: not playing frogger, incoming Scuds, gas gas gas, crossing the border. • Dallas/Tampar: many moves, a bridge too smallThe War Settles: Chelsea GOSP, Stagging on, escorts, our colleagues leave, phase 2 Peacekeeping: Rerolling, Al Qurnah, the garden of eden, sweat tea and badly designed manhole coversGoing Home the long wait, some examples of appalling management, high speed Chilwell, the first pint, home sweet home.

For anyone who gets a short notice callup, this Kit List might be useful. I also took an mp3 player (apple ipod), a good digital camera (Kodak 4330) which took some excellent quality photos, better than many 35mm (well it should have better optics at that price!), and a cheap palm pilot (Sony CLIE) with lots of books on it. And I am so glad I splashed out on them.

Also hosted on this site is the web version of a booklet published by the Westminster Dragoons. Colin Horne has got a great set of pictures, and there are more here by Kevin Belcher. If anyone else from JNBCR or RY has stuff on the web I'd be glad to link to it.

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