Next bluey to us (Ros & Gordon) Obviously, don't worry about the things he's asked us to send, except perhaps any odd mags you might have spare but I left it all in to save editing his letter. Of course he won't know this is going out to everyone, hope he/you don't mind.

30/3/03
Iraq still

Hi again

The supply route is now so bad that this is my last aerogramme! Luckily we still have stacks of bog roll & rubbish bags that we brought with us!

You'll be glad to hear that we (G SQN of JNRCR - elements of which were the first British troops across the border!) are now jobless and bored and sitting in an old industrial compound a good few tens of miles from the nearest fighting. The boss of the squadron (a regular unit) has been pleased enough with the performance of the TA section (us) attached to it that he wants to keep us for any future tasking rather than send us back to the rest of the TA unit who are retraining and doing pointless exercises far back. So we are chuffed with that.

I've had no mail yet (presumably since crossing into Iraq as he's had some of our/your mail in Kuwait, & also see below - G) but apparently a lot of the regulars are in the same boat; a lot of it has been sent about, a bit like a planning order for a vogon - sent there, sent back, signed in triplicate, buried in sand for 3 months etc. Ho hum. Given we are sitting about (I'm reading books, learning Feynman's (an outstanding theoretical physicist and lecturer of the 1970s and 80s or thereabouts - G) physics lectures on the laptop and doing occasional patrols or escort tasks in a Land Rover. And listening to the BBC.) It would be great if you could send me things to be bored with - magazines, interesting articles from newspapers, the old 'Astronomy Now' mags you're finished with. (Guess what, some of you know how we keep everything for ever here, well we had a clear out and thought how stupid to keep piles of old mags we will never read again...., anyway we sent him the last two ANs and a Scientific American - G) And anything tasty (tinned yummies like sardines, peppered mackerel, biros(! Or is it his handwriting - G), shortbread. And any red LED torches. If you could dig out a win DVD CD (duly dug & sending tomorrow - G) then I could play the DVDs I have - and send some DVDs too! I forgot to install the software. And some aerogrammes. One day we expect to have an EFI here (Expeditionary Forces Institute - like the NAAFI but for troops abroad -M) which sells such things. Of course I can't wait to visit a local shop to get stuff but the management doesn't seem very keen.

The locals seem friendly enough here - the British Army's experience in Northern Ireland & Kosovo comes in good here in policing the area with regular armed patrols and check points, but all polite and friendly to the people they meet. There are a few areas (e.g close to where we were a few days ago) where people were starting to go short of food, but I think that it is being sorted out now.

It seems that the 16 Air Assault guys aren't interested in using us for any of their operations (if they have any - their last one, a bit like Market Garden, was cancelled) which is scary (we think) for *them* - if they get 'slimed' (Ghostbusters) they will take a lot more casualties if we're not there. Ho hum - it looks as though GSQN might be attached to 3 Army Air Corps with the *possibility* of taking part in helicopter patrols.... Wow!

We're about to go out on another patrol/escort of the OC which means I'm either driving or hanging out of the back with a huge machine gun in case of ambush - although these are still very rare and the biggest danger is still runaway buses. Or falling in the cesspit in the dark.

Not sure when we'll be sent home -esp as we're not serving much of a purpose just now. When we do we should get a few weeks off before having to dekit the land rovers after they are shipped back

JUST GOT MAIL! Superb - Thanks for the nibbles and bungies and all the bits &pieces. Brushes are fine (he requested small paint brushes - G) - they are for getting sand out of the rifles and my big machine gun. Please pass on also (as this is my last bluey!) lots & lots & lots of thanks to Chez who as usual has been a star, great stuff and to Chelle - Anna's portrait of her decorates my land rover and her book is just right. Lots of teary eyes, big lift!

Lots of love

Martin


OpTelic