Wrexham soldier's ready for return to Helmand

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

A WREXHAM soldier has spoken of his heart-stopping combat experiences and the pain of losing friends in Afghanistan, as he prepares to return to the battle zone.

Lance Corporal Liam Davies, 23, from Bradley, is currently training in Canada ahead of his brigade’s deployment to Helmand Province next year.

Liam, a Javelin operator and tank crewman with the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, will deploy to Helmand province next autumn. It will be the former St Joseph’s RC High School pupil’s second operational tour in Afghanistan.

Recalling his first experience, Jonathan said: “The main threats out there were the rockets that were fired at us.

“In one incident we were watching a bazaar, looking out for any abnormal activity when there was a big cloud of smoke and rockets started coming in.

“The first one landed 80 metres in front of us. We knew we had a certain window before another one would fire from the same place more accurately at us.

“I wasn’t really too interested in the rocket that was coming, but firing back to stop it.

“I was able to jump off my vehicle while two other vehicles spotted where the fire was coming from and gave me a steer.

“I locked on to the position and was able to fire the Javelin, which saved lives that day.”

He added: “I think the hardest thing I and the other guys had to deal with was the death of two of our soldiers in an IED attack that struck two of our vehicles. They were good boys.

“I don’t really know how you deal with it at the time, but I guess it’s by concentrating on the work at hand because you can’t grieve while you are out there.

“In some ways I am a bit more nervous about going back there again, but that could be because of the role we are doing will be more dismounted rather than mounted. At the same time I’m ready and excited to go.”

As part of his training for the new dismounted role Liam is currently in Canada on a new hybrid exercise to train soldiers for future operations British forces may encounter.

It consists of mixing heavy armour, infantry and artillery assets together while working in an environment that puts them against a free-thinking opposition force and insurgents as well as having civilians in the middle to add to the realism.

For the soldiers that means nights out in the arduous Canadian prairies living out of their bag with limited wash facilities for days and weeks at a time – just as they would in a contemporary operating environment such as Afghanistan.

“The training has helped a lot in the dismounted drills,” added Liam. “Its tough and arduous but it’s good.”

Liam will return with his battalion to their base in Germany in November after the exercise to move on to more specific pre-deployment training.

His parents Gwyn and Pauline live in Bradley.

See full story in the Leader

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