Soldiers catch up with their Chad

TROOPS from across the area serving with the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles in Afghanistan take time out from their energy-sapping duties to relax with their favourite local paper — nearly 4,000 miles from home.

It is a rare opportunity for 'the boys' to take a well-earned breather from their work in the war-torn nation, where they have now spent many weeks stationed in the former hotspot town of Sangin.

The majority of soldiers from the 150 strong A Company are now based in Forward Operating Base Jackson, both in an around the town — where they play a vital role supporting nearby soldiers.

And Company Sergeant Maj Pete Burney, of Clipstone — who is responsible for A Company in Sangin and its district centre — says he and his men are kept busy round-the-clock.

"It's a great job out here looking out for the Rifleman, who are working a tough but rewarding role out here in Sangin," he said.

"We're on permanent standby ready to assist the guys on patrol should they ever need it, so there's rarely a quiet moment".

Fellow Clipstone man, 18-year-old Rifleman Andrew Francis, is serving as an infantry signaller — providing a vital role relaying messages between troops.

The former Garibaldi College student says he is slowly settling into his new surroundings, but is missing the comforts of proper a shower — although he is more than happy to cool off in the Helmand River after patrols.

Also manning communication systems is 21-year-old Ollerton Rifleman Sean 'Maddie' Madison, who says: "I'm really missing my fiance April, but I never miss her telling me off!".

And Rfn Ben Taylder (23), of Selston, is another soldier missing his family and friends — closely followed by his three pet gerbils waiting back at the Battalion's barracks in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland.