Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - We deployed in Iraq in 2006, we then deployed to Kosovo. From there we then deployed to Afghanistan. - Well you've been through quite a lot son, haven't you? - Yes. (solemn music) - Hi. - Hello young man, how are you? - Nice to meet you. - How are you? - Pleasure. (solemn music) - How have you been? Are you okay? - Not so bad, yourself? - On the spot. - On the spot. - There is a stack of them here, isn't there aye? - Oh yeah. - Which war did you fight in? - The Second World War, my flotilla was the third flotilla. And there was 12 of us. We took part in the North African Campaign. And then we went on to the invasion of Sicily - How long were you away for? - Two years. In them days it was a different war, you had to go where you were sent. And some lads went to North Africa and went right through, and never got home till war after D-Day. The other wars that followed this, it's an entirely different war then what ours was. - I think it goes through generations, it goes from one war to another. - It frightening to see what happens to these modern wars. You're fighting an enemy, you do not know where they is. For a start like in our war, As long as you were going forward, you were going the right way. You get in Afghanistan, he can come up behind you and you don't know he's there. From my way of thinking I wouldn't like to have fought in that war, I'll be honest with you. - See that's where I think the two change because I wouldn't like to fight in your war. Because in my eyes being on a ship. - Probably safer on a ship son. I can't swim. - You can't swim? I thought you were a sailor? - They never taught me. Where would you swim to? If you're a long way from home, don't matter whether you can swim or not. - After training I got to battalion, and then we deployed to Belize. We went for 6 weeks in the jungle training. And that was pre-training for Iraq. We deployed to Iraq in 2006. That was a six month tour, turned into a seven month tour. And we were deployed to Saddam's Palace in Basra South. Where we patrolled and did Strike Ops. After there we come back. I went on to do my promotion. We then deployed to Kosovo, that was for peace keeping. And then from there we then deployed to Afghanistan. So completely different operations all together. From armored to foot. - You've been through quite a lot son haven't you? What are your feelings towards the enemy now, in comparison to at the time? That's a good one that. - At the time I didn't, it's weird because I'm probably going to stand out here. I didn't have any hate for them. I believed that we were fighting in someone else's country, and they were defending it in a way. But I think that is one of the reasons why I left. Because I didn't believe in it in the end. I think I fought that hard, I was fighting an enemy so much, that I was equal to them. If some one can get a number of men, in front of me and fight me and my men. To the extreme that they were fighting, us, then hats off to them. What about yourself? - Well we fought the Germans to win the war. That's what was bred into you. And it took me until about 1970, before I could really, see me way clear. I have nothing against them now. It took me all that time to realize, they were the same as us. Doing what they had to do. - Have you ever fired a weapon? - Yes on the landing craft. I was an anti-aircraft gunner. We had six Oerlikons and a 12 pounder on her. I fired that many times through the war. It's a different thing, it's not like firing a rifle. Like a soldier has to rely on a rifle. I had to rely on me anti-aircraft gun. Whenever you're in imminent danger, you're called to action stations. And if the planes come at you, then you have to fight back. And on the Oerlikon you had a shield which you look through, the gap so to speak. It always give you that feeling that they couldn't hit you. Which was a silly way of thinking, but it give you a bit of feeling of comfort, if you know what I mean. - With us, we were just rifles, well rifles and GPMG's (General Purpose Machine Gun), which are 7.62 belt fed. - You'd be lost without your rifle or your gun wouldn't ya? - Yeah. (laughter) - Afghan,I had a section of eight lads, very good lads as well. We would be getting in 360 ambushes. It would basically we would get hit by an IED, you would have someone from front, right left, coming from the top of the compound, and they're basically just spraying you with rapid fire. With the 7.62. Once you got into the fire fight, you could never tell what was going to happen, but you always knew it was going to be a well oiled machine, the way your S.O.P's kick into place, the way your lads - they just knew. Because of the amount of training you did, we knew exactly what we where doing. - How do you think soldiers are viewed in society? - It all depends on how the media portrays us. Remember going back from Iraq, we landed in the Teesside, and we had groups of people, that were not happy we were there. They were British people, because the media portrayed us as killers, as murderers. Flipping the coin when we come back from Afghan, we were portrayed as heroes. The whole country rejoiced, "save our heroes". Obviously your generation. - Well I think the war had lasted so long, with ours. They were glad to see the people back home. And I think most soldiers and sailors, any serviceman. was looked upon, and said thank you to them. For getting their freedom in one way. They were glad to see the war over. I can understand the difference now. It's a different generation, - Different wars. - Well you find it, I know. - When your in a war zone and as you know, you've got that constant stress above your head of what's next, what's next. You're constantly on high alert and constantly irate. It only takes one person to look at you, and you're ready to fight straight away. Hence why when soldiers come back home, and someone looks at you the wrong way, you're already in fight mode. It's been 12 years and I'm still in fight mode, I don't think I will ever change that. - If you fight in a war it's them or us, so to speak that's my way of thinking. And so let it be. - But when I was out there it was my lads, my lads are coming home no matter what. I don't care who you are, my lads are coming home. - Have you ever lost a member of your company? - I want to answer it but I don't, at the same time. Because we've lost quite a lot of lads, from our Battalion. Or our regiment, I say regiment because it's one RGJ and two RGJ. Today's the 10th anniversary for a lad we lost, called Paul McAleese. He was my screw we lost him 10 years today. We lost quite a lot yeah, I think I will leave it there. Don't wan't to go too much into it. Have you ever suffered a serious injury? - I've only had a back flash from a gun, which sometimes with an Oerlikon, after it gets hot the thing sort of blows and you get a flash. But nothing serious. - Apart from a few broken sprains and broken wrist, and stuff like that. A major one would be probably mentally. And this is as you know a massive epidemic, that is going through the military at the moment. For veterans and for still serving, is mental health. Past 13 years I've really suffered, like really really suffered. But I've sort of like batted it backwards, and kept moving forward do you know what I mean? I think with my age now I've got the age, where it is like I've got my family and all that. I've got to stay straight, do you know what I mean? But it does creep back a lot. I think having me daughter is kicking it up the arse quite hard. But I think if I didn't it will probably still be like that, you know what I mean? But I know a lot of lads a lot of girls, a lot of soldiers are suffering Do you miss the forces? - That's a good question. I don't think I missed it. I was away about four and a half years I served and I was glad to get out. No, that's my answer to that I don't know about yourself. - No, a lot of lads have their issue with it, saying I miss the army I wish I could go back. But I think what it is is it's regimented, it's such a routine where that is your life. And you do that for three to seven to 22 years. I left and it was like "Oh, I'm struggling here." But it was because it was the unknown. I don't miss it, I miss the lads, - Comradery. - Yes - That's about the only thing you miss? - Yeah, although don't get me wrong, I miss fire fights believe it or not, I miss getting into fire fights. I miss the weapon handling, I miss teaching it. But that can be replaced by anything If you find another passion or another love in life you replace it with that, you know what I mean? Is there anything you regret about your service? - Not really, through the years I am proud to have been a part of it. It took all my youth, If I hadn't have been there, I'd have missed quite a lot. And no, I don't regret it, one hapeth.