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Commanding Officer’s Update
Welcome to the first edition of The Mercian Messenger.
This is one way of keeping loved ones at home
Informed of what has been happening here in
Afghanistan and also thanking you for your continued
messages of support – they mean a great deal to us all.
As you will be aware, it has been a hard fought couple of months. Tragically we lost Matthew
Haseldin on 3 November and our thoughts and prayers are with his father Alan, mother Jill and
wider family during this very sad time. A number of other soldiers have been injured seriously
and are now back in the UK where they are receiving world class medical treatment at Queen
Elizabeth Hospital. I have spoken to most of them and they are remarkably upbeat in the
circumstances. Again our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this
difficult time.
I have visited all our companies over the last few weeks and am pleased to say that spirits are
high and everyone is looking forward to Christmas. Things are taking shape here in
Forwarding Operating Base Ouellette and we are ready and waiting for the winter weather to
kick in. The camp CQMS has been hard at work, ensuring everything is winterised in order to
withstand the forthcoming freezing weather.
We have had numerous high profile visits over the last few months. Unfortunately Cheryl Cole
was unable to grace us with her presence in Ouellette, much to LCpl Baker’s disappointment,
but we have had successful visits from Chief of Defence Staff, Sir David Richards and also
Deputy Commander ISAF, Lieutenant General James Bucknall.
Please continue to send your messages of support through our official website
www.standFIRM.co which will be updated regularly both here and in Holywood.
Have a peaceful Christmas and prosperous New Year; I look forward to seeing you on our
return in the spring.
Lt Col Colin Marks


WO2 Saunders (RSWO) – Life in FOB OUELLETTE
Greetings from Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ouellette and on behalf of the
Staff we would have written earlier, but we were busy and there was a lack of
toilet roll. The RSM approached me and asked me to put some thoughts down
which may have some interest to you the reader at home. This task is not as
easy as it sounds because I first had to think what I could tell you; secondly I
had to decide if any of it would be interesting.
You join us as we are
contemplating several difficult questions not the least of which is
when do I switch to my winter sleeping bag? On the face of this it
would seem a very easy question; however I have seen grown men
have hour long conversations on this subject.
Having myself deployed a little earlier than the rest of the Battalion
I have been in FOB Ouellette since the 3rd of September and “I
remember when all this was fields”, no I don’t! It always was and
always will be a big dust bowl, kind of like living in a huge egg
timer. My first few weeks were spent putting up tents and fitting out
the Headquarters or Space Headquarters, depending on your point
of view.
Very soon I was joined by the Staff, which offered much relief as I now had other people whom I knew to moan
at/with. Initially it is fair to say our new home was basic, by basic I mean just struck by a hurricane basic. It
would not be unfair to say that certain individuals deployed over their weight limit, by this I exclude their
baggage. The food was initially unfit to feed a one legged budgie on a crash diet, to the extent that at times I
thought we were under mortar attack but it was only the Senior Major’s stomach rumbling! To combat this, the
Commanding Officer, the Senior Major and the Adjutant initiated a food parcel surge that would be the envy of
the Oxfam crisis response team. Almost immediately the Headquarters was awash with biscuits, cakes, sweets
and enough coffee to keep a Paris café from the recession.
In short order the lions of Ouellette were once again basking in the sun with full
bellies. Without something to moan about we would be lost so we switched our
attention to our accommodation. For those not fully introduced to Army tents, they
do not come with nice names like “Vango lightning”, they come in sizes like 18 by
24 or 12 by 12. They also don’t come in a variety of vibrant colours; they only
come in original Quartermaster green. Most of us mere mortals are content with
fitting at least six to a tent, however for the CO and the RSM the optimum number
stopped at two. There are several trains of thought about why this is, ranging from
separating the staff in case of an incident, all the way through to confidential
conversations. I think the truth is the RSM has so much kit that he barely has room
in a tent on his own, but the CO, a more frugal man, can fit in around the RSM’s
deployed surplus store. Evidence of this was given to me by a certain Lance
Corporal whom had the following conversation with the RSM prior to spending ONE night at a patrol base
down the road. RSM: “what sleeping bag have you packed”? Corporal X: “I have packed a winter gonk bag,
you?” RSM: I have packed both (winter and summer) just in case! Cpl X: “just in case what”!
As well as surviving starvation and overcrowding, we must also be carful of Sergeant Scotty McCallum, he is a
dangerous individual despite his outwardly appearance. Many now have fallen prey to his razor sharp wit and
the laser look he gives over his glasses. On a recent trip to the Headquarters, Sergeant Oliver, the Provost
Sergeant fitted some shelves for the Adjutant. After the fitting the Adjutant was heard to remark, “Sergeant
Oliver is there nothing you can’t do”, to which Sgt Mac cut in “Infanteering”. Needless to say we all had sore
stomachs from laughing and this was the first time I have ever seen Sergeant Oliver speechless.
The Headquarters is also home to a full Platoon (+) of mice! These brave individuals run the gauntlet of traps
set out by the Senior Major, who has taken it upon himself to become the Pied Piper of Afghanistan. I have
never seen a grown man take to pest extermination with such vigour, perhaps it’s because they touched his
food in the early stages of our deployment and have therefore marked themselves for destruction.
As well as the staff we often have the presence of WO2 Cooke to keep us on the straight and narrow. Never
short of a story or two from Sandhurst, we are always kept abreast of developments in guns and munitions.
Between him and Captain Kimberlin we have the makings of our kit and equipment development and testing
cell. If we were able to marry this with the RSM’s gift of “finding stuff” we could all retire.
Contrary to popular belief we also consume a considerable amount of work in the HQ as we attempt to unravel
the mystery that is Afghanistan. There have been and will be many long days and short nights ahead but such
WO2 Micky Saunders pondering his next blog


is the burden of Command. The mission we have been given sees us holding and protecting one of the key
routes in Helmand. The Headquarters and C Company are working together to achieve this and it is proving to
be a worthy task. However as you know we will not be bowed by this and as always we will keep putting one
step in front of the other until we reach the end.
In summary if I may be so indulgent, we are here and settled in, we are being well resourced by both the
Quartermasters in Bastion and the Rear operations Group in Belfast. The Battalion as a whole and we here in
Combined Force Burma understand our mission and are doing our level best to achieve it. We will keep in
mind those we have left behind, while looking forward and holding as our guiding principle our Motto:


WO2 Saunders weekly Helmand blogs can be found on www.standFIRM.co
Fitness Training in FOB Ouellette


Remembrance Parade FOB OUELLETTE 11.11.2011
There can be no better backdrop for a parade of remembrance, than on operations in
Afghanistan. There can sadly be no better reminder for the need to remember than
having just repatriated a soldier of this Battalion. These were the conditions that set the
tone for our parade this year, as we gathered in FOB Ouellette to remember the fallen,
past and all to present.
As the clock drew towards the eleventh hour we stood together; Danes, British and
Americans, all quietly contemplating the cost that has been paid by those who have gone
before us. As the bugle finished the last post and the two minutes silence began, you
could hear a pin drop, all stood still, the majority heads bowed in silent thought.
Soon the parade was over the crowd moved away, the wreath laid by the Commanding
Officer, sat at the base of the Battalion flag, a more lasting manifestation of our pride,
respect and remembrance for another year.
The RSM, WO1 Chatterley, stands ready with the parade for the arrival of the Commanding Officer


Company HQ
The battle in the Company’s Ops Rooms to support the multiples
on the ground is a complex and demanding one, but everyone
there recognises that they do so from a relative degree of security.
Everyone focuses their efforts on maximising support to the ‘troops
on the ground’, co-ordinating the air, aviation, guns, mortars and
other ground callsigns to be able to bring them to bear in the most
effective way possible. Concurrently we are trying to co-ordinate
and mentor the Afghan National Army. It will be them that carries
on once us British troops leave. Throw in the Locally Employed
Civilians and Interpreters and you have a diverse and busy
challenge making it all click together. But it works and has already
survived some tough tests.
Welcome to the A (Grenadier) Company Mercian
Messenger update. Six weeks in to our tour in the Kopak
area of Helmand, we are extremely busy and making a real
difference. It is a particularly challenging area of operations
but the illustrious spirit of MERCIAN Grenadiers shines
through every day. We are part of the 5 RIFLES
Battlegroup and have a significant number of 2 RIFLES
attachments. The whole company group are performing
excellently and relish the opportunity to continue Standing
Firm and Striking Hard, whilst being Swift and Bold at the
same time. Morale is high, buoyed by support from home. I
hope you enjoy the messages, photos and comments from
those in Grenadier Company.
A (Grenadier) Company
We are predominantly located in PB SALAANG and CP ZARAWAR. The
Company group includes numerous different cap badges from 2
MERCIAN, 2 and 5 RIFLES, the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal
Logistics Corp, Military Police, Medical Corps, Intelligence Corps, REME
and Royal Signals. All have adopted the MERCIAN spirit and have
particularly embraced the Grenadier ethos.
We have been here now for over six weeks and in that time have
conducted over 200 patrols and numerous specific operations. This series
of ‘Ops’ are referred to as ‘KAPCHA LASI-BAM’ Ops, which translates
from Pashtu into ‘Cobra Hand-Bomb’, representing our callsign (Cobra)
and the closest Pashtu we could find to ‘Grenadier’.
As mentioned, the tour has been extremely challenging already and our
thoughts are with both the Grenadier’s and other casualties who are now
back in the UK fighting a different type of battle. Every one out here is
looking forward to seeing them over R and R and beyond. Once a
Grenadier, always a Grenadier!
A (Grenadier) Company


A Multiples’ Perspective
We are based out of PB SALAANG and have been here
for 6 weeks now. The tour is going well, and the
Company is well embedded into the local area. We are
interacting and being firm but friendly in order to provide
the security needed in the area. We show a continued
presence on the ground and are having an impact on the
insurgents. We have dramatically improved the PB from
the (shocking!) condition it was in when we arrived and
are preparing for the weather to come over the winter.
We have been lucky with sunny warm days so far but as
I write this the change is turning towards the wind and
rain to come. Welfare facilities (internet, TV, phones and
Textlink) help us through the days and nights and the
parcels and mail from everyone back home reinforces
this. Even though the footprint we live in measures
100m by 50m we manage to keep boredom at bay.
There is still a long way to go and the tour is young but
with the support from home it is much easier to keep a
positive attitude.
A Day in the Life in CP ZARAWAR
There is no such thing as an average day in Checkpoint
ZARAWAR, that is for sure. The CP lives in the centre of
KOPAK in the area of Nahr-e-Saraj South, and has been
occupied by half the men of A (Grenadier) Company and
its attachments for the last six weeks. We patrol with our
Afghan Partners the ‘Tiger Team’, dominating this lively
and diverse area of Helmand Province.
Each day most of the men based here will conduct
patrols from the CP, ranging from dominating the local
area and reassuring the local population to moving a bit
further and disrupting the insurgent’s operations. The
threat of a fight is fairly constant but, as the well-oiled
fighting machine that we are, we have defeated the
Taliban in every encounter.
Conditions in the CP austere - the main washing facility
is a stream running through the camp, and the
accommodation is restricted to a mud walled compound.
But in true Mercian spirit every one has pulled together to
make the best of it, working together to improve our new
Support from home is welcome and the mail does
eventually fight its way through. In difficult conditions, as
ever, A (Grenadier) Company are doing a brilliant job,
living up to our moto, STAND FIRM, STRIKE HARD.

A’up Dad, Tom, Grant and rest of the family hope you’re
all ok. I’m all good on this 6 month all inclusive holiday,
complete with as much stag as you want. I can’t wait to
get back and enjoy a night out back home. See you all
soon, Ste.
Hi to whoever reads this, I’m afraid to say I’m not here for
Christmas. To the household of Mom, Chick, Jason,
Michelle, James and the rest of the family and co. Hope
you are all okay and doing really well. Just so you know
everything is fine, I’m doing great and time is not going
too slow. I’ll be back to before you know, keep the
parcels coming and Happy Christmas & New Year. See
you soon, Love Jake.
Salaam Alaikum to the Pompey massive, Jane, Mum,
Sue, Pops, Chaleigh, Mills and all those behind me back
home. Missing you all, please keep the mail coming and
I’ll see you at Christmas. Love Mike x
Hi, it’s Syrus. I’m doing really well. Hope everyone’s
about as gravy as an oxo cube. A big “love you” to all my
family and friends. Miss you lots Mum, Sam, Amirah,
Zafar and Lil Seife. See you all soon Love Syrus x.
Mum, Dad, Steph, Beth, Sofie and the rest of the family.
All is going well here, please keep the parcels coming
and I’ll see you all at Christmas. Love Chris.
Susan, Rebecca, Jack & Caitlyn, Have a very happy
Christmas, I am missing you dearly and don’t forget to
write your Christmas list. I hope Santa is good to you!
Sent with millions of loves, hugs and kisses,
James/Daddy. Xxxx


Officer Commanding B (Champion) Company
The Company has now been deployed on task for 2 months in Nade-
Ali alongside 3 SCOTS. We have a number of Checkpoints that
we are responsible for manning. The majority of these are what we
refer to as partnered locations – our men live and serve alongside
members of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Police.
Checkpoint life is austere in comparison to home creature comforts;
nonetheless, it’s more than adequate for the expectations of a
midland soldier; dry rations are augmented with fresh fair and water
is supplied from Helmand’s very own spring water plant in Camp
Nobody would deny that our ability to be an effective partner depends on our soldiers establishing
trust and mutual respect between all parties. But being a good partner doesn’t mean doing their job
for them, the invariable mantra is that it is better for them to do something adequately than for us to
do something perfectly. Unfortunately this is at odds with our own soldier parlance that if a job’s
worth doing – it’s worth doing proper(ly). For years we have provided the ANSF with water and
rations and this has generated a dependency culture of its own. Their expectation that we should
continue to provide fundamental life support is now contrary to our strategy of forcing them to
become more self-reliant.
Security conditions in B Company’s area are reassuringly stable and, as yet, we have been
fortunate that we have not had to engage insurgents with direct fire weapons. A number of IEDs
have been found but these are often reported to us or to the Afghan National Security Forces
(ANSF) by the Local Nationals (LN). Such is the complex make-up of the population (we call this
the Human Terrain), aside from an insurgent threat, the greatest threat to stability in our area
currently stems from those seeking to protect their opium (poppy) crop from legitimate Afghan
Governor Led Eradication. Opium poppies are wilfully grown at the behest of insurgent and criminal
powerbrokers and impoverished farmers depend on a good yield.
The Commanders are working hard and we are maintaining a high tempo of patrolling in order to
disrupt and deter insurgent attacks. The men and women in the Company Group have access to at
least one of the following: text-link machine (mobile phone text), satellite telephone and a very
slow/unreliable internet access at the main Patrol Base that soldiers infrequently visit. They can
also send and receive e-bluey letters faster than sending/receiving traditional post. E-bluey
address: Service No/Rank/Name, B Coy 2MERCIAN, c/o 3 SCOTS, BFPO 793. All letters and
parcels should be sent to the same address but using BFPO 796.
Our morale has been dented by the news that a number of soldiers have been injured and sadly
Matthew Haseldin lost his life - these soldiers and their families are ever in the forefront of our
minds. We are determined that their sacrifice will not be in vain and our Mercian spirit and resolve is
intact - we will not veer from the mission.


(You can keep track of B Coy through Maj Adrian Garrett’s twitter updates)
B Company Locations
PB Khaamar celebrate Halloween in style
B Company is currently operating out of Patrol Base Khaamar (PBK). PBK supports a series of Check Point (CP)
Locations. From these CPs, patrols are mounted into the local area. These patrols are to ensure the local people
feel secure and deal with any of the issues which arise.
So that you can visualise where your loved ones are working from, a rough lay down of where each of these the
CPs are in relation to each other can be seen below.
Company Quartermasters
These are the guys who resupply the men on
the ground with bombs, bullets and beans (as
well as ensuring all ‘Poo bags’ are burnt which
brings with it a small financial benefit!!)
Colour Sergeant Andy (baby face) White is the
man responsible for all the equipment, clothing,
water and rations….no wonder he has no hair
left but is still a G4 Warrior.
Helping him is the grafter Pte Michael
Hennessy (Henno), who’s forever asking you to
‘say again’ due to his bad hearing. Pte Fox
(the little boy) is another of this band of merry
men who CSgt White always has slaving away.
B Coy HQ
This is the ‘Brains’ of the company. It is where plans are
made, intelligence is gathered, people looked after and
resupplies come from and the day to day co-ordination goes
through here.
The Officer Commanding, Major Adrian (rocket-man) Garrett
(pictured) is the man in charge, and is often confused as
‘That gay B Coy officer’, probably due to the amount of
moistening product that he owns! I’ll leave you to be the judge
of its affects
Company Sergeant Major, Daz (The Powerhouse) Aley can
often be found squeezing a game of darts between Old man
afternoon ‘naps’.
Company second in command is Captain Mike (Chocolate
Warrior) Brigham, this is man who can mysterious survive
without sleep!
Private Simpson AKA The Gay Somalian pirate or postman
pat. As the name suggests, this is the man who sorts all the
mail and eblueys with camp tendencies. As you can imagine
he is an extremely popular person! Lets hope that Postman
pat will be busy with all the parcels and eblueys we are
expecting at Christmas!
Rough sketch map of our current AO


CP Qudrat
This is a strange little CP which used to be a local
compound. This is where Colour Sergeant Dave
Roberts and his men call home. Pte Lycett has
prioritised his war and making best use of the gym
PB Folad
This wild bunch is commanded by Lieutenant Dave
Maddock AKA ‘Mad dog’ whose favourite route
always involves wading through rivers…cheers boss!
To help control this lot Sgt Ben Pollitt is on hand to
help. They have been attached to 3 Scots for a while
and we are hoping that they haven’t picked up the
Noor Mohammed lingo.
Lt Ben Heinrich(no its not a type of ketchup) is
the CP commander here. Cpl Ryan is his trusted
sidekick with the ultimate warriors you can see
This CP is commanded by Sergeant Gareth
Clements and is kept amused by daily stupid quotes
from Cpl White such as ‘When are the January
Sales?’ and ‘Can you see that policeman in the
blue?’ reply ‘they all wear blue uniform!’
CP Tolo
This active CP is situated on a busy road junction,
commanded by Sergeant Adam Cartledge AKA ‘Ads’.
From here patrols are often partnered with the
Afghan Uniform Police (AUP). They are also
fortunately blessed with some of the best looking
Soldiers, such as the newly promoted Cpl James!
PBK Patrols
These men (and woman) are based out of PBK
and work closely with the Afghan National
Army. Corporal Stu Collins commanders with
Lance Corporal Cromwell and Godley, AKA
Quadley who is renounced for trying to take a
Quadbike for a swim in river! Our only female
soldier, Trooper Kim Barton, works alongside
these men and enable us to have a Female
interface with the Afghan people.
Mastiff Multiple (AKA Purple Cobras)
These men man the Mastiffs (the big armoured
people carriers). They drop of vital supplies and
mail to each of the CPs and pick up people to ferry
them to different locations. One of the busiest taxi
companies in the country, however they don’t drop
off take a ways.
Congratulations to our Fijian Chef Cpl Boila (Leo)
with his new born child Leo Junior. This also means
our Clerk back in Palace Barracks, Sgt Ratu is also
an New Aunty as they are brother and Sister.
We are aware the number of pregnant wives and
girlfriends however we will wait till the birth before
they are published in later issues.


OC C (SKIRMISH) Company Message
C (Skirmish) Company Group, 2 MERCIAN, took over
responsibility for security in Combined Force Burma
on 01 October 11. The area in which we are
operating is known as Northern Nahr-e-Saraj, one of
the poorest and most deprived areas of Helmand and
a stronghold for Insurgents. The quality of the men
and women of C (Skirmish) Company Group has
proven the phrase that ‘a little British Infantry goes a
very long way’. We have made close ties with our
Afghan counterparts who we work with everyday to
improve the security of local Afghans and free them
from the oppression of the Insurgents.
The spirit of the men has been indomitable with a
professionalism that is in keeping with the finest traditions of The Mercian Regiment. The Company has
expanded to include men and women from 3 nations and some 10 cap badges. I have been humbled by their
dedication and commitment in meeting the challenges of operations in Afghanistan. The humour and
camaraderie of the Company has been exceptional throughout. Strong bonds of friendship and loyalty have
been forged through the experience of combat and the mutual hardships they have undergone.
The tour has not been without cost. Tragically we have lost Matthew Haseldin, killed in action on the 03 Nov
11. Although Matthew was only with the Company for a short period of time, he made an immediate and
lasting impression on all those that knew him. His professionalism, courage, love of soldiering and sense of
humour will live on amongst 7 Platoon and C Company. We will remember, and our lives are richer for the
time Matthew spent with us. CSgt Kennedy, Cpl Katia and Pte Maguire were all injured but are all
recuperating well. We wish them all the best for a rapid recovery and look forward to seeing them back with
the Company in due course.
Finally: a note of thanks for the tremendous support that the Company have received since day one of our
deployment. Every parcel, letter, message and e-bluey that the boys receive is an instant boost to morale. It
is obvious that the families and friends of the Regiment are standing firm behind us on this deployment and
you have the gratitude of every man and woman in C Company Group. I look forward to sending your sons,
daughters and husbands home on RnR to spend a hard earned break soon.
On behalf of all the members of C (Skirmish) Company Group I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.


C (Skirmish) Company – news in pictures
Lt Clark looks deep in thought as he prepares
his orders
Life is a big struggle
Afghanistan here we come again
We abide by a rule called COIN
Challenges we face to win the hearts and minds
Less sleep because we run dawn to dusk
People losing lives and some getting blown up
And because we want a better life for the locals
But to all of that we still stand strong
Giving thanks and praise to the almighty one
Looking forward to reach sweet home safely
Written by Pte Saho
The latest product of Afghanistan’s Pimp My Ride
Pte Smith trials the next generation of British
Army camouflage.
Some of our unwelcome friends
Father Smith delivering welfare parcels to CP Salat


J1 Cell
J1 Cell Celebrate the news that JPA is back on line
With a continual jovial sense of humour and a positive outlook
the J1Cell have continued to work hard to ensure that those
fighting forward have their administration looked after. The
RAO Capt Kirk (beam me up Scotty) Reynolds has steered
a steady ship, ensuring that each month allowances are paid
in a timely manner and are accurate! R&R is a massive task
and this keeps him very busy indeed. SSgt Sarah (I hate
mornings) Lucas has looked after a large group of civilian
local interpreters, ensuring they where ready to forge out and
forward to CF BURMA in order to support the soldiers in all
areas. Sgt Kim (my body is a temple) Ablet-Hill gets up
every day at 0500 hrs to do her own physical training regime
and has ‘invited’ the remaining Detachment members into
taking part in the Park Run every Saturday at what can only
be described as far too early in the day to get up!
LCpl Carrie Gibson has ensured that all mail has been
received and pushed forward to all 2 MERCIAN members
whether they be in CF BURMA, A or B Coy or detached to the
Estonian Coy. She has a busy job which will only get busier
in the run up to Christmas and the New Year.
Pte Bernice (I feel faint) Armstrong has enjoyed her time
on HERRICK 15 and as well as learning many news skills is
also a fully trained up Post NCO as cover for LCpl Gibson.
J3 Air Ops and J4 Operations
J4 operations team is as follows WOII (Higgy) Higginbottom MBE,
CSgt (Sting) Thornton, Cpl (Pastie) Aston, Cpl (Trisha) Thornton,
no relation to CSgt Thornton, although people say they do look
alike. Cpl (Brookie) Brooks and last but not least LCpl (Picks)
We would all like to say hello from Camp Bastian, rear ops group.
Life is busy here as every other night part of the team eat out at Pizza
hut and drink coffee at the new star bucks, “Yes really there is Pizza
hut and star bucks out here” Our role is to supply all your loved ones
with NOTHING, we don’t want to as were busy playing PS3 and
watching DVD’. All jokes aside we are the rear supply chain. We
provide any equipment the lads forward require, all mail and parcels
that you send over for your better halves along with food to keep
them on the go. Additional to this we ensure all our Lads and Lassies
get Business class seats on helicopters to their forward locations.
J4 Quartermasters Department
The QM’S departments provides all the equipment the equipment your
loved ones require, they maintain the kit to make sure that is in good
working order.
Here’s a little a bit about the team:
Capt (Eric Bristow) Magill, the name says it all he, had a wonderful
idea of a moustache competition however, his is more like a ginger
caterpillar hibernating on his top lip in anticipation on becoming a
Sgt (4 ft and a fag butt) Buck, Seems to be struggling using the toilet
as not brought his yellow pages out.
Cpl (Mustafa) Glover seems to be adapting well surrounded by other
locals. He is classed as the Dept’s own gym queen, trying to convince
him and other he’s still 26.
Cpl (Chuffing chap) Newton always first in the dinner queue. Sure he
is the only man that can consume his own body weight in meat balls.
‘Big Dave likes his food’
LCpl (pork crunch) Cadmore you never see this fine specimen of a
man without a bag of pork crunch, he is a bit of a secret feeder which
doesn’t go well with the RQ
LCpl (SAS) Dodds He is know for his tantrums, I’m sure people with
kids can appreciate its like a 2 year old losing their dummy.
LCpl (Horsie) Parker This man has got rhino horn growing out of his
foot, the QM’s are struggling to find a NSN for once to get cutting blades
for it. Might have to source a Farrier.
Welcome to the first edition of the Mercian Messenger and the
opportunity to send a light hearted note to our family and friends
back home.
As a small echelon of 32 guys and girls we look after the soldiers
needs and we will always try to go that extra mile to also provide a
little comfort where possible.
The vast amount of mail that is sorted and deployed forward to the
troops on the ground is sentiment of your support back home
which without would make our mission that much more difficult,
we thank each and every one of you.


Congratulations to Capt Kirk Reynolds on
becoming a granddad to Bella.
Congratulations to Maj Slaney on being
selected for a Regular Commission
Upcoming birthdays within echelon:
04 Dec 11- LCpl Liam Dodds
18 Dec 11 – SSgt Sara Lucas
Currently we have 5 soldiers working in MT situated in
Camp Bastian. Our team consists of WOII (Dicky)
Scales MTWO, Cpl (Jay) Hill, Cpl (Kenny)
Kennedy, Cpl Higg and Pte (JCB) Greenwood.
Being the only private in the department there’s no
surprise in who makes the brews. Our daily tasks are
too long to list (seriously) just to name a few collection
of mail, movement of troops, routine duties around
Bastian and duty driver.
On a more important point we receive and supply
vehicles and equipment to personnel deployed
forward, ensuring they are to the highest standard.
We try to keep up with fitness during our spare time
but we are struggling to get Cpl Kennedy to the gym
but at least his daily walks to pizza hut counts as
We were very busy at the beginning changing
processes within MT but we are seeing the benefits.
We are the smallest department within Echelon
containing CSgt (Carlos) Pointon, Cpl (Simmo)
Simpson and Cpl (smickers) Smith but we have
one of the most important jobs to do.
Our main role is to provide the troops deployed
forward with essential communications equipment
and life saving preventive measures such as ECM.
Some people might think our job is a little bit geeky
and boring but making sure that all the equipment
is in good working order is vital to carry out tasks
that are required to do forward.
Echelon HQ
Echelon, “A military formation in which individuals
are positioned in order to give a stepped effect”
otherwise known as “in the rear with all the gear”
The tight knit group that make up the Echelon HQ and
rule the roost so to speak are a motley crew:
The OC, Maj Fred Slaney, if not surrounded by brews
is often found smashing himself in the gym, pipe and
slippers at your age surely
WO2 Tim (the terp) Humber, the volley ball legend
with fists of fury
Sgt Ginge (DIY) Hartshorn, no need for a rifle, a
hammer, a few nails and a massive piece of wood,
LCpl Claire (The Med) Woodward – Smith, our very
own Florence Nightingale, and not a bad darts player
And Finally LCpl Isaac Newton, man without profile
that loves Star Trek and watching cricket, enough said
All personnel within Echelon
attended a Remembrance
parade to remember the fallen
from all conflicts.
All personnel took part in parades to remember the battles
of Alma and Guheluvelt; we also participated
in a little light hearted fun with a few games of volleyball
and a pub quiz (albeit without the pub) and Bingo
LCpl Cadmore in his
JCB before Pte
Greenwood rolled it
Maj Slaney, Capt Reynolds
and WO2 Higgingbottom
playing Bingo


I’m writing just after Remembrance – and it’s hard to believe I’ve been here (along with C
Company and BHQ) for well over 2 months.
Everyone is now in Theatre and settled in our various locations. I’ve been out and about
visiting the boys and girls in the smaller locations – and I’m pleased to see that people are
generally happy and working hard, despite the hard living conditions. The mail is getting
through, the telephones are working and even 10-man ration packs can be made to taste
quite nice by our talented chefs. The new ration packs are infinitely better than the old ones
and contain such delicacies as Paella, Chicken Korma and fruit pieces in natural juice; there’s
even a little bottle of green or red Tabasco sauce to spice things up when the taste-buds are
getting a bit tired.
Spare a thought too for our own Staff Boyle, Pte Gouldthorpe and the team of chefs working
at the Super Kitchen at MOB Bastion – they are working very hard producing gourmet
standard meals for over 4000 hungry soldiers every day.
Support from home is so important to our soldiers out here and we
have been overwhelmed by the number of letters and parcels that
have arrived from our friends and supporters in the UK. I get sent
loads of welfare parcels from complete strangers who just want to
show their appreciation to our boys and girls. What a difference it
makes to morale when the post arrives and someone gets a letter or
even better, a parcel from someone at home. So a big THANK YOU
to everyone who has taken the trouble to send things.
I never cease to be amazed by what simple improvements can be made
to what is essentially a bit of open desert surrounded by some Hesco
Bastion walls. The A Company lads up at CP Salaang came up with a
brilliant (and colourful) solution to a plague of flies and wasps in their
cookhouse tent. CSM Limb proved a dab-hand with some multi-coloured
mozzy nets and hey presto! The only bit of colour for miles around – you
could use it to guide in the helicopters it’s so bright – and NO MORE
FLIES while you’re eating your dinner. With a little help from the Royal
Engineers, CP Salaang also got its own little well – perfect for filling the
Solar Shower Bags.


The REME lads have their work cut out, maintaining our vehicles and
keeping everyone safe in them. ASM Fishwick up at FOB Ouellette does
a fantastic job with the help of his hard working team. I couldn’t resist this
action-shot of one of our vehicle mechanics getting to grips with one of
the Huskies.
I’m based at MOB Bastion for the weekends as I provide Church Services here for the whole MOB. One of the benefits of
this for 2 Mercian is that I get to see all of our injured soldiers who need hospital treatment and/or AeroMed back home.
The Echelon staff too are really good at making sure that any injured or sick Mercian gets first class care from his own
Cap Badge. I can’t stress enough how fantastic is the Medical Chain at preserving life and getting the injured the care
they need.
The Hospital at Bastion is second to none, staffed by leading NHS doctors and nurses. We’ve had a fair few injured
soldiers - and I hope our families back home will take comfort from the knowledge that any injured soldier receives first
class care and attention in Theatre.
In November, our thoughts always turn to Remembrance. It’s a big thing in
Theatre as well as at home. There is the usual Church Parade and Service on
Armistice Day (11th November) and on Remembrance Sunday. Even in the
smallest Patrol Base, everything stops to remember those who have made the
supreme sacrifice. It’s hugely moving, whatever the location. This year especially
so – since that same week we said goodbye to Private Haseldin and returned his
body to the UK.
I conducted the main Armistice Day Church Parade at FOB Ouellette. There was
an Op going on at the time – but we still managed to get a good number on
Parade for the service. Good traditional hymns (I vow to thee, my country & O
valiant hearts) and even two jobbing pipers from 3 Scots who happened to be
visiting the FOB and at a loose end. I had rather hoped that the Commanding
Officer (who is a very accomplished piper himself) might have been persuaded to
play for us – but I suppose even our CO couldn’t be expected to lay the wreath
AND play the piper’s lament simultaneously.
After the service, I leapt onto a resupply convoy for the road move back to
Bastion: I had another service to take that evening. On Remembrance Sunday,
Echelon held a Remembrance Service for all at Camp 501. During the service, CSM Humber read out the names of all
from 2 Mercian who had given their lives since the start of the present Afghan Campaign. It was a very moving moment,
coming immediately after the Kohima Epitaph (when you go home, tell them of us and say “for your tomorrow, we gave
our today”).
Please keep us all in your prayers.
God bless,
Father David Smith RAChD

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