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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

1.3 - TWO MUMS: With Two Sons in Afghanistan


30/6/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

I asked Dale about Alex yesterday and told him to keep me up-dated as Alex might not be able to get in touch with you. He sent another email this morning. This is exactly what Dale wrote.

Alex’s doing fine, I wish I was there with him. It’s a good routine they have down there and relatively easy. Up here even in the middle of a war zone we have a dress code. Have to be in my issue sandals, shorts with belt and t-shirt tucked in. At a PB you just crack what you want. He isn't getting much food though as rations are limited.


I have gone back to him regarding the food for more info, but I think he means they just get the standard. I will try to keep you as updated as I can. It was a fairly brief email and Dale just said he was thrilled about Nathan's results and said he might try and ring him later.

Ian and I are partaking in a cycle ride on Saturday 17 July on behalf of Holidays for Heroes. We are trying to help them raise £3000, which will provide six holidays for young men in Jersey who would not otherwise be able to go away. Some will have been injured, but others may have no visible scars but are still very much in need of rest and recuperation.

I have already written to Dale and invited Alex and Mikey here when they get back. We only have a small place, with one spare room, but we have a sofa and the three of them will be very welcome.

Rozel Bay is good for the soul. I have attached a photograph so you can see where we are and why Dale loves this place. Our family holidays were spent camping just further up the hill from where the photograph was taken. There is limited parking so it is never busy and everyone goes home at the end of the day. I think it will be just what they need.

We are thinking of you too, this is a very difficult time for all parents and the sooner all the boys are home the better.

Kind regards

Kate



30/6/2010: to Kate

Hi Kate - and thank you so much for spending precious time communicating with Dale about Alex. I really appreciate it! I'd better rush off to Waitrose and buy the boy lots of tins of food.

How ridiculous to have to have a dress code in Jackson! Fancy having to tuck in your shirt when it's 50 degrees plus. I can see now why the disadvantages of no electricity etc. must seem unimportant.  I hope Dale's right when he says it's relatively easy in Pylae; reassuring if so.

Your place in Jersey looks idyllic! (Must stop beginning each para with an exclamation mark - oops, nearly did it again.) And it's so kind of you to invite them all.   I don't know Mikey, although I did meet him at one of those Family Days; do you? I think he's a fair bit older than either D. or A.

As you know, the boys are also v. welcome in France, or here if they want a bit of urban living for a change. Perhaps they could just drift from one family to another - being spoiled rotten in the process of course.

The bike ride sounds a brilliant way to spend a Saturday.  I too have been thinking about doing something either for Help for Heroes, or just for the Marines. There's a run near here in early September, but I think we'll be away then. (Also I'm not quite up to 10k yet; 2k is more like it - on a good day.)

If I don’t join an organised charity event, I think I might try to organise a concert of some sort in the autumn. (As you may know, I play the cello and am involved in lots of chamber music playing.) We’ll see.

Finally, what grade did Nathan get? It's obviously good! Well done him, especially when he's had Dale to worry about whilst revising.

As you say, how lovely to have such a happy distraction for a while.

All the best

Anna 



30/6/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

I know the 'food' bit is not great news but Dale has been sent plenty of extras to share around and I know that he will see Alex has what he needs when they are back for supplies.  I am sending my last boxes next week as agreed with Dale as he thinks that will be about the right time.

I suspect the chaps will really enjoy being spoiled when they get back.  Dale has spoken about a roast dinner every time he has called.

Nathan got a 2:1 in Script Writing, which is absolutely fantastic considering we had to drag him through his A Levels.  I think we are just very fortunate that he has found something he really enjoys but I'm not sure where he will go from here.  He did briefly consider teaching, but he spent a couple of his summer holidays looking after children in Kings Sports Camp.  He came away very tired and said he didn't even like the noise they made when they were happy, so that was the end of that!
  
Will let you know if I hear more.

Kind regards

Kate



30/6/2010: to Kate

Hi again Kate,

Just back from watching the Murray match at Wimbledon - which was nail-biting, but very good fun.

Only a short response, as it's late and I haven't eaten yet, that will you please put me down as one of your sponsors for the bike ride? Should have said so earlier, but obviously wasn't on the ball (sorry, it's the Wimbledon effect) this morning.

How many miles are you doing?

All best

Anna



3/7/010: from Kate

 Hi Anna

Thank you for your email.  I've not heard from Dale and I guess you will have seen the news over the last couple of days.

 I had a couple of wobbly days last week caused by a combination of anxiety and sleepless nights. 

Ian went sailing at 7.00 a.m. today and is still not back.  I went to town and found a dress for Nathan's graduation.  It's not too fancy and looks like it will able to withstand travelling scrunched up in hand luggage.  There was also a little bag and a pair of comfortable looking wedge sandals.  It was a pleasant distraction.

What a shame about Andy Murray, maybe next year. I'll let you know when I hear from Dale. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Kind regards

Kate



3/7/2010: to Kate

Hallo Kate,

Yes I had read the news, and was concerned not to have heard from you. Anyway, very relieved that things are ticking over at your end. I don't think a name has been released yet, has it?

We've had a couple of hurried phone calls from Alex during which he said things had been pretty quiet.  Then read on the MOD website that his troop had been involved in some pretty hairy confrontations with the Taleban. Sometimes feel v. old now that he is obviously sparing his parents details about what he's really doing. Next thing we know he'll be talking ever so slightly LOUDER and SLOWER to us so that we can get the drift!

I know I recommended not going onto the RNCM website - at least the Discussion forum - but if you do sign in there are some reports from the 'Roving Rev' which give quite a good idea of what life is like for the guys out there; plus there are some photos of Jackson and elsewhere, including one of (I think) Dale's troop. See what you think.


Glad you managed to find a suitable outfit for Nathan's graduation. We need all the distractions we can get. What kind of script writing does Nathan want to do?

Sorry you've had a couple of horrid days. But, dv, it's not long now.

All the best

Anna


5/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

Thank you for sharing your news.  I read about Alex's troop and like you had drawn the same conclusion about sparing the details.  I did have a quick look at the RNCM website and was surprised at how graphic it was at times.  I am hoping it stays quiet now and that the worst is over.

The MOD has still not named the latest casualty but I guess it could be something as simple as some of the family may be away.  I cannot help wondering how these losses will have affected Dale and Alex. 

We didn't do much yesterday other than sit at the end of the pier and drink some wine in the afternoon sunshine.  I've decided rose is the Devil's agent disguised as pink lemonade..... it disappeared with shocking ease but made for a very relaxing evening.


I will let you know if I hear from Dale.

Best wishes

Kate



6/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

I had a brief email exchange with Dale a few minutes ago. He said Alex was fine when he saw him yesterday and that he wished he was with Alex and out of Jackson. I imagine they will have stocked up on food and goodies so they will be a bit happier.

One thing Dale mentioned is that it may be 5th or 6th August before they are 'released'.

Kind regards

Kate



6/7/2010: to Kate

Thanks for letting me know, Kate.

I can't believe we may have to wait another week before they come home! Let's hope Dale has been wrongly informed.

I found a short video on the net about the Pylae IED business. Weird to see one guy commentating on the action in real time while another threw a smoke bomb.

There were also two photos of the accommodation there. Not for the faint-hearted!

All the best

Anna



7/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

I did see something on YouTube but Ian said I had to turn it off and not watch any more.  I am really unclear as to what the attraction of Pylae is, or why anyone would want to be there.  Dale is on antibiotics for a stomach bug with the usual nasty side effects.  His girlfriend said she had spoken to him and that she sensed the tension as the tour draws nearer the end.  It's going to be a long three weeks.

Will let you know if hear more.

Kind regards

Kate



7/7/2010: to Kate

Good morning Kate

Goodness you are up and at the computer early! 

Yes, it's difficult isn't it? I for one want as much news and information as I can get - mainly because it helps me to understand a little about what life is like out there for Alex and Dale. On the other hand, too much knowledge is, as they say, a dangerous thing, as it inevitably results in increased anxiety. I certainly haven't managed to get the balance right.

I'm sorry to hear Dale is unwell - although, provided it isn't too horrid for him, he is presumably off patrol duty for the moment, which must be a good thing. I feel as if I haven't heard from Alex for ages, although looking in my diary I realise it is only 5 days ago since he last rang. So do please keep on relaying any info you get from Dale - and I'll do the same for you.

Having said that, rather reluctantly I'm off to France for eight days tomorrow. It feels a bit as I'm deserting my post, if you know what I mean. And it's made worse by the fact that there's no internet at our house, nor any English TV.

However, I have asked ex-pat friends of ours if I can call round to check my e mails so I won't be completely out of touch - just slightly less responsive than usual. So, again, please do keep me in the loop. I'm back on Friday the 16th.

All the best

Anna



7/7/2010: from Kate

 Hi Anna

I am usually in work around 7.30 a.m. and that is after a cycle ride and shower. I just keep getting up earlier and can't see the point in waiting around at home when I am up (most of the night these days).

Dale is still on patrol, but I must confess I had hoped it would be enough to have grounded him.

I understand what you mean about France and I feel the same just heading off to Newcastle for a few days.  It is good that you have some friends that can keep you updated though. 

As usual, I'll email if I hear anything at all.

Take care.

Kind regards

Kate



7/7/2010: to Kate

Hallo again,

Just to let you know I've just had a long chat with Alex. He's fine though, I'm guessing, disillusioned with Afghanistan and the 'medieval' way of life there. Rather surprisingly, he commented on how 'rubbish' the women's lives were (although they didn't seem to realise it) and how, when he looks at their children, all he can think of is what a terrible life they're going to have when they grow up.

He also said that, yet again, parcels and mail are slow to arrive - this time because the helicopters keep getting attacked, so they are flying less frequently.

He's seen Dale a couple of times when they've gone up to collect stores, but only en passant I think.

All best

Anna 



7/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

That's good news, thank you.  You certainly seem to do better with telephone calls than I do.  I suspect Dale speaks to El more than me these days.  

Alex is very good at sharing his experiences, I find out more from others than I do from Dale.  I wonder if he will have more to say when he gets home.

What a shame about the parcels, I have one more to go, but wonder if I should bother as he will have a backlog by the sound of it. 

Anyhow, won't keep you.  Have a good trip.

Kind regards

Kate



 8/7/2012: from Kate

And you have a good trip to Newcastle!

All the best

Anna 



10/7/2010: from Kate

 Hi Anna,

Just to let you know that we had an email from Dale.  They are okay.  The casualty on Thursday was a friend (Dave Hart). 

We still have friends here so this is brief email.

Kind regards

Kate


10/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

I spoke to Dale and he was okay.  Just okay and said the last two weeks had been really tough.  He saw Alex yesterday and said he was doing great. We chatted for about 10 minutes about really mundane things like trying to find somewhere to live in Nottingham and the cost of flights. Dale said he couldn't wait to get home and that he hoped the three weeks would fly by.  He was really tired and sounded weary.  He had only received one of the parcels I had sent in the last few weeks but like Alex mentioned the helicopters being shot at. 

He also spoke about Dave and said that they all thought he would make it.  Two of the other lads injured are back in the UK and both should be fine. I asked Dale to keep in touch and to give your love to Alex.

Kind regards,

Kate



13/7/2010: to Kate

Hi Kate,

Just purloined a friend's computer to say thank you for the news. I think they must all be very tired now and just going through the paces. Not having had R & R doesn't help. Is Dale feeling a bit better now?

I haven't heard anything about Dave or the other two. Are they in C Coy - and what happened? I think, as I said before, Alex avoids telling me things that might worry/ upset me.

I, too, had a call a couple of days ago.  Amazingly he managed to get through to me here in France in the few minutes I wasn't hacking back the undergrowth.  Things grow amazingly fast out here! He seemed fine, and said Dale seemed to be getting on ok as well so, like you, told him to tell Dale to send love etc. 

Otherwise we too talked mostly about what it's like out there for him. I find it quite difficult talking about things here as they seem incredibly mundane.

Anyway, better go as don't want to take up too much of friends' time.  I'm back on Friday so will write again then if have any more news. In case I don't have a wonderful time at Nathan's graduation!

All best

Anna 



13/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

It's good to hear from you and even better that you managed to speak to Alex.  I'm emailing Dale on a daily basis now and have asked Nathan to see if he can get a few friends to do the same.  We are just going to make sure that he has as much contact as possible over the next few weeks.

Will be in touch if I hear more.

Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Kind regards

Kate



14/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

I am hoping that you have heard from Alex again? Dale rang this morning on my work phone, which he has never done before. He said that he couldn't say much but the Marine who died yesterday was a friend of theirs. He said Alex was okay and that he might be out of Pylae today, which I think must be a good thing. I asked him to see if Alex could give you a quick call if it was at all possible.

Dale said things were very tough and that they had fought like crazy to save this chap, but he helicopter could not get him to Bastion. He said we would know more later, but the tension is his voice was obvious. I have to confess that I am really quite scared now and that I think I might be better off being in an induced coma for the next two weeks.....

Nathan's internet is down at the moment, so I might try to get a few people to email the chaps with some words of support and encouragement via Facebook.

I am thinking of you and am grateful for the contact we have had over the past few months. I am sure it has been easier having someone who really understands to share all of this with.

Kind regards

Kate



14/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

I know you are not back until tomorrow but I just thought I would appraise you of a couple of events in the last day or so. I did speak to Dale and I emailed you afterwards. I then contacted four of his friends on Facebook and asked them to email Dale, Alex and Mikey a few words of support and encouragement as mail and parcels were not getting through. John came back to me almost immediately and said he would. He must have also mentioned something to the lads at 40 Command RMR, as on Wednesday evening my mobile rang.

It was the CO. He had called to find out what contact and support I received whilst Dale was on deployment. I had to advise him that I had had no contact whatsoever with anyone other than yourself and that I was beside myself with worry.

I think the best description of what happened next would be total meltdown. I completely lost myself and I let him know that I was absolutely furious and that I wanted his assurance that they were not pressing forward without more backup. I had heard on the grapevine one or two worrying things and I told him what I was so angry about.

He didn't deny any of my accusations, but did assure me that Dale, Alex and Mikey were all bound for home on either 29 or 31 July. He then said they would be in 40 Commando for a week and after that another week in Chilwell - no mention of Cyprus. He again restated that he was astonished that no one had been in touch with me.

This morning Mikey's father called me. He said that Mikey was back in Bastion, and finally revealed that Mikey was there to pall bear Dave Hart's coffin for the flight home. He was trying to be very reassuring and seemed to know quite a lot about Pylae, Sangars and the Bazaar.  He seemed to think that as Mikey was older, and that Alex and Dale were students, they should be more sensible and not as gung-ho.

I'll be in touch if I hear from Dale. Take care.

Kind regards

Kate



15/7/2010: to Kate

Thanks Kate,

I really appreciate you keeping me in the loop. Can't spend time writing now as at some friends and we're off to supper shortly. But will be in proper contact tomorrow. Funny how being away from internet for just a week makes you feel so out of touch.

So glad you told the CO what you thought - and think.

A demain

Anna 


To be continued...

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