Saturday, May 23, 2009

Soldiers receive Iraq medals

THEY were among the last British soldiers to serve in Iraq.

And now a group of Notts combat engineers – including a number from the Territorial Army – have received medals for their work in the British Army's final stint in Basra.

The Sappers included members of the TA's 73 Engineer Regiment, who served alongside their affiliated Regular Army unit, 35 Engineer Regiment, as part of 20th Armoured Brigade.

The 20th – also called The Iron Fist – was the last combat brigade in Iraq.

This week the men and women of the 35 and the 73 became the first members of The Iron Fist to receive their campaign medals.

"It was really good to be on the last tour, definitely," said Sapper Stacey Devine-Bradbury.

When she's not fulfilling her TA duties she works as a legal secretary in Mansfield.

"It's going to be really strange just sitting behind my desk. Christmas was spent on the roof of a police station in Basra city where we were upgrading the building."

Lyndsey Dove, from Mansfield, was promoted to Lance Corporal during her time in Iraq. During part of her time there her husband, who is also in the TA, was serving in Afghanistan.

"It's nice to be able to say I was there at the very end. It's an achievement and I'm glad to have done it," she said.

Corporal Dougie Douglas, a lorry driver with Dairy Crest in Nottingham, has completed his second tour of Iraq and he saw a country that was getting better.

"There's been a lot of improvement," he said. "I think overall the British Army has done an excellent job. I was proud to be a member of the team."

The Commanding Officer of 73 Engineering Regiment Lt Col Alex Hilton had flown from Nottingham to present the medals to the TA soldiers.

"I'm delighted they've all come back safe and sound," he said.

"But I'm particularly pleased and very grateful to 35 who have, as far as I can see, integrated them wonderfully and made them feel part of the team.

"It's the future for the TA, closer and closer integration with the Regular units, and it seems to have worked a treat here."

Families and other well-wishers attended the medals ceremony in Germany and watched as the troops paraded, accompanied by the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band, in front of the regiment's headquarters.

The TA soldiers will now enjoy a couple of months off before returning to their civilian jobs.

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