Apr 29 2011 by Lisa Boyle, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
l AS the Royal Highland Fusiliers mark the end of their gruelling six month tour of Afghanistan, The Post looks back over how we covered it.
l THE 2SCOTS raise money for charity by completing a marathon along Ayr seafront. The brave troops raise much needed cash for their own charity, Whitehackle.
l LANCE Corporal Scott Boyle, from Tarbolton, is one of the troops preparing to leave his young family.
The then 21-year-old tells the Post he isn’t scared about taking on the Taliban, instead he fears he’ll miss his 22-week-old son’s first steps.
l MEDIC Lynn Main is packing up and preparing herself for yet another war zone.
This tour of Afghanistan is to be the Ayr Lance Corporal’s third tour of duty, having already served in Kosovo and Iraq.
l THE 2SCOTS C Coy get a Facebook page up and running for the duration of the tour.
The aim is to provide regular updates and allow 2SCOTS families to keep in touch with each other.
l THE COMMANDING Officer of 2SCOTS C Coy pens a letter to troops’ friends and family reassuring them.
The note from Piers Strudwick speaks of the excitement felt by the Jocks at receiving five large boxes of mail – an instant morale booster.
l THE FIRST of the 2SCOTS begin arriving back in the UK to enjoy their rest and recuperation period.
Lance Corporal Scott Boyle enjoys an early Christmas with his partner Lauren and their son Scott.
The young dad takes the opportunity to teach Scott how to high five.
l KIND pupils at Patna Primary School have been writing thoughtful letters and drawing colourful pictures to the 2SCOTS. The youngsters ask questions about life in the army and Afghanistan. The project is spearheaded by Sarah Hunter, a soldier’s wife who runs the Forces Families Support Group and has two children at the school.
l SOLDIERS send heartfelt thanks to Ayrshire Post readers all the way from Afghanistan. Captain Alan Grant sends a letter to our newsroom to thank the community for letters and parcels. He also thanks the pupils of Patna Primary for their lovely letters.
l JAMIE Bradford is flying high in Afghanistan. The 35-year-old soldier from Auchinleck is responsible for co-ordinating all flights in and out of his base. From Helmand province he tells Post readers: “It’s a demanding job but it’s enjoyable being part of the 2SCOTS team. Everyone is upbeat about their work here and the way things are progressing in Helmand.”
l AYRSHIRE troops had anything but a quiet Christmas. Piers Strudwick’s latest letter explains that the troops spent the big day clearing roadside bombs wearing Santa hats.
l AYR man Garry Worrall is spending his time conversing with interpreters. The 41-year-old Colour Sergeant arranges how and when the local linguists can be used out on the ground. It’s just part of his job as the 2SCOTS Operations Warrant Officer.
l AYRSHIRE troops prove they are as tough as they look. Ayrshire lads Sergeant Russell Mitchell, 36, Corporal Ian Crews, 26, Lance Corporal William Savage, 27, and Lance Corporal Tam Latta, 27, are all members of the Regimental Police and act as the commanding officer’s bodyguards in Afghanistan.
l YOUNG Thomas Bell achieves hero status less than a year after joining the army. The 21-year-old Ayr man is a light machine gunner in Afghanistan – he only signed up in February.
l AYR man Dominic Milligan goes from hair cuts to close shaves. But the former barber is loving life on the front line. His role is that of gunner in an infantry section and, as such, he is responsible for carrying the section’s heavy weapon and providing extra firepower should it be required.
l THE DARKEST day of the tour unfolds. News breaks that Lance Corporal Callum Brown is fighting for life after stepping on a roadside bomb.
The 22-year loses both legs in the explosion and is in a medically induced coma in the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham.
His heartbroken mum Liz tells the Post: “My boy is fighting hard.”
l JOHN Harvey’s six nephews, niece and seven-year-old brother wait patiently on the machine gun commander returning home to Monkton for R&R. His proud mum Paula explains that the first thing the 25-year-old will do is cuddle up with the kids and watch Braveheart.
l AYRSHIRE troops take over atown previously terrorised by the Taliban. The insurgents fled without a fight as soon as British forces showed up.
l TEENAGER Ross McClelland comes home on R&R and explains how action packed his time was in Afghanistan.
The young hero has had to jump off a roof to escape Taliban bullets, treated a comrade who stepped on a roadside bomb and befriended a member of the Afghan National Police. The 19-year-old former Belmont Academy pupils also explains that Afghanistan is much colder than he expected.
l SOLDIER’S mum Marilyn Porter makes a heartfelt plea to businesses in Ayrshire to support the homecoming parade. The mum of Prestwick man Jamie is urging everyone to wave flags and banners on the day of the march.
l IT’S ALL over. The 2SCOTS head home with their heads held high. The Highlanders 4th Battalion, 4SCOTS, take over from the Ayrshire troops in Afghanistan. Scott Boyle’s partner Lauren Brodie says she feels so lucky to have him back safely.
l PREPARATIONS are underway for an emotional homecoming parade. Scores of businesses vow to get behind it.
l SOUTH Ayrshire Council reveals that a civic reception will require 40 metres of linen to dress the Ayr town hall, 1000 hot rolls will be served up to the soldiers and 150 pints of water will be boiled up for tea and coffee.