You came home.
In May 2003 a large number of men who served with Lancashire and Cumbria Volunteers, formerly known as reservists of 4KOBR received compulsory call-out notices to serve in Optelic 2 in Basrah as part of the deployment of Queens Lancashire Regiment. They were a jolly bunch of souls from across Cumbria and Lancaster and this was the first time any of them had faced a compulsory call-out to serve in an actively hostile environment. They were given 21 days to sort out their families, their jobs and their affairs before departing from Alexandra Barracks, Lancaster at the end of May.
They served in gruelling heat in and around Basrah Palace and were on duty for a six month active tour. During that time they saw at least one of their officers Captain Dai Jones killed. It was supposed to be a peacekeeping mission but they faced hostilities on a daily basis and there was the constant threat of exploding IED’s. They were “butchers bakers and candlestick makers” and part-time soldiers, and yet they served admirably alongside full-time fully trained army personnel.
Their families back home also survived admirably with little in the way of active support and no garrison to back them up.
There were 2314 reservists called up for Optelic 2, made up of both volunteer reserve forces like LCV and regular reserve forces.
My husband was one of them. He was 41 years old and an HGV driver. We had just moved to the Isle of Man with our two small children.
He missed his children’s first day of school but he came home safe.
For years afterwards, he demonstrated hyper-vigilance but at least he was alive.
He still won’t talk about many of the things he witnessed.
But he came home.
Not everyone did.
They landed safely on Nov 7th (my birthday), and whilst it was another week before we got him home at least we knew he was safe and sound.
Fifteen years ago tomorrow.
He got four days leave- shown in the top photo and saying goodbye again at Ronaldsway Airport.