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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 16:49 GMT
Troops work to secure footholds
Reconaissance team from Royal Engineers
British Royal Engineers found crossing points at Shat al Basra
As coalition forces continue to press northwards to Baghdad, UK military units are charged with helping secure footholds already gained in southern Iraq.

After moving into Iraq on Saturday, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards have established a foothold on the outskirts of Basra in the south, it has been reported.

They know they are going to fight in a war and it will be a very big test in their lives, but one they can pass
Major Chris Brannigan, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Royal Scots Dragoon Guards' Major Chris Brannigan, squadron leader of B Squadron, gathered his men as they prepared to join in the fighting.

He said: "I told them they are about to join a very exclusive club. They know they are going to fight in a war and it will be a very big test in their lives, but one they can pass."

"When I was about to join the army my father gave me a choice of the Gurkhas or the Jocks, because they are the best fighters."

Strategic bridge

Nearer to the Iraq-Kuwait border, a three-day scouting trip by men from the 59 and 131 Independent Commando Squadrons, Royal Engineers, has led to the erection of a strategic bridge outside the port town of Umm Qasr.

It was necessary to work with as much stealth as possible, no lights and at times crawling up banks on our stomachs
Staff Sgt Tam Myles, Royal Engineers

The soldiers spent two nights sleeping in their nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) suits to keep warm.

Sgt Myles, 36, an Army regular for 18 years, said: "We had to find crossing points for main supply routes.

"Because of where we have been operating it was necessary to work with as much stealth as possible, no lights and at times crawling up banks on our stomachs."

Injured British troops

But it has also been confirmed that three British soldiers have been injured while fighting Iraqi forces on the nearby Al Faw oil peninsula.

The troops who have been injured on the Al-Faw peninsula are believed to have suffered burns during an explosion in a building, but sources could not say how the explosion occurred.

It is believed the small pockets of resistance are soldiers who went into hiding as the war started because they expected a huge aerial bombardment.

British troops working to clear the whole peninsula are now starting to stumble across the pockets, sources said.

Kit problems

Long documented reports about kit problems are still rumbling on.

It has emerged that the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards have spent almost 60,000 of their own money buying crucial desert gear because the kit issued fell way short of what was required.

If I was ordered to go into battle wearing the stuff I have that was issued officially I would be taking on the Iraqis in a neck scarf and nothing else
An unnamed officer, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

One officer, who asked not to be named said: "If I was ordered to go into battle wearing the stuff I have that was issued officially I would be taking on the Iraqis in a neck scarf and nothing else."

"Just about every soldier is sleeping in a non-issue sleeping bag because the ones we were issued are designed for arctic weather. It doesn't take a genius to work out that the Gulf is slightly warmer than that."

Another source also criticised the government for failing to spend money on vital communications systems.

He said: "We are working with 1950s designed radios while the Americans have state-of-the-art systems including the very latest tracking devices."





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