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Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Thursday, 2 September 2010 16:33 UK
Soldiers from the Irish Guards depart for Afghanistan
By Emma Midgley
BBC Berkshire Reporter

The Irish Guards
The Irish Guards amassed in Windsor ahead of a service in St George's Chapel.

This week soldiers from the Irish Guards start deploying to the volatile Helmand Province in Afghanistan where they will spend the next six months.

On Wednesday the Guards attended a special church service at St George's Chapel in Windsor ahead of their deployment.

Among the 600 Guards was a recipient of the Military Cross, a young father and a soldier returning after injury.

They told BBC Radio Berkshire their thoughts on departure.

The Commanding Officer

Lt Col Christopher Ghika spoke to BBC Radio Berkshire's Andrew Peach shortly before the battalion marched from Victoria Barracks to St George's Chapel for their pre deployment church service.

He told him how he prepares the soldiers for what they will face in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Ghika
L Col Christopher Ghika is the commanding officer

"I tell them to be professional, to do as well on operations as they did during their training, to be welcoming to newcomers," he said.

"This is not an enterprise we enter into lightly. We've undertaken a very long and very complex period of training.

"It gives you a sense confidence on top of what you have as a professional soldier.

"It's part of our job and employing on operations is the raison d'etre of a professional service.

"We don't know what the future holds for us but nervousness is banished by good training."

A soldier returns after injury

Although many of the Guards are going out to Afghanistan for the first time, Capt Chris Lambe is returning to the region.

Last summer, Capt Lambe volunteered to go to Afghanistan with the Welsh Guards, and was shot and injured.

"As a company second in command it was one of the the first time I'd been out on the ground, and unfortunately I managed to get myself shot," he said.

Capt Chris Lambe
Capt Lambe is retuning to Afghanistan after being shot in the knee

"Compared to some of the guys I was in the beds next to it was a scratch on the surface."

His girlfriend Kelly Cadman told BBC Radio Berkshire what it was like to visit Capt Lambe in Selly Oak and Hedley Court following his injury last year.

"On the ward, it's the most humbling place. You walk in, actually and his injury was just, I hate to say insignificant, but compared to a lot of other guys on the ward, it did make me feel lucky," she said.

Capt Lambe originally decided not to return to Afghanistan following his injury, but now says he is "desperate" to go back.

"I couldn't bear to see the boys lined up here without me being in front of them," he said.

"In some ways I'm better prepared than a lot of people. I know how bad it can get and I'm still here and I'm wanting to get back out."

"It would break my heart standing here in civvy green combats thinking I'm not going to go out with them."

The soldier awarded the military cross

L Sgt Matthew Turrall was awarded the military cross this year after rescuing four children and an old man from a fire fight in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Matthew Turrall  of the Irish Guards based in Windsor
Sgt Matthew Turrall has been awarded a Military Cross for bravery

He will not return to Afghanistan with the Irish Guards, but will train other soldiers in battle skills in Wales.

He said the hardest thing about deployment was missing family at home and keeping his mind occupied.

"We joined to fight and to do this, and in Iraq and Afghanistan I've done what I had to do now," he said.

L Sgt Turrall said the thought of his comrades going into war was "frightening".

"Just thinking about them going scares me a little bit. I want them all to come back safe," he said.

The young father

Guardsman Toby Bellis, aged 20 will leave behind his girlfriend Pte Amy Kent and their three-month-old baby when he deploys to Afghanistan.

Guardsman Toby Bellis with Private Amy Kent and baby
Guardsman Toby Bellis will leave behind his three-month-old baby

"I'm going to miss a lot, I'll see a big difference when I get back," he said.

His girlfriend, Pte Kent said: "I'm a bit worried but I know he'll be alright. He's got us to come back to, he's got something to come back to.

"He obviously tries to ring when he can but he can't all the time.

"It's not good but we will get through it."




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