Spir­its high, but we miss our fam­i­lies

Sol­diers of the 2nd Bat­tal­ion, The Royal Tank Reg­i­ment, will be sent to Afghanistan and Iraq next year for six months. As part of their prepa­ra­tions the men and women have spent three weeks on ex­er­cise in Canada. vis­ited the troops from Kent as they hone

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

AMONG the troops in Canada are LCpl Matt Peattie and Tpr Stu­art Knowles from Ash­ford. With dirty faces and tired eyes, it is clear they have both been train­ing hard for the past two weeks. But their spir­its re­main high be­cause they are do­ing a job they are pas­sion­ate about, Stu­art said. At the age of 20, the for­mer Tow­ers School pupil has al­ready been to war in Iraq. But the thought of re­turn­ing to the coun­try in a year does not worry him fol­low­ing the ex­ten­sive train­ing at BA­TUS. Tpr Knowles, who is re­spon­si­ble for driv­ing tanks, said: “I de­cided to join the army af­ter 9/11 and the Lon­don bomb­ings. I wanted to fight for my coun­try and pro­tect the peo­ple I love. “Be­ing on ex­er­cise here has its good and bad points. You get used to work­ing for long pe­ri­ods. It is a lot more tax­ing than the real thing. You are in the tank for hours on end. It is claus­tro­pho­bic for me as I am 6ft 3in.” The hard­est thing for Stu­art, nick­named Knowlesy, is the thought of be­ing apart from wife He­len, 21, and son, three-year-old Liam, for the long six months. The cou­ple mar­ried in Au­gust at the Stour Cen­tre in Ash­ford. He said: “I pro­posed when I got back from Iraq. I was think­ing about it when I was there. When you are away it makes you think about ev­ery­thing a lot more.” Stu­art is not the only sol­dier with a fam­ily to leave be­hind. Fa­ther-of-one LCpl Matt Peattie re­vealed how be­ing in the army can be dif­fi­cult emo­tion­ally. The 29-year-old said: “It is a de­mand­ing job and it is dif­fi­cult if you have a fam­ily. You can be away up to six months at a time. I don’t get to see my daugh­ter and I miss her so much.” Hav­ing en­listed twice Lcpl Peattie has been all over the globe, in­clud­ing Bos­nia, Poland, Ger­many and Kosovo. But the most tax­ing for the for­mer Sand­wich High School pupil was his time in Iraq. With ex­treme heat and ter­ri­fy­ing at­tacks from

Trooper Stu­art Knowles and LCpl Matt Peattie take part in the Med Man ex­er­cise at BA­TUS, Canada

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