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Regional journalist tastes life on the frontline

A journalist from a regional daily paper is finding out about life on the frontline with the armed forces in Afghanistan.

Andy Sykes, left, who works on the Lancashire Evening Post’s newsdesk has been reporting from the war zone on the dangers and challenges facing soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster Regiment.

He has written stories for the Johnston Press title each day since arriving in Afghanistan, interviewing soldiers from across Lancashire.

Andy is also reporting for a number of JP daily and weekly titles, including the Blackpool Gazette where he used to work.

He is writing a daily blog for the Evening Post’s website about his experiences of the conflict from Camp Bastion, in Helmand province.

In his Afghan Diary, Andy describes day to day life on the military base and his encounters with brave soldiers.

He writes in one of his posts: “We have been in Camp Bastion for two days now, trying to work our way round this vast desert metropolis.

“Every frontline soldier we have spoken to has a fierce determination to get back with their mates and get on with the job.

“Going home and not coming back or taking some cushy job in an air conditioned office off the frontline doesn’t register with them.

“One remarkably articulate and honest soldier from Leyland told me today he even feels guilty for taking a rest and relaxation break back home for two weeks – every soldier has an R&R break during a six-month tour.

“He has just spent the last four months in a patrol base being fired at almost every day and was living in a mud hut drinking warm water as temperatures rose to 50 degrees.

“His mates are still there. He feels guilty for leaving them behind, even though most have already had their mercy rests.

“We use words like ‘heroic’ and ‘brave’ far too often to describe people who perhaps don’t deserve that tag, especially journalists. But this is heroism and unblinding courage in all its wonderful glory. And we’ve seen it at first hand.”

The newspaper was offered the placement earlier this year and other local journalists, including one from the Lancashire Telegraph, are also in the war zone with Andy.


Jumble (08/07/2010 14:56:35)
Me thinks Andy is getting too carried away. No-one would doubt the bravery of our soldiers, but to suggest we use tags such as heroic and brave too often is poor form. Surely we use such phrases when we think they are suitable – if that isn’t the case in Andy’s experience, perhaps he should speak to his news editor?

Spr Smith (08/07/2010 15:14:31)
I’m a soldier in the engineers. I can assure, we don’t regard ourselves as heroes, Jumble.
If you spent any time with soldiers, like Andy has been bothered enough to do, you’d see we are normal blokes.
Get your head out of your idealistic clouds.

Soldier boy (08/07/2010 15:18:19)
Nice helmet

David Thomas (08/07/2010 16:09:24)
I hope Andy is having a nice time. Working for the LEP he is probably used to life in a war zone.

Jumble (08/07/2010 16:29:50)
Spr Smith, to be clear, I wasn’t suggesting our soldiers weren’t heroes. I was just making the point that I believe there are many heroes in many walks of life, something Andy Sykes seems to take issue with. As for heroes v normal blokes, heroes tend to see themselves just as normal blokes, so you’ve proved the point