Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Portraits of bravery: the family

As Armed Forces Day approaches, one army wife reveals it is not just the military personnel who feel the strain of serving on the frontline, but their families left back at home.

By Paul Kendall, Daily Telegraph

Like many army wives, Pamela Littmoden doesn't watch the news. If you're counting the days until your husband comes home, keeping a constant eye on the growing list of casualties makes the waiting a hundred times worse.

But Pamela has more reason than most to dread that knock on the door.

Not only was her husband, Chris, serving in Afghanistan until recently, but her son and his new bride are both in the Army as well, and have been in Helmand since the beginning of March.

The Littmoden Family on tour in Afghanistan together during

"I worry an awful lot," she says. "I don't sleep very well. But what can you do? All the worries in the world are not going to change anything."

Chris, a staff sergeant in the TA Royal Logistics Corps, was in Afghanistan between February and May this year.

Glen, the couple's only son, is a 22-year-old Lance Corporal in the Royal Engineers, and his wife, Victoria, 20, is a mechanic in REME, The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Glen and Victoria met in the spring of 2008 on exercise in North Yorkshire and married in December last year.

"I wanted to get married before we came out because I wanted to feel a little bit closer to him," says Victoria, speaking on the phone from Camp Bastion.

"It's a hard thing to explain, but I just wanted to know that, if anything happened to Glen, everyone would know I was his wife and not just his girlfriend.

"Of course I worry about him. It's not the nicest feeling in the world, but it's something that we both joined to do. If you didn't come out here then you wouldn't be doing what you joined to do."

Glen works as a searcher, using special state-of-the-art detection equipment to locate roadside bombs, which are then targeted by disposal experts.

His missions can take up to two weeks and, in that time, neither Victoria nor Glen's father nor his mother back at home hear a word from him.

Victoria is responsible for keeping squadron vehicles up-and-running. The newly-weds are not allowed to go on operations together.

"I hate it," says Glen. "When we're in Bastion, we see each other for dinner every night, but when we're out on ops we don't see each other at all. It's hard."

Victoria's heavy workload helps her cope.

"I just try and get on with things," she says. "I'm busy all day every day. I get updates about how Glen's patrol is doing from my boss every morning and if anything happened to him, then I'd be the first one to know about it.

"It's a strange thing to get used to. Before coming here, we were inseparable. We spent every day together. Now people tell me that I can't spend time with my husband."

Chris, 51, a former Royal Engineer, is, not surprisingly, proud of both of them.

"They're perfectly matched," he says. "They have a common sense of humour, they both like their fitness training. She understands what he goes through and he understands what she goes through."

All three agree that it has been toughest for Pamela, alone at home in Colchester, trying to keep her imagination in check.

"The worst times are in the middle of the night," says Pamela. "During the day you can talk to people, but at three o'clock in the morning it's silent and you're on your own."

Photo: Captain Leanne Christmas RE

1 comment:

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