Life on the frontline with a 33 Engineer Regiment soldier
AS soldiers from 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) come to the end of a demanding six-month tour of Afghanistan, the Reporter has been given an exclusive insight into their lives on the frontline.
As soldiers from 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) come to the end of a demanding six-month tour of Afghanistan, the Reporter has been given an exclusive insight into their lives on the frontline.
In the first of a series of interviews with soldiers who are about to return to their base at the Carver Barracks in Wimbish, we have spoken to 24-year-old Lance Corporal Matthew Wellington.
LANCE Corporal Matthew Wellington picks up his bomb detection equipment and heads out for open ground in the dusty Afghan desert, a couple of kilometres from Taliban insurgent positions.
Checking the ground methodically, the soldier works with his team to find and isolate bombs hidden in the ground, all designed to kill or maim.
As a Royal Engineer Search Advisor L Cpl Wellington is doing one of the most demanding and dangerous jobs in Helmand - to find and isolate roadside bombs, otherwise known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
"We clear routes, clear compounds, clear anything," said the young husband and father. "We making sure that the infantry guys have safe passage to the places they need to reach. It's tough going but knowing that I am helping to protect the lives of my fellow soldiers and Afghan villagers makes it all worth while.
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"I think that there is a lack of understanding back home about what we actually do and the dangers we face. It's not just a case of walking along waiting for the vallon - metal detector - to bleep.
"Every step we take is considered. It has to be because one mistake could prove costly for me or my mates following on from me.
"This job takes huge dedication and concentration. We have to be alert the whole time. The threat is not just on the ground these days. It can be in the walls, on the side of the road, or it can be something as simple as a change in atmospherics."
It may seem remarkable that someone so young has such responsibility on their shoulders, but for L Cpl Wellington it is all in a day's work. He found his first bomb on his first job, in Gereshk district, potentially saving a comrade from serious injury.
"My first find was on my first job, actually within two minutes of walking in," he said. "I was just buzzing really. The first time you find an IED, it's just like finding your first one in training."
With the end of his tour fast approaching, L Cpl Wellington is looking forward to seeing his wife, Victoria, and his 21-month-old daughter Jessica.