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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Barrow army mechanic, 20, tells of bomb horror

CRAFTSMAN Kirstie Bamber, a 20-year-old army vehicle mechanic from Barrow, has returned from her first tour of Afghanistan. She spoke to EMMA PRESTON as she readjusted to cooler temperatures and home comforts.

KIRSTIE Bamber’s description of the moment a roadside bomb exploded just 40 metres behind her wagon is not entirely suitable for print in a family newspaper.

She laughs about it now, but looking back it was clearly a terrifying moment for the down-to-earth Barrow 20-year-old.

Cfn Bamber, a vehicle mechanic, has just returned from her first tour, after travelling to Afghanistan with the Queen’s Royal Hussars in October.

Having returned to Barrow last week, Cfn Bamber has been reflecting on her experiences.

Asked about the scariest moment of her six-month posting, she told how she was left a little shaken up after the improvised explosive device went off.

Cfn Bamber, of Hare Ghyll, Barrow, said: “That was a bit of a moment. The three of us just sat in the wagon thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ We stopped and the CO (commanding officer) of the patrol assessed the situation and decided we would carry on as normal. But it was a pretty scary moment.”

The IED incident happened during one of the regular patrols Cfn Bamber was sent on as part of her duties.

She was based full-time in Lashkar Gah, where she worked on military vehicles, but left the security of the military base on patrol and to deliver spares.

She and her colleagues would take her Wolfhound protective mobility vehicle and travel to Camp Bastion to pick up food goods and equipment, before delivering it to different army bases.

While she enjoyed her first tour, Cfn Bamber said she found it hard to adjust at first.

She said: “My particular low was the first month. I found the first month really hard to get used to, because everybody I was with had been on a tour before. I was the only one who it was the first time for.”

Cfn Bamber soon got into the swing of things and found herself enjoying life on tour more and more.

She and the seven women she shared a room with formed a close bond doing simple everyday things, from dancing in their digs to sharing girly chats or enjoying a sneaky cigarette.

And she says moments such as visiting a training centre for the female Afghanistan uniform police and spending Christmas day opening secret Santa presents with her team will stay with her.

But while she was out there, thoughts of home – and one family member in particular – were never far from her mind.

Cfn Bamber said: “The person I missed the most was my niece, Sophie, she’s three – then there’s my mum, my dad, my brother and his girlfriend, and my cousin’s just had a baby as well.

“I’ve always been away when the kids in the family have been growing up, I think that’s the hardest thing.

“We’re quite a close-knit family.”

There is plenty for Cfn Bamber to look forward to now she is safely back in the UK.

After her leave, she will return to Germany, accompanied by her family, to receive her medal for completing her tour.

She then plans to return home for a break, during which she will celebrate her 21st birthday, before spending four weeks as the envy of sports fans across the country.

Cfn Bamber has been selected as one of the security team for the 2012 Olympics, where she will work as a searcher, earning herself a much-coveted place at the heart of the action in London this summer.

She said: “You should have seen me when I got the email to say I was going to be doing it. It’s going to be brilliant.”

For now, Cfn Bamber remains in Barrow with her family, wrapping up warm as she re-adjusts to temperatures below 35C and enjoying the everyday things in life we all take for granted.

She said: “It’s just little things like being able to sit on your own and just be alone when you want to be.
“It’s having that half an hour when there’s no one else around, and you can just put the TV on, or put the kettle on whenever you like.

“Obviously, when you’re sharing a room of eight, you don’t get that very often when you’re out there, there’s usually always someone around.

“It’s nice to be able to just chill out and spend some time by yourself.”

Have your say

Glad you are home safe and well.Its a busy time for us A mech's aswell as every other trade group out there.Enjoy your POTL.

Posted by James on 2 May 2012 at 23:02

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