Halifax troops in Canada

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Almost 2,000 soldiers from regiments based all over the UK are taking part in the Army’s biggest training exercise of the year.

The two-month deployment - named Operation Prairie Storm - to the British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada involves live firing and laser-based battles to ensure troops are ready for action should a conflict break out.

Those taking part include the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, the King’s Royal Hussars, the Royal Engineers, the Royal Artillery and the Royal Household Cavalry.

The Yorkshire regiment, which traditionally recruits from Calderdale, was formed in 2006 when three Yorkshire-based regiments were merged, including the historic Duke of Wellington’s regiment - which had its regional headquarters in Halifax.

L/Cpl Joe Jones, 28, from Halifax is currently taking part in the exerise.

“I’ve served for 10 years and have seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.

“During my tours I have seen the situation develop from fierce fighting to more hearts and mind work like building a school and digging a well.

“It’s strange to think we won’t be going back when it’s been part of Army life for so long.”

Cpl Paul Barrett, 27, from Barnsley, flew out to Canada a month after the birth of his son.

He has made a double sacrifice as his daughter Ella, now two, was just six weeks old when he was deployed to Afghanistan for the second time.

Cpl Barrett said: “Being out in the field you do miss home and especially at the moment I’m thinking about my girlfriend Emma back home with the kids.

“I haven’t been able to see pictures on the internet or talk with home - although that’s mainly because I’m a tight Yorkshireman and I don’t want to pay the phone bill.

“I’m looking forward to getting home and spending some proper time with my family.”

Pte Sam Ward, 23, from Rotherham is also taking part in the exercise.

Pte Ward joined the Army three years ago and spent five weeks in Afghanistan in 2012, but has never been deployed on a full tour of duty.

“I’m enjoying it because I’m getting to put my skills into practise and it’s good for getting a lot tighter as a unit.”