Soldiers so glad to be home

The boys in action on parade during the medal-giving ceremony
The boys in action on parade during the medal-giving ceremony

TWO Calderdale soldiers who spent six months in Afghanistan searching for hidden bombs have been presented with campaign medals.

Sappers Matthew Luke Jones, 23, from Brighouse, and Daniel Bruce, 21, from Sowerby Bridge, have been enjoying a four-week break at home after getting their medals at a ceremony in Germany.

Both have been clearing convoy routes by detecting and destroying Taliban roadside bombs and building watch towers.

Daniel, a former Ryburn Valley High School pupil, said: “We searched for the wires that the Taliban use to set off IEDs from a distance. We found a few and sometimes it was nerve-racking but we just stayed focussed.”

Daniel’s parents still live in Sowerby Bridge watched him receive his medal. “It was a very proud moment and one I will remember for a long time,” said Daniel. “I really missed my family and my girlfriend when I was away. We are planning to get married next year so my next mission will be to start planning the wedding!”

Matthew’s responsibilities included building army watch towers and managing a water point to ensure safe drinking water for locals.

He said: “It was a very busy tour. One of my main jobs was to convert an old school into a checkpoint to stop insurgents. We worked on this for six weeks and it was non-stop. The heat was the most challenging part especially with wearing the body armour.

“It’s been an enjoyable but hard year and I have been looking forward to the homecoming for quite a while. It’s nice to get back to normal, to relax and to have a little freedom.”

The former Brighouse High School student received his medal watched by his parents.

Major General James Bashall, General Officer Commanding addressed the soldiers and presented the medals. He said: “We are making progress in Afghanistan but that progress is not always glamorous and some jobs don’t receive much publicity but they are essential nonetheless. The work you did in Afghanistan is saving lives.”