Troops tell LBC they did 'everything we could' to help bring Afghan people to the UK

15 October 2021, 06:46

By Charlotte Sullivan

Two months since the fall of Kabul, soldiers from across the country are returning to work after being part of the evacuation operation.

Here, they share their stories with LBC.

Troops at Colchester barracks, among the first to be deployed to Afghanistan back in August said they "did everything we could" to save as many people as possible.

Soldiers who helped with the evacuation efforts were given post operational stress management on their return and some needed time off.

Lance Corporal May Percival told LBC: "We did everything we could. They were crying, asking for help, but we did everything we could.

Troops told LBC about their efforts in the evacuation of people from Afghanistan
Troops told LBC about their efforts in the evacuation of people from Afghanistan. Picture: Alamy/LBC

"It was just heartbreaking not to be able to bring more people back."

Lieutenant Adam Soulby said: "For many people it's just a number, the people coming back to the UK.

"When you see it on a personal level, you start thinking about every person that's there.

"You just have to look forward and try to achieve the mission that day."

Major Fiona Lankester said: "The importance is, being able to give the individuals the opportunity to talk, to understand what they have seen is a traumatic event, and it's OK not to feel OK about it, but to provide them with the appropriate resources, the appropriate organisations that they can lean on."

With just hours' notice, many troops were sent from summer leave to work alongside soldiers from 38 other nations to get more than 15,000 evacuees out of the country as quickly as possible.

Some 750 soldiers who took part were from 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team based in Colchester and Woodbridge.

5,000 of those evacuated were British - 8,000 entitled Afghans – and the total number included 2,100 children.

For many, the memory of the operation two months ago will stay with them for years to come.

Lieutenant Colonel Justin Baker told LBC it was "poignant" for him to be on one of the last military flights out of Afghanistan in August after being among the first troops to go there 20 years ago.

RAF transport aircraft flew 261,000 miles as part of Operation Pitting - the equivalent of 165 round-trips between the UK and Afghanistan.