A grandmother, a software development manager and an exhaust manufacturer are just some of the people who make up the 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
These men and women spend their spare time training as soldiers in their role as Army reservists. Laura Wild spent three days with the troops in northern Italy, where they had swapped their home comforts for a intense two week long training exercise. Here she tells the stories of some of the Lancashire-based soldiers.
Sgt Jason Hinsley
Sgt Jason Hinsley was in his late 20s when he was deployed to Afghanistan.
He had once thought about joining the regular Army but signed up to the Army Reserves, previously known as the Territorial Army, and for him it has proved to be “the best of both worlds.”
And being a reservist didn’t impact Jason’s experience of Afghan, because he was put in charge of a patrol in the war-torn country.
The 31-year-old from Warton, near Preston, who works in Leyland as a software development manager, said being picked for the role was “unusual”
Taking a moment away from preparing his orders for the day, he said: “I was a section commander in the reservists I got mobilised to Afghanistan for Op Herrick 13, normally when we go with the regular counterparts we would be stepped down in rank and responsibility so that we can prove our worth. In Afghanistan I was actually put straight in as a section commander leading a team of 8 to 12 people on patrols through Afghanistan.
“When I first signed up I started as a private and just joined for the experience, I never once thought I would be out in Iraq or Afghanistan in the thick of it.
“There are a lot of reservists mobilised and who do various roles working with regulars but usually we get stepped down in responsibility so that they can see that we can do the job. It is quite rare. I got thrust straight into it.
“They work on recommendations from my own unit and my own chain of command in order to pick people for vacant roles.”
Jason has been a reservist for 11 years. He attended Carr Hill High School and Sixth Form in Kirkham, near Preston, before studying at Staffordshire University.
“Originally I was looking at joining the regular army but when I got into the TA I realised I had the best of both worlds, a civilian job, my own life as well as the extra skills, the excitement and challenge you get from being in the TA,” says Jason.
“In the week I’m at a computer at a desk running a small team of software developers, when I’m out here I’m in charge.
“I’m the administration of a platoon of 30 guys, looking after food, ammo, and anything that happens when we are out in the field.”
In 2003 as a Lance Corporal Jason was deployed to Iraq for Op Telic 3 and in 2010 he went to Afghanistan for Op Herrick.
“Afghan was quite challenging. I saw some not so good things. It’s a really hard environment, high tempo of work, very challenging and demanding, you see your friends get hurt and things, there’s obviously a bad side of it.”