Getting into 'Fort' PRICE
Posted on 25th October 2013 at 16:22
I have just come back from Helmand Province with the 4th Battalion the Rifles. I took all my oils and everything else I could think of packed into my new tactical metal case. The flight over there was a story in itself, but the RAF always likes to add a twist to an adventure, and in the end I arrived at Camp Bastion with all my kit in good nick. I spend the first 3 days drawing portraits, painting from ‘Sangars’ (watch towers) at dawn, and getting used to the heat during physical training. One thing of particular note were the astonishingly good curries!This content will be shown in the summary on the main blog page. Click on this text to edit it.
My first deployment from Bastion was to Patrol Base PRICE. I had to spend an extra 3 days waiting for a UK Chinook, and in the end they were non-serviceable, so we went all the way round to the American air base parallel to ours, but due to the size of Bastion Camp it was still far far away. Thus we flew in a US helicopter, rows of which stretched off in to the distance as all their war films so often glory in. As we flew over to PRICE we were hit by small arms fire and some kind of oil or coolant was dripping on me, and we landed in quite a hurry. But the Helicopter was still able to take off as soon as we had dragged our kit away. I was just able to carry my Bergen, easel, portfolio and metal art case without assistance, but in body armour and helmet, one has no feeling on one's shoulders after 100m.
As I came out of the Darkness into the dim light of the Platoon tents I was met by my fellow ICCY officer (now in 4 Rifles) Stu Kennon, and I felt very much at home. Patrol Base PRICE was a proper soldiers’ paradise, living under canvas, small arms fire over head and wonderful mod cons. Perks such as a refrigerated ISO container full of bottled water, plentiful hot water to wash from huge bowls and very practical silver bags to defecate in were just some of the comforts. Every morning just as it got light I would plod in my helmet; body armour and easel to a charming view form a sangar to paint the shadows as they shortened whilst the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Taliban took pot shots at each other. They seemed to enjoy their dawn battles… but for the rest of the day they were usually to be found lounging in the shade.
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