Soldier Spends Christmas Clearing Bombs

A Thames Valley soldier will be spending Christmas clearing roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

Major Christopher Eyre from Newbury is serving in central Helmand province, as commanding officer of 52 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 22 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers.

In general, British troops in Afghanistan are responsible for driving out the insurgency and improving security for the local population in their area, while at the same time training up their Afghan counterparts who are increasingly taking over responsibility for maintaining security in their own country.

52 Armoured Engineer Squadron has the specific role of providing route proving and clearance capability - clearing routes from improvised explosive devices in order to protect soldiers and equipment.

Chris said:

"It is clearly a dangerous job but the soldiers are exceptionally well trained and provided with the latest technologies to combat the threat. As an armoured engineer at heart, it is a privilege to now be in the position of commanding 52 Armoured Engineer Squadron on operations in Afghanistan."

Chris joined the Army in 1998, after graduating from Stirling University. He has enjoyed a varied career, seeing service in Germany and operational tours in Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq, and now Afghanistan. He has also taken part in exercises in Oman, Jordan, Poland and Kenya.

He added:

"Afghanistan is a challenging theatre and certainly presents my greatest professional challenge to date. The squadron spent 12 months preparing for deployment. The training was first class and ensured that, as we deployed, we were at the top of our game."

Chris was brought up Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, where his parents Kath and David live, and attended Royal Grammar School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He now lives with wife Mikaela, also a Major in the Army, and their 2-year-old son Isaac. The family split their time between their homes in Newbury, Berkshire, and the Isle of Man.

In his spare time, he enjoys playing rugby, swimming, squash, skiing, cycling and hill walking. He is also a former pole vaulting champion.

He added: "The tour is going well but I'm missing my family and looking forward to celebrating Christmas with them in April!"