Daily Mirror: Ross Kemp with our troops in warzone

#1
http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/news/...p-with-our-troops-in-war-zone-98487-20275742/

Ross Kemp with our troops in warzone


EXCLUSIVE Three young lads were brought to camp. One had lost a leg and arm, another had lost most of his backside, their mate had been blinded in both eyes. I just couldn't hack it. I sat down and cried


By Bob Graham And Lara Gould 06/01/2008



It was the sheer matter of-fact courage of three young soldiers that finally reduced TV hardman Ross Kemp to tears.

Embedded with the British Army in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, he had already seen sights to curdle the blood and had his own bravery put to the test under fire.

But he was overcome as he came face-to-face with three squaddies just after they had been horribly injured.

It wasn't the injuries that unnerved him so much - it was the fact the lads put aside their own suffering to tell him how they felt what they and their comrades endured was not appreciated back home.

Ross, now star of SAS drama Ultimate Force and Ross Kemp On Gangs, says: "Three young lads came into the camp. Their patrol had been hit by a mine.

"One of them had lost his leg and arm, the other had lost most of his backside and his leg and another had been blinded in both eyes.

"They were high on morphine.

But they said they wanted to see me. I was like, 'Why would you want to see me, some idiot off the TV?'

"But amazingly they were able to speak rationally. They talked about the stuff in the Army that pi**es them off, about the ridiculous way they are not appreciated.

"They were fine. But there was me, a 43-year-old grown-up, so emotional I couldn't hack it.

I sat down and had a cigarette with the sergeant, a man who is my age and who understood what the rest of their lives would be like.

"These lads were just happy to be alive, after spending an hour seriously injured and trying to scramble out of a black hole.

"But the sergeant and I knew what the rest of their lives were going to be like - and just sat there and bawled our eyes out. The entire situation made me wonder, because I knew I couldn't handle it the way they had.

"I'm so proud of all the boys out there. It gets me emotional just talking about them. This is a generation that gets knocked all the time - yet those boys are doing a fantastic job."

The incident was the most gruelling moment he endured as cameras followed the ex-EastEnder on two stints in the war-torn country for a Sky One documentary series.

Ross was first embedded with the Royal Anglians - known as the Vikings - last January. He followed the battalion's young recruits for eight weeks of intensive training at Pirbright barracks, Surrey, before flying out to join them in Helmand Province for five weeks.

On only his second day in Afghanistan the Anglians came under fire from Taliban fighters.

"Conditions in Afghanistan are intolerable," he says.

"The heat is stifling and there's the constant threat of snipers, rocket-propelled grenade attacks and land mines.

"During one engagement we were pinned down by enemy fire in open ground with Taliban AK47 bullets so close overhead I could feel the rush of the wind as they whistled by. Bullets fizzed by inches from our heads, hitting the ground on either side of us. It was the most frightening experience of my life. I've never hugged the ground as tightly as I did when that happened.

It's definitely the closest I have ever come to dying. I was so scared.

"What do you do when you're as flat as you can get, face buried in the dirt and sand, wishing you could get lower still and you know that if you move you're going to get fu**ing killed?"

Since British troops began operations in Afghanistan in 2001, 86 soldiers have lost their lives. While Ross was with the Royal Anglians, the battalion suffered nine fatalities including Corporal Darren Bonner, killed by an explosion just metres behind Kemp, and 19-year-old Private Chris Gray - whose death he witnessed.

On his return to the UK Kemp visited the families of some of the fallen squaddies to pay his respects. "I looked at Private Gray on the stretcher as he bled to death, and then into the eyes of his mum as she cried her eyes out," he says, "That is the sort of things that really brings home the effect of war.

"Here was an 18-year-old boy, his bedroom still made up the same as when he left to go to Afghanistan, his pictures still on the wall, his PlayStation still waiting there. But the hardest thing I had to do was to visit the family of Corporal Bonner who died at the end of May. I met his family and saw his dad. This was a strong man, a powerful man, cut to the bone by the loss of his son. Looking into the eyes and into the faces of those people in such terrible pain is what people need to understand.

"People back in Britain should appreciate the young men and women who are out there, fighting on the frontline."

Ross, whose own father saw active service as part of the Anglians in the 1950s, returned to southern Afghanistan for a second tour in late August. During his three weeks there, the battalion suffered further losses as Privates Robert Foster, Aaron McClure and John Thrumble were killed in a friendly-fire incident.

Ross says: "I'd felt for some time the British Tommy, the ordinary soldier, didn't have a voice. I have friends in the Army, mates I'd played rugby with, who were ordinary infantry line soldiers and these were men who didn't have a voice. I wanted to go and find out what an 18-year-old boy feels about being in a war zone in the 21st Century. I was from the same area as a lot of these lads, from Essex and East Anglia. I knew the places these kids had gone to school, I'd queued to get into the same nightclubs. That's why I was in Afghanistan. I wanted to let the people understand what our soldiers are doing for us.

"Were these young kids fighting for Queen and country? Were they fighting for Blair or Brown? Did they understand the political situation in Afghanistan? What did they feel about Muslims?

"I believe every citizen in Britain should be aware of what's going on out there. We are fortunate to live in a country where people can practise whatever religion they wish, travel without being questioned and where women can put on lipstick without running the risk of having their head cut off. We have many freedoms that have been fought for and we should be very thankful we now have people willing to stand up for such rights in Afghanistan.

"These young men are experiencing more enemy fire in six months than most soldiers have faced in 25 years.

"The main thing I took away after speaking to many soldiers is they believe it is possible to defeat the Taliban. And if they think that, then I'm all for it. Let's not get to the stage where we get another humiliating withdrawal as we have in Basra in Iraq" On his return, Ross met Defence Secretary Des Browne, highlighting the appalling conditions squaddies are forced to endure back in the UK, which he described as worse than life in a tough South African jail. He says: "When I approached the MoD about the series I wanted to tell the whole story about these guys. How bad the conditions are. What their houses are like, what their wives feel about them going away, what their children feel. What's it like to be injured?

"When I got back I told Des Browne that while some things are better, living conditions are not good for a single soldier. In Pirbright barracks they are not much different to sleeping conditions in Pollsmoor Prison in South Africa where I spent time filming for my series on gangs.

"It angers me to think there are prisoners in this country sleeping in better beds than some 18 year-oldboy who has just returned from Afghanistan. How can that be right?"

Ross Kemp in Afghanistan begins at 9pm on January 21 on Sky One.

'Bullets fizzed by.. I've never been so scared'

'People at home need to know how brave they are'
 
#2
I have to say he has made up for his time spent on "ultimate force".

There are precious few civvies who voluntarily go out with the soldiers on the ground. He has certainly showed his charachter and bravery.

That he went to see the families of killed soldiers adds so much more to his character.

Doesn't his mrs work for the sun? Is she going to beat him up again :p
 
#3
I like the bloke and what he has done there is fantastic. Him, Jezza and the top gear crew and Gordon Ramsey for going out there with the bootknecks last year are a credit to the entertainment industry.
 
#4
Sorry folks, but IF he is doing it for all the right reasons and ALL the money he gets goes to Helpforheros, then i have no problem.

However, will they put him in harms way? Will HE actually face what OUR lads face most days? Will what HE is doing make the changes needed out there? In short NO!

I suppose is makes good entertainment for some and pays his wages!
 
#5
ffs,ross kemp is an actor i never got the impression that this was a bloke strutting around giving people the impression he was one of the blokes portrayed in the programme and as for going out to the stan i take my hat off to him there are some people in the media who do care and try to get across what the f*ck is going on over there how many Lilly livered scumbag politicians have done what hes done i wont here a bad word said about him top bloke
 
#7
Having seen the trailers it certainly looks like it will be a good series. He is certainly pro-forces and so it shouldn't turn into a stitch up.

CharlieBubbles, why should he give his money to HFH? He still has to work for a living and a series that puts across a realsitic view of what the forces do will be worth more than any donation he made. Will it make any changes? I doubt it but I would rather see a decent (hopefully) documentary about real life than another Big Brother or X-Factor or any of the other 'reality' TV shows!
 
#8
Hats off to the bloke. You find me one MP since this whole fiasco has began that has said.

"Put me in with the lads on the ground so I can fully understand what they're going through and what they need."

Or

"Move me and my family into the Married accom at Tidders for a month so i can see how the families are coping."

Henno has showed here that not only has he got a big enough set in his shorts to go out and face some "Real nasty gangs". He has shown that he actually gives a sh1t about the lads by putting himself in harms way "Again".
 
#9
Top Bloke
 
#10
He was guest presenting on the Paul O'Grady chat show a few weeks ago and had a couple of squaddies from Afghan on. He came over as very pro armed forces and it was good to see someone willing to put their head above the parapet and say so.

CharlieBubbles, I'm quite happy to see someone be paid to do that in the line of their work. He doesn't have to do it. Educating the masses on what the armed forces are actually doing these days will earn money for Helpforheroes and other service charities in other ways.



Henno for Secretary of State for Defence when Jeremy Clarkson becomes P.M.!!! :D :D :D
 
#11
CharlieBubbles said:
Sorry folks, but IF he is doing it for all the right reasons and ALL the money he gets goes to Helpforheros, then i have no problem.

However, will they put him in harms way? Will HE actually face what OUR lads face most days? Will what HE is doing make the changes needed out there? In short NO!

I suppose is makes good entertainment for some and pays his wages!
Have you actually read this thread properly?

What he has done will probably result in more support for HFH than his 'wages' would.

I remember all the negative vibes flying around on here a few weeks ago about it, and it still hasn't even aired yet.

Wait and see how it is, how it is received, and what effect it has. You could be pleasantly surprised
(Although this sensation normaly requires an open mind)

Leave the man alone, he has done something many civi's would not do for ANY price, my hat is off to him. I'd buy him a pint.

You are of couse entitled to your opinion, I just think some of us have been a bit 'previous
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
Bl00dy good on the bloke - I had bugger-all time for him after ultimate farce and the 'gangs' thing, but I have to take my hat off to him for doing this, and for putting things so wel in the press. I'd love to know how he compares his feelings and experiences of this, with the faggots and scumbags in gangs? Who's braver and who's harder Ross?
 
#13
Looking forward to the series.

The bottom line for me is that he put himself at risk to bring the story to the public. Fair play to him and I would buy the man a pint for that alone. I dont care if he gets paid as his ongoing efforts to highlight the situations the Armed Forces are experiencing every day can only be seen as a good effort .. Cheers Ross.

I would have like to have been a fly on the wall when he met Swiss Des though.
 
#14
I'll keep an open mind. But I've never heard a 'bullet fizz by' ..........

In my experience reporters have always been kept in sanitised conditions. But it looks like good journalism, mind, and if it does some good I'm for it.
 
#15
From what I've heard the blokes got on well with him and the fact that he did put his arse on the line is more than the tosspots who spout shite about the blokes, fair play to you Ross and your dodgy Eastenders fake Para Regt tattoo!!
 
#18
CharlieBubbles said:
Sorry folks, but IF he is doing it for all the right reasons and ALL the money he gets goes to Helpforheros, then i have no problem.
Then I take it you'll have no problem giving all of your wages to HFH?

CharlieBubbles said:
However, will they put him in harms way?
They did. From the clips dotted around the web, you can see that he's a bit 'close for comfort' and certainly not blagging it from Bastion like most journo's.

CharlieBubbles said:
Will HE actually face what OUR lads face most days?
Advancing to contact is bad enough when you've got training, a weapon, and a job to concentrate on. Doing it completely unarmed and having nothing to think about except what those rounds are going to do to you takes a big set.

CharlieBubbles said:
Will what HE is doing make the changes needed out there? In short NO!
Yes, what he's doing WILL put Afghanistan into the homes of a great many people who wouldn't normally watch that kind of show and highlight what the lads are going through. Public opinion is what makes the changes needed, and that's what he can deliver.

From what I've seen, I've every respect for the bloke and what he's doing is undoubtedly good for the cause and exactly what we need. In short, fcuk off.
 
#19
RFUK said:
CharlieBubbles said:
Sorry folks, but IF he is doing it for all the right reasons and ALL the money he gets goes to Helpforheros, then i have no problem.
Then I take it you'll have no problem giving all of your wages to HFH?

CharlieBubbles said:
However, will they put him in harms way?
They did. From the clips dotted around the web, you can see that he's a bit 'close for comfort' and certainly not blagging it from Bastion like most journo's.

CharlieBubbles said:
Will HE actually face what OUR lads face most days?
Advancing to contact is bad enough when you've got training, a weapon, and a job to concentrate on. Doing it completely unarmed and having nothing to think about except what those rounds are going to do to you takes a big set.

CharlieBubbles said:
Will what HE is doing make the changes needed out there? In short NO!
Yes, what he's doing WILL put Afghanistan into the homes of a great many people who wouldn't normally watch that kind of show and highlight what the lads are going through. Public opinion is what makes the changes needed, and that's what he can deliver.

From what I've seen, I've every respect for the bloke and what he's doing is undoubtedly good for the cause and exactly what we need. In short, fcuk off.
What he said!
 
#20
CharlieBubbles said:
Sorry folks, but IF he is doing it for all the right reasons and ALL the money he gets goes to Helpforheros, then i have no problem.

However, will they put him in harms way? Will HE actually face what OUR lads face most days? Will what HE is doing make the changes needed out there? In short NO!

I suppose is makes good entertainment for some and pays his wages!
there's no pleasing some people :roll:

RFUK's replies are spot on. Good on Kemp for sticking his neck out like he has and focusing the wider public's attention on what our troops are facing. I'd love to see the program and will look for it online after it's aired in the UK.
 

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