Western Daily Press reporter Richard Edwards, 23, and photographer Jon Mills, 27, were worried they could be treated as outsiders by 42 Commando, treading that difficult line between telling the truth but not causing major problems within the unit.
“They have found the guys have taken to them brilliantly,” said associate editor Peter O’Reilly.
It must be due in part to the pair’s determination not to be a drag on the troops as they head for Basra.
“They were warned that they could be involved in long marches and that once the war started, they would be living outside, facing extremes of heat, cold and wet. They took up swimming and they wore their boots for two weeks to break them in.”
Before the final order to go, when they suddenly became official war correspondents, there had been a lot of jokes and laughter. But O’Reilly said: “It would be fair to say that now it is so imminent they are feeling apprehensive. There is that split between tremendous excitement of being involved in a piece of history and yet it is very serious – serious for the troops they are accompanying and serious for them. We asked them to sit down and think of that before they went, and they did and they decided that, though there is an element of risk, to cover the story properly it has to be done this way.”
The pair arrived last week with so much kit, said O’Reilly, “we were worried the photographer would fall over backwards. But they went on a yomp with the troops and were quite proud that they survived.” it.