'There is a fear inside you as you move into the unknown'

Fear of the unknown was the main anxiety for Manchester Evening News reporter Martin Dillon, who is with the Parachute 7th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, writes Jean Morgan.

He was sharing a tent in the Kuwaiti desert with two colleagues from ITN, reporter Philip Reay-Smith and cameraman Dai Baker, when Press Gazette spoke to him.

“At the moment I feel quite relaxed,” he said, as he awaited the order to advance, “but in the next 48 hours I think I will begin to feel a lot more apprehensive. There is a fear inside you because you are going into the unknown. Once we start moving we will be expected to wear our full NBC kit and a flak jacket, no matter how hot it is. We really don’t know what to expect.”

On Tuesday, he heard a pep talk for the regiment when it was explained what the soldiers might face in battle.

Dillon flew out to Kuwait City with around 100 other journalists last week and stayed one night in a giant communal tent close to the airport. The next day the journalists were dispersed to regiments or brigades.

“We’ve done OK,” he said. “The tent has plywood on the floor. The food’s all right. In the morning there’s breakfast and lunch is an American military ration pack. We add a little water to a plastic bag and chemical heat is produced, activated by the water. You put your ration in the bag and leave it for 15 minutes and you’ve got a meal. Dinner is normally some sort of stew. We eat with the troops.” He said there had been problems trying to send copy via satellite phones because there were so many people trying to use them.

Dillon had one day’s chemical warfare training and two days’ similar training run by the MoD, plus a half-day of briefings.

He volunteered for the posting at the last minute when John Scheerhout, the original choice, could not go. He is carrying a digital camera and wiring back pictures to the MEN.

Jean Morgan

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