Band together and show our brave lads that we’re thinking about them

A courageous fianceé who is battling her own fears on the home front has told how her husband-to-be and fellow soldiers have been boosted by a campaign to support them in war-torn Afghanistan.

Rachel Henstock (27), of Glapwell, had to brace herself like many loved ones after partner Allan Briggs, of the Infantry Battalion 2 Mercian, Worcesters and Foresters, set out this spring to the Middle East on a six-month tour of duty.But the tearful Derbyshire Times’ sales assistant, who has an 18-month-old son Kaiden, has been comforted to see Allan’s battalion launch the Support the Mercians fund-raising and wrist-band awareness appeal.

She said: “This is a brilliant way for everyone to let Allan and the lads know we’re thinking about them and people can wear the wrist-bands with pride knowing they are supporting so many brave young men.

“Allan has told me this really gives them a huge morale boost to realise people back home are thinking about them and the money raised will support injured soldiers and their families.”

Pte Briggs (22), is based in Belfast, but began his latest tour in Afghanistan’s Helmand district, in March, with fellow 2 Mercian, Worcesters & Foresters’ squaddies.

During his last tour in the country, the former Moorfield School pupil fought in the most vulnerable Green Zone where he was exposed to Taliban gun and mortar fire and explosions in ambush territory.

Rachel added: “This is the most dangerous area because there are fields, greenery, hedges and rivers which the enemy can use for cover and a missile missed his head by just a metre.

Due home

“He’s expecting similar situations during this latest tour and even though he does tell me what’s happening, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to know because sometimes you feel what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

“I try not to watch the news but when I learned about the soldier from Allan’s regiment who narrowly survived after a bullet went through his helmet it makes me sick to the stomach with worry and makes me realise this is all too real.”

Pte Briggs is due home on leave for a ten-day break during July before returning to Afghanistan but he will not be expected to go back on tour for another three years following this latest stint.

Rachel added: “Sometimes when he comes home for a break it makes it worse because it’s so painful to let him go again and Kaiden walks around saying Da-Da when Allan’s not home and that’s heart-breaking but I’m so proud of him.

‘So important’

“We all worry about what might happen and if our loved ones are badly hurt or lose limbs they could be left struggling to find work which is why this wrist-band campaign is so important.”

War in Afghanistan began in October 2001 with the aim of removing the Taliban regime which supports international terrorists al-Qaeda.

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