George training for Afghanistan

TWO part-time soldiers are gearing up to face the Taliban.

Eighteen-year-old Newham resident Rifleman George Bennett and 23-year-old Private Shaun Desmond, who works in the borough, are to serve in Afghanistan’s notorious Helmand province.

Many British soldiers have been killed fighting insurgents in the region.

The pair are among Territorial Army soldiers from G and F COYs 7RIFLES, based at the TA Centre, West Ham, who will be heading for the war zone.

The 50 Territorials began preparing for the six-month tour, starting next October, with two weeks’ training at Okehampton, Devon.

They will leave their full-time jobs in May to join either the 2nd Battalion RIFLES in Northern Ireland or the 5th Battalion RIFLES in Germany, where they will continue to make up any gaps in their training.

Born and bred in Newham, George went to Royal Docks Community School, Custom House.

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He is looking forward to his deployment and may enlist in the Army full-time.

He told the Recorder that he has always been interested in the Army and wants to do his “bit for Queen and country”.

Although he feels deployment to Afghanistan will be the “biggest adventure” of his life, his supportive family are worried for him.

He said he enjoyed training in Devon, which involved firing live rounds in scenarios based on the situation in Afghanistan.

Shaun, a Class 1 Combat Medic who lives in Leytonstone, works in the IT department at Newham University Hospital.