Old boy shares Afghan experiences

Lieutenant Charles Russell (1997-2004) returned to the School to give two groups of pupils the opportunity to learn at first-hand about army life on active service.

Charlie graduated from Durham University and RMA Sandhurst and now serves with the 1st Royal Gurkha Rifles. His first posting after passing out of Sandhurst was as a platoon commander in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, where the mission was to secure a village that had been largely vacated due to Taliban intimidation.

Addressing the History Society, Lt Russell spoke of the history of Afghanistan from Genghis Khan, through the Russian invasion of 1979 and the September 11th attacks in 2001 to the present-day work undertaken by American, British and other troops. He outlined the area of operation for the battlegroup and worked his way down through the company, platoon and the responsibilities of his ‘multiple’. He then detailed the work his platoon had done in securing the village in which they were based. Fourteen houses there had been vacated due to Taliban murder, intimidation and the laying of improvised explosive devices: not only have these now been re-inhabited, but five shops have been opened and are flourishing.

His talk to the School’s Combined Cadet Force after school focused on the daily practicalities of life as a soldier and on operational matters.

“The boys found the talk incredibly interesting – it opened the window to a view that people outside the army rarely get to see,” said the School’s CCF Unit Captain, Mev Armon.

QE’s CCF was recently praised in its biennial inspection for producing first-class young men, and for the motivation and enthusiasm of its cadets and officers.