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Afghanistan: Lt Col. (Rtd) Stewart Hill's Story

Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Hill - Deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009 Credit: Stewart Hill

Just a week ago, the last UK troops in Afghanistan handed over Camp Bastion to the local army, marking the end of British combat operations in the country. As the last Welsh troops begin their journey home and we prepare to remember all those who have lost their lives in conflict, we hear the very personal stories of people in Wales whose lives have been forever changed by the war in Afghanistan.

Wales This Week: The War That Changed My Life, tonight at 8pm.

On the 4th July 2009, Lt Col (Rtd) Stewart Hill of B Coy 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was left with his life hanging in danger. Stewart was the company commander and was leading his troops as part of Operation Panther’s Claw, the biggest UK ground offensive of the War. His lead armoured vehicle accompanying his HQ group was hit by a rocket propelled grenade killing Private Robbie Laws (18) instantly and wounding several others.

My last memory of Afghanistan is watching the helicopter, the chinook helicopter fly away to the right with the bodies of my soldiers.

– Lt Col. Stewart Hill

Whilst a helicopter evacuated the casualties Stewart and his HQ moved away from the landing ground, Lance Corporal David Dennis (29) stepped on an IED. He was also killed instantly.

It devastated my tactical headquarters. It knocked my sergeant major unconscious, knocked my forward air controller unconscious - he’s got permanent nerve damage to his left arm - it knocked my company signaller unconscious, it knocked me - the blast punctured both ear drums and the shrapnel from the blast smacked into the back of my skull. The blast threw me and apparently I was found about 20 metres away, 15 give or take. In a foetal position. It was my staff major who came out of his unconscious state and he said that he found me and he thought I was dead. He tried to wake me up but he couldn’t. But then I started to come round and I was in a foetal position with with a radio antenna embedded into the back of my skull.

– Stewart Hill

Stewart suffered a traumatic brain injury and has been unable to work ever since. He says he now struggles with the simplest of things and is now learning to live with that for the rest of his life.

For more on Stewarts's story tune in to -

Wales This Week: The War That Changed My Life, tonight at 8pm.

  1. Catherine Peel

Afghanistan: Sgt (Rtd) Jon Bevan's Story

Just a week ago, the last UK troops in Afghanistan handed over Camp Bastion to the local army, marking the end of British combat operations in the country. As the last Welsh troops begin their journey home and we prepare to remember all those who have lost their lives in conflict, we hear the very personal stories of people in Wales whose lives have been forever changed by the war in Afghanistan.

Wales This Week: The War That Changed My Life tonight at 8pm

Sgt (Rtd) Jon Bevan deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009 Credit: Jon Bevan

Sgt (Rtd) Jon Bevan, a former MOD cameraman, deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009. As a cameraman, he tried to catch as true a picture as possible in order to reflect the war back home in the UK. In order to do this, he had to be right on the soldier’s shoulders - often putting himself in danger.

Afghanistan is unlike any other place I have ever visited in my life. One minute I could be there as a photographer experiencing an absolute beautiful sunrise over the hills up in the Kajaki mountains. Taking pictures of silhouettes... and then the next minute the silence is broken with the sound of an RPG fired at you over the head and then literally the next hour there is absolutely mayhem. Machine gun fire, F15s swooping down, 500lb bombs being dropped. All in the space of an hour - and then there is the silence again and then you are back for breakfast just chatting about what has just happened.

– Jon Bevan

But, he says, the hardest part was meeting and filming soldiers as they go about their daily duties and then being told he has to film their funerals soon after.

I have been to so many military funerals - I’m talking hundreds - and the last post, to me, it fills me with an awful lot of emotion. I just feel overcome with emotions for all the people that I have photographed - and guilt, because I have survived and they haven’t.

– Jon Bevan

He says the fighting had dramatically changed shape by the time he deployed to his second tour.

I suppose when I look at Afghanistan, my first tour out there in 2007 as a photographer, the fighting was very kinetic - they wanted to take you on. Literally, in some instances, it would be hand-to-hand and the fighting would be in such close proximity, the soldiers even had bayonets fixed to their weapons. When I went back to Afghanistan in 2009, the schematics of the war fighting had completely changed because they resorted then to dirty tactics. The Taliban weren’t taking you on in a direct fight - they were now just planting IEDs.

– Jon Bevan

Hear the rest of Jon's story with others who have either served or lost loved ones due to the war in Afghanistan on Wales This Week: The War That Changed My Life - tonight at 8pm.

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  1. Alun Jones

Wales this Week, Test Tube Triumph

Aimie Dyer was one of the first test tube babies to be born in Wales Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

More than 17,000 people are born every year in the UK after successful IVF treatment. And thirty years ago, Wales this Week was there at the birth of one the very first test tube babies in Wales.

Three decades on, Wales this Week catches up with the Dyer family, and talks to the experts about how IVF treatment has advanced in the last thirty years.

Wales this Week, Test Tube Triumph is on tonight at 8 on ITV Cymru Wales

Missed Tonight's 'Wales This Week: Sheepdog Trials and Tribulations'? Catch up here:

Animal welfare campaigners have claimed that working dogs on some Welsh farms are struggling to survive, hidden from view in appalling conditions.

ITV Wales has been given secretly-shot film evidence which suggests that some dogs and their pups are being neglected and mistreated.

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