A HELSBY Army Officer has returned from months of rugged desert living while taking on the Taliban.
Major Mike Elviss, Battery Commander of C Battalion 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (3RHA), spoke about the demanding tour upon his return to his barracks in Germany where he had an emotional reunion with his wife Sarah and three children Sam, four, William, two, and Oliver, five months.
And the return was extra special for former Helsby High School student Mike who has also served in Iraq, Bosnia, Canada, Oman, Egypt, Spain and Brunei since he joined the army in 1994, as he is looking forward to spending some quality time with baby Oliver who was born just a few months before he deployed.
He said: “I was very lucky when Oliver was born as my deployment was delayed, so I was able to spend three months with him. But of course I am now looking forward to spending much more time with him and the whole family.”
Mike commanded 93 soldiers of Germany-based C Battalion 3RHA who were deployed in mid March as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade to Afghanistan.
They were instrumental in helping the Afghan army fight the Taliban and allowing the British army to deliver a generator to the Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province. But the tour meant rough conditions in the desert for months on end, baking hot in the summer and often caught out by rain and freezing temperatures as the season changed.
“The fighting in Afghanistan is ferocious – against a strong enemy that deserves our respect,” said Mike, whose parents Richard and Gill live in Chester.
“My tactical group travelled with the convoy to protect the Kajaki dam generator. We travelled about 180km in the heat and the arid desert and were targeted by improvised explosive devices, indirect fire and small arms fire. We were ambushed on the way back by the Taliban who were just 200 metres away, but fortunately we were able to fight our way out.
“Conditions were tough out there, you sleep in old captured compounds behind sandbags for protection, and sometimes we were shelled while we slept, but we got through it.
“We are proud of what we achieved; the generator will help a lot of people in Afghanistan and help them gradually return to some kind of normal life. We met a lot of locals and native farmers. Afghanistan is a poor country struggling to do better. We spoke to the village elders who appreciate the job we are doing. But they want the fighting to stop so they can raise their families.”
Mike is now glad his tour is over and happy to be back with his wife and children.
He said: “I am looking forward to getting to know Oliver. I have only spent three months with him so I have been counting down the days to my return.”
His wife Sarah added: “I can’t believe that he’s back, I am so pleased. We can now catch up with each other and be a real family again.”