LITTLE Sutton singer Laura Critchley bravely entertained British troops in Iraq at her most daring gig yet.
Weeks after gigging in Mumbai straight after the terrorist attacks, she flew out to Basrah.
The 24-year-old, who has performed around the world and has released an album, described her secret visit as “one of the most amazing experiences of my life”.
It came shortly before it was announced that British forces were pulling out of the country.
Laura, who kept a video diary of her trip, explained: “I was there for three days with a mission of singing and cheering up as many of our lads as possible and thankfully – mission accomplished.
“I landed in Basrah in the middle of the night on a Hercules Aircraft in the pitch black dark.
“As soon as we touched down, I was greeted by a pack of US troops, who quickly worked out that I wasn’t a soldier or a sergeant (my cone boobs and head mic were a dead giveaway) and so got me to sing for them.”
First she had to first get used to Army life – sleeping on a mattress surrounded by three breeze block walls and a steel slab over the top (a standard soldier’s bed out there) and having to don a bulletproof vest and helmet whenever she ventured outside, including to the toilet and shower block.
Laura said: “My first mission outside the camp was to go on patrol in a helicopter over Iraqi villages, looking out for anything suspect.
“What was really mind-blowing was the response of the villagers. Watching the Iraqi children stop in their tracks to jump and wave at us with pure happiness and excitement was a memory that will stay with me for a very long time.
“This echoed again how great our troops have handled things out there – really building bridges – and made me so proud of the British Forces and also very proud to be British.”
She spent the evenings chatting to the soldiers, playing the guitar and giving impromptu mini-gigs for every squadron she met.
One of her most memorable moments was going out on patrol in a Bulldog tank to give aid to a Iraqi school.
Laura concluded: “I came away from my trip with a new understanding of what our troops do, and an unshakeable pride in the way they conduct themselves while living in such harsh and often frightening conditions.”