A FAMILY in Gosport will see in the new year without two sons who are both serving in Afghanistan.
Brothers Dave and Ben Davies are in the warzone with the First Battalion Princess of Wales’s Regiment until next spring.
The News met up with the siblings out in Helmand province. Despite being based just 15 miles apart, they have vastly different jobs in Afghanistan.
Big brother Dave, 27, is a sergeant helping to train Afghan police in the Lashkar Gah Training Camp, while Ben, 22, is a Lance Corporal attached to the Queen’s Royal Hussars on front-line operations.
It’s a role reversal for the brothers because on Christmas Day 2008, Dave was out fighting in Afghanistan while Ben was in Iraq training the army there after Saddam Hussein’s fall.
Ben, a former Brune Park Community College pupil, is in the army mortar platoon – so he is at the heart of the fight against Taliban insurgents.
He said: ‘My job is to be the one on the front line furthest forward calling in the mortar fire.
‘If we get attacked it’s my job to call it in.
‘It’s a fantastic job because where all the trouble is, is where I get to go. There’s a rush when you’re coming under fire. To an infantry soldier like me, it’s your bread and butter.
‘Christmas is just another day out here. My mum was saying she wanted us back for Christmas but I think she’s used to it now because this is the second time.
‘Being away this time of year is hard but that’s life in the army.
‘We’ve got an important job to do here and we can’t just break it off.
Ben, who followed his big brother into the army aged 16, began his tour in September and was in a rifle company platoon north of Lashkar Gah.
Dave, who has previously served in Iraq and Kosovo, is with the Tigers training up the Afghan National Police.
He said: ‘On Christmas day out here in 2008, the Taliban kicked off.
‘In the morning we were thinking “no, they won’t kick off today” but they did.
‘We said to ourselves “we’re not giving them this day” and we hit them hard.
‘By the end of it, we’d got 12 Taliban kills. This time hopefully it should be quieter.’
The brothers revealed they have agreed a pact that if one of them gets injured or killed in Afghanistan, the other will see their tour through to the end and not come home for compassionate leave.
Dave said: ‘It’s something we talked about before we came out here and we both strongly agree on.
‘We just can’t justify leaving the guys around us one man down if something, God forbid, did happen.’
He added: ‘Our mum is worried but she’s very proud about what we are doing.
‘She’s very proud about us serving the country.
‘The way mum put it before we left was she’s happy seeing us fight the Taliban on their doorstep rather than ours.’