Black Watch, 3 Scots: A War In Their Own Words
Pennie Latin producer of Black Watch, 3 Scots: A War In Their Own Words reveals the idea behind the programme:
It was one of those curious but quite common situations in radio production where a few words shared in a passing conversation leads to something rather bigger and more involved. While dropping my daughter off at nursery last summer I asked one of the other mums how her husband was doing in Afghanistan - lots of the Black Watch, 3 Scots children go to the nursery and there was a palpable tension while they were on the 2009 tour. Penny told me how her husband Matt had just been back on R&R and had given her his wedding ring back in case he was blown up by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). I was stunned by the image. A wife wearing two wedding rings and it lodged itself in my mind.
See more photographs in the gallery
Later, when her husband was safely home, I asked after Matt again and Penny told me how she'd been reading a journal of his time in Afghanistan. I must confess my radio ideas antenna went into overdrive. A wife wearing two wedding rings and a personal journal from one of the most challenging tours Black Watch, 3 Scots have faced for a generation. What I didn't know until I approached Black Watch, 3 Scots was that not just Matt but a whole range of soldiers had been asked to write personal accounts of their experiences. The results - which Black Watch, 3 Scots are intending to publish as a book later this year - are a series of vivid, thought provoking and at times heartbreaking accounts of life as a soldier on the front line. Somewhat to my surprise I was able to persuade Black Watch, 3 Scots to let me have access not just to Matt's journals but to all the material written about last year's tour.
In Black Watch, 3 Scots: A War In Their Own Words I've brought Penny and Matt's experiences of the war together with a sample of some of the writing from Matt and his colleagues. Undoubtedly the biggest challenge of this whole project was deciding which of the journal entries to include in the programme. I've had to leave so much beautiful and evocative writing to the book rather than the radio programme but I hope what I have included provides a representative snapshot of these remarkable accounts. On a personal note, reading the journals has brought me closer to the war in Afghanistan than any newspaper article ever has. I don't think I've ever spent more time thinking about the war and the people caught up in it. If giving voice to these journals goes even some small way to helping shed light on the challenges faced by British soldiers in Afghanistan the radio programme will have done its job.
Pennie Latin produced and directed Black Watch, 3 Scots: A War In Their Own Words