14 November 2010
Last updated at 02:26
In late 2008 British soldiers about to leave for Iraq are sketched by war artist, Xavier Pick who would be spending the next six weeks with them. He was given exclusive 24-hour access to the troops, allowing him to make hundreds of drawings and sketches.
Out in Iraq a few days later, he joins troops, some still in their teens, as they travel in an armoured personnel carrier to a nearby village. The trip was punctuated with checks for roadside improvised explosive devices.
The soldiers deliver a portable building to a kindergarten. The Iraqi children welcomed the troops bringing their new classroom and sang for them while Xavier sketched and painted the scene.
It's the end of December 2008 and some Fijian soldiers serving in the British Army build a 'lovo', a traditional BBQ. It helps lighten the mood as the Christmas period has led many troops to recall friends and comrades who have died.
Xavier visits Leaf Island, situated in marshland where the River Tigris joins the Euphrates. His sketchbook helps him to introduce himself to the locals. "It's amazing how a drawing can cut through language," he says.
From early in the morning every day, local Iraqi men queue up to find work on the coalition airbase. Once they had obtained a pass and been through a security check they could begin work. The airbase provides them with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Photographs are banned at the 'Hollyoaks' base used by Special Forces troops. Xavier is allowed to produce a series of quick line drawings, providing he does not make anyone too identifiable.
Back at the base, evenings are a chance for troops to relax and karaoke is one of their ways of winding down. A soldier explains to Xavier that singing certain songs is a way of bringing back memories of home.
Xavier's audio diary can be heard on Radio 4's In War and Paint: The Diary of a Modern Day War Artist on Sunday 14 November 2010, Part One is at 1145 GMT. Part Two is at 1445 GMT or catch up afterwards on BBC iPlayer.