Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Coronavirus: Soldier uses war zone experience to get through lockdown

Corporal Alan Fergusson in Kenya Image copyright Corporal Alan Fergusson
Image caption Corporal Alan Fergusson in Kenya after a whole night on exercise

A Scottish soldier has told how he has drawn from his experience of being in war zones in Afghanistan to get through the coronavirus lockdown.

Corporal Alan Fergusson said it was not alien for him to live in a small space without being allowed to leave and said he was used to being in "unpleasant situations".

The 38-year-old from 2 SCOTS said people should not be scared of coronavirus but instead respect it.

He said: "You can't live in fear. In this lockdown people need to take every day as it comes and realise there is an end point.

"This lockdown will not last forever so people need to pick something they plan to do at the end and focus on that to get them through.

"I'm focusing on our next deployment to Afghanistan in October as mine.

"You also have to focus on the little victories you have each day and find a hobby you like doing until the lockdown is lifted.

"I had a terrifying job in Afghanistan and how I made it through each day was thinking each night when I was in bed that nobody had died or been hurt so it had been a good day. I took it one day at a time."

Image copyright Corporal Alan Fergusson
Image caption Corporal Alan Fergusson can only train half the numbers due to social distancing rules under lockdown

When Corporal Fergusson is in a war zone such as Afghanistan he only has a house with a small garden to live in for two months with all the other soldiers.

He said: "The lockdown is comparable to operations when we're in Afghanistan because there are 40 soldiers in a little compound 100m sq and we can't leave or we will be shot.

"Being in lockdown therefore is not alien to the guys who have been on operations and in Iraq the platoon houses are even smaller.

"So being in a small space is not alien to us.

"In this lockdown it is hard to see an end point because of the fog of covid but it is there and it will end."

Corporal Fergusson, who has been a Royal Army Medical Corp combat medical technician attached to the Second Battalion Royal regiment of Scotland for 10 years, lives in Glencorse Army Barracks in Penicuik in Midlothian.

He is originally from Lanarkshire.

Image copyright Corporal Alan Fergusson
Image caption Corporal Alan Fergusson training in Barry Buddon near Dundee

He said living in the Army barracks was very different now.

He said: "We are all socially distancing, the parades have finished and our commanding officer is now disseminating commands electronically to our phones.

"Our commanding officer would normally address us in the parade square to us in lines, however that isn't happening any more."

There are eight men to a flat but they all have their own rooms and en-suites.

There are queues for the cook house now and all the chairs have been moved so they have 2m (6ft) spacing.

Image copyright Corporal Alan Fergusson
Image caption Corporal Alan Fergusson during a tour in Afghanistan in 2013

He said: "I don't feel lonely because I can still see people and there is still the camaraderie and we have Afghanistan to work towards so we have the push.

"Soldiers are remarkably good at adapting and taking it on the chin and use dark humour when in any unpleasant situations.

"But we are also already used to structures in our lives so that has helped with these new measures.

"We are also quite good at doing what we are told."

Corporal Fergusson said: "People need to remember nothing lasts forever, we just have to ride out the bad times while they're here and appreciate the good times while we can. There are always more of both to follow."

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