torika bolatagici

From Babylon with love

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

IF Lance Corporal Linny Savu had not joined the British Army she would still be looking after her brothers and sisters in Fiji.

And she would be planting food for the family to make ends meet.

But those struggling days when she doubled as a student while looking after her siblings helped her on the road to the British Army. She had to do the work because her father had to look for odd jobs while her mother was the sole breadwinner.

As a Lance Corporal she is in charge of a batch of soldiers, mostly men.

Today, the Suva-born British Army relates her story from war-torn Iraq.

“I am the eldest of two brothers and a sister,” she said. “In those days my mother was the only one working while my dad was in between jobs.

“My brothers and sister have been fortunate, nevertheless, and were always able to get what we needed from our parents.

“My mother relied on me to look after my brothers and sisters. The work included taking them to school everyday and bringing them home.

“We often helped our father in the garden as the price of food could be expensive at times.

“As I grew older, I moved on to tertiary education but it was hard getting a job after that so I stayed home and helped around.”

Lcpl Savu said her parents came up with the idea of joining the British Army as some of her friends had done. I applied and the Army replied with DVDs and leaflets of what to expect.

“I flew to the UK on November 21, 2001 and it was sad because it was the first time I left my family.

“My uncle who was living in London that time told me to pack warm clothes as it is cold in England and he was right, it was absolutely freezing!

“The first few days were really tiring as I tried to get into a normal sleep routine but gradually I got used to the food and importantly, tried not to think of the cold too much.

“Three weeks after settling in the UK, I went to the Army careers office at the Strand and met the person I had written to when applying from Fiji. I attended some interviews, did a BARB test and before I knew it, I was loaded to start basic training.

“I had, during my first weeks in London, done some training to prepare for the selection. I joined one of my cousins who was doing her basic training at Pirbright. We usually ran along the Thames crossing the two bridges Lambeth and Vauxhaull.

“We often got funny looks from bystanders as we were running in shorts and T-shirts.” She said St Paul’s Cathedral is one of her favourite sights in London.

Her first Christmas away from home was tough as she missed Fijian food and sharing it with families and relatives. “Soon, I started getting used to turkey and all the trimmings that was in front of me on the table on Christmas Day, 2001.

“I started basic training at Bassingbourn and moved to Winchester to complete the rest of the course. The first few weeks was hectic but I got used to it as we marched off the square in August 2003.

“That was the happiest day of my life and I felt as though I had achieved something. After basic training, I went straight to phase two training at Worthy Down to complete the nine weeks course to become a Military Clerk.

“I still remember seeing snow for the first time. The guys in my class could not believe that we do not have snow in Fiji.

“After phase two, I was posted to 47 Regiment Royal Artillery.

“I only spent two weeks in the Unit before flying out to Cyprus for a six-month operational tour.

“I got thrown into the deep end but learned very quickly as a result of the pressure to do well on my first tour.”

After Cyprus, she came home for leave and was thrilled to see and meet her family again.

“Unfortunately, the time came for me to go back and it was sad saying goodbye.

“In 2005 I was attached to another unit, 10 Battery, 1 Royal Horse Artillery, for another UN tour of Cyprus.

“In November 2006 after I had my first child, I was posted to 3 (UK) Division & Signal Regiment in Bulford. I was posted as a brand new Lance Corporal, a new challenge and a lot more expected of me. We supported a lot of exercises during that first year.

“Then a trawl (search) came through looking for volunteers to go to Iraq in November 2007.

“I decided to go for it as it would be my first tour to Iraq. I spoke about it to my husband and he supported my decision. The only down side was that I needed to take our little girl to Fiji before I could deploy.

“I knew she would be well looked after back home.

“I deployed on OP TELIC 11 in Iraq on the November 12, 2007 thinking it would be a completely different experience.

“For the first few weeks it was busy, meeting new people and adjusting to strange ways of life.

“I quickly got used to it and now we are already halfway through our six-month tour and I cannot wait to get home to see everyone again.”

Looking back over her past five years in the British Army, she felt as if she had achieved some personal and career goals she never dreamt of achieving.

“I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful family to support and am looking forward to a long and fulfilling career in the Armed Forces.”


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