Viking brothers team up at battalion headquarters
Two brothers are serving side by side at the Vikings’ HQ in Afghanistan – after one survived a horrific injury in a bomb blast during his last tour.
Capt Simon Broomfield, 29, and his brother Capt David Broomfield, 31, work in neighbouring offices as plans officer and operations officer, respectively, for the 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment.
Both brothers, from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, play a crucial role in orchestrating the missions carried out by their comrades on the ground.
But in 2007, when fighting in Helmand was at its most fierce, Simon, then a platoon commander, was wounded by an explosion which claimed the lives of two of his colleagues.
“I broke my right arm and lost a lot of muscle,” he said. “I ruptured some ligaments in my knee and broke my tibia. I had it pinned for three weeks in Selly Oak (a hospital in Birmingham). I did a week in intensive care and seven weeks overall at Selly Oak. I also had six admissions to Headley Court (the military rehabilitation centre in Surrey). Injuries like mine pale into insignificance compared to the other people in there.”
When asked whether his injuries had prompted any second thoughts about returning to Helmand, Simon said: “I don’t think I even thought about it.
“This is a different job. I have not got to put the kit on and walk out the gate, but I am prepared to do it. I don’t know how I would react if I had to do that, but it is part of the job and you cannot pick and choose which bits you want to do.”
David said he learned about his brother’s injuries on a screen in his company’s Ops Room.
“It was an awful feeling,” he said. “It said ‘single amputation’ at first, so they flew me straight to Lashkar Gah so I could see him come round.
“We have always got on, but this is the first time we have worked properly together. We are both married and our houses are 100m across the road from each other.
“We both had down two infantry choices when we went through OTC (Officer Training Corps), but we both chose the greatest infantry regiment in the world, bar none. Why would you go anywhere else?”
Simon said: “If either one of us had not joined the army, the other would still have ended up in this battalion.
Simon’s wife, Katie, helped David’s wife Antoinette after she gave birth to the couple’s first child, John, on May 9.
David said: “I got back about 20 hours after he was born. Leaving them behind was pretty miserable but there are people out here with older kids who are missing them more. A lot of them are missing first steps and first words.”
Both soldiers said they had seen huge progress in Afghanistan since returning for their current tours.
Simon said: “It has got a lot better. Guys who were out here last time, for the first three months of their tour they went on patrol 2km south of here and every day they were getting shot at, and their patrol bases were being shot at every day.
“The locals didn’t want to take the risk of talking to us. Now there will still be areas like that, but in general local nationals are more willing to be seen with us.”