Horrors of war last long after the gunshots fade for Norfolk TA soldier

Hardly a day goes by when Clive Lewis doesn't think of Afghanistan.

Almost two years after he returned to his home in Norfolk and his job at the BBC in Norwich, the horror remains.

In 2009, he served a tour as a Territorial Army officer in Helmand province, a Lieutenant leading his platoon through some of the bloodiest fighting of the Afghan conflict.

Many came back from Helmand missing limbs that summer. Some did not come back at all. Clive Lewis came home with scars of a different kind.

'Like all soldiers, I knew when I went I could be putting my life on the line but what I wasn't prepared for was my reaction once I was safely home,' he said.

'I started having nightmares and I felt disconnected from the people around me. I just didn't feel right. I also felt incredibly guilty.

'I did not think I had the right to feel this way when there were people I know who had lost limbs, people who had lost more friends or suffered and seen more things. They were the ones who should have these problems - I did not think I was entitled to that.'

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In a BBC documentary being broadcast on Monday, he relives the worst moment, when his patrol was attacked by insurgents and a Mastiff armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

'Miraculoursly no-one was killed. The explosion was massive, it left a massive crater,' he tells an MoD psychiatrist, in a counselling session for depression.

'I sobbed, I sobbed at the explosion and when I saw the pillar of dust and debris.'

Surgeon Commander John Sharpley explains how counselling can help break down traumatic memories, by helping those who suffer depression and flashbacks to break them down.

Mr Lewis, 39, a television reporter for Look East and the BBC's Politics Show, said: 'I just wasn't prepared for how hard it was ato adjust to normality and life became a struggle.

'I just felt like I was being crushed by it all and I remember turning round and saying to someone within the TA: 'Look, I can't do this I can't take part in this it's just too much.

'And that was the first time I had to admit to myself that it was just too much, I just can't handle this.

'So that's when I went to the doctor and said look I'm not sleeping, and I'm not feeling good and that's when they diagnosed me with depression. And that's when I realised I needed to seek help.'

Once they were nicknamed 'weekend warriors' by their regular counterparts, who looked down on what they regarded as part-time pongoes.

Now more and more territorials and reservists are being called up for front-line duties, at a time when regular forces face major budget cuts. But support networks to help them cope and return to their homes, families and jobs after being exposed to the horrors of war are still being developed.

Inside Out East, BBC1, Monday, February 7, 7.30pm.