Grandad says Government's attitude is 'sick joke'

Read it on the Telegraph & Argus

By"Marc Meneaud

Presents and letters sent to Yorkshire troops fighting in Afghanistan are not getting through because of major delivery problems, says the family of a Bradford soldier.

David Bryan, 73, has hit out at Government moves to play down transport and communication problems as"a sick joke" after it emerged that his grandson Shaun, 19, of the 3rd Batallion, The Yorkshire Regiment, had not even received simple gifts of sweets and letters of support from his family.

Mr Bryan, of Nab Wood Drive, Shipley, said his grandson had been"in great distress" because he had not received his post.

And the family says when they contacted the Yorkshire Regiment welfare office they were told it had been"swamped" with similar complaints.

Mr Bryan said: "When they (the regimental welfare officers) took up the issue with the forward base they were told the problem is a severe shortage of transport. I am not naive enough to expect full home comforts in a theatre of war such as Afghanistan but I am sure that the authorities can do better than this for our hardworking and much-tested squaddies.

"Even during the First World War, they managed to get messages to the troops.

"The continual protestations from our political leaders that the troops in Afghanistan have no transport or communication problems are a sick joke."

The family has now contacted Shipley MP Philip Davies and Bradford North MP Terry Rooney. They have both contacted Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, demanding answers.

Tory MP Mr Davies said: "I absolutely understand Mr Bryan's concerns.

"It is upsetting and worrying enough for the families of people who are in service in Afghanistan. Getting regular correspondence is a real boost to morale."

Labour MP Terry Rooney, who was contacted by Mr Bryan's daughter, Caroline Deegan, of Laisterdyke, described the situation as"unbelievable" and also said he would put pressure on the Defence Secretary to sort out the problems.

He said: "This should not be happening. It is stupid."

A source at the British Forces Post Office (BFPO) told the Telegraph & Argus mail was being sent out five days a week to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan from its headquarters at RAF Northolt in Middlesex.

But problems emerged when it came to transporting parcels and letters from the British military base in lawless Helmand Province to"forward operating bases" where the troops are stationed.

The source said: "It depends entirely on the space available in the aircraft and what they can carry to different places out of Camp Bastion to forward bases."