Two Royal Engineers who walked away unscathed when their armoured diggers hit roadside bombs in Afghanistan met the people who built the vehicles today.
Army Sappers Craig Cook and Daniel Boden were both operating Caterpillar armoured diggers when they drove over improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in two separate incidents while performing construction roles on the frontline during 2009.
The MOD equipment operated by Sappers Cook and Boden was bought under a £8M Urgent Operational Requirements programme, which provides the Royal Engineers with diggers and tractors protected against the IED threat in Afghanistan.
Sapper Daniel Boden, serving with 28 Engineer Regiment, emailed Caterpillar from Helmand after the IED blast to thank them for saving his life while maintaining routes in Afghanistan in September.
Spr Boden, from Portsmouth, said:
”I was on a route maintenance patrol, filling in potholes left from previous IED blasts. I had just finished when I turned round to go back to base and I drove over an IED.
“From what I have been told it was quite a large blast – I was sat in the cab and felt the blast. There was a flash and lots of dust everywhere – although I didn’t realise at first that it was my vehicle that had been hit.
“I got out of the vehicle and my legs were shaking and I didn’t know what to think at first. After I got back to the base I phoned my family and told them initially that I had been in an accident but when I admitted I had been blown up they were really shocked.”
Sapper Craig Cook, of 38 Engineer Regiment, whose family is from County Durham, was so moved by the experience he wrote to Caterpillar – the company which made the diggers - thanking them for saving his life and allowing him to go home safely to see the birth of his baby daughter.
Spr Cook was undertaking a route clearance job in June this year when the blast happened. He said:
“Whilst on operations this summer I was tasked with a construction job, which involved driving 2km along a well known IED route. Unfortunately I drove over one and it went off. Luckily I walked away unharmed thanks to the improved protection of the plant equipment I was using.
“Knowing that this equipment is safe has given me future faith to go out on further patrols in the machines, I would like to thank the people at Caterpillar from the bottom of my heart, because of their hard work I can go home to see my wife and the birth of my first child. I really can’t thank you enough.”
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:
“It’s great to hear that these two brave soldiers escaped unscathed from well-protected equipment bought under an Urgent Operational Requirement specifically for the Afghanistan frontline.
“The Royal Engineers have a vital role to play in Afghanistan ensuring the mobility of our troops and constructing bases on the frontline, often under dangerous conditions, so it is essential that they can do their jobs safely.”
Notes to Editors:
1. For further information contact Lisa Murphy from the DE&S Press Office on 07810 237923 or Sonia Marshall from the MOD Press Office on 0207 218 3258.
2. Pictures of the diggers involved in the explosions can be found on www.defencenewsimagery.mod.uk or by calling the Defence Picture Desk on 0207 218 6401.
3. Sapper Daniel Boden of 28 Engineer Regiment was using the Finning Caterpillar 434E Backhoe Loader when he drove over the Improvised Explosive Device.
4. Sapper Craig Cook of 38 Engineer Regiment, based in Northern Ireland but from Sherburn Village, County Durham, was driving the protected 938G Wheel Loader, when he drove over the IED.
5. The Royal Engineers carry out a range of duties to support troops on the frontline, including:
• Clearing and Constructing routes;
• Overcoming obstacles using plant equipment, explosives, bridges and other improvised solutions;
• Building compounds and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs); and
• Providing troops with power and water.
6. The protected plant equipment bought for troops includes:
• An Ultra Light Tractor Protected ULWT(P) Caterpillar 257 Shovel with Ballistic and Blast Protection with the Capability of being delivered to FOBs by helicopter. This equipment is utilised with a variety of ancillary attachments to fulfil construction tasks.
• A Light Wheeled Tractor Protected LWT(P) Caterpillar 434 Back hoe Loader with Ballistic and Blast Protection. This equipment is utilised to fulfil construction tasks and route clearing roles.
• A Medium Wheeled Tractor Protected MWT(P) Caterpillar 938 Loading Shovel with Ballistic and Blast Protection. This equipment is utilised to fulfil construction tasks and route clearing roles.
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department