Army post is school re-union

Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Joining the Army turned into a school reunion for two Doncaster soldiers who are now seeing their first action.

Second Lieutenant Mike Saunders, aged 26, and Lieutenant Christopher Lee, 29, both from Doncaster, knew each other after attending the same school as boys.

After leaving school they went their separate ways – only to find themselves reunited at officer training at Sandhurst last year.

Now part of the 1 Yorks, they are currently on their first major training exercise in Canada along with 460 other soldiers from the regiment.

They are also now serving with a third former school pal – Captain James Shaw, 26, who lives in Leeds.

Lt Lee, a medic, said: “Our school doesn’t really have a military background so I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew when I began at Sandhurst – to meet two old school mates was a real surprise.

“It’s definitely nice to have a friendly face and it has helped us all settle in.”

Capt Shaw and 2nd Lt Saunders were in the same class for two years at Queen Elizabeth Grammar in Wakefield, and became close friends.

Second Lt Saunders, a platoon commander with the battalion, said: “This exercise is my first taste of military life outside officer training and having these two to chat to has helped.

“The exercise itself is good fun and allows us to put a lot of the skills we’ve learned to the test.

“Myself and James were really good friends at school and kept in touch through university. I knew he was thinking of joining up but I never thought we’d end up working so closely together.”

Capt Shaw has a medical degree and works as an Army doctor after being inspired to join up by the medical advances made in Afghanistan.

He said: “Coming away on an exercise like this is a great opportunity but, although you’ve travelled thousands of miles from home, you still wake up surrounded by Yorkshire accents to remind you of home.”