Aldershot soldier Private Michael Lucking (pictured above and right), a former pupil of The Connaught School, has been in the heat of battle in southern Iraq.

Michael (24), who is known as Mick, is with the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and has experienced some of the harshest conditions of his career.

Like all the others, he has been told to drink a minimum of ten litres of water each day.

He joked: "This is a good way to get a sun tan and save money. The hardest part for me is being away from my wife and family.

"When I get back we'll take a long holiday - hopefully somewhere snowy!"

He added: "The locals here are genuinely pleased to see us, but at the same time a bit wary, which is understandable after what they have been through." Mick is one of the most experienced in his unit, having also served in Northern Ireland, Zaire, Canada, Kosovo, Macedonia and The Falklands.

He has been able to keep in touch with his family - his father lives in Cove - and friends, via satellite phone as well as the "free bluey" postal system. This has been joined by the e-bluey, which allows friends to send letters via the internet. This means that messages from loved ones can be printed and handed out in the desert in just a matter of hours.