By Humphrey Carter

THE last time Jill Vane Percy spoke to her husband Philip was on March 17th to tell him that she is expecting their second child, since then he has liberated Basra with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, “no news is good news,” Jill said yesterday in the Port of Andratx, where Philip's mother lives. Philip was born and raised in Majorca and he met Jill in Canada, she was a reservist in the Canadian army and they met on a joint training exercise and married 18-months ago. Philip is actually a member of the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, but has been attached to the 2ndRTR in Iraq and more recently with the Black Watch “that's pretty much the last news I have of him,” she said. Based in Germany, the first wave of troops were sent to Kuwait back in November, but Philip did not get his orders to go until the second wave in early March “I spoke to him three days before the war kicked off to tell him I was pregnant, he was really excited and it helped to boost morale. I received a letter from him on March 19 and then the war started the next day, catching us all by surprise, we did not expect it to happen so quickly. “I woke up that morning and was told the war had started, I was shocked, stunned, petrified even. I had just discovered I was pregnant and my husband was at war,” Jill said yesterday. “But I know what he would have said, this is his job, what he signed up for and that we knew this could happen when we married. What is more, Philip loves what he does. “However, I have come to Majorca for a few days, I hate being in Germany, every time the doorbell rings, your heart jumps into your throat, you think this is it, it's bad news.” Jill admits that she is relieved that, at least in the case of Basra, the conflict and hard fighting is over, now all she wants is Philip to come home. Since he's been away their daughter Storm has started to walk and talk and her first tooth has appeared. “He's lost all this and I know he can't come home and that he's been told he could be away for six months, but I'm unhappy and I want him home and many of the forces wives feel exactly the same. “They get an extra £300, or something like that, a month for being in a conflict zone, but none of us feel that the sum is worth our husbands being away for so long,” she said. “What is more, the troops are a bit annoyed, the unwritten clause that fighters don't become peace keepers, does not appear to be being honoured, she added. “They've done a good job, Basra is safer and the people there are happy, now they can come home.” Jill would also like to see her husband's role in Iraq cut short as she does not agree with the war. “There has not been enough proof that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and they still can't find them. If Saddam can't have these weapons, then why can Bush, I don't think anyone in fact should be allowed to have these big weapons. “I also don't think the British government did the right thing by failing to do what the people wanted. “I know Saddam Hussein killed tens of thousands of people, but there are five million people in Baghdad alone and with the rest of the population, they could have staged a revolt and taken care of Saddam themselves, but I guess with outside help, the outside now has to cover the costs of rebuilding the country,” she said. “If Saddam had bought any weapons of mass destruction, it would have been from either the French, Germans or Russians, they opposed the war claiming he had no WMD's and they should know, they had all the big contracts with Iraq. “Philip understands how I feel and I know he questioned his own role during the build up in Kuwait, he is starting to realise that he is missing watching his daughter grow up and will probably miss it all over again with the new baby, I know some of his regiment will be signing off when they return to base in Germany. “The British forces are over stretched, too thinly spread on the ground and are practically always away from home.” Jill said that the news coverage, or rather comparative lack of war coverage in Spain compared to UK television has been “refreshing, it's not all bombs, bombs, bombs, although I thought Spain was involved,” and added that she does not understand how and why so many reporters have been killed. “Although I guess few members of the media, forces wives or the rest of the world were prepared for the war, most of us have never gone through this before,” she said, and Jill hopes that she will never have to live through this ever again. Yesterday the memorial service for one of Philip's colleagues from 2ndRTR killed in Iraq, was held in Germany.


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