Mother and son share soldiering

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While most soldiers in Afghanistan will spend Christmas Day missing their loved ones, one mother and son will be spending it just a stone's throw from each other in Helmand province.

Lance Corporal Sonia Doddrell and son Mark, who is a private, are not only both serving the same tour in Afghanistan, but work in the same logistics squadron in Camp Bastion.

To make matters worse for Pte Doddrell, who turns 23 today, his mother was recently promoted so now outranks him.

The pair, from Lancaster, do not work together on a day-to-day basis but are both members of the General Support Squadron, which is part of the Theatre Logistic Group based at Camp Bastion.

And despite working at different parts of the huge camp - the UK's main base in Afghanistan - the mother and son will get to wish each other a Merry Christmas in person.

Reservist L/Cpl Doddrell, who works for Royal Mail, joined the TA two-and-a-half years ago, while son Mark has been a member of the regular army for five years.

And they are hoping to meet up, at least briefly, on Wednesday, as all troops in Afghanistan take part in Christmas celebrations.

Another bonus for Pte Doddrell is a birthday surprise from his mum, who is delivering a banner, balloons and a birthday cake to him today.

"I have got a happy birthday banner, birthday balloons and - if his brother has sent it out on time - a birthday cake," she said.

"He's going to kill me, but that's what mothers are for!"

The treat is likely to embarrass the soldier, who is teased for the fact his mother is in the same squadron, even more than usual.

Pte Doddrell, who served in a previous tour in Afghanistan, said his reaction when his mum first told him she was joining up was: "Is this a joke?"

The 23-year-old, who distributes equipment to units in Camp Bastion, added: "I get a bit of stick but everyone is used to it now - I thought I'd get a bit more stick than I got.

His mother, whose job is issuing and bringing ammunition back in to Camp Bastion, said she had wanted to join the forces when she was younger but was not allowed, so when she saw an advertisement for reservists, decided to join up.

"My gran was chuffed for me, so was my grandad. My dad just thought it was a phase I was going through, my two boys just thought I was mad."

L/Cpl Doddrell, who has not served in Afghanistan before but worked at last year's London 2012 Olympics as part of her work with the TA said it was nice to be able to see her son fairly regularly.

"We meet up in the evenings and have a coffee. I still end up buying the KFC though."

Captain Rhydian Jones, second-in-command of the squadron, said it was not the first time they had seen relatives working together, but it was his first experience in Afghanistan.

The 31-year-old, from York, said: "We've had it before domestically - in the UK we had a husband and wife in the same squadron, but this is my first experience of it in theatre.

"It's just about being aware of it. I knew with Mark and Sonia it was more that Mark was concerned that the guys would give him stick for it.

"They are in the same squadron, they do similar jobs, but in completely different parts of Bastion.

"I'm led to believe there's frequent meet-ups though."

But he said: "I think he is a bit more worried now because she can subject him to military discipline as well as domestic discipline."

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