News story

Father and son in Afghanistan

A father and son from Kent will this year spend Father's Day together – in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Father and son, Captain Malcolm 'Shed' Marsden and Sapper Robert Marsden, at Camp Bastion [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope RLC, Crown copyright]
Father and son, Captain Malcolm 'Shed' Marsden and Sapper Robert Marsden

Captain Malcolm ‘Shed’ Marsden and his son, Sapper Robert Marsden, realised they would be deploying together in February this year after Sapper Marsden joined his new unit, 22 Engineer Regiment, in Tidworth. Sapper Marsden said:

I was still in basic training when I heard that my new unit, 22 Engineer Regiment, was going on tour at the end of March. As soon as I got to the unit I pushed to deploy with them.

Captain Marsden, from Minster, Isle of Sheppey, joined the Army in 1987 and after serving in Belize, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq he was commissioned in June 2011. During his career he has served in various roles including as a combat engineer and diving supervisor.

Sapper Marsden decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and enlisted in November 2011. However, it was not only his father’s guidance that prompted his decision to join. Sapper Marsden said:

There was some influence from my dad but a lot of my friends were joining the Army too. I was attracted to the lifestyle and the opportunity to travel and meet new people.

Sapper Robert Marsden gives his dad a card
Sapper Robert Marsden gives his dad a card 'from your little soldier' [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope RLC, Crown copyright]

Both Captain Marsden and Sapper Marsden play key roles in supporting troops based right across Helmand province.

Captain Marsden, from 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), is the quartermaster for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Search Task Force and makes sure that the EOD teams across Helmand are kept fully supplied with vital kit and equipment. Captain Marsden said:

The EOD teams support Afghan forces by conducting operations to ensure key routes are clear of deadly improvised explosive devices.

It is essential they have fully operable kit otherwise lives could be endangered. My team and I work hard to ensure all of their kit is maintained to the highest possible standard.

Sapper Marsden is an engineer logistics specialist. He said:

It’s my job to supply forward-based engineer troops with stores and equipment they need to support engineering tasks in bases throughout Helmand.

Captain Malcolm 'Shed' Marsden and Sapper Robert Marsden
Father and son, Captain Malcolm 'Shed' Marsden and Sapper Robert Marsden, sharing a drink [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope RLC, Crown copyright]

With busy jobs, Captain Marsden and Sapper Marsden don’t see as much of each other as they normally would. Captain Marsden said:

I do sometimes need to visit Robert’s unit for work purposes so that gives me a chance to keep an eye on him. I’m glad I’m here for his first tour.

When asked about his thoughts on being deployed at the same time as his son, Captain Marsden said:

It’s a real honour. My wife and I are very proud. It’s strange being able to go for coffee together or for Robert to borrow money off me! It is certainly an unusual thing to happen; something we can look back on together and tell the grandchildren!

Published 16 June 2013