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Marking the ten year anniversary of the withdrawal of frontline British troops from Afghanistan, this 75 minute film, commissioned by BBC Factual and BBC Cymru Wales and directed by Hannah Lowes is a co-production between Passion Pictures and Kailash Films.

It tells the story of a group of soldiers from the Welsh Guards Regiment during a brutally demanding six month tour of Helmand Province in 2009. During the course of the deployment the regiment suffered an extraordinary number of casualties, including losing their Commanding Officer, the most senior ranking member of the British Army to be killed in action since the Falklands War.

That summer was to prove the bloodiest period for British forces of the entire conflict and a turning point in its overall course. The film focusses on the stories of a tight cast of contributors as well as their loved ones back home in Wales, widening the lens to intimately explore the experience of war for partners and parents alongside combatants over both the six month timeframe of the tour and the years since.

They speak powerfully about how their lives were transformed by the conflict and reflect on its longer term legacy, including witnessing the Taliban retake the same ground the Welsh Guards had fought for during their resurgence in 2021.

Director Hannah Lowes says: “I’ve always wanted to find a story to explore about war as it's such an extreme experience and hence tells us so much about the minds and characters of those who have to live through it. The narrow focus of this film on those characters has offered a unique opportunity to do that. I was also immediately excited about including the voices of women who have lived that tour day by day and in the years since alongside the soldiers, to survey the full impact of conflict on the home front as well as in theatre.”

Nick Andrews, Head of Commissioning, BBC Wales says: “The Welsh guards have a long and proud history and the culture of the regiment speaks to the places across Wales where the soldiers come from. Their voices offer a unique, warm and incredibly raw expression of the bonds forged in these extreme circumstances. Told with a mixture of brutal honesty, compassion and humour, their stories make for an incredibly powerful documentary about this difficult subject.”

Hamish Fergusson, Executive Producer for Passion Pictures, says: “This anniversary offers a unique opportunity to explore the human experience of the Afghanistan conflict during its most intense year –a period that feels really significant in our national memory.”

Gwenllian Hughes, Executive Producer for Kailash Films, says: “This documentary about the Welsh Guards’ tour of Helmand in 2009 has given the young soldiers a chance to share their experiences for the first time. Told first-hand by them and their wives and mothers, we show the full impact of war, both on the front line and back home.”

Helmand: A Frontline Story (w/t) 1x75 is a BBC Factual and BBC Wales co-commission for BBC Two and iPlayer.


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