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Guernseys a natural choice for Desert Rats

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THE traditional guernsey is helping protect British troops from the winter cold in the Iraqi desert.

THE traditional guernsey is helping protect British troops from the winter cold in the Iraqi desert. When the 7th Armoured Brigade - The Desert Rats - was looking for a distinctive sweater for its operational tour, the guernsey was its first choice.

Guernsey Woollens produced 300 pullovers complete with badge.

Major Andy Percival, who liaised with Guernsey Woollens, said the product was a good one.

'The guernsey will not only keep out the chill of a winter evening in the desert but it also has links with the dress of the original Desert Rats in the Second World War,' he said.

'It fosters the philosophy of the commander of 7th Armoured Brigade, Brigadier Patrick Marriott, that "we are all of one company" and instils our desert heritage into today's

officers and warrant officers.'

Guernsey Woollens' Phil Walker said his company was extremely happy to help the brigade.

'We produced traditional guernseys in a "new natural" colour and were also able to sew the brigade insignia - the famous desert rat - onto the arm of each sweater,' he said.

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The company is familiar with working with the military, having previously supplied khaki guernseys to the Royal Military Police and black ones to the Royal Tank Regiment and physical training instructors at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

It has also provided an olive version for the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.

Captain Karen Roche, a Guernseywoman with the Royal Logistics Corps, is serving as media operations officer for 7th Armoured Brigade. She said the guernseys brought a little bit of home to the desert.

'A guernsey is practical and hard-wearing and

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having the desert rat on

it makes it special,' she said.

'I am really proud to be from Guernsey and also to be part of the 7th Armoured Brigade.'

Brigadier Marriott said the Desert Rats were probably the most famous formation in the British Army and rightly so, for their history was formidable and they had earned their reputation in the north African desert during the Second World War.

'The old and faded photographs of the Desert Rats in sandy wastes are still perhaps just about remembered,' he said.

'In many of the photographs, long-forgotten officers and men can be seen in jumpers with a red rat on one sleeve. This tradition continues today and some 60 years later is special to the Desert Rats.'

* 7th Armoured Brigade was deployed in Iraq in October for six months as part of the Multi National Division (South-East) and has about 5,000 soldiers based in Al Basrah, Maysaan and Al Muthanna provinces.

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