Writing Squaddie

Hi there. My name is Steven McLaughlin and I’m the author of Squaddie: A Soldier’s Story. I did a three-year stint as a Combat Infantryman in the British Army and served in Iraq and Northern Ireland. For me the army was both the best and worst of times; when it was good it was fantastic, but when it was bad it was atrocious.

I joined the Royal Green Jackets at 30yrs of age in honour of my late brother, Damian. He was a wonderful friend to me and a great soldier who gave six precious years of his life to the Green Jackets. Tragically he was killed in a car smash at the age of 25, just a week before he was due to leave the army. Damian completed three tough tours of the Balkans at particularly dangerous times, serving twice in Bosnia and once in Kosovo, when the entire region was engulfed in flames and collapsing into civil war.

His sudden cruel death spurred me into action and I enlisted too, following him into the exact same regiment so that I could see the world through his eyes and recreate his exhausting journey within myself. As a young man I had vigorously encouraged him to join the military and brushed aside his doubts and uncertainties with my own careless immaturity. But now that he was gone, I felt that I owed him a debt of honour that could only be repaid by placing myself in the line of fire and enduring the same hardships that he had – even if I ended up paying with my own life.

My time in the army was a great adventure and I have never regretted it. I don’t need to add, of course, that I am profoundly grateful to have survived the experience – because better men than me haven’t. I kept a rough diary of my time in the army and no matter where I was in the world or what I was doing my journal was completed almost every night. When I got out I spent a year turning my scribbles into a book, writing for hours every single day until my eyes streamed red and the midnight oil burned dry.  Finally, the journey was complete and the blood debt repaid: Squaddie was first published in 2006 and has gone from strength-to-strength ever since, securing foreign language translation and being reprinted multiple times over the years.

I dedicated Squaddie to Damian and if he were alive today I hope he’d approve.


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