Soldier tackles the urban jungle

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 1996, 12:00am

Corporal James Horne has just arrived in Hong Kong as part of the 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment which took over this month from the Gurkhas. Corporal Horne, 25, who joined the Army when he was 16, saw action in the Gulf War and finished a two-year stint in Northern Ireland in March. He lives at the barracks on Stonecutters Island.

What's on your mind? I was amazed when I arrived here. I've never been anywhere so full of high-rises and so busy. The humidity was also unbelievable.

The Gurkhas were very welcoming. I'm looking forward to doing a bit of training in the New Territories - in a hostile jungle environment and working with the Navy and RAF. Apart from that, several of us are having trials for the Hong Kong Tigers. We've got some very good rugby players. I think the Tigers are struggling to get some big lads and props.

Why did you join the Army? It was this, the dole or a dead-end job on civvy street. The workload is getting a lot greater because of the cutbacks in the British Army, so we're spending more time away from our friends and family. But for a single young man who's never stepped out of Britain it's a good life. You work hard and play hard.

What do you think of the nightlife? It's got a big reputation. The place just doesn't stop, but you can't go out every night. I've been to a few of the usual haunts in Kowloon and Wan Chai - not the out-of-bounds clubs though! But the reputation soldiers have of getting drunk all the time in girlie bars is totally false. It's unfair. We're smart enough to know it's a complete rip-off.

What was it like in the Gulf? There were a few apprehensive moments, but nothing really frightening. It's not like what you see in the films with people freaking out and losing it. You're all professionals. The most apprehensive moment was going in for the first attack. That's when you think: 'This is it'. But you know everything is going to be all right because you've got a good team. Everyone is in the same boat.