MATTHEW “OLLIE” OLLERTON, 44, joined the Royal Marines in 1990 aged 18, and his first tour was to Northern Ireland.
He says: “I thought it would all be about the uniform and impressing the chicks. But on my first night, a 500lb car bomb went off at an Army checkpoint.
There was a helmet on the floor and my sergeant walked over, kicked it and said, ‘We need to see if there are any more of these’.
“There was a head inside the helmet. That’s when I realised it wasn’t a game.”
The following year Ollie joined Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, evacuating Kurds from villages that had been torn apart in brutal massacres.
He says: “It was shocking and traumatic. There were all sorts of terrible things — body parts and burned homes.
“There are a lot of things I can’t talk about because I’ve blocked them out.”
In 1994 Ollie joined the Special Boat Service — the naval equivalent of the SAS — after passing the selection process while ignoring a broken ankle.
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