Afghanistan: The story behind the picture – British soldier says image of him with child in Kabul sums up what the guys are doing

It is a picture that’s come to symbolise the British military’s role in the relief operation to Afghanistan. 

A soldier in the midst of the chaos at Kabul airport holding a baby who’d been passed over the razor wire, before her mother was able to get through.

The photograph of a corporal from the Parachute Regiment and the child filmed by Sky News was printed on the front page of nearly every British national newspaper and beamed around the world by the Associated Press wire service.

It was an instant phenomenon, but the young soldier insists he was just doing his job, no different to all his colleagues.

“It just sums up what the guys are doing, they’re doing that on a daily basis – that picture sums up what everybody is doing, not just me, everybody,” he said.

The picture was part of a sequence filmed by Sky News camera operator Toby Nash, who’d been alerted to what was happening by the company’s security adviser Martin Vowles.

We met the corporal after he finished his shift on the frontline, and he told Sky News what happened.

“The baby got passed over, to the side over the razor wire. First came the baby and then came the mum and the pram, but she was on her own,” he told us.

“The baby was clearly distressed, [but] in the photo I think the baby just started to calm a bit, maybe I’m a natural,” he said smiling.

He isn’t sure where mum was going and was pretty amazed when the pram appeared.

“The pram came over, not too sure how she got it through… I don’t believe she was going to the UK, I think she was French or had French family.”

At that point tens of thousands were pushing towards the British security corridor.

He told us he didn’t even know the camera was there: “You just happened to get the photo at that time.”

His commanding officer told us how proud he was of all his paratroopers who are operating in the most difficult of conditions. “That picture sums up what this deployment has been like,” he said after seeing it.

The corporal hopes the baby and her mother made it out safely and can begin a new life wherever it may be.

“This is a challenging environment to be in, I think it’s challenging for everybody, but we intend to just get as many people out safely… to get as many people as possible safely out of the country,” he said.

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