Harry Marshall Sr, from Perth, who fought in Bosnia, and Richard Scroggie, from Dundee, who was deployed to Afghanistan, are joining seven other former UK military personnel, all of whom are suffering from PTSD, to tackle the Western Sahara route, in reasonably priced cars they have outfitted themselves.
Nine former UK military personnel, who have all struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since deployments to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, are preparing to take on one of the ultimate driving challenges; along the route of the original Paris-Dakar rally, through Morocco, in two-wheel drive Citroen Berlingos and Peugeot Partners. The maximum price tag for each of the vehicles was just 350 GBP.
The expedition is being planned by ‘Driven to Extremes’, an organisation that supports military veterans by taking them on challenging vehicle adventures. It is led by Mac Mackenney, an expedition consultant to Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Mackenney was Fiennes’ right-hand man for his last North Pole expedition, and Fiennes is one of the ambassadors of this venture, along with Hollywood actor Tom Hardy, motorcycle racer Carl Fogerty, and Formula One racing driver Mika Salo.
“The cars we have chosen for the challenge have very simple engines and no electronics, so they can be repaired with simple tools like a hammer and gaffer tape. We intend to take a lot of both,” laughs Mackenney.
Although the veterans and their support staff will be following part of the original Paris-Dakar route, running parallel with the Algerian border, this expedition is not a race. The main point of the challenge is to allow the veterans to experience the same common purpose, and clear goals, which they once had on the battlefield; working again in a collaborative team, while pitting themselves against the vagaries of an arid and unforgiving landscape, and helping to fund raise for other veterans. The costs for each veteran to take part in the expedition is being covered by Driven to Extremes, thanks to generous support from their sponsors and supporters.
“Getting these particular cars across some of the roughest driving terrain in the world, will be a huge personal challenge for these men,” added Mackenney.
“Whereas some activities such as Polar trekking and Atlantic rowing can allow too much thinking time, vehicle expeditions can cross continents in a matter of days,” said Mackenney. “The relentless pace ensures that the veterans are immersed in new and rapidly changing experiences. Operating in remote and challenging environments, working as valued members of a close-knit team and the support within, opportunities for leadership and military banter helps provide a new focus, promotes self-esteem and builds confidence.”
The British Army has stepped in to help the veterans prepare for their challenge. The expedition mechanic is Army Sergeant, Nick Wright, who has been busy servicing the Citroens, and fellow vehicle mechanics from the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) have also been helping ready the 4×4 support vehicles, and one of the Peugeots, so they will be ready to set out from Dover on the 21st of this month (March 2018).
The staging post for the expedition will be in Gibraltar, where the veterans will raise the suspensions of their cars; fit sump guards to the engines, and install mesh radiator guards to protect against rocks and stones.
Meanwhile with several issues that have occurred on the journey so far, photographer Gavin Kapps has sent in a few images of the journey so far.