Ref NoOHP/30/1
TitleAudrey Gillan
Date23 May 2003
Extent1 minidisc, 1 cd, 1 file, 4 AIFF files (771.9 MB)
Creator NameGillan; Audrey; journalist and screenwriter
DescriptionInterview with Audrey Gillan, Guardian Home News Chief Reporter. Conducted by Leslie Plommer on 23 May 2003. This is the first of a series of interviews with Guardian staff who covered the Iraq War of March-April 2003. Also includes a data sheet containing biographical details about the subject and information about the recording, as well as Guardian newspaper articles published by Audrey Gillan covering the Iraq War.

Summary contents of interview (with rough timings):

Disc 1:
Track 1
00.15 Introductions
00.39 Meeting held by the Guardian in October 2002. Discussion on how to cover a possible war in Iraq. Roles allocated to correspondents
01.50 Told she would be going to Iraq if war broke out
02.10 Did not volunteer
02.45 Form of training. Hostile environment training run by former armed forces
03.10 Discusses hostile environment training. How to deal with kidnap situations
03.30 Intensive first aid training. Taught to clear landmines
03.48 Nuclear and biological warfare training
04.00 Ministry of Defence organised further training for press staff
04.30 Use of CS gas chamber to test drills
04.43 Training course with RAF. Taught importance of personal hygiene, how to construct tent, use of rationing food
04.58 Own fitness regime
05.20 Process of journalist selection
06.55 Appointed to join the Household Cavalry D squadron, a front line armoured unit within the 16 Air Assualt Brigade
07.10 Women war correspondents advised that the 16 Air Assualt Brigade did not want female correspondents
07.45 Upset over possibility that she would not be covering conflict due to gender
08.00 Decision over-ruled
08.45 Trepidation before leaving the UK
09.00 Scared by chemical warfare training
09.45 Encouraged to take Anthrax vaccination. Fear over side effects

10.38 Medical support from the Guardian
10.50 Decision over Anthrax vaccination
11.30 Attendents on training courses included newspaper, radio and television journalists from around the world. Training was compulsory
12.55 Many journalists fitness tested during training

Track 2
00.05 Soon after training they were called up
00.20 Preparing kit
01.10 On 48 hour standby to leave when called
01.15 Remembers the call-up to fly to Kuwait
01.45 Reunited with kit during a sandstorm
02.00 Over 120 journalists based at camp before leaving for individual brigades
02.45 Remembers speaking to Bruce Adams, Daily Mail photographer, who was also embedded with the unit
03.00 Attitude of the unit
03.30 Attitude to the Guardian
03.45 Accompanied by bodyguard and armed soliders for first days to prevent her accessing information
04.30 Complained to liason officers from Media Operations about treatment
05.25 Copy vetted before being sent
05.50 Daily routine at camp
06.10 Shock of troops that she was female. Warned that a journalist would be joining them
06.20 Acceptance by unit
06.50 Began working on human emotion stories. How the troops prepare for war
07.30 Use of Zulu time
08.00 The burning of personal letters by troops. Threat of imprisonment

10.00 Use of laptop. Copy read by media officer and squadron officer. Verbal negotiation over content

Track 3
00.04 Remembers first exercise
01.25 Taste of what life would be like covering the war
01.45 Experience of sleeping whilst in the field
02.10 The weather. Rain and flooding in Kuwait

Track 4
00.15 Reconnaissance role of the unit. Front line observation
01.12 Unit engaged in periods of intense activity
02.30 Journalist kit
03.30 Surveying the landscape. Use of technology such as thermal imaging equipment
03.55 Verifying targets
04.45 Remembers finding abandoned oil field barracks
05.45 Quiet start
06.30 Increase in activity
07.00 Remembers incident of vehicle bracketing
07.30 Use of armoured vehicles
08.00 Reassurance from troops
08.20 Remembers her vehicle breaking down whilst under fire
09.25 Memories of hearing over the radio the friendly fire incident on 28 March 2003 where USAF aircraft attacked a Household Cavalry convoy resulting in the death of Corporal Matty Hull

11.00 Speaking to the unit after the incident. Remembering the noise
12.00 Feelings of vulnerability following incident
12.28 Impact on the Guardian. Concerns over the saftey of staff. Asked to reconsider position
13.48 Remembers accident when a Scimitar light tank vehicle overturned in a ditch, killing two. Witnessed rescue attempt
15.10 Increase in incoming rounds of artillery
16.00 Loss of fellow soldiers
16.50 Expression of fears of others to her
17.20 Move into town. Lack of resistance. Feeling that war had changed
18.05 Relief that the war had slowed down
19.20 Response of locals to armed forces
19.55 Importance of not losing your guard in situations. The need to be careful

20.35 Filtering of news from Baghdad. Gillan heard news from Guardian news desk in London. Use of short wave radio
21.00 Communication difficult. Lower ranks not very well informed
22.10 Vehicle problems encountered
22.50 Censorship of reporting
24.10 Argument with a squadron leader over a report over the treatment of troops
25.40 Tensions in the relationship between the military and the media
26.00 Incident where she was reported. Sent wrong copy when writing a piece for both the Guardian and the Mirror
27.30 How she filed copy when in the field
28.30 Carrying equipment she did not use. Shock at living conditions
29.00 Becoming one of the lads, part of the team
29.50 Wore civilian clothes with body armour and helmet

31.00 Problems of clothes in the climate
31.38 Friendships with soldiers and other journalists
32.10 Attendance at soldiers' funerals
33.00 Speaking with soldiers' wives
34.17 Diaries kept during war coverage
35.12 Dreams since about time in war zone
36.10 Fond memories of relationships with soldiers
37.15 Class background of soldiers
37.50 Leaving the unit

40.00 Travelled via Kuwait. Unable to leave Kuwait for days due to problems with paperwork
42.25 Reflection on war coverage. Unique access to soldiers
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsAccess to recording via GNM Digital Repository
FormatElectronic record
CD recording
Minidisc recording
Printed document
CopyrightGuardian News & Media Ltd and Audrey Gillan

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