A GROUP of Catterick soldiers home from Afghanistan’s frontline have swapped Kabul’s arid landscape to learn how to scuba dive off the coast of Malta.

The team are taking the plunge to gain British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) qualifications in the warm waters of the Mediterranean as part of a project designed to help them recover from the stress of operating in a conflict zone.

One of those taking part is Lance Corporal Carrie Roberts who worked with female police officers in Afghanistan to teach them how to search for drugs and explosives.

Ms Roberts, 23, a technical support specialist serving with the 1st Close Support Battalion of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) at Catterick Army Camp in North Yorkshire. Ms Roberts usually teaches military skills to army recruits, including weapon handling and drill. But she found herself helping prepare the Afghan police recruits for their new jobs.

She said:" During my time I was offered the opportunity to go forward from Camp Bastion to Kabul to mentor Afghan police women in all aspects of police activities. “There are only a few women in the National Police, but they are needed for searches of female suspects.”

Warrant Officer Mark Goddard came up with the idea of organising a diving break for the returning soldiers, and a way of winding down from the strains of working in a combat zone.

He said: “It is rest and recuperation from the mental strain, as well as training.

“Doing a dive is mentally challenging and I hope this will take away the strain they have been facing in the last six months.”