Poor: These are the spartan sleeping conditions facing many of the British heroes helping provide security at the Olympics
Grim: More than 2,000 soldiers guarding London venues are forced to share a sweltering, cramped and poorly-lit concrete bunker at a disused shopping centre at Tobacco Dock
- More than 2,000 soldiers guarding London venues are sharing a sweltering, cramped and poorly-lit concrete bunker at a disused shopping centre
- One soldier’s furious mother said the billets were ‘worse than Afghanistan’
These are the spartan sleeping conditions facing many of the British heroes helping provide security at the Olympics.
More than 2,000 soldiers guarding London venues are forced to share a sweltering, cramped and poorly-lit concrete bunker at a disused shopping centre.
The stench from a row of overflowing portable lavatories wafts through Tobacco Dock, near Tower Bridge, which has green military cots spread along nearly every corridor as every available piece of space is used.
Local businesses and shops have stepped in to top up the soldiers’ Army rations – offering half-price pizzas and fast food.
The living conditions outraged relatives of personnel from the 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1PWRR).
One soldier’s furious mother said the billets were ‘worse than Afghanistan’.
The Ministry of Defence said it was ‘working hard’ to make accommodation comfortable.
Many of the uniformed troops had their annual leave cancelled after returning home from six gruelling months on the front line in Afghanistan to cover for the troubled private security firm G4S.
Fiona Mason, 51, from Fair Oak, Hampshire, whose son Paul, 21, serves with 1PWRR – known as the Tigers – said: ‘It’s absolutely disgusting.
They were treated better in the desert.’ Simon Lynch-Garbett, 56, from Tenerife, whose son James, 28, was deployed to the Olympics, said: ‘They’ve spent months in Afghanistan fighting for our country and this is the way they’re being treated.
‘I understand they have got some free tickets but that’s only because the seats are empty.’
A soldier, who asked not to be identified, told the Mail: ‘Everyone’s feeling really miserable about it. Morale is really low.
‘We’re proud to be part of the Olympics but the conditions we are being asked to live in are grim.’
One military source said: ‘It’s nightmarishly hot in some of the rooms because they heat up all day and then are crammed full of the lads.
They’re bringing more and more men in and just lining up rows of camp beds anywhere they can find.
‘It really does stink in there when it’s hot. If the RSPCA found dogs being kept like that they’d take them away.’
Around 18,000 troops were drafted in at the last minute to provide security at the Games after G4S admitted it did not have the manpower to fulfil its Olympic contract.
Labour MP John Denham said: ‘When the troops were put on standby, we were told that this was part of a contingency plan being put in place. If it was a contingency plan you have got to ask what plans did they make to accommodate the soldiers?’
An MoD spokesman said: ‘The specific area shown in the photograph is underground; it is dry, lit, equipped with ablution facilities and has power and WiFi capability.
‘It compares very positively with the type of living arrangements soldiers will have experienced on overseas operations and on regular military exercises in the UK.’