SALMON Fishing in the Yemen may have been a work of fiction but scuba diving in the Afghan desert is very much a fact thanks to the ingenuity of Tidworth-based Captain Mick Stewart.

A 70,000-litre storage tank has been built in the heart of Camp Bastion in Afghanistan and was the training pool for members of Perham Down-based 26 Engineer Regiment – many of whom had never scuba dived before – when they were posted there.

This extraordinary and unusual dive project was the brainchild of Capt Stewart, second in command of a squadron of Royal Engineers and a keen British Sub-Aqua Club and military scuba diver instructor.

Through it the soldiers could escape the pressures of a war zone while working to gain their British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) Ocean Diver qualification.

Capt Stewart, 42, originally of Glenlivet in the north of Scotland and now living in Tidworth, joined the Army in 1986 and has been scuba diving for 15 years.

He said: “I saw the opportunity to run a course in Afghanistan to give the guys something different to focus on and provide a useful qualification, which they can use both in and outside the Army.

“Considering we tend to work an average of 14-hour days, seven days a week, this was certainly a challenge in time management.”

See more pictures and read the full story in today's paper.