Headley Court in Epsom is the Army's main medical centre for the recuperation of injured service personnel.

Corporal Grant Hutton worked at the centre in Surrey before being posted to the hospital in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

The 28-year-old nurse, originally from Aldershot, joined the Army after doing a business course at college and discovering he wanted to do something different with his life.

Without wanting to run around the desert all day firing weapons he decided to sign up as a nurse and went to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham for three years to retrain.

Corporal Hutton said: “It is certainly easier working here than at the NHS, although we deal with a lot more serious injuries your not only a nurse but a counsellor for some of these guys.

“The ones brought in after improvised explosive attacks are often pretty shaken and may have lost good friends so sometimes you just talk to them and try to make them feel better.”

“It's really tough for the guys who come out here in their prime and have to fly home knowing they won't get back on this tour and rejoin their mates.”

Cpl Hutton was treating a Lance Corporal from the 38 Engineer Regiment who had been shot in the arm carrying an urgent message from his section commander to his troop commander.

He came under fire from a Taliban solider who was quickly located by other members of his squad.

Sadly LCpl Taylor's regiment was already rocked by the deaths of two of his colleagues in Northern Ireland after Loyalist forces there gunned them down as they accepted delivery of a pizza at the regimental headquarters' front gate.

LCpl James Taylor, 24, said: “I was shot in the arm on an operation to destroy opium factories in the north. We were providing support for some other coalition troops when I got hit running communications for the section commander.

“The Taliban guy was hiding beneath a window and just managed to get a shot off which hit me in the arm.

As the Medical Emergency Response Team flew in to pick him up the chopper started taking fire and LCpl Taylor was rushed on board and flown back to the Camp Bastion hospital.

He said: “I'm being sent back to England tomorrow, back to my unit, so I can continue operations on my arm in the UK.

“It's hard having to leave my pals here when all I want to be doing is going on operations with them.”

The motorcycle enthusiast then joked: “Looks like I won't be getting back on my bike any time soon, the surgeon told me I've lost about four inches on my right arm.”

The humour, indicative of the situation these men find themselves in and their camaraderie is something the nurses expect to hear and as I left Corporal Taylor, the steady flow of visitors from his unit resumed.

Cpl Hutton said: “All these guys want to do is get as fit as possible and back onto active service, it is their life.”

• For more from our reporter Harry Miller in Afghanistan, click here