James banks always knew he wanted to join the Army but, upon his return from Afghanistan, he found a new path in journalism. This is his story.
James went to an army sixth form college straight after school at the age of 16. From a young age he’d always wanted to join the army. He loved the sports and the outdoor activities it offered him. The army school was ultimately James’ gateway into Sandhurst. When he joined the Royal Artillery, however, he did not expect what was to come.
The conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan meant that James would ultimately be sent to battle. As a troop commander, he led a team of drone experts during their time stationed in both warzones. Like every soldier, James witnessed the deaths of team members and enemies.
It was the “gritty side of warfare”, he recalls.
After befriending a journalist who was embedded with his team on his last tour of Afghanistan, James realised that journalism could be his next dream job.
James had always been interested in photojournalism and thought it was time to end his first love, the army, to pursue his second love, journalism. While still in Afghanistan, he applied for a course in Broadcast Journalism at Cardiff University.
He became a reporter for British Forces News straight after the course ended and now works as a freelance journalist for Sky News and ITV News.
James’ story shows that any soldier is capable of finding their path again after leaving the army - Fx