On the morning of March 19 2003 news agencies around the world beamed video footage of US air strikes on Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.
These images, which came to symbolise the war, marked the start of a hugely controversial war in which 179 British soldiers lost their lives.
In the decade which has passed, the war has been tainted with claims of ‘sexed-up’ weapons dossiers and, perhaps most poignantly, claims in the respected medical journal, The Lancet, of 655,00 dead Iraqi civilians.
Almost 10 years to the day after he was first ordered to open fire on targets in Basra, artillerymen Jay Illsley, from Horninglow, looks back on his wartime experiences fought out on the Mesopotamian sands.
“I wasn’t worried or nervous that much because I was far behind the main battle being in the artillery.
“Being only 18 and firing for the first time in anger was actually quite exciting to be honest and just like a training exercise.
“We were doing our job for the first time rather than just being on a training exercise in Germany.
“The only down side was the lack of equipment - we had some people wearing desert gear and some wearing green camouflage.”
After serving for two months, Jason was allowed home in April, shortly before US President George Bush, delivered his ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, on May 1.
But despite President Bush’s self-congratulatory histrionics, British soldiers, like Jay, were re-deployed to Iraq to rebuild the country.
Although the war had been won, military planners were now facing the daunting prospect of winning the peace in a country which stood on the precipice of descending into sectarian civil-war.
But at the time, it was hoped winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people would bring much needed stability to the country.
“I was sent back from October 2003 until April 2004 to Al Fao.
“This time there was a lot of patrolling to do to win the hearts and minds and working with children.
“It generally worked and we didn’t get fired on once during our peace-keeping tour.”
Thinking back to his time in Iraq, Jay said he doesn’t know whether the war was ‘worth it’.
“I can’t say yes or no. Personally you could say it was worth it because we found Saddam Hussein but we didn’t find the weapons of mass destruction.
“Saddam was a dictator, but from what I have read some things there are still the same – you can’t tech an old dog new tricks.
“But it was still good to get rid of him because he was killing his own people.”
Also serving in the post-Saddam era Iraq, was Daniel Swinfield, 24, from Burton Street, Tutbury, who served with the Staffordshire regiment in 2006, when he was 18.
Recalling the first time he came under mortar fire, Daniel said he was left ‘shaking’.
He said: “I was shaking not knowing what was going to happen – but eventually you get used to it.”
Daniel said efforts to work with the Iraqi people were constantly hampered by militia mortar attacks which caused civilian casualties.
He said: “The problem was sometimes the mortar attacks would miss us completely and hit Iraqi civilians because we had houses around our camp.
“We went there to help people but at the end of the day there are no British troops in Iraq now but there is still violence.
“We did as much as we could building houses and made a lot of people happy but the militia killed civilians and turned some people against us.”
Neverthless, Daniel said British troops worked hard with the local people in an effort to bring a sense of normality back to the region.
He said: “There were some people who really liked us and would offer us food, other people would come out and speak with us and the kids would play with us.”
Daniel served in Iraq for eight months before leaving the army in 2011. He now works for Aldi.
Jay later served in Afghanistan, where he was seriously injured in an RPG attack on July 21 2008.
He was evacuated to Camp Bastion, before being airlifted to Selly Oak Hospital, where he had shrapnel removed from his head, hands and head.
Jay then left the army in December 2009 after overcoming post traumatic stress order with the help of his girlfriend, Sheri Dolman, 26, and two children, Cash, six, and Storm, three.
“They are the best things which have ever happened to me”, said Jay, who now works as a lorry driver.