Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Operation Moshtarak battlefield diary: A night on the edge of a graveyard

By WO2 Sean Semple for The Mirror

UK forces are now well into Operation Moshtarak - driving the Taliban back but living in terrible conditions, freezing cold and thousands of miles from the comforts of home.

Here Warrant Officer Class 2 Sean Semple - who has been filing reoports to the Daily Mirrror from the frontline - tells of a terrifying journey and night beside a graveyard.

Not very nice as he tells us in his latest report:

We spent last night on the outskirts of the largest graveyard in Helmand province; nice.

The day started well. We got all the vehicles across the bridge we'd flown in the day before, so the lads' hard work was worth it.

We cautiously continued our move - down a route no ISAF vehicle has seen for a year.

We dismounted and patrolled along a track, assessing potential vulnerable points - the places the insurgents are most likely to plant IEDs - and also where our vehicles could potentially cause damage to the heavy mud compound walls and dusty roads.

Patrolling down the track we heard heavy gun fire to our east and west, so we were definitely on our guard.

Moving on, we reinforce every point the track crosses a drainage ditch to cope with the increased weight of the resupply trucks in the logistics convoys following us. This took most of the day.

Each time repair was required it drew locals from all over the area.

They watched the Engineers every movement and seemed to converse amongst themselves about how we were improving the local infrastructure.

One of the local elders asked for a shot of the sledge hammer and assisted with the repairs. Nice touch - another little victory - and some happy local faces.

There's no doubt the locals are pleased to see us, but they need convincing that we will stay. We need to prove to them that they can live and function without the Taleban- then they'll have no place here anymore.

The Viking support group from the Royal Tank Regiment is providing our flank protection. What an awesome job these guys are doing.

With their armoured and highly mobile vehicles, they are not afraid to go anywhere, so there's no hiding place for the enemy.

We arrived at our admin area for the night.

For once we're in place before it gets dark.

We've been out six days now.

The more the weather heats up during the day - and its been getting quite hot the last few days - the more we are sweating, so no doubt we're all smelling lovely!

Karl, our driver, cooked an awesome scoff. It was a famous army 'all in' - loads of ration packs in a pan, cooked together with some Tabasco sauce and curry powder thrown in.

I wouldn't choose it from a restaurant menu but it was great all the same.

We learn later about the sad loss of two more British colleagues.

It makes you think that it could so easily have been one of us. Our thoughts are with their loved ones. Rest in peace, lads.

1 comment:

  1. Keep your chins up, watch your backs....I cannot say how I really feel about all of this...as my son due to deploy....but know you are so well thought of - but that will never be enough for what you have to endure...So Proud and yet Angry...one wounded, one death, is one too many - so KEEP SAFE xx