We regret to report the deaths of six soldiers of the Royal Sherwood Rangers today in Jebel Hadr following an attack by the Milice Internale on a routine patrol of Highway Six. The MOD has not yet named the fallen.
BBC News, 19th March 2007
It was, Brown realised, sheer luck that he was alive. The WMIK had bounced a good ten feet up in the air when the bomb went off, and landed again in a crater of churned mud and shattered brick. The highway was severed... and a severed hand lay in his lap.
The inside of the Land Rover was a charnel house of burnt and broken flesh, of men moaning and groaning as they realised they weren't dead yet.
|The board. British in the centre, enemy all around.|
Brown got on the radio. “Talavera, do you copy, do you copy?” was met only by static. The damn set had been damaged in the attack. Smith, his helmet torn away, came over to help, and together they tried to get the set working.
As they did, they heard the throaty chug of the .50 cal up top opening up on someone. The faster chatter of the GPMG joined it as they desperately pounded with the radio.
All around now, they could hear the warcries of the Milice Internale, the whiz and clink of bullets and ricochets. The radio wasn't bloody working, and the enemy were getting closer. Dozens of them were massing in the woods. Smith came back to say that Perkins and Gonno were the ones still alive and firing, the other four were dead, and then a grenade went off in the cab.
All was bright light and thunder, and then the radio was forgotten as Brown went to his mates' aid. Gonno was slack-eyed and bleeding from the ears: they propped him up in the back. Perkins and Smith had flesh wounds, and Brown had just finished putting the tourniquets on when he realised he too was bleeding. Smith took over the radio as Brown slumped back to stem the blood.
“Four Squad, this is Talavera: help is on the way.”
A bit of tar, and Brown went back to work. Gonno's injuries left the GPMG unmanned, so he opened up on the enemy. They'd got their courage up now, charging across the open ground toward the cab with murder in their eyes. But he and Perkins had the guns, and the courage, and they'd be damned if the MI would get their skins.
“Sergeant Williams, do you copy?”
“I'll take one up to the bomb site, you debus the others to secure our exit.”
The WMIKs of 3 Platoon screamed down the highway. They'd been out of base when the call came through from Talavera that an ambush had occurred, and they could hear the gunfire now. A storm had kicked up, whipping the dry prairie dust into a haze that stretched across the horizon. Revving up, Lieutenant Konwe's driver hurtled his Land Rover down the road and into the maelstrom, jolting over the badly-laid slabs.
A rush of fire tore through a gap in the treeline mere metres from the smoking wreck, and the .50 gunner dropped into the main car. Behind them, men were spilling out of the other two WMIKs as the cars manoeuvred for a base of fire against the enemy. Gunfire was everywhere now, the air thick with noise.
The gunner signalled his okay, then checked his position: the gun was ruined, shattered by the impact of heavy rounds from the ruins on the hill. Konwe and his men got out, and started the grisly task of removing the bodies from the Land Rover.
|Konwe and the men at work.|
Looks like we're damned then, Brown thought. He was bleeding from the head, staggering as he was dragged through the fields. Heavy fire just hadn't been enough – they'd swamped the car, stabbed Perkins and finished off Gonno. It was just him and Smith now, battered but still standing. Still stumbling into captivity. But the battle hadn't ended – he could still here fire behind him. Talavera's help must have turned up just too late for the others, but if he shouted, they might be in time for him and Smith.
It was, Sergeant Williams reflected, a bizarre place for an ambush. Sure there were hills overlooking the road, but this was one of the few places where the highway sank into an embankment and provided cover for defenders. One fireteam was exchanging fire militants bare metres away on the other side of said embankment, furiously pouring lead into their position.
A clank and whoosh, and he realised fire was hitting the Land Rovers from the other side. He led his fire team against them, opening up with everything they had. Most went down, and the others retreated into the woods. He followed them up. Talavera had warned of mortar fire before the storm hit, and the operator was likely hiding somewhere in the brush. At the very least, they could scare him off.
Incoming fire. Drop. Assess. Return fire. Silence.
|Lucky Ahmed faces his pursuers from behind a tree.|
They fired again. It was a pistol. Williams turned around the bole of a great redwood, saw the enemy and fired three rounds from his SA80. The man dropped. Cautiously, he went over to investigate, and as he did, fire came from behind him. He turned, and the men showed him the insurgent they'd just shot, weighed down with radio equipment. His own kill had a familiar face – Ahmed “Lucky Ahmed” Al-ansar. Score one for the playing card deck.
The Land Rovers were full now, and Konwe started pulling back towards Williams' positions. Enemy fire had slackened off now, but even as they reversed down the highway, something hit the engine and slowed them down. Williams' men reembarked, one WMIK leading out on point when flame and greasy smoke erupted from another. “Engine's f@£$ed, debussing” came over the radio, and eight men piled out. As Konwe's Land Rover came past, some hopped on, the others running to catch up with Williams'. Behind them, the Land Rover blew up as the laid charge went off.
As 3 Platoon drove away down Highway Six and out of the storm, they counted themselves lucky. A full-on engagement with the enemy, without air support. Total casualties: one WMIK. All six bodies had been recovered.
The MOD regrets to announce that in yesterday's action on Highway Six, in which 3 Platoon of the Royal Sherwood Rangers distinguished themselves in a hard fought action against nearly a hundred Milice Internale fighters, two soldiers were taken prisoner: Cpl Jackson Brown and Pvt Laurence Smith. Their families have been informed, and all efforts are being made to locate and secure them.
BBC News, 20th March 2007
Me and Iskander played this, and predictably, he won. It was tighter than usual though, despite the end score being 37-23. There were several fog of war cards, and the whole affair had a tense and frantic feel. Lucky Ahmed got his name because he single-handedly survived two rounds of fire with a 6-man team (with 3 special weapon dice), getting the drop on them each time.
Man of the Match would be “Indestructible” Brown, who despite receiving two light wounds kept the enemy at bay almost exactly long enough to be rescued: he was captured at the end of one turn, and they arrived at the start of the next.
Iskander is a little upset that he left men behind, and is hoping for a rescue mission some time soon.