I read Sniper One a while ago but wanted to go back and have another read of the start of the book. On their first patrol, they rolled up to Saddam’s bad guys HQ and got into a massive firefight.It was April 2004 and the PWRR Battle Group had entered the Maysan Province and taken full command.
Their base for the duration of their tour was Cimic House and they set off in the afternoon for a patrol of the area. They could get to know some routes and features of the local town. They also needed to stick their heads into a few police stations round the way to say hello and show their faces.
The patrol stopped at Al Balda police station and they dismounted to say hello the coppers there. The author Sgt Dan Mills explains what he saw when they arrived:
The first thing that wasn’t quite right was when the cops started to look very uncomfortable as soon as I approached. They had been doing what we had been told was the usual for Iraqi policemen – sitting around lazily in the shade and not really being arsed to do anything at all.
There were a couple more coppers 50 metres down the road. They stood outside a freshly painted well-fortified building with a six-foot wall and iron gate and bars across every window.
Getting Approached by Angries
Daz approached the coppers and Mills walked over to join them:
As I walked over to Daz, four men with big Islamic beards came out of the compound very agitated. They were shouting as us full pitch in fast, aggressive Arabic and jabbing their fingers at us. We asked one of the policemen what their problem was. ‘Their neighbourhood. Don’t want foreign jundi in it.’ ‘OK, fine,’ I said. ‘Tell them they have nothing to worry about. We’ve only come to have a word with you and we’ll be leaving now.
The policemen didn’t tell them though. They jumped on their motorbike and fucked off. The men were getting back into their vehicles, top cover first for safety when H spotted a gunman in the top window.
As he shouted the warning, the four angries were already slamming the compound gate shut with them inside it. More likely than not, it was one of them who then chucked a grenade over the wall.
The grenade exploded and hit Daz. He collapsed in the middle of the street as five gunmen in the building opened up on them, using the grenade as the signal to start firing. Mills and Ads managed to haul Daz into the back of the Snatch. Daz had multiple leg wounds that were turning field dressings red as soon as they were applied by the patrols medics. Mills chucked Daz the radio so he could send the contact report to the Ops Room.
So now there’s Daz injured inside the Snatch with the two medics treating him and the other six of the patrol were hiding behind it.
The Snatch was parked by an alleyway with chest-high walls and courtyards leading off from the path so Mills got everyone behind the Snatch to get down the alleyway for cover. They were about 80 metres away from the house but the fire had died down a little since they moved.
Mills peeked over the edge of the wall with his rifle in his shoulder. He saw a gunman with an AK47 creeping over the wall and started to make his way towards the Snatch parked at the end of the alleyway.
I tracked him through my Susat sight to within 20 metres of the Snatch. Most of his body now filled the lens. It was far enough. On single shot mode, I squeezed the rifle’s trigger three separate times: bang, bang, bang, soaking up the recoil comfortably into my shoulder. The three 5.56mm rounds tore straight into him, penetrating him with dull thuds. His body soaked them up like a sponge. The first two went in just below the neck and the third right into the middle of his head. On the spot, he tumbled to the ground in an unnatural, lifeless heap.
Fucking great effort. Ken Tait who was also on the patrol said, ‘Jesus, his whole head has come apart.’
Enemy Gunmen Everywhere
Gunmen now showed up in every available window and opened fire on them. The scumbags also had men on the rooftops, at the gate and peering over the wall. The fight was on and the men were dropping some of the enemies throughout the battle.
Daz, in the snatch injured after the original grenade blast, was with the radio where the info came through from the Ops Room. Word came back that the building they were fighting against was the headquarters of the OMS, the muppets led by Moqtada al-Sadr.
The OMS fired two RPGs at the Snatch that still had the three guys and some top radio equipment that they didn’t want the enemy to get hold of. The first one hit a house, spray and pray at it’s best but the second one hit the Snatch and set it on fire. Jammy fuckers.
Mills ran to the Snatch to check on Daz. He was in a bad way. Morphine had kicked in were sending his eyeballs all over the shop but his wounds were wrapped and he had support for his neck via roll matt as he led in the back of the wagon.
Waiting for Backup
They called for backup from the Ops Room and told in five minutes they would have two more Snatches with lads in to help. Before five minutes were up three Snatches arrived to Mills’ surprise. They increased the fire onto the OMS building and suddenly Mills found a ‘posh-looking bloke’ next to him:
‘Who the fuck are you?’ ‘Hello there. I’m Lieutenant Colonel Jonny Gray. I’m the Commanding Officer of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.’
‘Oh, hello, sir. Erm, very nice to see you.’ ‘It looks like you’re in a spot of bother. Can we help?’ It was the sort of calm and convivial tone you’d use with someone who’d just got a flat tyre.
It turns out the colonel and his men were on their way back from training Iraqi troops and drove right into the firefight. They had twelve men in three Snatches and had a GPMG. A big jock came around the corner with a few lads and boxes of ammo for the GPMG he had in his hands. Bingo. Time to take the fight to the enemy. Mills placed the men and then heard another big blast but from the other side of the building.
Support Gets Ambushed
The support Snatches had been ambushed. They wouldn’t be able to provide support anytime soon and armoured Warriors were forty-five minutes away still. Mills sent the Snatch with Daz in back to Cimic House and that coupled with the Gimpy had quietened the enemy a little bit.
They tried to make it to the other Snatch but were spotted and some heavy fire put paid to those plans for the time being. They made their way back to the alleyway and realised why the enemy had been less noisy. The OMS was flanking them. One of the fuckers chucked a grenade over the wall to the alleyway. It landed a few metres behind their firing line. They all hit the deck and amazingly the explosion didn’t hit anybody.
They now had the enemy behind them firing RPGs into their area. The whooshes just missed them as they fought back against the OMS. They went into all-around defence before Mills spotted another alleyway with more protection to it. It had 10 feet tall concrete walls either side and some scaffolding to help cover them. This could do the job.
Some more support came in yet more Snatches but the OMS knew where the backup was coming from. The fired off some RPG’s and hit one straight on.
Getting to Safety
They had to try to reach the Snatches. Half of the lads covered and fired and made it to the vehicles without any casualties. The rest of them, Mills included, were cut off by an enemy soldier peering out of a window, waiting to shoot them when they passed. Their escape routes were slowly getting cut off by an enemy that knew the area like the back of their hands. This was their hometown, after all, they knew every nook and cranny around these buildings.
An alleyway was the only way left to make an attempted exit. The lads darted off down the alleyway and found a door which they kicked through. The building was dark with the windows covered. It was a dead end. A run further down the alleyway was now their only way out.
Mills switched his SA80 to automatic and led the lads out into the alleyway.
As I sprinted down it as low as I could, I could hear gunmen chattering on the other side of the alleyway wall. They could hear us too. Halfway down, two hands and an AK poked over the lefthand wall just in front of me and squirted a burst down into my path. I threw myself tight against the wall and the rounds narrowly shaved past me. I heard the bolt go in the bloke’s rifle. Dead man’s click – his mag was empty. I returned the compliment and gave a similar burst back over to his side of the wall also without looking at what I was firing either. There was a groan. Then nothing more.
They continued running down the alleyway. With 20 metres left it appeared in their vision. An RPK medium machine gun on a bipod underneath a car. Two gunmen were on either side with AKs and all three opened up when they were close enough.
Getting a Burst by Your Nutsack
They fired and manoeuvred away. One of the guys got a burst from the RPK straight between his legs. Making their way back to the top of the alley, Mills turned when it was his turn and saw ‘33 beautiful tonnes of Warrior sitting right there a few metres in front of me.’
The QRF force was here at last. Ten of them piled in a space designed for seven and they shot off towards safety. There’s a funny little story of when the Warrior stops but I will leave that for when you read the book.
I only shared a small part of the book of course. It’s action right the way through. The final grand attack that the enemy throw at Cimic House is epic.