It didn’t take long for the penny to drop. Silence was the most obvious of all combat indicators. The whole town must be in on this one, whatever the hell it was.
We stood-to, just in case. Dozens of belts of GPMG 7.62 link were hung over the sandbag walls of every sangar. Tins of 5.56 ammo were stacked outside each entrance, alongside crates of water, all ready for the off.
We waited for hours as the August sun just burned us redder.
Oost couldn’t stand the tension.
‘Where the fuck are these shits, then? They’re doing my nut, man.’
When still nothing had stirred by 11 a.m., half the company stood down. It was too hot for the enemy to try anything then, and concentrating on nothing drains people unnecessarily. I went down to the Ops Room and volunteered for a shift on the radios so the 2i/c could get some kip.
We’d all stand-to again at 3pm., when it was cooler.
The enemy guessed we’d do that. So they attacked at midday on the dot.
A dozen frantic shouts were coming from every sangar in the compound. All over blokes were throwing on their body armour and helmets. Fast-moving bodies crammed the corridors and crashed up and down the main staircase.
Sniper One by Sgt Dan Mills. This is Y coy, 1st Battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and they were under attack at Cimic House. Big time. Their tour of Iraq in April 2004 started as well as you could start a tour of a war zone really.
The Start of the Tour
They drove right up to the main HQ of Moqtada al-Sadr and his goons and started poking their heads around. Of course they were unaware on day one that this was the enemy headquarters as they weren’t informed during the handover but it was interesting start for them on what was supposed to be a peacekeeping tour.
The base for the tour was Cimic House, which is settled in beside the River Tigris with a whacking great water tower in the compound to make it an easy target for enemy mortars.
Cue day after day of enemy pounding from RPGs, mortars, personal weapons and more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, bags of action and not just sniping action either but patrols that went, let’s just say, not to an ideal plan.
Morale is both high and low at times on tours and this book encapsulates the lot. From practical jokes using fake dating websites to having their kitchen blown apart….twice. This book hits you from all angles.
Cimic House Action
There are tons of battles and firefights to get your teeth in to. The OMS (Moqtada al-Sadr’s guys) keep coming back culminating in a final attack with all their might as described above. So, back to the story…..
‘Fucking get down!’
As my body hit the floor a neat burst of four rounds smacked into the door frame behind me. Thank God for the roof’s all-round three-foot wall.
Nobody could raise their heads even a centimeter above it because the air was thick with flying lead. Small chips of stone and concrete shot off its exterior on all sides. Enemy bullets also piled into the sangars’ sandbags every few seconds with puffs of dust erupting from each one. Noise was everywhere.
One soldier, Des, screamed out the details people needed.
‘Three buses pulling up at Yellow 3… at least twenty UKMs dismounting with AKs, RPGs, heavy machine guns…Separate dismounted attack coming up from Tigris Street, maybe twenty more men…No, make that the pontoon bridge and Tigris Street now, another dozen there…
Another big group going over the bridge to Red 11. Heading up to the hospital and dam…Targets on the river road too now… Hang on; there’s activity on the north bank as well. Minibuses pulling up. Get the fucking Gimpy onto them, Oost.
Passengers are armed UKMs; taking positions in the rubble…It’s a 270-degree, no fuck it. It’s just a fucking 360-degree contact… Targets approaching from all sides. Repeat, targets approaching from all sides.’
It’s a Page Turner
It was a great battle. I won’t ruin for you because some of you will want to read the book and get the whole story. But it’s worth reading.
As the back of the book says, within days of arriving they were caught up in the longest, most sustained firefight that in over fifty years any British troops have faced. And that wasn’t even the main assault on Cimic house by the OMS so you can only imagine how busy they were.
Also getting plenty of mentions is Private Johnson Beharry VC who won his VC for his actions during this tour. A fucking hero right there if you ever need to find one.
Have you read it and if so, did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments. If you haven’t read it yet you can get it here.