Mar 15, 2011

The Welsh Guards in Afghanistan

The book "Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards in Afghanistan" by Toby Harnden, is the story of a British infantry battalion led by Lt. Col. Rupert Thorneloe that fought in Helmand province in 2009.  According to the author, they were ill-equipped and overstretched which led to unnecessary casualties, including the Commanding Officer himself.  But before he died, he warned and criticized his superiors of the poor planning, lack of manpower and lack of combat support. 

British snipers with the L96A1 rifle

Despite these setbacks they fought admirably and their snipers inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.  Below is an excerpt from the author:

Within 40 days, the two marksmen from 4 Rifles, part of the Welsh Guards Battle group, had achieved 75 confirmed kills with 31 attributed to Potter and 44 to Osmond. Each kill was chalked up as a little stick man on the beam above the firing position in their camouflaged sangar beside the base gate – a stick man with no head denoting a target eliminated with a shot to the skull...

Most of the kills were at a range of 1,200 metres using the 7.62 mm L96 sniper rifle.
The snipers used suppressors, reducing the sound of the muzzle blast. Although a ballistic crack could be heard, it was almost impossible to work out where the shot was coming from. With the bullet travelling at three times the speed of sound, a victim was unlikely to hear anything before he died.
Walkie-talkie messages revealed that the Taliban thought they were being hit from helicopters. The longest-range shot taken was when Potter killed an insurgent at 1,430 metres away.  But the most celebrated shot of their tour was by Osmond at a range of just 196 metres.  On September 12th, a known Taliban commander appeared on the back of a motorcycle with a passenger riding pillion. There was a British patrol in the village of Gorup-e Shesh Kalay and under the rules of engagement, the walkie-talkie the Taliban pair were carrying was designated a hostile act. As they drove off, Osmond fired warning shots with his pistol and then picked up his L96, the same weapon – serial number 0166 – he had used in Iraq and on the butt of which he had written, ‘I love u 0166’. Taking deliberate aim, he fired a single shot. The bike tumbled and both men fell onto the road and lay there motionless. When the British patrol returned, they checked the men and confirmed they were both dead, with large holes through their heads.
The 7.62 mm bullet Osmond had fired had passed through the heads of both men. He had achieved the rare feat of ‘one shot, two kills’ known in the sniping business as ‘a Quigley’.

Source: the Telegraph

If you are interested in purchasing and reading the book, here's the link:

Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards in Afghanistan. Toby Harnden

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