Projects Helmand


Air Marshal Sir Ian David Macfadyen KCVO, CB, OBE – Commandant RAF Benson

Soldier Magazine May 2013 - "Daring Deeds"
© Andrew D. Bird 2013

The RAF Regiment men were on patrol were debussed out of their vehicles, observing, and watching the area carefully. At the same time a young lad in his early teens was pushing a wheelbarrow laden with paper towards them; in those rural areas, full wheelbarrows were a common sight.

The explosion was massive and deadly. Sergeant ‘Johnny’ Manuel and Corporal Marc ‘Oldman’ Birch were killed instantly. Gunner Dave ‘Taff’ Davis was critically injured, and a large number of innocent civilian bystanders were seriously injured.

The terrifying cry of ‘Man Down’ was once more yelled down the radio by the patrol’s radio operator, followed by ‘Wait out!’ After a lighting quick assessment of the situation, he then began calmly passing on the details to set in train emergency evacuation procedures.

1051: Contact explosion resulting in 2 x T1 casualties and 1 x KIA

1110: UPDATE Contact explosion at Nolay was suicide IED

The on-call QRF helicopter had already been scramble and was airborne at 1113.

1122: UPDATE Suicide IED was a young boy pushing a wheelbarrow with newspapers covering the device. Second T1 is now confirmed KIA. Say again T1 now confirmed as KIA. LISTENING OUT.

Twenty minutes later the Chinook landed at Nolay recently constructed helicopter landing pad, within the compounds. With rotas running, it stayed for only two minutes it took to move ‘Taff’ Davis up the stern ramp before lifting off for Camp Bastion.

Tragically Gunner Davis, did not make it either.

It was one of our darker days, as Corporal Jamie ‘Julian’ Fellows was also injured during a contact as he patrolled out of Camp Bastion. Another section of RAF Regiment also had a T3 casualty reported shortly into the afternoon, which also needed an emergency evacuation. It was to prove to be a busy time for the Chinooks in theatre normally based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.