Carnage in Wishtan, ‘the devil’s playground’

From The Sunday Times
October 18, 2009
Carnage in Wishtan, ‘the devil’s playground’
Miles Amoore in Wishtan

THE first explosion that tore through the alleyway flung an 18-year-old soldier into the air, killing him instantly. As the dust cleared, troops racing towards the body of Private Johnathon Young came to an abrupt halt: one improvised explosive device (IED) after another lay in their path.

It was Sergeant Paul McAleese who took the initiative. He radioed an urgent request for bomb disposal experts, only to be told the team would take two hours to arrive.

So anxious was McAleese to retrieve the fresh-faced soldier from Hull that he ordered one of his men to attach a chain from his quad bike to Young’s left arm. They would try to winch him out of the kill zone.

Walking backwards out of the alleyway, however, they triggered two more explosions. McAleese, from Hereford — a 29-year-old veteran whose son was born a week before he was deployed to Afghanistan — died beside the body he had been trying to recover.

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