Heroes of the Skies' Shaun Anthony Wyatt

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by jonwilly, Sep 12, 2012.

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  1. After my time, well done Sir.

    Shaun Anthony Wyatt
    Rank: Staff Sergeant (later Warrant Officer), Unit: Army, Decoration: Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Gazetted: April 26, 1994
    Staff Sergeant Shaun Wyatt was awarded one of only three DFCs for the entire period of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. However, at the time of his award in the early Nineties, details of what happened were kept secret for security reasons. Only now can Wyatt’s repeated bravery during a massive ambush by IRA terrorists on Army helicopters be told for the first time.
    During late morning one day in September 1993, two Lynx helicopters, Lynx 1 and 2, the latter commanded by Wyatt, were escorting a Puma helicopter that was picking up troops at Crossmaglen, South Armagh, in the heart of “bandit country”. Suddenly the Lynx helicopters were ambushed by the IRA, coming under fire from two heavy and three light machine-guns. It was later established there were up to 30 terrorists based at at least five firing points. In an interview, Wyatt took up the story:
    “The terrorists were clearly after a helicopter – they wanted to shoot down the Puma, which can carry up to 16 troops. It seems they thought we had seen them so they opened fire before the Puma had even taken off. But, in fact, we hadn’t seen them. I heard a tap, tap, tap, tap, tap: the thought ran through my head that surely this was not the sound of a gun. They had opened up on us with a heavy machine gun when we were at about 1,200 feet. I told the Puma to stay on the ground but it lifted anyway and was hit by a round before climbing away above us. I told Lynx 1 to stay high and we descended to low level when we were again engaged by a further firing point with a GPMG [general-purpose machine-gun] on the back of a 4x4.
    “There were another two Lynx in the area – Lynx 5 and 7 – and they came to join us. We had escaped the ambush at low level to the north: it was now quiet and so I climbed to position ourselves behind Lynx 5 and 7 which had joined us at high level. We were now trying to find the terrorists and our door gunner reported two lorries travelling east out of Crossmaglen which looked as if they had weapons on the back. I flew to the south of the vehicles – by now there was a red car with the two lorries. I got ahead of them and hovered the aircraft on the A-road with our gun facing towards them. When they were 500 or 600 metres away, I told the door gunner to open fire. But the gun fired just two rounds and jammed.
    “I did a rapid climb up to 800 to 1,000 feet over the convoy but one of the lorries turned off into a farm and into a barn. We went back to concentrate on the other lorry – we had lost the car by this stage. At this point, just as we were about to open fire on the second lorry, one of the other Lynx flew through our line of fire and so we obviously had to stop firing. The lorry went into
    the middle of a village near Crossmaglen and stopped next to a white Transit van. We couldn’t open fire because the terrorists were in a main street. But we watched as they transferred weapons from the lorry into the back of the white van.
    “The van came out of the village and headed south. The Lynx that had originally been with me had meanwhile gone back to base and collected around eight troops. It landed in a field next to the road, the troops got out and they engaged the van. But the terrorists got out and ran into a bungalow. I saw three guys come out of the other side and get into a car. I followed the car but we didn’t open fire because I couldn’t say, hand on heart, that the three men who ran out of the bungalow were definitely the men who had run into it moments earlier. The car headed off towards where the Puma and two Lynx were so I went back to base to pick up troops so we could go back to the farmyard where the first lorry had disappeared. But everyone had gone by the time we arrived.”
    Despite a massive firefight lasting almost 20 minutes, after one of the biggest IRA ambushes of the entire Troubles, no terrorists or servicemen were left dead or wounded. However, the Army captured a large number of weapons, including a heavy machine-gun (12.7mm Dushka), two GPMGs and a substantial quantity of ammunition. Shortly after the ambush, Wyatt’s decoration was announced on April 26, 1994, when, publicly, it was simply recorded as in “recognition of gallantry and distinguished services in Northern Ireland”.
    Extracted from 'Heroes of the Skies' by Michael Ashcroft (Headline, £20), available for £18 plus £1.35 p&p from Telegraph Books.
     
  2. Heads up, Douglas Bader tonight CH4, 20.00hrs.
     
  3. Porridge_gun

    Porridge_gun LE Good Egg (charities)

    Bloody nice bloke and one of the pilots that every dg used to enjoy a duty with.

    I was on duty in the ops room that day in alder grove, listening to the net, Stu Cahill was the other AC Comd if I remember rightly, Shauns hoop must have stretched when PIRA pulled back the tarpaulin to reveal those 12.7s.

    Cracking bloke, suitably decorated and fully deserved.
     
  4. I remember that attack. Doubly unfortunate that there were a number of multiples about to rock out of the gate to cover the exfil. Expended a normal year's worth if ammo and no hits claimed!
     
  5. I know one of the Door Gunners (he's still serving). He got an MID.
     
  6. Porridge_gun

    Porridge_gun LE Good Egg (charities)

    He did, for missing with every round :D

    Pass on my regards please mate, not seen him for 17 years
     
  7. I have informed an aide of the noble Lord that there are couple of Lynx Crews not happy with this "True" version of the events. Maybe the author should have taken the trouble to speak to more than one person who was actually there? It is one thing to read about it in an Army Training News publication at the time but to be slandered and airbrushed out of history nearly 20 years later in the Telegraph and a book is a bit much. 23-Sep-1993-02.jpg JB (161).jpg
     
  8. If any one has a problem with anything said.. Then speak with him yourself! Nobody has been slandered or airbrushed. It's a small part in a book, git a grip!
     
  9. Ooo, get her!
     
  10. Wasn't this the incident where Stu or Shaun tried to grab some more link off an idle Puma?
     
  11. Porridge_gun

    Porridge_gun LE Good Egg (charities)

    You know that has to be a myth, since when did a Lynx A/C get out of his seat for anything other than a ghurka curry or to go off shift. :)
     
  12. You know precisely what I meant, Slider. :)
     
  13. Porridge_gun

    Porridge_gun LE Good Egg (charities)

    You mean the valiant and handsome gunner ran to relieve the RAF of their un opened ammunition?

    Thats more like it............ Lynx crew running......... still in the myth arena
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. ... would panic the natives.