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 Wyatts 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 hadnt 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 couldnt 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 didnt open fire because I couldnt 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, Wyatts 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.