How Royal Anglians killed 1,000 Taliban

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  1. DAILY TELEGRAPH

    How Royal Anglians killed 1,000 Taliban
    By Thomas Harding
    Last Updated 16/11/2007

    The intensity of combat in Afghanistan has been laid bare as one Army regiment revealed that it had fired one million rounds, killed 1,028 Taliban and lost nine men in a six-month tour of duty.

    Members of the Royal Anglian Regiment receive medals at Elizabeth Barracks after returning from their tour of Afghanistan

    At times, fighting saw 1Bn of the Royal Anglians having to "winkle out the Taliban at the point of a bayonet", said Lt Col Stuart Carver, the commanding officer, at the battalion's medal ceremony.

    At times the fighting was on a par with that experienced in the Second World War and the casualty rate was similar, with nine men killed and a further 135 wounded.

    In a moving speech given by a former commander of the Anglians, Major Gen John Sutherell said they had completed the "most demanding tour" ever asked of the regiment.

    "In spite of the heat and privations you have taken on a hard and fanatical enemy on their own grounds and driven them back. The fighting has been remorseless in its intensity and often at very close quarters.

    "You have shown courage, endurance and professional skill and comradeship of a very high order.

    "But you have also shown the intelligent restraint and humanity to discern between those who have been trying to kill you and the people we are in Afghanistan to help."

    The conflict had not come "without costs" but the battalion should be "incredibly proud" of itself.

    The general, who also served in the SAS, said: "You are truly comrades in arms, a band of brothers and you have our deepest gratitude, respect and admiration."

    After he finished a woman from the crowd of almost 2,000 family and friends shouted "three cheers for our boys". She was met with a rapturous response.

    Lt Col Carver said his men had fought conventional trench warfare, engaging a well-trained enemy from, at times, 15 feet away.

    "There was some pretty fierce fighting in conditions you would sometimes see in World War Two, clearing buildings and trenches."

    The enemy was highly trained and well equipped, although others were poorly trained fanatics.

    "The good ones are extremely good, religiously motivated and will stay and fight until the last," Lt Col Carver said. "Sometimes they had to be winkled out of buildings at the point of a bayonet."

    He said the Taliban mounted more than 350 attacks on his troops.

    "By the end of the Anglian tour, three quarters of shop fronts had been restored to Sangin, which had previously been a ghost town. A school for 500 boys and girls had opened and the population had electricity. The security threat had also dropped to 'Northern Ireland levels'."

    Despite the heroism of the tour, one third of the battalion received no recognition for the fighting they experienced.

    Although General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, had indicated that a "Southern Afghanistan" clasp would be added to the Afghanistan campaign medal, it appears the MoD is dragging its feet over the issue.

    The entire back row of three on parade at Pirbright Barracks, Surrey, did not get a medal as they had already received one during the "benign" Anglian tour of 2002.

    Yesterday, the soldiers called for a recognition of the fighting they had experienced.

    "It is chronically unfair that this has not been the case," said one soldier