"Last Round" Majar al-Kabir

#1
Firstly, apologies if this has been covered before on Arrse.

I have just finished the recent book "Last Round" by Mark Nicol. The book concentrates on the events at Majar Al-Kabir on 24 Jun 03 in which the six lads from the RMP were murdered and the two patrols from 1 PARA came under heavy fire.
I found the book a very interesting read. It was sickening and upsetting to read how many rounds were fired into the bodies of the lads from 156 Pro Coy RMP and how the families have been let down by the MOD and the govt. The fact that their murderers will probably never be brought to justice makes me angry.

I would be interested to hear from other Arrser's who have read the book what their thoughts are on it.

The ISBN of the book is 0-297-8461-8

FM
 
#2
Is there a link to a write up on the book?
 
#3
Filbert,

I dont know if there is a link to a write up on the book. I am not very computer literate so excuse me there. The book is published by www.orionbooks.co.uk There may be something on that site.

Regards

FM
 
#4
thank you
Last RoundThe Red Caps, the Paras and the Battle of Majar
Mark Nicol
The British BLACKHAWK DOWN: How a patrol from the Parachute Regiment fought its way to safety while six British military policemen were massacred.

On 24 June 2003, six British military policemen were killed in the most horrific circumstances in Iraq. At the same time, and in the same town, a small patrol of the Parachute Regiment shot its way out of an Iraqi ambush.
Mark Nicol investigates the controversial deaths of the Military Policemen, drawing on their own diaries and letters home, as well as eyewitness testimony from their Iraqi Police interpreters. At the same time, he tells the incredible story of how a hopelessly outnumbered patrol of Paras managed to escape the fury of the mob. The Paras were ready to die, fighting, in the best traditions of the maroon berets. Their lives were ultimately saved by Private Freddy Ellis, whose bravery under fire moved his commander on the ground to recommend he be decorated. Sergeant Gordon Robertson was awarded a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his leadership during the contact.
This was the British BLACKHAWK DOWN. Mark Nicol has travelled back to Iraq to produce the first and only coherent account of the bloodiest day of the British experience in Iraq.

 
#5
I read the book a few weeks ago. It does hightlight quite a few failures in the manner in which RMP in theatre are equipped and employed. It especially shows how under-manned the Corps is. Compare the numbers and fire power available to the US MP.

The book understandably comes to an abrupt end with no real conclusions. Of course this is to be expected when all the witnesses from our side are dead.

The PARA had one hell of a fire fight and did very well to extract themselves with the few casualties thay did. No blame can be attached to them. I personally believe that they would never deliberately leave any soldiers of any capbadge in the lurch. (Mind you if Trojan had been the PARA CO I am sure he would have left them no matter what, as he has declared on several occassions that RMP are not soldiers.)

The worst of it is as has been stated - it is doubtful that anyone will be brought to justice over these murders. Meanwhile, Blair and his cronies are determined to get as many prosecutions against soldiers as possible.

I have to admit I am glad I am no longer in the Army. It is bad enough having to take on the enemy in Iraq. Having to do that, while at the same time knowing that the man who sent you is out to get you as well is really shitty.
 
#6
I read the book a few weeks ago. It does hightlight quite a few failures in the manner in which RMP in theatre are equipped and employed. It especially shows how under-manned the Corps is. Compare the numbers and fire power available to the US MP.

The book understandably comes to an abrupt end with no real conclusions. Of course this is to be expected when all the witnesses from our side are dead.

The PARA had one hell of a fire fight and did very well to extract themselves with the few casualties thay did. No blame can be attached to them. I personally believe that they would never deliberately leave any soldiers of any capbadge in the lurch. (Mind you if Trojan had been the PARA CO I am sure he would have left them no matter what, as he has declared on several occassions that RMP are not soldiers.)

The worst of it is as has been stated - it is doubtful that anyone will be brought to justice over these murders. Meanwhile, Blair and his cronies are determined to get as many prosecutions against soldiers as possible.

I have to admit I am glad I am no longer in the Army. It is bad enough having to take on the enemy in Iraq. Having to do that, while at the same time knowing that the man who sent you is out to get you as well is really shitty.
 
#7
Good post, so good he said it twice.
 
#8
Does the book go into any details of the casualties within the hundreds of armed Iraqi's that the Para Regt Patrols and the QRF that came in to pick them up inflicted? by all accounts (rumours back in Basrah after) they were unbelievably heavily outnumbered and the resulting firefight was so ferocious that it should go down in British Army History?! it would be good to hear from the lads who were in the fight... RESPECT!
 
#9
The book does mention quite a few casualties inflicted by both the PARA C/S on the ground and the QRF. However, as per usual in the middle east all the bodies had been removed before the Army went back in, so no authorative number will ever be available. However, as i said earlier it was one hell of a fire fight, to which our casualites are a sign. The PARA were very lucky not to take more casualties than they did. The C/S on the ground did a very professional job and it could very easily have all gone very badly for them too. In the old adage: It was a close run thing. I am sure that some gallantry awards were well won that day.

Personally I am not sure that had the PARA been aware of the presence of the RMP soldiers in the town that they would have been able to save them. Not because they would not have tried, but because they were very lucky to get out themselves. Of course we will never really know, as this scenario was never put to the test. Just to make certain that certain anti-RMP elements on here understand me. I do believe that they would have put in 100% effort to extract the RMP C/S had they known about them, but I do doubt they would have got there in time.

The book is well worth a read. Here in my office it has been borrowed by our ex Met, and ex RCMP who both agree with my views, which is nice to know!
 
#10
RedmistUK,

The book does mention that the Iraqi gunmen sufferred 90-100 casualties that day. I have only read the book, therefore only heard the one side of the story but I feel that a lot more of the PARA lads initially caught up in the firefight deserved a lot more recognition than what was granted.
I am not long out of the RMP and had the utmost pleasure in knowing H-J, the section Sgt, and the younger brother of one of the RMP Cpls murdered that day. In my opinion, I feel that RMP were badly let down by G4 in the descaling of ammo. 50 rds apiece for Iraq????
I remember doing a tour in Bos, 5 years after the war had ended and being equipped with 120 rds per person. Maybe I am wrong, but these lads were badly let down

FM
 
#11
There has always been a thought amongst senior Pro officers that RMP should be soldiers first and policemen second. Problem is that the soldier training does not go far enough and is not worked on all the time as is necessary where RMP patrols will always be small in numbers. The result of not being extensively trained - both in tactics and thinking war-like - is exemplified by the results of the Para patrol compared to the police guys. Some of the findings of the Board suggest that the RMP patrol procedures were not supervisied bytheir officers and slackness crept in. Question of ammo loads possibly interesting debate but having seen angry Arabs, I doubt if more ammo would have saved them. It was what they did that let them down. And, why the hell soldiers first - there are lots of soldiers but just a few coppers. I cannot imagine that had Para known what was going on they would not have done something more positive to help.
 
#12
I read the book last week and found a good account of the action. The account by the family of there reactions when there heard the news brought a lump to my throat. The lack of ammunition was highlighted a number of time sadly it would appear that nothing has been done to rectify the solution. While on Telic 5 we often went out with minimal ammunition I feel that the situation could well happen again with God forbid even worse casualties.
 
#15
The Rokes Drift G4 perspective on ammunition issues is perhaps not as isolated as one might think.

Suspect I am not the only individual to have inprocessed on Grapple to be issued with 2 mags of ammo. Fortunately a Norwegian sister unit was able to let me have enough to fill my other 6 mags, with a few hundered left over.
 
#16
Also, there wasnt a ammo shortage to start with at Rorkes Drift, they had shed loads of it, nearly 20,000 rounds were fired by the 24th Regt, 2nd Warwickshires (they didnt become part of the South Wales Borderers until 2 years later) during that engagement although at the end they were down to about 20 rounds each. For every Zulu killed, 25 rounds had been fired, which is a better ratio than any battle before or after (especially in these days of letting rip until it clicks)

err, anyway where were we? Sorry I wandered a bit there, to be honest, the RMPs could have been tooled up to the teeth with all sorts of weapon systems but against a mob of arabs with no regard to their own lives and their much publicised lack of soldiering skills those poor unfortunate lads still wouldnt have stood a chance. Im just glad that there were no females among them.
 
#17
OldRedCap said:
There has always been a thought amongst senior Pro officers that RMP should be soldiers first and policemen second. Problem is that the soldier training does not go far enough and is not worked on all the time as is necessary where RMP patrols will always be small in numbers. The result of not being extensively trained - both in tactics and thinking war-like - is exemplified by the results of the Para patrol compared to the police guys. Some of the findings of the Board suggest that the RMP patrol procedures were not supervisied bytheir officers and slackness crept in. Question of ammo loads possibly interesting debate but having seen angry Arabs, I doubt if more ammo would have saved them. It was what they did that let them down. And, why the hell soldiers first - there are lots of soldiers but just a few coppers. I cannot imagine that had Para known what was going on they would not have done something more positive to help.
I think ORC has hit the nail on the head, this was bound to happen and some within the RMP have been saying it for years. There is within the RMP a distinct lack of zeal for soldiering/PT/Skill at arms etc. I always found it very disheartening that this attitude was allowed to develop. Slackness, amoungst many, not all, RMP has unfortunatley, been in vogue within the RMP for some time now. Last round is a good read and I knew/know those involved in both the RMP and the PARA patrol. Excellent work from 1 Para and the 4 Para guys attached.

To be honest,from what I have seen of the RMP,the author has been kind in not highlighting the lack of soldiering zeal within the majority of the RMP. Many within the RMP need to take a good look and get a grip, its no good a few guys in a platoon being keen and eager to soldier if the rest are fat lazy knackers. In the past (pre disbandment of WRAC) the RMP were more professional and would make a large effort to soldier like any other competant unit. These comments in no way denigrate the members of the patrol but some good may come out of this and the RMP get a grip and start soldiering. Maybe the Australian example of transferees only would work, ex Inf, Arty, Eng etc would be good for putting some soldiering experience in rather than a 19yr old Cpl who "has seen it all... as a copper"
 
#19
I too agree with ORC regarding the lack of infantry training conducted by RMP. As a former infanteer myself I was very suprised at how little training is carried out. However, this goes back to mypoint regarding manpower and resources. A good example of this is seen when RMP depoly into the field on exercises intending to practice Pro Ops. Most times this actually does not amount to much outside of route recce and signing, the rest of the time being diverted away from the exercise onto policing dealing with the "No Duff" accidents, and million and one other things that need to be done.

Remember the RMP component of a brigade size formation was only 12 - 15 strong in my day.
 
#20
I'd go along with what others have said regarding lack of mil training for RMP pers. I was attached to 101 Pro for 2 years and in that period I cannot recall them doing any mil trg except for a march and shoot competition (and it was only those selected for the team who did that). This lack of mil trg became apparant to me when the unit was crashed out one night to a serious accident. Thankfully we were there for under 24 hrs so the lack of stores and eqpt never became any real issue. That merely hid the problem and sadly I know these failures in planning were never addressed at the debrief.

Being peacetime there was no need for such oversights to have taken place so it comes as no surprise when under the added pressure of conflict planning is again found to be wanting. IMHO it only shows what I, and many others, have long believed that those with the power to remedy the situation/implement policy do not do anything unless it feathers their own nest or furthers their career. And when the mistakes in planning and forethought do become apparant those self-same COs/OCs (usually first to step up to the plate when credit is forthcoming) will doubtless find some underling to lump the blame onto.

At the time I was AGC (SPS) having been REME beforehand and like the RMP we (REME) had always advocated the soldier first - tradesman second policy. OK so we weren't infanteers but at least at every unit in which I served some mil skills training was undertaken every year. There was a thread not long ago in the REME forum about this soldier first policy and its pros and cons. As I see it, an argument which will always rage since there is no real solution.

Leaving aside the negligence (for that is what it is) of those who do not implement the proper training of their men. My worry for the future is that with cutbacks in manpower and more taskings there will be no time, for those who do want to, to implement the mil trg all personnel need.
 

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