Soldiers medal for mine bravery

A soldier who lost a leg after rushing to the aid of a colleague who was injured in a minefield in Afghanistan is to receive the George Medal.

Fusilier Andy Barlow, from Bolton, was one of three men seriously injured in the incident. One soldier later died.

Congratulations to Andy Barlow, another proud day for the cap badge o' heroes.

RHQ/RRF/1363 12th October 2006
While not underestimating the intensity of Operations in Iraq let us start with Afghanistan.
Now that 16 Air Assault Brigade are safely back and reunited with their families and we hear their extraordinary stories in the media it is worth stating that the Fusiliers are now amongst the most, if not the most, war hardened British troops in Afghanistan. Maj Jon Swift’s report for the Journal, excerpts of which I print below, make this clear. (And this time I have cleared my lines with Media Ops in London.)

Maj Jon Swift with 2 Platoons of Fusiliers, Mortars, SF Guns and Snipers have now been living in their trenches within Naw Zad and on the adjacent hill for 13 weeks. Fusiliers from 3 Platoon commanded by Mr John Gammon have been securing a forward operational base in Greshk and their critical outpost securing the dam on the Helmand River. In late August two battle casualty replacements, namely Fus Clarke and Russell, were sent to the Musa Qalah outpost where they have been serving with both PARA and ROYAL IRISH comrades and have been engaged in heavy fighting. The CQMS, C/Sgt Mitchenson and a small team are in Camp BASTIAN to ensure the timely delivery of re-supplies, which are flown into the outposts by Chinook helicopters. Fusiliers are therefore deployed in five different locations across Helmand Province, although the bulk are with Maj Swift in Naw Zad.

The PARAS in 16 Air Assault Brigade, who have now handed over to the Commandos after six months in Afghanistan, have been the focus of most of the media attention. However 2 RRF have provided the Theatre Reserve; thus assisting with the relief in place but proving indispensable in the process. An illustration of the intensity of operations is apparent from the figures, which were correct as at the 10th October. Naw Zad has been subjected to:

72 contacts,
43 engagements of the enemy with Fusiliers engaging first,
71 confirmed Taliban dead and many more according to local sources,
As regards ammunition fired, some 23 x 500lb bombs, 3 x 1,000lb bombs and 2 x 2,000lb bombs gives an illustration of the Air Support provided. The Mortar Section has fired over 1,000 rounds of 81mm HE and the SF Guns have fired some 58,000 rounds of 7.62mm.

Maj Swift’s report for the Fusilier Journal where it will be printed in full states, “Despite the defensive nature of our fight, the lads never cease to amaze me. Their spirit and temperament, despite daily accurate incoming fire and casualties is a true testament to the Fusiliers and the Army as a whole”. There have been casualties. Dmr Andrew Barlow who was injured in the Soviet laid minefield and which was reported in the Fusilier News of the 7th September has had to have his left leg amputated above the knee, but has shown remarkable resilience in being released from Selly Oak Hospital in record time. He is now at home, waiting for his wounds to recover sufficiently so that he can report to Headley Court Hospital for further treatment on the 22nd October.

He has not been idle, however, as last Sunday he was present at Bury Metro Station where he named a new Tram on the Metro “The Lancashire Fusilier” (See|0LFTRAM.htm for further details).
Can't help but think that for comanding the blokes through all that, Maj Swift should have got something a bit more substatial than a MiD
Pity they don't pulish these stories in the papers, on the front page.
They are quick enough with the negative, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts they manage to ignore it.
Well done to one and all, hope they all come back safe, they all deserve recognition of the sacrifices made.

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