The Last stand at Majar al-Kabir

Fearing that they would be killed as "collaborators" with the British, Mr Baiphy and the other Iraqi police fled.

"I said to Sgt Tim: 'Please come with us. You will be safe with us.' I begged him."

The British insisted on staying, perhaps believing that their chances of survival were greatest under cover of the police station.

But they were already cut off from help. Ringleaders in the mob had stolen their Land Rover containing their radios. The vehicle was driven about half a mile to a bridge, where it was looted, burned and tipped into the river.

Sgt Tim's last words to Mr Baiphy have a vivid ring of desperation. "He asked me for a radio to talk to his superiors," Mr Baiphy said. "He said: 'Our radio has been burned in the Land Rover.' "

But the Iraqis had no functioning radio to offer and jumped out of a rear window and escaped by scrambling over a wall. The Britons were left to face the chanting mob alone, armed only with their SA 80 rifles.

Outnumbered by perhaps 1,000 to one, they mounted a desperate last stand in the baking heat.

Shattered windows, rooms pockmarked with bullet holes and the pulverised brickwork of the wall surrounding the police station show how fiercely they fought.

I'm sat here, and it is hard to read the words on the screen.

"Exemplo Ducemus"
It would appear from all the various reports coming out that some of the locals (who were already pretty tense) didn't approve of the robustness of the Paras searching for gernades etc.

It also appears that improvements are not happening quickly enough for the population in general.

Sounds like a lot of factors came together here.
Prodigal, it sounds like (and I say 'sounds like' only through the lack of hard evidence at this time) that the PARAs have been up to thier old tricks again, going in heavy when a more sensitive approach was necessary and then leaving the rest of the world to deal with the mess they have left behind.  

If thier actions can be in anyway deemed attributable to the carnage which led to the deaths of those lads, who held out in what resembles a re run of the Alamo, then the CO of the PARAs over there should be sacked, along with any other 'irresponsible' b*stard who left 6 lightly armed support troops alone in a situation like that reported.

And before the 'maroon machine wannabes/friends of the PARA Regt'  jump in (pardon the pun), to tell me how 'professional' the PARAs are......don't bother, I've served with them on a number of 'long' occasions.  I know exactly what they are like and at all ranks.  I sat in a lecture theatre in South Cerney, just before the deployment to Sierra Leonne, listening to the then CO of the PARA Bn involved, state 'For you non-PARA Regt who are coming with us, if you are not coming to kill the enemies of the're not coming!'  F*cking clown!

When will these f*ckers learn, such attitudes are not suited to 'peace keeping'?

The track record of the PARAs for ignoring local sensitivities and winding up situations is well recorded.  In fact they consider such activities as a Battalion sport.

They should have been removed from theatre at the earliest opportunity after the 'war' had ended.

I doubt we'll ever find out exactly what happened as the witnesses on one side are all dead.

I'd like to hope that my suspicions are wrong, but as soon as 'PARAs' are mentioned, then in my experience, there is always another side any story which may unfold.

I first met HJ in '97.  Spent a good few nights hanging off the Mess Bar with him.  He was a very popular man with a great sense of humour, coloured by his 'mock cockney' accent.   I found him to be a thoroughly decent human being.  

My condolences to his and the other lads families, friends and colleagues.    

I can't even try to imagine how they felt, fighting to the last bullet.

You're right Pongo  


Pardon the late entry, but it has been reported on Sky news that the RMP were advised to run by the Iraqi Police, as it was their only chance of survival.  HJ is believed to have said that they would stand their ground.  You ballsy bastards, all of you.  This is the stuff of legends.
I wonder if, perhaps, we (the British Army) have been making some dangerous assumptions.............we have always been justifiably proud of how 'we' operated in foreign countries as a military force, using subtelty and flexibility to work with the indigenous population to achieve our ends.

I wonder if maybe this generation of soldiers (and officers) need to relearn this lesson? I think it's outstanding what Brit Mil's achieved in Basra wrt hearts and minds.....................but there are other factors here, Muslim sensibilities being one of them, which appear not to have been given their due emphasis.

I know the CO 1 Para, and he is an educated, clever and sensible man. I wonder where the communication broke down........

Is communication with the local population perhaps an issue here? Have we not communicated with them in an effective enough manner? Have higher command politics stymied good intentions on the ground?


Ma Sonic said 1Para should have been removed from theatre at the earliest opportunity after the 'war' had ended.

I too am surprised they are still there. They were lead troops into Kos along with 2 RGJ and 1 R Irish. Paras were out there for five minutes having been involved in several unfortunate incidents. 2 RGJ did the full 7 months and did a superb job re hearts and minds despite the best efforts of the French.
I agree- Paras have their place, and it is nowhere near any sort of situation where tact is required.  I too know Para officers out there, and as in any organisation they vary widely in competence.  However, I believe (from what I have seen of them on other ops- especially NI) that they have a discipline problem.  Other inf regiments wouldn't get into the same situation as their junior commanders wouldn't feel the same peer pressure to 'act hard'.  Why do you think they are kept away from public order situations in NI?

Anyway, the most important point is that the RMP lads did themselves proud.  Whatever the reasons for them being isolated, it seems they upheld the best traditions of their Corps and the Army.  
This dreadful incident also brought something to my mind, I don't know about the rest of you................that the RMP men were seen as soldiers first and as policemen second by their murderers.............this perception is surely going to stick in Iraq, in which case, should Brit Mil start viewing them in the same light? ie, from now on they are going to need to be more closely supported, surely?

Which, of course, begs the question - the British Forces are already overstretched..............more troops out there asap........where are they going to come from?
You don't suppose the crowd confused beret colours do you?

From the Telegraph article, and various other sources this morning, it looks like Simon told the Iraqi Police to get out , because they would have undoubtedly been killed by the mob , "Greater love hath no man"

From what those who knew him are saying, it seems just like him to do that. I can imagine him organising his defence, wisecracking from Zulu, and assuring his section that they would be relieved, just keep their heads down, and remember their drills. He kept that defence going for 2 hours outnumbered 250 to 1

Christ, everytime I read the stuff coming out, and think about what the hell it must have been like, running out of water and ammunition,and finally fighting hand to hand, dying hard.

I'm choked with emotion

Even the Iraqis, will will remember their bravery, that is the Arab way.

There is only one medal suitable.

I would very much like to see the Queen present it, I want Hoon and Blair nowhere near it.

As Ma says, it is the stuff of legend.

The media talk about heroes, but they mean the likes of Beckham and other media superstars. How the fcuk are they heroes? Simon and his section, have reminded the British Public, just what the definition of a hero is

But where the hell was the support? At the very least, re-issue Mobiles to troops on patrol as back up comms, assuming they have coverage.

More on this story will emerge, and whilst I don't want to contribute to Para-Bashing, it does seem that whenever they are around, local sensitivites go for a Burton.

Hopefully, the truth will out this week, and SOP's will be changed.
HJ and his section are hero's in my eyes, they stood there ground and fought to the last bullet, these guys all deserve bravery awards, the phrase Last man standing comes to mind.  HJ and the Boys, May god bless you.  To the families, your Loved ones died as hero's. god bless.  Fellow RMP.  By the way where the fcuk was there support..............


Firstly I would like to convey my condolences to the families and friends of the men who died and it is obvious that people posting on this site knew some of the individuals involved personally.

This incident is still very fresh in peoples minds and none of us really know all the facts yet. Rumour and guesswork will only add to the uncertianty, I therefore feel that an element of caution should prevail.  

I can already see this topic moving from one of regret, sorrow and admiration for the men involved to one of pointing the finger at actions or in-actions of the units involved.

I served in 1 Para (13 yrs ago) and know all to well how the Para's are perceived by other units, some of the comments made regarding whether they should still be in Iraq I agree with, others I do not.

Before we get carried away and end up in a inter-unit slanging match I would advise that we all pull our necks
in and await the findings of any investigation.


War Hero
I'm starting to wonder if the British forces should not reintroduce their previous peace keeping policy when Iraq was a part of the empire.

That policy being - riot or murder British soldiers / subjects and have you town/house burnt around your ears.

Currently it would get my vote. :mad:
Well done "Ma Sonic" from the comfort of your armchair slagging down the Parachute Regiment yet again when details on this bloody awful incident are far from clear. Para Wanabee! 16 Close Med Sp Regt 16 Air Assault Bde just got back to the UK. Worked with both 1 and 3 Para during the operations and found them very focused and only really felt safe when they were around. Came in close contact with the lads of 156 but knew none of the lads invoved at Al Majir. The Paras approach to stabilising the Bde AOR was well thought out and conducted maintaining a very good relationship with all locals that they came in contact with. Within 24hrs of the end of the war fighting phase they had local mayors and other VIP,s from each town/village in for cental briefs and got the schools and hospitals up and running along with a rudimentary police force. Throughout these low level ops we were aware that the Fedayeen and others had not gone away and we were being targeted for future attacks, these have unfortunately now started. This is not Northern Ireland and very often 5-10 guys are on patrol in a town 20kms away from base with no back-up and poor coms. The ex Iraqi military and irregulars are amongst the population in great numbers and all of us were up for grabs. Had we followed the US style of policing we would be fighting major actions on a daily basis, and it is this policy right or wrong that put 6 brave 156 lads in a town with no credible support or back-up comms. No one as yet knows exactly what when on that day but all of us feel deeply for the lads and their families.
The spin has started

Maybe a journalist from the Daily Mirror would care to explain this fcuking irresponsible piece of sh1t?

Don't bother, I've just seen the source of this statement

Journalist Ali Al-Ateya, 36, from the American-funded Arabic-language station Radio Sawa

Christ, how fcuking gullible do you think we are? You absolute bloody Spam wretches  :mad: :mad:

He recalled one of the Britons radioing for help and said that, even then, there was no obvious panic by the RMPs although they could see some of the crowd waving rifles.

Mr Mohammed is not sure who fired the first shot, or why. All he knows is that at least four shots rang out.

The Britons shouted for the trainees to run for cover while they inched their way backwards to the lavatory block.They formed a barricade from a metal filing cabinet and an oil drum. One edged around the corner of the room and was shot in the forehead from 10ft away. As he died, the crowd fell silent, giving the Iraqi trainees a chance to run across the open corridor to an office with a window big enough for a man to squeeze through.

“I turned and shouted for the British to come too,” Mr Mohammed said. “I pleaded with them ‘Save yourselves’. One called out that it was their duty to stay. One smiled and wished me luck.”

I know which version honours the memory of HEROES, and which has been spun.

Christ, but I am so angry right now, I'm shaking
Total respect for those RMP guys and deepest condolences to their families.

The finest traditions of the army have indeed been upheld.  But  There for the grace of God go any number of us in certain arms and services.  

How much longer is the chain of  command going to continue to send young, keen and committed soldiers to fend for themselves with little more than their wits and initiative to survive on.  How can 6 blokes achieve assymetry in a cowboy town of 60,000??
  • What price a TACBE that allows the detachment or individual to sent a MAYDAY call to AWACS or PUFF?
  • What price another box of rounds or grenades for blokes sent out on their own. ?
  • What price a support weapon for when your primary fails ( I'm with fagdf 45 here) ?
  • What price a military arabic speaker to help guide the tactical commander's appreciation.
Certainly, a mere percentile of some of these huge kintetic programs, that are seldom capable of being used in anger.

Let's hope there is a proper enquiry here - answers lie with the chain of command as well as the blokes on the ground.

let's respect the ultimate example set by those brave RMPs, by learning from it
Subsonic, just amended my last, as I had calmed down enough to run a quick Google background check

Christ on a bicycle, is there no limit to how far these people will sink?

As regards last-ditch comms, a satphone should be standard issue for this sort of section surely? Not sure a TACBE signal would have got out, but possibly. I have this mental picture of a schmeulie with an R/T screamer attached, or some form of minature helium ballon doing the same job. Anything, just any bloody "last best move" comms might have helped here  :mad: :mad: :mad:
The issue of comms is probably the most important one of all.  This incident happened in a village/town that had been the site of a major contact 4 hours before and a hostile reaction to a weapons search the day before that.  However it appears that little or no usable communications were available to the RMP on the ground and hense messages that were sent were not recieved, thus no QRF deployment.

I therefore heard with disbelief this evening on Radio 4s TODAY (or the evening version the name of which I cannot remember) Geoff Baffoon saying that the coms employed by the UK military forces are second to none.  Well having returned from TELIC 4 weeks ago i can assure you that the comms were bollocks,  we all know the kit is cr*p but I had signallers try and deploy out of barracks with mobile phones as comms!!!!!

A small comment on the idea of burning down/blowing up villages in Iraq.  Yes we tried that before, in 1917-19, 1930s, 1941-45 and the 1950s and it didn't work then, what makes you think it will work now? ???