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CORPORAL MARK WRIGHT GC

3RD BATTALION, THE PARACHUTE REGIMENT

APRIL 22, 1979 – SEPTEMBER 6, 2006

Mark Wright 4Mark Wright as a youngster – he was ‘always a loving wee boy’, said his mum.

THIS ANGELIC, SHY little schoolboy turned into a highly professional soldier – a member of the Parachute Regiment who gave his life for his comrades, and was proud to do so.

It was a selfless act for which Mark Wright was awarded the George Cross – equal in significance to the Victoria Cross.

In our turn, we are extremely proud, and humbled, to be allowed by his family to feature Corporal Wright GC’s story in our book At The Going Down Of The Sun.

Mark – an only child – had survived the early fighting in Sangin which cost the life of his friend Cpl Bryan Budd VC, and led to a rash of other gallantry awards for the men of 3 Para.

Mark Wright 1Cpl Wright mans a .50cal machine gun at Sangin.

He was moved with a small number of his fellow paratroopers to guard the Kajaki Dam, a place of great strategic importance – much of Helmand depended on the dam for its hydro-electric generating capacity.

At Kajaki, one of Mark’s comrades lost his leg in a minefield. Without thinking of their own safety, Mark and other soldiers entered the minefield to rescue him.

During that mission, two others would also lose legs and a number of other men would also suffer serious injuries. Among them was Mark Wright – who was due to marry his sweetheart of seven years at the end of the tour.

After spending hours waiting on that barren hillside for rescue, Mark eventually died in a helicopter, waving away oxygen so that one of his mates could have it.

He was twenty-seven years old.

Mark Wright 2 - CopyMark Wright on ‘stag’ – sentry duty – at Kajaki, not long before his tragic and untimely death.

It is an astonishing story of personal sacrifice by a remarkable man, and his brave fellow soldiers. One of twenty incredibly moving tales in Graham Bound’s new book, it is also told in the forthcoming film, Kajaki: The True Story.

See also: CAPTAIN JAMES PHILIPPSON, RIP

And we still have not found the pilot: please tweet your friends!

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CAPTAIN JAMES PHILIPPSON

7 PARACHUTE REGIMENT ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY

JANUARY 13, 1977 – JUNE 11, 2006

Jim Philippson 1

James Philippson was always destined for a life in uniform.

CAPT JAMES ‘JIM’ PHILIPPSON was the first man to die on Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, and we are very proud and honoured to be able to tell his story in Graham Bound’s new book, At The Going Down Of The Sun. A much-loved son, brother and boyfriend, Jim was a member of two elite units, 29 Commando and 7 Royal Horse Artillery – meaning that he was one of a very small group who have passed both the All Arms Commando Course and P Company. He was an absolutely outstanding soldier, and a man who knew no fear. An hour before his death, Capt Philippson was enjoying an iced tea and a lovely view of the setting sun from a rooftop at FOB Robinson, a base near Sangin. It was a rare moment of quiet – even at that early stage, Sangin was a hotbed of Taliban activity. A few days earlier, a convoy had been ambushed near the town, and several soldiers killed or captured. Two of them, French Special Forces men Adjutant Joël Gazeau and Senior Corporal David Poulain, had been trussed up, gutted and castrated while still alive, and their bodies dumped outside ‘FOB Rob’. As Jim Philippson savoured that iced tea, the call came in that a British patrol had been ambushed a few kilometres away. He leapt down from the roof and raced to join the Quick Reaction Force heading out to rescue the troops under fire.

Jim Philippson WMIKJim (right) in his WMIK patrol vehicle.

‘If anyone wanted to get into the fight, it would have been Jim,’ said his boss at the time, Major Johnny Bristow. Tragically, as they pushed on through the undergrowth a few km from their base, Jim’s QRF had a meeting engagement with the enemy. Simultaneously, both groups open fired on each other, and Capt Philippson was hit in the head by an AK47 round. He died instantly. He was twenty-nine years old. The story of his life and death, and its impact on his family, is told in the book, published on November 11, along with nineteen other similarly moving stories (brief details of which we will blog in the coming days). The author and publisher will be making a donation to appropriate charities from proceeds of sales, but in many cases the families of the fallen have set up charities of their own. After his death, The Captain James Philippson Trust Fund was set up in Jim’s name, with the aim of supporting good causes that he would have himself supported. To donate, or for more information, please click on the link.

Jim Philippson chapter headerCaptain James Philippson, RIP.

See also: CORPORAL MARK WRIGHT GC, RIP

And we still have not found the pilot: please tweet your friends!

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We’d like to track down a particular airline pilot, who helped the grieving parents of a murdered British soldier in their darkest hour.

We would be grateful for any assistance in finding him (the soldier’s mum thinks it was a man) so that we can put them in touch. Please pass on via retweets etc.

We know next to nothing about the pilot, except for what is contained in this story:

IT WOULD NOT be an exaggeration to say that Ranger Aaron McCormick of The Royal Irish Regiment was among the bravest of the brave.

At just twenty-two years old, he was a ‘Vallon man’ in the British Army in Afghanistan.

The ‘Vallon’ is a hand-held IED finder, which looks like a metal detector.

‘IEDs’ are improvised explosive devices, homemade bombs which the Taliban used to kill British, US, Afghan and other soldiers in Afghanistan.

They were usually dug into holes alongside roads and tracks, and detonated as soldiers walked or drove past.

The Vallon was designed to locate these bombs under the surface of the ground before they went off.

Using the Vallon was an extremely dangerous job.

Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.

If it didn’t, you could be on the wrong end of something very nasty indeed.

Those of us who have never experienced such a thing can probably barely imagine it.

When an IED detonates, it produces a devastating and superheated shock wave which blasts over you at several times the speed of sound, with a pressure of several hundred tonnes per square inch and a temperature of perhaps 2,000°C.

It takes with it loose stones, dust, bits of rifle and body armour, in a haze of semi-molten shrapnel which rips off arms, legs, and heads.

The whole thing is accompanied by a giant bang. The air is filled with rubble falling back to earth and then a choking cloud of dust.

It is massively, bewilderingly disorientating.

Aaron – whose story is told in our forthcoming book AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN – had a keen eye and a good nose for these IEDs, and he had located a very large number of them on his two tours of Afghanistan.

In doing so, he had saved dozens of his mates from death or serious injury, and literally embodied his regimental motto, Faugh a Ballagh – Clear the Way.

In fact, he was so good at it that his young mates nicknamed him ‘The Jedi’ (he was a keen Stars Wars fan) and thought of him as their guardian angel.

With Aaron at the front as they patrolled, they felt safe.

Aaron McCormick 1Aaron McCormick and a fellow soldier on the streets of Afghanistan

On Remembrance Sunday 2010, Aaron was called out from his base near Nad-e Ali to examine a device that he had spotted the day before.

Locals had marked it with stones – when the Taliban were not watching, they were keen to help the British soldiers (IEDs killed their children and animals far more often than the intended targets).

As he crouched over the bomb, another one exploded somewhere not far away.

His friends later said the startled young soldier shouted ‘Holy fuck!’ in shock, before dissolving into relieved giggles.

He was still laughing as he shifted position and somehow detonated the IED next to him.

His friends – who were guarding him in all-round defence – were blown off their feet by the force of the explosion.

Aaron was killed outright.

He was the third child of four born to Maggie McCormick and her husband Lesley.

Aaron McCormick 2Aaron and his mum, Maggie

Maggie and Lesley were in Tunisia, trying to enjoy a holiday which had been booked long before they knew Aaron’s tour dates.

They came back to the hotel that day to find fifty missed calls on their phones from their other children back home in Northern Ireland.

They knew straight away that Aaron must have been killed.

From then, it was a question of getting back to County Londonderry as quickly as possible.

A British Embassy worker called Julia Smyth did manage to get the distraught couple booked onto a flight later that day, and organised a taxi to take them to Monastir airport.

(Julia and a colleague believe it may have been Flight 601, Monastir to Stansted, at 20:14hrs on November 14, 2010.)

Whichever flight it was, it left the McCormicks needing to catch a further flight to Belfast the following morning, and thus they had to stay overnight at Stansted.

According to Maggie McCormick, ‘We found out [later] that the captain of the plane had radioed ahead and booked us a room at the Radisson Stansted, which was incredibly kind. The pilot even paid for that hotel room himself. Afterwards, I wanted to meet and thank him, but I don’t even know his name. I couldn’t get over that kindness.’

Mrs McCormick would like the opportunity to thank that pilot - as above, please pass this on via retweets etc, and if you know who the pilot was please contact us so that we can put them in touch.

See also:

CORPORAL MARK WRIGHT GC, RIP

CAPTAIN JAMES PHILIPPSON, RIP

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As the final British combat troops leave Afghanistan, we’re looking forward to the publication of Graham Bound’s brilliant AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN.

The title, of course, is borrowed from the Robert Laurence Binyon poem For the Fallen.

The book deals with twenty soldiers and Royal Marines who lost their lives in Afghanistan, and tries to tell their stories via the recollections of family members, friends and comrades, and through letters and emails they sent home from the front.

More details over the next few days and weeks, but it seems appropriate to name the twenty now.

CAPTAIN JAMES PHILIPPSON
7 PARACHUTE REGIMENT ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY
JANUARY 13, 1977 – JUNE 11, 2006

CORPORAL MARK WRIGHT GC
MORTAR PLATOON 3RD BATTALION THE PARACHUTE REGIMENT
APRIL 22, 1979 – SEPTEMBER 6, 2006

LANCE CORPORAL JAKE ALDERTON
36 ENGINEER REGIMENT CORPS OF ROYAL ENGINEERS
AUGUST 16, 1985 – NOVEMBER 9, 2007

CORPORAL SARAH BRYANT
152 DELTA PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS EFFECTS TEAM INTELLIGENCE CORPS
DECEMBER 17, 1981 – JUNE 17, 2008

CORPORAL ROB DEERING
COMMANDO LOGISTIC REGIMENT ROYAL MARINES
OCTOBER 16, 1975 – DECEMBER 21, 2008

ACTING SERGEANT SEAN BINNIE
3RD BATTALION THE BLACK WATCH THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF SCOTLAND
NOVEMBER 11, 1986 – MAY 7, 2009

RIFLEMAN CYRUS THATCHER
C COMPANY 2ND BATTALION THE RIFLES
JANUARY 13, 1990 – JUNE 2, 2009

LANCE CORPORAL DANE ELSON
FIRE SUPPORT GROUP 3 1ST BATTALION THE WELSH GUARDS
SEPTEMBER 28, 1986 – JULY 5, 2009

RIFLEMAN WILL ALDRIDGE
C COMPANY 2ND BATTALION THE RIFLES
MAY 23, 1991 – JULY 10, 2009

CORPORAL CHRISTOPHER HARRISON
BRAVO COMPANY 40 COMMANDO ROYAL MARINES
MARCH 26, 1984 – MAY 9, 2010

LANCE BOMBARDIER MARK CHANDLER
D BATTERY 3RD REGIMENT ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY
APRIL 26, 1977 – JUNE 8, 2010

MARINE STEVEN BIRDSALL
BRAVO COMPANY 40 COMMANDO ROYAL MARINES
OCTOBER 6, 1989 – JUNE 14, 2010

PRIVATE TOM SEPHTON
C COMPANY 1ST BATTALION THE MERCIAN REGIMENT
MARCH 19, 1990 – JULY 5, 2010

RANGER AARON MCCORMICK
A COMPANY 1ST BATTALION THE ROYAL IRISH REGIMENT
FEBRUARY 2, 1988 – NOVEMBER 14, 2010

COLOUR SERJEANT KEVIN FORTUNA
A COMPANY 1ST BATTALION THE RIFLES
JUNE 18, 1974 – MAY 23, 2011

LIEUTENANT DANIEL CLACK
C COMPANY 1ST BATTALION THE RIFLES
MARCH 25, 1987 – AUGUST 12, 2011

LANCE CORPORAL JONATHAN MCKINLAY
B COMPANY 1ST BATTALION THE RIFLES
NOVEMBER 7, 1977 – SEPTEMBER 14, 2011

LANCE CORPORAL PETER EUSTACE
MORTAR PLATOON 1 COMPANY 2ND BATTALION THE RIFLES
AUGUST 13, 1986 – NOVEMBER 16, 2011

LANCE SERGEANT DANIEL COLLINS
FIRE SUPPORT GROUP 3 1ST BATTALION THE WELSH GUARDS
AUGUST 13, 1982 – JANUARY 1, 2012

CORPORAL CHANNING DAY
3 MEDICAL REGIMENT ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
MARCH 12, 1987 – OCTOBER 24, 2012

 

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Little Girl In The Radiator-AI cover v2For bookshops awaiting delivery, we’re just reprinting The Little Girl in the Radiator. There’s some exciting news about this title in the pipeline, but we’re currently sworn to secrecy.

The previous print run sold out just as the government announced its surprising new plan to pay GPs £55 for every person they diagnose with dementia.

I’m not sure what Dr Tony Copperfield would have to say about that, but I can hazard a pretty good guess… probably along the lines that he’s already diagnosing people with dementia if they have it, and that it might be better to give this money to scientists and researchers who are currently trying to find a cure?

At The Going Down Of The Sun is at the printers and will be available very soon indeed. We will be donating a percentage of profits to a suitable charity or charities. More details on this book over the next few days.

Elsewhere:

The world’s fastest manned flight: Today’s flight profile has one objective: speed. It is an attempt to set a maximum manned-flight speed record. The X-15 will be a piloted projectile blasting through a violent acceleration from 500 MPH to nearly 5,000 MPH in only 75 seconds. Six times the speed of sound. On the downside of this flight profile the X-15A-2 will decelerate so violently that a rearward-facing crash pad is installed in the canopy, in front of the pilot, so Pete Knight’s helmet can slam into something soft as the friction of the atmosphere slows the plane after its explosive fuel burns out.

The world’s loudest recorded sound: Think, for a moment, just how crazy this is. If you’re in Boston and someone tells you that they heard a sound coming from New York City, you’re probably going to give them a funny look. But Boston is a mere 200 miles from New York. What we’re talking about here is like being in Boston and clearly hearing a noise coming from Dublin, Ireland. Travelling at the speed of sound (766 miles or 1,233 kilometers per hour), it takes a noise about 4 hours to cover that distance.

The world’s best lightbulb: Still burning after 112 years.

The world’s most hardcore sniper: Hathcock only removed the white feather from his hat once during his entire tour, and it was to carry out the most dangerous assignment of his military career. When asked if he would be willing to volunteer for a solo mission targeting a high-ranking NVA general, he accepted before hearing any of the details. Those details, as it would turn out, involved crawling more than 1,500 yards inch-by-inch through heavily guarded enemy jungle, painstakingly timing his incremental movements with wind rustling the grass around his hidden position.

It took Hathcock four days and three nights without sleep or food to reach a suitable shooting position. As it neared sunset, he lay completely motionless and camouflaged as a patrolling foot soldier nearly stepped on top of him as he passed by. At one point a venomous Bamboo Viper slid inches from his face, and he had to struggle to retain the presence of mind not to move and reveal his position. When the target finally exited his tent that night, Hathcock took aim, held his breath, and squeezed the trigger.

The world’s best sausage news: Belarus’s sausages are guaranteed free of loo paper (says the President).

And still no news on how Edgar Allan Poe died.

 

 

https://huckberry.com/journal/posts/the-white-feather-sniper

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The Daily Telegraph today carries a story about a PCSO who spends three quarters of his eight hour shift walking between the villages on his patch because he hasn’t passed his cycling proficiency test.

We hate to say we told you so. From Perverting the Course of Justice:

ALL I want is a cup of tea. I have served this nation for the best part of two decades, both at home and abroad. I don’t want medals and I don’t want more money. I just want some tea.

Debbie has banned me from doughnuts and she can detect any offending behaviour faster than she would the perfume of another woman. Tea is just about the only indulgence I have left, come break time.

But I can’t have a cuppa because electric kettles are prohibited in my workplace. Our Health and Safety department has banned them in case we kill ourselves or our colleagues by electrocution, burning or drowning.

Ah, well. It’s hot today, anyway. I switch on my desk fan.

Ha ha… had you going there, didn’t I? Of course I don’t switch on my desk fan. I’m not allowed to use my desk fan until it has been checked and stickered as ‘safe to use’ by one of the highly-paid staff who descend upon Ruraltown nick every so often and examine everything in the place with beady eyes and subtle grins. It’s August now; based on previous experience they will finally arrive to check the fans in early December.

Never mind. It’s nearly time to clock off. Whoah! Almost caught myself out that time.

The office clock’s wrong. Of course it is, it’s still showing GMT. We’re not allowed to change the time, naturally. No, that would be dangerous and UNISON – the union of the official clock time changers – wouldn’t like it, so we have to wait for one of those pesky engineers to come round from force HQ and set it for us.

Last year I ignored this, got up on a chair and altered it myself. The next day, the nick’s UNISON rep got up on a chair and changed it back to the wrong time.

(This is not satire, or a joke, or a lie – this is true.)

The clock will start showing the right time around three weeks before we go back to GMT, and it will then show BST for the following 12 weeks before it’s put right again.

More than the tea, and the fan, and the clock, it’s the trousers that get to me. A while back, we were issued combats which featured numerous and capacious pockets and, being a generally disorganised kind of person, I loved them. Instead of constantly having to remember where I’d last seen my pen/spare radio battery/Mars bar, I could simply load up those trews and crack on. Then they were withdrawn, at the behest of the Health and Safety Commissariat, in case bobbies injured themselves by falling over and pushing whatever was stuffed in their pockets into their thighs.

The weird thing is, when Saturday comes, and I’m facing a dozen drunken, violent and dangerous yobs outside the taxi rank in the High Street, with only three PCs and a guardian angel on my side, our Health and Safety officers are nowhere to be seen.

Kettles and trousers – too dangerous.

Tackling 250lbs of screaming, drunken, tattooed nightmare, armed only with a 50g tin of pepper spray which doesn’t work and a weedy aluminium stick – you carry on, officer.

I climb two storeys to the top floor, where there’s a newly-installed vending machine which dispenses quite vile hot-but-not-too-hot drinks for a price that verges on extortion. As I see the amount of takings in one week, I wonder if this isn’t the real reason for banning kettles.

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Lord Falconer criticises the use of RIPA against journalists (and, by extension, publishers). This really is important – lots of books taking us inside the workings of various organisations simply would not have been published if the sources knew that their every email, text and telephone conversation was open to being traced or recorded.

How to get Bill Murray to star in your low-budget film.

Here at Monday Books we like rugby and cricket (and we published the greatest rugby autobiography ever). We’ve been on tenterhooks waiting for the new Kevin Pietersen autobiog. This morning KP is all over the radio claiming that he was bullied by the rest of the England team. Seriously?

Apparently, one of the officers who appeared in Channel 4’s Twenty Four Hours in Police Custody last night was filmed reading a copy of Wasting Police Time. Clearly a dangerous individual bent on undermining the Old Bill. Though at least it’s not yet on this list of banned books.

We have a policy of not really paying advances, being as how we can’t really afford it, but the whole thing about advances confuses me anyway. I’ve seen precisely half of one episode of Girls (I accept that I’m probably not part of the target market) and I have to say that I am highly doubtful as to whether the publishers of Lena Dunham’s memoir will recoup the $3.7 million they paid her, no matter how good it is.

David Thompson – finding interesting stuff on the internet so you don’t have to.

Working on At the Going Down of the Sun has led me to read a number of the Iraq and Afghanistan books I had earlier missed. I’m currently ploughing through Black Hearts, which is a very well-researched telling of the story of the 2006 murder of an Iraqi family by US soldiers. Well-researched, but it could have been better edited. (I’m sure people could make the same criticism of our books, but we’re not Pan!) One early chapter starts:

On September 29, 2005, at 10:00p.m., much of 1st Battalion and the rest of 2nd Brigade left Fort Campbell, Kentucky, making a stop at Germany before arriving in Kuwait just after midnight on October 1.

Why not:

On September 29, 2005, at 10:00p.m., much of 1st Battalion and the rest of 2nd Brigade left Fort Campbell, Kentucky. They stopped in Germany before arriving in Kuwait just after midnight on October 1.

There are intriguing little sentences that demand more information:

During the Gulf War, absolutely anyone who talks about Nelson will tell you, he was part of the longest tank-to-tank kill in history.

I assume this means that his tank destroyed an enemy tank at a greater distance than any other known ‘kill’. But it would be nice to know what sort of distance we’re talking about. This is another pretty typical sentence:

Platoon sergeants are usually sergeants first class, but 1st Platoon’s original platoon sergeant, Sergeant First Class Rob Gallagher, was one of the few non-Alpha Company men moved to the MiTT team, so Miller – the platoon’s senior squad leader, a go-getter, and one of the only NCOs in the platoon with a Ranger Tab – took over.

I winced at MiTT team (the second ‘T’ in MiTT already stands for Team) and ‘one of the only’ in particular. (This is the paperback version I’m reading, too.)

That said, it’s always very hard to describe the labyrinthine command structures involved in most military situations with any real clarity.

I don’t want to criticise the author, who has obviously done a monumental amount of work in uncovering the truth behind one of the blackest days in US Army history. My complaint really is that a very good book could have been better still.

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