Hi friends, family, and readers
Can I wish you all a much better year than the one we have just suffered! The year 2020 will always be one that we would all never repeat unless you made masks or were involved in supermarket chains or takeaway sites. If I hear the advert for ‘Just Eat’ again I will need a scrap or a gunfight? Happiness is what we all strive for but never fully achieve. Happiness is one of those things that you try to grab and tends to just usually squeeze through your fingers at the last moment. 2020 has been big on disappointments of all types. Let’s chat about being ‘Threaders’
Bootnecks (Royal Marines) have a descending order of happiness, you are either threaders (fed up- or a bit down), Harry threaders (really pissed off or down), or Turbo Harry Threaders (in the deepest depths of depression), My own year dear reader has mainly been THT, but solely through my own poor choices and by making even worst judgments.
but it’s over now, thank fxxk!
Let’s all try to look forward to a better year next year.
Now here is an all stations call- ( a military radio message that goes out to all). Here is an extract from the book that I hope to release in Spring. I’m particularly interested in comments from ex-mates/operators from M Squadron SBS.
Guys, this extract is based in 1993, have things changed?
The Merlin was flying at 2,000 ft and 120 knots over an increasingly angry North Atlantic. The three powerful RTM322 Rolls Royce engines throbbed, straining, as the rotor blades pitted themselves against the force of the storm. The interior of the darkened cabin vibrated with each surge and the gearbox strained as the aircraft made headway, only to be buffeted by high winds that almost seemed to halt its progress. The red glow of the cabin’s night-light silhouetted the swimmer canoeists of Purple Troop as Tom listened intently on the spare crew headset for any updates on the target.
“How are you doing back there?” the pilot asked.
“Good, George,” Tom answered.
“Green light in ten, Tom.”
‘Yeah, roger that; we’re all set here, mate.”
The crewman in the seat next to him stood up and turned on his filtered head-torch. An icy blast of air hit the cabin as he opened the starboard cargo door of the aircraft. He leaned out and checked the winch arm that protruded from the side. A shackle secured the ninety feet of neatly coiled, thick, black rope inside the door of the aircraft. A Cyalume stick was secured to the top of the rope with black masking tape; he cracked it, the chemicals mixed, and the plastic tube started to glow a bright orange. The SBS troopers began their final preparations by checking their weapons and kit. They tested their radios, confirming the net with a quick burst of squelch into their earpieces. They adjusted their lightweight black Pro-Tec helmets and pulled their respirators into position. Hands moved in unison over equipment, making sure that nothing would snag while roping down. They also made sure that their assault life vests were clear of their ammunition, flash-bangs, and weapons.
Tom checked the chamber on his C8 and then put on his fast-rope gloves.
“Hello, all stations Purple.” His voice was calm but with a steely edge. “A quick battle update, lads: we are going in hot.” All the members of Purple Troop M Squadron knew what that meant. “Spartan is in contact.”
They were about to land on the ship during a firefight.
“Roger that,” all the Purple call signs answered sequentially, in an equally calm manner. Purple was just back from Syria, so it wouldn’t be the first time.
Tom looked at his guys and raised his thumb, they all responded, and everybody was ready as the Merlin turned. His stomach churned as the aircraft dropped and increased speed as it spiralled downwards to its attack height. He moved his right hand to the release lever on his seat belt. It was always a good thing to do when over a rough sea at a low level – if a helicopter creams in when at attack height you only seconds have to try and exit the aircraft and swim clear. Tom checked that all the SBS men had done the same thing.
Here we go!
And it was rough as the aircraft vectored onto its attack line. The airframe was now pierced by a cold Atlantic side wind that found its way through the opened starboard cargo door and into the very bones of the cabin’s occupants. The Merlin was now skimming over force 6 seas at only 200 feet.
“Two minutes.” Tom heard the ultra-professional and dispassionate voice of Gorgeous George on the Purple Troop net. “The Whisky call signs are on station now.” He turned the aircraft into its final vector and into the wind.
The Whisky call signs were the two Wildcats with the heli-snipers on board. They would now be scanning the deck of the QM2 from both the port and starboard sides, looking for any armed terrorists.
“It’s all clear from Whisky 1 and 2.” George’s voice remained emotionless.
“Hello Queen Mary Two, this is Mike Tango One, deck lights in one minute.”
“Yeah, roger that,” said an equally terse Gav Loach from the bridge of the Queen Mary Two. A darkened deck would give the attacking troops an edge if opposed.
The green light went on, and the troops struggled to stand up. The crewman moved to the cargo door. They all knew what would happen now. They were the lead Merlin and they would be the first into contact. The helicopter would go even lower and approach under the level of the stern of the massive liner, effectively out of sight of anybody on the deck of the ship. The pilot would skim the waves at sea level and, at the last second, flare the Merlin into the wind above the nominated RDP at between sixty and ninety feet above the deck. The crewman would throw the rope out over the Landing Zone. The SBS men would then slide down, using the rope like a fireman’s pole, into the pitch darkness below, with at least three of them on the rope at the same time. They would only use their NVGs when they hit the deck.
The captain peered out into the night from the darkened bridge. The lights had been out since they had heard the massive explosion that had shaken the ship. Now, the vessel’s internal communication systems were alive with the sound of gunfire and frenzied screams for help. As the fire alarm sounded, the First Officer gasped as he looked at the CCTV monitor and surveyed what had once been the Britannia Restaurant. The once joyous space, crowded with voyagers from the New York Fashion Week, was now a scarlet butcher’s shop, littered with body parts and splintered furniture. The occupants of the bridge were silent and in shock. The swishing of the wipers to clear the rain on the bridge windows was the only sound until the ship’s radio squawked into life and broke the spell.
“Hello Queen Mary, this is Mike One, 1,000 metres and closing,”
“Roger that,” said Gav. The occupants of the bridge all studied the TV monitor covering the ship’s stern.
“Here they come!” said Gav.
“Mike One, on target now.” And then the first Merlin loomed over the rear of the ship, and the rope was out.
The sound of gunfire rattled over the ship’s internal communications system and then reverberated with a slight delay from inside the structure of the ship. Jimmy, Pat and Scottie were working together to stop about eight Jihadists gaining access to the upper deck and bridge. The terrorists were trying to move along the carpeted accommodation corridor on Deck 6, and the Spartan guys were stopping their progress. An incoming torrent of gunfire rattled down the long narrow space, a deadly mixture of long bursts of either AK47 or Czech VZ Skorpion machine pistols. Jimmy and Pat had only their MP5Ks to return the fire and therefore kept low, popping up when they could. In between, they tried to melt into the thick pile of the carpet as either the AK’s 7.62 bullets or the stubby 7.65 round from the VZ sprayed random patterns around where they had taken cover.
They had cover from view but not from fire. The heavier rounds from the AK’s were literally ripping down parts of the walls above their heads. Jimmy was lying flat at the end of the corridor, on the right-hand side. Pat was sheltering from the next stairwell up it gave him an excellent field of fire right along what had become a shooting gallery. The gunfight had settled into a pattern; it was obvious that the terrorists hadn’t quite worked out how to use fire and movement on a ship. They would spray the area with bullets and then try to rush the ground. Scottie, on the opposite side of the corridor to Jimmy, was the only Spartan call sign properly armed with a ‘long’: he had his 5.56 SIG Sauer MCX in his shoulder, with his back hard up against a steel safety door so he could engage along a target-rich environment when the Jihadists charged. The four dead terrorists in the corridor paid testament to Spartan’s superior tactics.
A Merlin MK 4 over the North Atlantic
Tom was first. The rain had spattered against the darkened lenses on his respirator, and he couldn’t make out the black rope against the ink-black sky. He took a deep breath, reached for the Cyalume, found the rope with both hands and he was away. As he was halfway towards the deck another SBS man was already sliding down the rope above him. Tom hit the solid teak deck hard and rolled away; he had to fight hard to stop the downdraught from the Merlin pushing him into the ship’s swimming pool. The entire troop was on deck now, and the helicopter was away and standing off. Tom placed his weapon into the shoulder and scanned the LZ. The rain was still falling hard as he tipped down the NVGs mounted against his helmet. He spoke calmly into his throat mike.
“Hello Mike One, all down safe. Thanks, George.”
” You’re welcome,” said Gorgeous George in a fake American accent.
There was another call in an urgent voice.
“Purple Zero, Whisky One, X-ray on deck, SHOT.”
The heli-sniper had spotted movement in the area of the LZ and scanned a figure with his ACOG sight in night mode. He held the H&K Sharpshooter sniper rifle as steady as possible as he considered who, apart from a terrorist, would be on the upper deck in a storm.
Maybe a crew member or a Spartan operator, or even a drunk passenger?
The red dot flickered over the figure, searching for a weapon. And then he spotted the distinctive outline of the AK 47, with its banana-shaped magazine, just as the figure brought the rifle into his shoulder. The heli-sniper aimed for the head, kept the dot steady and put first pressure on the trigger.
On the deck, the fighter had watched the whole scene with amazement. He hadn’t heard or seen the helicopter until it was almost on top of him. He had hidden, but now he must fight. The men dressed in black had arrived, sliding down a Devil’s rope, a falling of black-garbed demons from Hell. He aimed the iron sights of the old AK 47 towards the new arrivals.
That looks like their leader.
The blade of the foresight steadied onto the black figure. He took up first pressure on the trigger and then the ship rolled; he had to steady himself against the outside bulkhead with his left hand. He again brought the assault rifle up on aim,
steadying the foresight onto the central mass of the leader. He controlled his aim. Then he died. A 7.62mm frangible bullet, made of lead and wax and designed to shatter on impact, entered his left cheek and threw him violently sideways, smashing his head backward against the bulkhead.
“Whisky One – SHOT, OUT. Tom, you owe me a pint, mate.” Tom recognised the voice.
“That’s a big roger, Bill.”
“OK Purple, let’s get this done,” Tom said into his radio fit.
“Roger. Purple one to the primary,” said one team leader.
“Roger. Purple two to the secondary,” said the other. And the SBS went to war.
End of extract!
Hey, ex M Squadron guys, please advise?
The extract from the book is my present to you guys. Nothing spookier than sliding down a 90-foot rope over the North Sea in October wearing kit and equipment that would condemn you to Davey Jones locker almost instantaneously if the pilot got it wrong, but what a great crack?
Happy new year again!
One thing that has kept me sane this year has been my family and friends.
My very best regards for your new Year.
2021 will be a better year for all of us
Inshallah (as they say in AFGHAN)
The new book will be available from February, it will be released on Amazon, I will keep everybody posted.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!