British forces’ latest combat helmet has saved the lives of three soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment in the last month of operations in Afghanistan, according to those on the ground.
Ranger Silbert Wilson, 20, Corporal Tommy Creighton, 25, and Ranger Alan Hawthorne, 23, all walked away unscathed after Taliban bullets aimed at their heads were stopped by the recently-introduced Mark 7 combat helmet.
During a normal morning patrol in the Nad’Ali district, Ranger Wilson was the first to experience the helmet’s capabilities. “A single round landed about two metres in front of me,” he explained. “I was moving to get into better cover when suddenly it felt like someone punched me on the side of my head. I was pushed off my feet and ended up submerged in the water.
“There was no time to think. I got up, fired my weapon back at the enemy firing points; once the magazine was empty I reloaded a fresh magazine, and only then started to check myself,” he added. “My face first – no blood! I thought ‘thank ****, that was really close!’. I was still confused and a bit dazed. My head was ringing – but I was OK.”
Captain Jeffrey Herbert, spokesman for 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said of all the incidents: “These guys are all entitled to feel pretty lucky after what they’ve been through, but the fact we’ve now had three soldiers saved by this helmet goes to show what fantastic personal protective equipment we now have in the British Army.”
He added: “Aside from that though, I think the way all three of the lads kept their composure after being hit and carried on fighting, only thinking to assess the damage after the contact was over, says a great deal about the character of the Royal Irish Regiment. These lads are as much a credit to the British Army as the helmets that saved their lives.”