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Authors: Dan Mills

Sniper one

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Praise for
Sniper One

"A gritty, speedball run . . . strong, cohesive, and complete . . . it plugs the reader straight into the blood and guts of the action."

—The Times
(UK)

"A highly charged, action-filled, adrenalin-pumped, page-turning read that, frankly, knocks the socks off all previous British accounts in this genre."

—Sunday Telegraph
(UK)

"Full-on graphic detail . . . you can practically taste the dust and the cordite. . . . Quite simply, this is one of the best firsthand accounts of combat in the Second Gulf War that I've ever read."

—Daily Express
(UK)

"The most vivid account ever of total combat on Iraq's front-line."

—The Sun
(UK)

S
NIPER
O
NE

S
NIPER
O
NE

On Scope and Under Siege with a Sniper Team in Iraq

Sgt. Dan Mills

SNIPER ONE
. Copyright © 2007 by Sgt. Dan Mills. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

www.stmartins.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Mills, Dan, 1968–

Sniper one : on scope and under siege with a sniper team in Iraq / Dan Mills.

p. cm.

ISBN-13: 978-1-4299-3342-1

ISBN-10: 1-4299-3342-9

1. Iraq War, 2003–—Personal narratives, British. 2. Mills, Dan, 1968– 3. Snipers—
Great Britain—Biography. I. Title.

  DS79.76.M475 2008
  956.7044'38—dc22
                                                                                                         2008020438

First published in Great Britain as
Sniper One: The Blistering True Story of a British Battle Group
Under Siege
by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Books

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

For Chris Rayment and Lee O'Callaghan, who didn't make it home

Illustrations

 

  1. View of Al Amarah city centre from above its southern edge, over a Lynx helicopter gunner's shoulder
  2. The Cimic House compound beside the River Tigris
  3. Sniper Platoon, 1PWRR.
    Back row, left to right:
    H, Smudge, Des, DV, Dan, Daz, Rob, Chris, Fitz, Ben and Ads.
    Front row:
    Pikey, Longy, Oost, Sam, Harry, Redders and Louey
  4. Yours truly on the look-out for enemy activity on Cimic House's roof
  5. Article picturing rogue cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, pinned on the wall of Sniper Platoon's living quarters
  6. A typical roof-top scene post-battle
  7. Cimic House's swimming-pool
  8. Louey and Daz in the rear sangar
  9. An L96 sniper rifle with a SIMRAD night sight
  10. The view of the OMS building from behind the wall where Dan's men first returned fire at the enemy, on 18 April
  11. RPG Alley
  12. View of the OMS building from the neighbouring park, a favoured launch location for enemy mortar teams
  13. Major Ken Tait on his return from a fighting patrol before he was banned from going out
  14. The remains of Daz's burned-out Snatch after the 18 April contact
  15. The awesome AC-130 Spectre Gunship
  16. Chris, me and Sgt Ian Caldwell in the driveway of Cimic House, preparing to leave on an arrest raid
  17. Chris snipes and Des spots while concealed on a roof-top in downtown Al Amarah
  18. Ads snipes and Oost spots early in the morning from the roof-top of Cimic House – after a hard night's work
  19. An F-16 drops a laser-guided bomb
  20. Dale fires illume mortar rounds from Cimic House's roof – his birthday treat!
  21. Best buddies: Chris Mulrine and US bodyguard 'Red Rob'
  22. Chris supports his L96 in a tripod on the roof of the Pink Palace
  23. The platoon's accommodation block after a mortar direct hit
  24. The painful bruise left on my shoulder by an AK47 round during the OPTAG patrol
  25. The hole left by the bullet in my body armour
  26. Pte Daniel Crucefix, who got stuck at Cimic House for three days with a piece of shrapnel the size of a credit card in his nose
  27. Pte Johnson Beharry VC poses with a belt of 7.62mm, a few days before he was critically injured
  28. Pte Johnson Beharry's badly shot-up Warrior the day after his first Victoria Cross action
  29. Chris with an L96 and Oost with an SA80 and underslung grenade launcher outside the Pink Palace
  30. Concealed sniping. Chris is Number 1 and Des is Number 2, during a raid on an enemy house
  31. Heavy metal. A Challenger II Main Batde Tank from the Queen's Royal Lancers
  32. Mortar-damaged roof sangar. I left with Oost just ten seconds before a round came through the roof and exploded inside it
  33. A US engineers' convoy burns after its huge ambush on 1 May
  34. Bored snipers watch a DVD during the July ceasefire.
    Left to right:
    Smudge, Harry, Ads, Longy and Pikey
  35. Snipers in the roof-top sangar, with the 'Royal Marine' team hard at work on the right
  36. The 'Royal Marine' sniper team. Buzz,
    left
    , and John,
    right
    , at work in the roof-top sangar
  37. Dan receives his Mention in Despatches silver oak leaf from Brigadier Iain Cholerton, the Army's most senior offficer in Wales
  38. Dan's Mention in Despatches certificate

Picture credits

Front and back cover photos of Dan: copyright Dan Charity/News International

Page 1: top and bottom, copyright Tom Newton Dunn.

Pages 2 to 5: all pictures copyright Sniper Platoon, 1PWRR, Telic 4.

Page 6: top,
aviation-images.com
; bottom, Sniper Platoon, 1PWRR, Telic 4.

Page 7: top and bottom, Sniper Platoon, 1PWRR, Telic 4.

Page 8: top,
Aviation-images.com
; bottom, Sniper Platoon, 1PWRR, Telic 4.

Page 9 to 16: all images on these pages copyright Sniper Platoon, 1PWRR, Telic 4.

Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders. The publishers will be glad to rectify in future editions any errors or omissions brought to their attention.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank: Rowland White, for his faith, foresight, advice and enthusiasm from the word go; Tom Newton Dunn for the mountain of hard work, skill and dedication that made it all happen; and Carly Cook for her keen eye and excellent suggestions.

Sue for her unfailing support while I was in Iraq, and Sandra for her support and patience during the research and writing. Chris Mulrine and Adam Somers for when my memory began to fail me, Defence Public Relations (Army) for their honest advice, Rebekah Wade at the
Sun
for releasing Tom, and Mark Spicer for giving me the bug.

My daughter Elizabeth for watching over me, and my son Morgan and daughter Alexandria for giving me a reason to come home.

The men of fighting Y Company; in particular Captain Simon, Ian and Dalebert. Finally, all the chosen men of Sniper Platoon who I had the extraordinary privilege of leading and fighting alongside. Keep your heads down.

Dan Mills, January 2007

When you go home tomorrow, don't expect anyone to know what you have been through. Even if they did know, most people probably wouldn't care anyway. Some of you may get the medals you deserve, many more of you will not. But remember this. All of you are now members of the front-line club, and that is the most exclusive club in the world.

Lt Col Matthew Maer
Commanding Officer,
1st Battalion, the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment
Camp Abu Naji, October 2004

S
NIPER
O
NE

Prologue

18 April 2004

'Gunman top window,' screamed H.

H was the first to spot him, from his position of height as top cover on the back of Daz's Snatch Land Rover.

As soon as I heard the call, my eyes darted to the gunman. The moment you hear a gun is trained on you, you scan for targets. And there he was, in the top window of the sinister three-storey building inside a well-fortified compound. Unusually for buildings in Al Amarah, it had a fresh coat of white paint and bars across every window.

As my eyes found him, he began to slide an AK47 through the iron grille. The metal barrel glinted in the bright sunlight as the gunman moved slowly from side to side. He couldn't seem to decide which of the nine of us he wanted to aim at first.

I was already walking backwards to my Land Rover, the other vehicle in the small patrol, which was parked up 50 metres further down the road. But Daz's vehicle was just 15 metres across a road from the compound's front gate. If the gunman was anything like a decent shot, we were all sitting ducks.

He was in animated conversation with a couple of his other stooges; one older, one younger. All of them were bearded, dressed in black dish dashes and wore green canvas chest rigs. They seemed to be jabbering away, I could almost
hear them weighing up the situation: 'Shall we, or shan't we?'

Then the compound's heavy gates slammed shut with a loud metallic clunk. The four angry blokes with the same heavy Islamic beards who had been shouting at Daz and I had abruptly scrambled back inside.

They're thinking what I'm thinking. This is going to kick off. I know it.

It was only the first time we'd been this far away from base. But I'd done enough tours of Northern Ireland to realize what was going on here.

The mood was changing very rapidly from bad to terrible. My brain scrambled to keep up with the pace of events. I had already decided to get the fuck out of there and told the boys to mount up. Now it looked like we'd run out of time already.

Immediately and involuntarily, my pace quickened as I continued to walk backwards. I wanted to turn round to look where I was going, but I didn't want to take my eyes off that clown in the top window.

Fuck it. How did we get into this mess so quickly?

I couldn't turn and run to the Snatch, because that would mean we'd lose face in front of these nutters, whoever the hell they were. And the British Army doesn't do that. But I also knew it was no time to hang around.

Don't get excited, Danny Boy. Keep the heart rate slow and concentrate, you're no good to anyone panicking like a big girl.

'I've got eyes on,' shouted Smudge.

'Seen,' said Ads, along with a couple of other blokes a second later.

It had taken no more than four seconds for the three other top cover boys in the two Snatches to focus their Minimis on the top window.

Good. At least the boys are all wide awake. Then again, it wouldn't have said much for my training if they weren't during a drama like this.

BOOK: Sniper one
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