Fire came in from the East!
Every sixth round tracer,
red and fierce,
An angry necklace reaching out to kill,
up front and personal as it gets.
Then from the North,
earth jumping violently to a staccato rhythm
as rounds zipped in,
Hornets ready for the fatal sting.
We were down and returning fire,
hundreds of rounds
seeking their positions,
noise hammering the ears,
dust, cordite, adrenaline pumping,
training keeping it smooth,
then across a rising dawn
the crump of mortars climbing high
and arcing over.
Nearer, nearer! explosions
biting through cold air,
Only minutes gone,
dawn coming quickly,
Time to find cover. Now!
‘Left! Left! Go Left!
Archie’s Minim gives cover
as we sprint and break to a compound ,
walls jumping under fire,
now rounds from the West as well,
mortars getting the range. They’re good –
Earth rising, flying up, defying gravity.
Radio chatter, more chatter,
have to fall back now across open ground,
No cover to speak of
Joe’s GMPG keeping their heads down North,
Then an Apache roars in, dust whirling
30mmm cannon hammering,
Rockets ploughing up their fire position West,
More dust, cacophony of shells
falling East. Another Apache,
Don’t believe this!
Bit like waiting for a bus,
you go for days without anything
O.K. Smoke for cover,
falling back, falling back
one by one
we sprint across open ground, weaving,
tendrils of smoke blowing back,
jump the last yard and roll,
Mick sprains his ankle. Typical.
Rounds still zipping in from the North,
then a flurry of mortars – ours
to keep them down
and the last man makes it.
Check. Everyone here.
Check equipment. Then
back to base. Mick limping.
an hour later
out on patrol again.
What a way
to earn your pay!