Author(s): Patrick Bury
In summer 2006 Helmand Province erupted into violence as NATO forces struggled to crush Taliban strongholds. For six weeks the Royal Irish Regiment and the Paras defended Sangin in the face of ever-mounting attacks. At this point young officer Patrick Bury was learning the trade of the infantry in the Brecon Beacons. Paddy had always wanted to be a soldier - a desire fraught with the contradictions of a complex history overridden by a 'warrior calling'. When he arrived in Afghanistan with 1stRoyal Irish, he was surrounded by men oozing bloody combat experience. This was not Sandhurst. It was extreme violence and killing. Hades Four One was his callsign and the infantry mantra rang in his ears: 'To close and kill the enemy, in all weather conditions, in all terrain, by day or night.' For six months Paddy and his company dealt with 110 IEDs, of which 60 exploded on them, killing his comrades in the most vicious of ways and fuelling a sense of ever-growing dissatisfaction in the young captain. This powerful and thoughful first-hand account about the 'eternal truths of military life' places the reader in Paddy's boots, sharing every thought, ache, smell and taste of life on the frontline in Afghanistan. He describes modern warfare in a way that creates an understanding of the myriad complexities soldiers are faced with, the conditions in which they operate and the moral and emotional challenges they endure.
Patrick Bury is 27 years old and served in 1st Royal Irish Regiment until October 2009.