The Most Memorable Day

2011, Age twenty-one

Sitting in a small mud structured room, referred to as ‘CP (Check Point) Karim’, a compound situated in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  Listening to the Company debrief with my notebook in hand. As every night, the multiple (team) commanders would gather in the Operations Room, to receive debrief reports over the radio. However, on the 20th of November 2011, we received a report which would trigger many emotions.

We were devastatingly informed, that Pte Thomas C Lake had been killed. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Thomas Lake and a friendship was never formed, he was still a soldier of my regiment. The pot of emotions began to stir, not just within myself, but also within the men of CP Karim. The sadness, the bitterness, anger and furthermore, we had to contend with the shock of reality.

We knew the dangers and we knew the risks, nonetheless, everything just became more real. Laying in my sleeping bag, on that cold night, I knew every man in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR), would have Pte Thomas C Lake in their hearts and on their minds.

There are three things I usually think about in those two minutes of respectful silence on Remembrance Day. The first and foremost being Pte Thomas C Lake being killed in Afghanistan on the 20th of November 2011, I think about his friends and I think about his family.

Secondly, I can’t help but think about the 11th of November 2011 (11.11.11), how ironic that this would be my most memorable day for the rest of my life. ‘A’ Company (the company I was in) conducted a large offensive operation in Loy Mandeh, Afghanistan. My multiple moved out at 0500hrs, under the cover of darkness, in order to secure a helicopter landing site. This security allowed for a chinook to drop off two more multiples. These two multiples then proceeded North, clearing through the compounds of Loy Mandeh, whilst my multiple provided protection on the Eastern flank.

Two or three more hours into the op (operation) and there was a large explosion, two hundred meters to my West. The chilling words from an unknown soldier came through on the radio and to my headset:

“Man down! man down! man down!”At this moment, there are only two things going through every soldier’s mind. Who is it and how bad is it? Unfortunately, Stephen Bainbridge of the The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, had initiated a pressure plate I.E.D (Improvised Explosive Device). He lost both legs and sustained other fragmentation wounds, but survived, thanks to the quick life-saving actions from Lcpl Goode and those men on the ground, from the Black Watch and the PWRR.

Not only on Remembrance Day but quite often, I think about Those men who were wounded in combat. Sometimes I wonder how life would have been for myself if I had initiated an I.E.D or if I had been shot, which on many occasions, must have only of missed me by the skin of my teeth.

Following the successful casualty extraction of Stephen Bainbridge, my callsign (team) was then tasked to push North-East, to exploit further Taliban compounds. My callsign was familiar with the atmospherics in Loy Mandeh and they were always bad atmospherics. There was always potential for something bad to happen, but you just didn’t know how bad it would be or when it would happen.

We had reached our limit of exploitation in the North-East of Loy Mandeh,  at which point we decided to patrol back south, to regroup with the rest of ‘A’ Company. Myself, Matt and Callum, stepped off and began to head back South, however, we lead our patrol right into the killing area of a Taliban ambush. I took a massive rate of incoming, effective enemy fire in the forms of 7.62mm  and UGL (Underslung Grenade Launcher) rounds. Initially, we couldn’t even return fire, we all just scrambled across the deck and into the closest ditch. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been hit, I wasn’t even sure that I hadn’t been hit. Having said this, Callum and Matt were still in the open, taking extremely close incoming. I could see the dirt kicking up around Callum’s feet as the Taliban continued firing at him, like out of a movie (I have been stuck with this image in my mind, ever since that day).

I then switched my rifle to automatic, taking a deep breath before kneeling up to return fire in the general direction of the enemy. I sprayed the whole tree line until the magazine on my rifle was empty and it was at this point, that I was taking the incoming. I then took cover in a gully on the fields edge, that wasn’t quite deep enough and no matter how fast or how far I would crawl, my rucksack would still be protruding out of the ditch like a floating target for lead wasps (bullets). I was pinned down, but Callum and Matt were now in the trench, which was better than being out in the open. All I remember now, whilst wondering if I was going to survive this, was a sixty-six (LAW – Light Anti-Tank Weapon) finding its way into the likely area of the Taliban. Thanks to the men of my callsign, who suppressed the Taliban, the firing had come to a stop and I was somehow still alive.

On Remembrance day, we take the time to remember and honour the fallen and wounded. That being said, there are many veterans who remember every day. I’m fortunate enough to not suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic stress Disorder), but there are guys and girls who have these traumatic moments on their minds, on a daily basis. I regularly have this particular moment, playing out in my mind, like a scene from a movie. I don’t necessarily dwell on those many occasions where I could have died, though I find it hard to ignore how different things could have been for me and how lucky I am to be alive.

I believe that Remembrance Day isn’t just about remembering the fallen, I think we should honour the fallen but we should also remember those who are surviving. So my understanding of this day and what we should be remembering is rather obvious. I like to take not just those two minutes of respectful silence, but I like to use the whole day to really think about the fallen, the wounded surviving and those men who were fighting by my side on those dark days in combat.

I’m curious to know what you think about on Remembrance Day, so I invite you to share your thoughts below.

I would like to dedicate this blog to Pte Thomas C Lake and his family, may you rest in peace, but never to be forgotten.

This blog simply couldn’t come to an end without expressing my gratitude and recognition for the men of ‘Two Three Delta’, who fought alongside me.

Mark

Barbs

Ally A.

Jafer

Tommo

Howard

AW

Adam

Blackow

Morales

Jacobs

Kwoyigah

Callum

Matt

‘Harry’ Harrison

Hodges

Bridle

and the Search Dog Gracie

Thank you for reading my blogs, this blog is particularly important to me, so I appreciate your time and continued support.

Honour the fallen, remember the wounded and surviving.

Jamie R Kennedy

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14 thoughts on “The Most Memorable Day

  1. Truly a great read.
    I remember these days like they were yesterday!

    I also see rememberance day as a day to remember the fallen and those still serving.
    But I also see it as a celebration to the great things those people achieved.
    I guess because we have seen action on OP’s we can relate a little more than others to what they must have been going through.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That wasn’t the only day Kenny saved our lives and I remember that every day. Thank you Kenny and I can never say it enough that day was defo a hard one but like always you got the multiple through. Love and respect bro

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful read Jamie, never realized just how bad it had been for you & the rest of “Two Three” Delta because you have never shared this with me .Tomorrow as I watch on television the remembrance service I will be remembering all of the brave men & women who have given their lives & others who have suffered life changing injuries & others who still are serving to protect us from evil

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent read J it helps us all to understand what you and the rest of your guys went through. Thankfully you and your buddies came home so sorry for those that did not make it

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a moving read, I thank you brothers and sisters for walking in the darkness. I think of everyone everyday and how blessed I am to know so many heroes . Also to have known that most amazing bond soldiers have.
    Thank you 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Royal Navy served 13 years. Every year I take my daughter and I think about how every person that joins up and signs up for that ultimate risk………. we don’t really think it’s going to happen……. it does though. I go about my life after 11/11 and carry on…… for so many life Doesn’t continue. The reality always hits in November. Thank you…….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a fantastic & well written blog Jamie , all I can say is yours , Matt’s & our son Callum’s guardian angels were working overtime that day & we thank god they were to bring you all home safely . Keep up the good work Jamie !! & I hope your mum is keeping well .

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well what a fantastic & well written blog Jamie . All I can say is yours, Matt’s & our son Callum’s guardian angels were working overtime that day & thank god they were to bring you all home safely. Keep up the good work !! Hope your mum is keeping well

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well done Jamie,on this excellent composition, it’s a cracking read, and as a civi you are just not aware of the thoughts and emotions going through the minds of our brave men and women in active service.
    Well done, and thanks for sharing your life experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

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