At Alamarah Redcaps & Paras 2003

by | Apr 22, 2008 | Poetry | 0 comments

South West of Basra in the heat of the desert.

An old RAF base, on a runway, at Shaibah.

We bake on concrete in Green Eighteen by Twenty fours.

The war in Iraq to depose a dictator is over.

The fight to influence people to peace is not – yet.

We found on June 24th that stark reality bites back.

Six redcaps cruelly killed for some perceived slight.

Seven from 1 para, shot in their approaching helicopter.

One RAF doctor didn’t know he had been hit.

Not till later when the adrenaline rush was over.

After he had treated all the wounded paras, he limped.

A hole in his boot, a hole in his sock and trousers.

The holes in his leg – back and front – he shrugged off.

He complained the next day that his trousers were ruined.

His patients – we dealt with. The first two with head injuries.

They were through to Kuwait in short time.

Flown for specialist care and neuro assessment.

An abdominal injury, then another, as he said, “shot in the arse”.

The complaints so far, of pain, so sparse.

The next, he had a miraculous escape I know.

The entry and exit on abdominal wall so close.

No damage to internal organs, he’s lucky?

A young lad had one knee shot through.

The bullet went up into the muscle towards the other hip.

“Just missed the jewels” he said when we talked.

The seventh had a lower leg injury – when asked if he walked.

“I’m a para so yes, and I carry heavy burgens mate”.

The leg was damaged but recoverable too.

Eight were treated al 202 Field Hospital.

The team cared professionally and compassionately.

It was a long hot afternoon and evening.

The smell of blood and the gore soaked bandages

Present on them all. But they arrived alive.

It’s two days since it happened,

The six are all well and going home –

The two head injuries – I don’t know – are elsewhere.

Hopefully, despite their injuries, they will live.

All had only had five days left to tour end anyway.

The explanations will take time to unearth, the truth – why?

Unfortunately the six redcaps are still dead.

Most of them, and the injured, were in their teens and early 20’s.

But that is the problem with war.

The young are intimately involved.


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