The Night Bill Had Had Enough
The following story was written by Tom Aitken DSM. It is his recollection of an incident that occurred in Somalia in 1993. He wrote it many years ago and came across it the other day, I am pleased he gave me permission to share it with you all. Tom was a section commander in 8 Platoon, C Coy 1RAR in Somalia and was awarded the DSM for his actions during that tour. Tom retired with the rank of WO2.
It was a time in the tour when Charlie and Delta Company had spent three weeks straight in Baidoa patrolling the streets, 24 hours a day, with sections conducting at least two, three, and four-hour patrols in a 24-hour period, all depending on what occurred on your patrol. In this time there had been numerous, cordon and search operations and contacts, involving both sections and platoons, in one case, Billy boom boom Perkins section had been hit by bandits on several occasions during the week, in one case his sig, Christopher Day, was shot in the shoulder. Jason Flatly had his night vision goggles shot off his face, the trigger of his weapon had been shot out and there were bullet holes in his pants, I think if he could have gone to the nearest news agency that day, he would have bought a lotto ticket. It’s one of these contacts I would like to tell you about.
Four section consisting of, Bear number one scout, Jacko number two, Eato gunner, Jason the 2IC of the section, Blue as the signaller, Graich number one rifleman, Nato the number two rifleman and myself. We had just completed our patrol and were returning back to the compound where we would hand over all of our radios, handheld walkie-talkies and night vision goggles to Billie’s section for their patrol. It would have been about 2300 hrs with no moonlight at all, and from our patrol things didn’t seem the same, (you know how that sixth sense gives you that feeling of insecurity). We handed over all the kit; I said to Bill “Is everything all right mate?“ To which he replied, “Yeah Tom, see you in about three hours for the handover of all the kit.” “OK Bill see you then, good luck”. Bill moved off and we settled down inside for the customary debrief and reissuing of orders for the next patrol.
Bill probably had been gone for no more than 15 minutes when we had the shit scared out of us as a hail of gunfire erupted in the area of the Khat market. As we turned toward the noise, we could see red and green tracer going up into the night sky with one loud explosion. My first thoughts were that Bill’s section had just been ambushed in the area we had just patrolled 25 minutes ago. “Right lads gear on move outside, the same formation as before one on each side of the road and let’s not stop running until we’re near Bill,” and off we went. All that was going through my mind at this stage was the thought of Billie’s section being all cut up and how mad it was going to make me. As we started to approach where Bill was, I ordered the lads to stop, as the last thing we needed was to go running into Bill’s section who had just been shot up and have them engage us as we moved in. We heard APC’s inbound, made contact with them and were picked up and dropped on Bill’s position. The noise of the APC’s alleviated the possibility of blue on blue. The rest of the platoon had been picked up as well.
As I got out of the APC I was greeted by Bill “What’s happened Bill, is everybody all right?” to which he replied, “I fucking got them this time Tom, they won’t fuck with me again”. “Bill what did you hit them with, the M79?” “No Tom the fucking 66, the fucking 66,” and if you could just see the satisfaction in his face. As I turned toward the building from which he was engaged, I could see that the building had been hit hard with a lot of small arms fire.
It was at this stage that the boss started to take charge of the situation, “Bill “he said “You keep your blokes here where they are covering the door of the building, Mack you cover down the road leading off to the right, Tom once they’re secure I want you to clear the building” I moved off and quickly gave orders for the clearance of the building. Once again, I was harbouring the thought of going into the building and seeing blood and bone strewn all over the place where Bill had just fired the 66. The Boss gave the word to go, we moved in, I placed one man covering the window with instructions to open fire if anything moved as we tried to move into the building. Bear and Jacko were kicking the door like mad to break in which was also sand bagged for more protection, as they tried to go through the door it seemed like an eternity, and I was waiting for someone inside to open fire. Finally, the lads were in “clear, clear, clear”. Touch lights went on and then Bear and Jacko burst into fits of laughter, “ Holy fuck Tom, check this out”. As I entered the building, I was expecting to see a lot of blood and guts, instead, I was greeted by four bandits laying in the middle of the floor, curled up in the foetal position, shaking uncontrollably, slowly turning white, as the dust from the explosion was settling. By their side was the tail fin of the 66 to remind them that if you want to piss Billy Boom Boom Perkins off, then you get the 66 treatment. They had also pushed all their weapons to one side of the room so as not to give anybody any doubt that they didn’t want any more trouble. We moved them outside and conducted the usual searching of bodies and the building.
To this day I’m still baffled how Bill’s section hadn’t received any casualties, as they were fired on from no more than 15 metres, and how four men in a room no bigger than four metres by four metres can get away without serious injury. As for Bill and his section, yes, they got the bastards this time, but it was going to be a week from then that they were to be hit by four MGs as they moved down a street on one of the usual four-hour patrols. It was in these three weeks of patrolling Baidoa that the OC C Coy, Major Michael Moon, was heard to have said, “God Must Wear a Green T-Shirt”.