Lest we forget
On march 5th at 1800hrs at the War memorial, the Branch of Hay RBL will remember L/cpl Arthur Griffiths of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, killed in action on t...his day 100 years ago. Arthur had been a police constable in Hay and lived in Velum cottage Heol-y-Dwr. He left a wife, Martha, and three children. If you know of a family member we would love to see them there to take part in the ceremony. Gone but not forgotten.
Adam Hobbs, a former Welsh Guardsman who I first met in Helmand, is in a coma in Thailand in desperate need of medical evacuation back to Britain. His family and friends have set up a JustGiving pages to raise the necessary funds.
Adam was part of 7 Platoon at Checkpoint Haji Alem, a beleaguered outpost right on the front line that saw very intense fighting. As befits a Welsh Guardsman, Adam performed with quiet heroism. He was one of the soldiers who carried their mortally w...ounded commander Lieutenant Mark Evison on a stretcher, under fire, back to base.
Adam is on the right of the picture below, which I took in Camp Bastion in September 2009.
Here is an extract from my book Dead Men Risen about the fateful day on which 7 Platoon was caught in a 360-degree Taliban ambush and Lieutenant Evison sustained the wound that he later died from:
"Guardsman Adam Hobbs found a ‘mouse hole’ – a small aperture – on the west side that allowed him to lay down machine-gun fire. . Hobbs, from Cardiff, was nicknamed Amy Winehouse because of the tattoos that covered his upper body and neck. Before the tour, he had gone AWOL and been recaptured by the Military Police after jumping in a river. Out in Helmand, he was proving his mettle under fire."
This is a man who was prepared to sacrifice everything and who proved himself in combat. Please give generously to help bring him back to the country he was willing to give his life for.
Remembering today my friend Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe, 39, killed in action in Helmand on July 1st 2009 along with Trooper Josh Hammond, 18.
From my book Dead Men Risen:
Sweat streaked the grime on Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe’s face as he lay flat on his stomach on the dusty track beside the Shamalan Canal. Gently he prodded the baked mud in front of him with a bayonet, checking to see if the Taliban had buried an improvised explosive device (IED) there. In the seari...
Remembering Lance Sergeant Dan Collins today. You've been at peace for four years now Dan. Your service and sacrifice will not be forgotten. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Lance-Sergeant-Dan-Collins-Afg…
I got to hang out with Burt Reynolds last week. He told me: "These days two women is too many." Here's my interview with him in The Sunday Times:
Toby Harnden in Tequesta, Florida
It was 35 years ago, when he was in the middle of an unprecedented — and never since emulated — five years as Hollywood’s top box-office attraction, that Burt Reynolds bought the Florida waterfront mansion he called Valhalla....
Dead Men Risen is now available on audible, with narration by Andrew Richardson http://www.audible.com/…/Dead-Men-Risen-Audiobo…/B017JCSZ26…
.@johnnymercerMP highlights PTSD suicides & case of LSgt Dan Collins in maiden speech in Parliament: "Lance Sergeant Dan Collins of the Welsh Guards was typical of the soldiers I was privileged to command in my tours of Afghanistan. His story had a profound effect on me. I implore Members to look him up tonight before they go to bed and to read his story." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Cynical-about-politicians-This…
This Memorial Day, I remember some I knew and some I never met. Troops I was with in Iraq & Afghanistan include Capt Sean Sims, 1Lt Edward Iwan, CSM Steve Faulkenburg (Fallujah 2004), Spc Jacob Martir (Sadr City 2004), RSM Darren Chant (Helmand 2009), LSgt Dan Collins (2012), WO2 John Williams 65 was 54 (2012). I also knew Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe (Helmand, 2009). Others whose lives have touched me include Tpr Jack Sadler (Helmand 2006, friend of my brother's), LSgt Tobie Fasf...ous, Lt Mark Evison, Maj Sean Birchall, Mne Jason Mackie, Gdsm Christopher King, Cpl Duke Dennis, LCpl Dane Elson, Tpr Josh Hammond, Pte John Brackpool, Cpl Lee Scott,Capt Dan Shepherd, LCpl Rob Richards, MSgt Allain Tikko (Helmand 2009), Sgt Kenneth Conde Jr (Ramadi, 2004), 1Lt Shane Childers (Iraq 2003). Also, Ashley Clarkson, Lee Bonsall, Daron Davies, Ryan Ward, Bill Pemberton (2012). Also, my grandfather Major Nestor George Harnden (1 South Wales Borderers), great-grandfather Sgt George H Harnden (1 Royal Berks), great-grandfather RSM John Gerard Crockett MM (1 Wilts, captured Maubeuge, France, Sept 1914, escaped Friedrichsfeld, Germany, Mar 1916). "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them."
Nearly 11 years ago, I was in Ramadi when US Marines were taking unprecedented casualties - a sacrifice made all the more painful by today's headlines http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Death-stalks-US-marines-in-hea…
From Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards were duly created by royal warrant on February 26 and three days later mounted the King’s Guard at Buckingham Palace, just as General Lloyd had promised Kitchener.
In 1915, Welshmen in the ranks of the other four Guards regiments were transferred to the Welsh Guards. After several months of parade ground-training and public duties at Buckingham Palace, the new regiment went to war. On August 17, 1915, its men departed from Waterloo S...tation bound for
Le Havre to join the newly formed Guards Division on the western front. Lieutenant Colonel William Murray Threipland, a Boer War veteran who had transferred from the Grenadier Guards, led the Welsh Guards in action for the first time in the attack on Hill 70 at the Battle of Loos on September 27, 1915. Private R. Smith—the rank of guardsman replaced that of private in 1919—wrote that the duties outside Buckingham Palace had enhanced their fighting skills. “On we went, shells and bullets and shrapnel falling all
around us but not a man wavered: you would have thought we were on parade at Wellington barracks.”
The Welsh Guards went on to fight in the trenches at the Somme and Ypres. Brigadier Sir Alexander Stanier, who joined the regiment fresh from Eton in 1917 as a second lieutenant, noted that “the Welsh Guards had particularly good trenches, probably because many of them had been miners.” Their language was also an advantage, he recalled: “The Germans eventually perfected a listening device on the telephone lines, but the Welsh Guards countered this by speaking in Welsh.” (During the Second World War, Welsh speakers were put into Welsh Guards signal companies for the same reason.)
By the time the First World War was over, 856 of the 3,853 Welsh Guardsmen who served overseas had been killed, and 1,755 wounded. Only thirteen of the original troops who had set off from Waterloo Station in August 1915 returned to Britain unscathed.