South Yorkshire tiflemen under fire in mammoth battle

Third Battalion The Rifles in action in Afghanistan
Third Battalion The Rifles in action in Afghanistan
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SOLDIERS from South Yorkshire cheated deadly bullets by inches in a prolonged firefight with Taliban insurgents.

Troops involved in the drama included Rifleman Neil Le Masurier, aged 24, from Worsbrough, Barnsley.

The 24-year-old is a member of B Company Third Battalion The Rifles, sent out to take on insurgents in the Rikki area of Lashkar Gah, so engineers could erect a bridge across a canal.

The company, based at Patrol Base Durai, in the east of Helmand, had to cross fields and check compounds to ensure there were no enemy positions which could be used to launch attacks the building site.

The group from 3 Rifles stayed there until work was complete to keep insurgents away.

Rfn Le Masurier, whose brother Lance Corporal Ryan Le Masurier is in the same battalion, which recruits from Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham, said: “We were shooting at the enemy from five in the morning until 11 at night.

“It was the longest constant incident since I arrived here in April.”

The ‘hairiest’ moment came when the soldiers were in a walled compound under fire from Taliban fighters.

Rfn Le Masurier, a former pupil at The Elmhirst School, Barnsley, said: “Someone had taken an accurate shot in my direction and it just pinged over my head. Another hit the wall and ricocheted, nearly hitting the commander.

“The Taliban took another couple of shots at me. Another rifleman was shot in the helmet and said it felt like being punched in the back of the head.

“Someone else got shot in his rifle. Later that day, the other half of the company took a casualty, which was a bullet wound to the leg. But fortunately there were no other serious casualties.

“There were rounds flying everywhere. We were very lucky that nobody was more seriously injured.”

“The only time it went quiet was when they went for afternoon and evening prayers.”

Fellow Rifleman Luke Pawson, 20, from Rossington, Doncaster, was on his rest and recuperation break when the Rikki operation took place but is now back in Helmand.

He said: “They are the kind of operations we have to be prepared for.”