By Doug Beattie MC
Doug Beattie MC returns to Helmand Province for one final tour before retiring - and it's the most bloody and brutal conflict yet. In 2006 Doug Beattie of 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment was awarded the Military Cross for his part in recapturing the town of Garmsir from the Taliban.
He was due to retire from the Army in 2007, but that was before his CO made a desperate plea: stay and do just one more tour. He couldn't turn his back on the men he had helped train, as they set off to play their part in what has been termed an unwinnable war so, in March 2008, he returned to Afghanistan
Within days of landing in Helmand the 42-year-old wondered what he had let himself in for. If 2006 had been hellish, then 2008 was off the scale. For six months Beattie led Afghan and British troops into repeated, exhausting battles with the Taliban. He took part in 50 major contacts and describes in detail the action-packed reality of life and death on the frontline. The chaos and ferocity of the war is brought to life with the utmost honesty and humanity by an exceptional soldier who describes the horror of seeing men and children die in front of him.
There are vivid accounts of the chaos and aftermath of suicide attacks at close quarter, of saving lives in impossible conditions and the challenges of mentoring young soldiers and the sometimes wayward Afghan Army. The book offers extraordinary insight into a campaign which is involving ever larger numbers of British service personnel.