Sunday, September 13, 2009

Praxis: Is the bayonet obsolete?

Yeah, I know I said I was going to bed after thinning out my 500 plus emails that had piled up, but I got this from typeay and just had to share it. May Wretched Dog, with whom I have waged an eternal argument over the efficacy in extremis of the bayonet, please take note.


British officer wins two gallantry awards for fending off Taliban attack with bayonet

A young British officer, Lieutenant James Adamson, who won two gallantry awards while serving in Afghanistan has told how he fended off an enemy attack by bayoneting a Taliban fighter to death.

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
London Telegraph.
Published: 9:00PM BST 12 Sep 2009

Lt Adamson, who is single and comes from the Isle of Man, was moving between two eight man sections when a group of Taliban fighters attempted a flanking attack Photo: CHRIS SAVILLE/APEX

Lieutenant James Adamson was awarded the Military Cross after killing two insurgents during close quarter combat in Helmand's notorious "Green Zone".

The 24-year-old officer, a member of the 5th battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, revealed that he shouted "have some of this" before shooting dead a gunman who had just emerged from a maize field.

Seconds later and out of ammunition, the lieutenant leapt over a river bank and killed a second insurgent machine-gunner with a single thrust of his bayonet in the man's chest.

The officer was one of 145 members of the armed services who last week received awards in the latest Operational Honours list.

In a graphic description of the intense fighting in Helmand, the officer told of the moment killed the second fighter. He said: "It was a split second decision.

"I either wasted vital seconds changing the magazine on my rifle or went over the top and did it more quickly with the bayonet.

"I took the second option. I jumped up over the bank of the river. He was just over the other side, almost touching distance.

"We caught each other's eye as I went towards him but by then, for him, it was too late. There was no inner monologue going on in my head I was just reacting in the way that I was trained.

"He was alive when it went in – he wasn't alive when it came out – it was that simple."

Recalling his feelings in the moments afterwards Lt Adamson, said: "He was young, with dark hair. He only had kind of whispy hair on his chin, not a proper beard, so he wasn't that old, maybe a teenager.

"Afterwards, when he was dead, I picked up his PKM (Russian-made belt-fed machine gun) machine gun and slung it over my back.

"We then had to wait for more of my men to join us. We thought there could be more Taliban about and we were just watching our arcs of fire, waiting for more to come out of a big field of maize which came right up to the river we had been wading through.

"One of my men, Corporal Billy Carnegie, reached us, looked at the two dead Taliban on the ground and then saw the blood on my bayonet and said "boss what the **** have you been doing?"

The firefight, in July 2008, began during the middle an operation to push the Taliban out of an area close to the town of Musa Qala in northern Helmand.

Lt Adamson's platoon of 25-men, which was leading the assault, had just halted their advance when they were attacked.

Lt Adamson, who is single and comes from the Isle of Man, was moving between two eight man sections when a group of Taliban fighters attempted a flanking attack.

He continued: "The Taliban kept on probing us – sending in fighters to attack, first in twos then in fours.

"There was a gap between the two sections and the Taliban realised this and were sending in men to get between the two groups so they could split us up and isolate us.

"Myself and Corporal Fraser 'Hammy' Hamilton were wading nipple deep down a river which connected the two positions. Hammy was ahead when the Taliban fighter with the PKM (Russian machine gun) appeared from a maize field.

"There was an exchange of fire and 'Hammy' fired off his ammunition and then the weight of fire coming from the Taliban forced him under the water.

"The machine-gunner had also gone to ground but was still firing in our direction periodically. I had just caught up when 'Hammy' came up out of the water like a monster of the deep.

"Then another Taliban man came through the maize carrying an AK47. He was only three to four metres away.

"I immediately shot him with a burst from my rifle which was already set on automatic. He went down straight away and I knew I had hit him.

"Hammy said I shouted: 'have some of this' as I shot him but I can't remember that. I fired another burst at the PKM gunner and then that was me out of ammunition as well.

"That was when I decided to use the bayonet on him. It was a case of one second to bayonet him or two seconds to put on a fresh magazine.

"Nothing was really going through my mind but briefly I did think 'if this works out the boys will love it' – as in the rest of the platoon that I commanded.

"The undergrowth is so dense in the 'Green zone' that I often ordered bayonets fixed because you knew the distances between you and the Taliban could be very short. It is also good for morale."

His Military Cross citation read: "Adamson's supreme physical courage, combined with the calm leadership he continued to display after a very close encounter with the Taliban, were of the very highest order.

"His actions also neutralised an enemy flanking attack which could have resulted in casualties for his platoon."

Two weeks earlier Lt Adamson had won a Mention in Dispatches (MID) by leading his men in an ambush against the Taliban in the same area.

It is understood that the young lieutenant is the first member of the armed forces to receive two awards for gallantry during the same operational tour.


Happy D said...

Reasons to keep the bayonet around. As best I can recall from my uncle an Army Major and a Korean war vet whom I had the honor to call a friend.
1. Training aggressiveness.
2. Psychological/Moral enhancement.
3. Sometimes a loud bang is the last thing you want!
4. Guns and ammunition do malfunction.
5. A good bayonet is a handy tool.
6. Fix bayonet to end of rifle plunge it in to the ground to keep the rifle out of the dirt. This is hard on the bayonet.
7. "The undergrowth is so dense in the 'Green zone' that I often ordered bayonets fixed because you knew the distances between you and the Taliban could be very short. It is also good for morale."
8. As Mike so eloquently wrote.
"A few words about the bayonet and the rifle grenade launcher. Every generation since the invention of gunpowder has thought that the bayonet -- the infantryman's spear of last resort -- would become as obsolete as Achilles' shield. It never has. Do you know why? Because the rifleman is forever being called upon to 'restore order.' Sometimes that means just showing our serious intentions without shooting some poor asshole as an example to the rest. Fixing bayonets allows us to announce our intentions. It also allows us to keep disarmed prisoners moving to the rear, or crowds of civilians in line at a disaster recovery center. Because merely showing it is not always enough to prevent its use, you will be taught how to use it in combat.
9. They scare the shit out of Communist,Socialist,Fascist,Liberal,Progressive,Intellectual, whatever they call themselves this week.

Mike H said...

My son and I consider bayonets an essential tool in cqb training.

Interesting btw how they have gotten shorter over the last couple of centuries.

Combat styles obviously have changed.

My fave is the long bayonet for the 03A3.

We love edged weapons and I intend to have my daughter take some cqb including knives.

Johnny said...

I have it on good authority - people who were there - that there was a great deal of hand-to-hand fighting in the Falklands War. Contacts lasted so long that both sides ran out of ammunition. But, contrary to reports at the time, many of the Argentinian conscripts fought very hard, let alone the regular troops. However, as this report indicates, once Brits get going in a fight - well, they're not the most feared football hooligans in Europe for nothing...

Doc Enigma said...

Bayonet, hawk, combat knife...edged weapons NEVER become obsolete. Ever.