LANCE CORPORAL CHRISTOPHER BALMFORTH
THE QUEEN’S ROYAL HUSSARS
THE following year, the Queen’s Royal Hussars were out in Iraq. Among their number was Chris Balmforth, a rugby-mad junior NCO from the Midlands. The country had been reasonably calm for some time, but on April 4, 2004, a prominent supporter of the maverick Shia cleric Moqtadar al Sadr was arrested. Violence exploded on the streets of southern Iraq to a level not seen since the invasion 12 months previously. Well-armed insurgents repeatedly attacked Coalition Forces with rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons, grenades and machine guns.
Four days into the uprising, LCpl Balmforth was providing top cover to the first of four Land Rovers which were leaving the city’s Al Jameat Police Station, where they had been training members of the Iraqi Police Service.
As the vehicle turned a corner, it was met by concentrated fire from five gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket launchers. At a range of around 15 metres this proved to be devastating: the driver was shot through both his thighs, and his ankle was shattered, and the vehicle was seriously damaged. From a position of top cover Balmforth returned fire immediately, buying time for his colleagues.
Read the full story…In Foreign Fields