When war books are merely good stories

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When war books are merely good stories

Has anyone read Bravo Two Zero by patrol commander Andy McNab and The One That Got Away by escapee Chris Ryan? These are really good books, seat of the pants true war stories.

Unfortunatly these highly acclaimed books may be partly fiction according to this article by a reporter who went to Iraq and investigated the situation.

Fiction sadly seems to be disguised as fact, and the wild tales of soldiers credulised by their reputation as SAS.

This article is a great read and as the excerpt shows plaits together the scenes from the books an his own investigation

The real Bravo Two Zero

An example of fiction disguised as truth is the following scene where 3 Bedouin farmers, an old man of 70, and his two sons are watching as the force of SAS soldiers are moving past their home. The family didn't know who they were, Iraqi or foreigners ....

'They were moving fast,' Abbas said, 'and we knew we had to do something before they got away, but we still didn't know who they were.

In the past, when Bedouin tribes used to raid each other for camels, they were often faced with the same problem of identifying friends or enemies before it was too late.

When a party of unknown camel-riders approached a camp, the men there would fire a few shots over their heads. If the strangers were friends they would wave their headcloths and shout "Afya ! Afya!" (It's all right) in reply, or sometimes throw handfuls of sand in the air. We decided to do the same thing.

'I fired two quick shots over the strangers' heads with my AK47, and immediately they went down. By God, they were fast. They started shooting back straight away, so of course we knew they were enemies. We were lying flat out on the ground about three hundred metres from them, and had taken off our red shamaghs so as not to present good targets. It must have been quite difficult for them to see exactly where we were.

Hayil and I were putting down fire on automatic and my father was struggling with his old rifle. Suddenly they fired rockets in our direction - two rounds, which just exploded harmlessly in the desert. At the time I thought they were mortar shells, but later we found the used rocket-launchers.'

'What happened then?'

'A smoke grenade went up, or maybe more than one, and under the cover of the smoke they pulled out. From what we could see they seemed to do it in a very disciplined way, working in pairs with one firing and the other retreating.

We were still firing, but couldn't see them properly until they went over the rim of that ridge, heading south-west. Actually, we only saw five of them going over the hill, and we thought maybe we'd hit the other three.'

I listened to Abbas's tale with growing incredulity, waiting in vain for the point when the hordes of Iraqi troops and vehicles mentioned by McNab and Ryan would turn up.

In McNab's book, the patrol is attacked by two armoured personnel carriers with 7.62mm machine-guns, and at least three lorry-loads of Iraqi troops and two Land-Cruisers. Coming under fire from the APCs and hordes of infantry, and amidst a great deal of screaming, 'Let's do it!', McNab's patrol fires off its 66mm rocket-launchers, dumps its heavy Bergens and charges the APCs, putting them out of action and killing or wounding dozens of Iraqis with their Minimi machine-guns and M203 grenade-launchers. McNab describes how the ground was littered with writhing bodies, and how Iraqi casualties were spread over a wide area - 'fifteen dead and many more wounded', he recounts.

A burned-out APC smoulders and a truck blazes, with a black and peeling Iraqi lolling in the passenger seat. Someone lobs an L2 grenade through the unbattened door of one of the APCs, killing dozens more. McNab's firefight sounds more like a mediaeval battle of knights than a modern contact, with groups of men withdrawing, regrouping and coming in for another bash.

'The troops that withdrew were sort of reorganizing theirselves,' he explained later to one newpaper. 'It was very much like a scenario in a school playground where you would get two gangs - they would have a fight, one gang would run away and then sort of poke their fingers out, "We're going to get you." And then they'd sort themselves out and come forward again. Now, we didn't want to get involved in that, so we ran . . .'

According to the book, having reduced the Iraqi ambush to bloody ribbons, McNab's patrol withdraws, picks up its Bergens and makes off over the brow of the hill, where it comes under concentrated fire from the S60 anti-aircraft battery on the ridge nearby and is forced to drop its Bergens once again. As more enemy vehicles pole up, the patrol disappears into the growing dark.

If there was no trace of McNab's pitched battle against massively superior forces in Abbas's and Hayil's accounts, what about Ryan, I wondered?

Initially, in fact, his description bears some resemblance to what they told me. He writes that he saw two (not three) Arabs pacing them down the wadi, but hoped that they would go away. When he waved, though, the Arabs opened fire, and shortly afterwards, a tipper-truck arrived with eight or ten soldiers in it.

In Ryan there is no long build-up with tracked vehicles approaching ominously, heard but not seen, nor is there a salvo of rockets as the patrol takes them on. Ryan does declare that Stan had seen an APC, but that somehow he'd failed to notice it, as it was 'probably behind a mound'. In his account there are no writhing bodies, and while McNab claims 'fifteen dead and many more wounded', Ryan puts the total number of Iraqis after them as 'about a dozen', three of whom he accounts for himself.

Significantly, in Ryan's book, the patrol does not charge, but simply drops its Bergens and makes off over the ridge, where it comes under anti-aircraft fire. A bullet narrowly misses Ryan's arm and knocks his Bergen flat (McNab claims it was an anti-aircraft shell), but, underred, he goes back for a hip-flask of whisky his wife had given him as a Christmas present - an exploit also repeated by McNab.


Read this article its as facinating and the books themselves.
By netchicken: posted on 16-11-2006

war books

If you want to read some good war or military books try reading Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko series they are great to read plus Richard is a true hero just my two cents worth

The Duke

:sh :f :yak
By The Duke: posted on 18-11-2006

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