A BRITISH soldier sprawls in the dust with his face bloodied after being shot by the Taliban.
In a dramatic battle video, Lance Corporal Adam Smith is heard shouting: "I've been hit!"
Pals rush to his aid yelling: "Man down!"
Adam, 23, miraculously survived - and was back on patrol hours later.
The incredible footage was handed to The Sun as we joined Our Boys on the frontline.
We trudged through Afghanistan's heat and dust to reach a desperately dangerous British outpost - and were told: "Welcome to Hell."
We arrived at the tiny Kings Hill compound, south of the Helmand town of Gareshk, to find a battle-scarred unit of soldiers facing a daily fight for their lives.
Exposed ... L/Cpl Smith takes up position with machine gun
Surrounded by the Taliban and under constant attack, the men of B-Company (Malta), 1 Mercians, have lost NINE of their comrades in the past five weeks alone.
A further 12 have been seriously injured, some with limbs blown off.
And as soon as The Sun joined them - the first media team to do so - we were given a terrifying demonstration of their perilous plight.
It came in the form of an amazing video shot by a colleague on a helmet-cam as Lance Corporal Adam Smith went on his FIRST foot patrol in Afghanistan.
Hit ... comrade's helmet-cam films him reeling back from his gun.Within minutes of walking out into the badlands, the 23-year-old soldier and his detachment are ambushed by Taliban fighters.
A deadly shoot-out begins with the tell-tale sound of incoming rounds across an open field.
The highly trained British infantrymen calmly follow their drills, lying low and working out from where the shots are coming before returning fire.
Knocked out ... he lies senseless after ricochet in the face
But within seconds he recoils in horror and rolls to his side unconscious. He quickly regains his senses, realises he has been hit and raises his hands to his face, trying to discover how badly he has been wounded.
A colleague crawls over and shouts: "He's been hit in the face, in the face." He calls for a medic to come to bleeding L/Cpl Smith's aid.
As a field dressing is placed on the wound, the downed soldier says: "We've got to get the f*** out of here."
Puffs of dust are thrown up as Taliban rounds continue to pepper the ground inches from his head.
The unit manages to crawl to safety behind a mud wall, from where they return fire in a bid to take out the insurgent gunmen.
By an amazing stroke of luck, considering how close to death he had come, L/Cpl Smith, a single man from Ellesmere Port, Merseyside, escaped with a flesh wound that just needed three stitches.
He told The Sun: "I've been to Iraq but I haven't been in anything like that. That was my first contact after coming out.
"All of a sudden we were being shot at from three directions. I was on the deck but we were in open ground. We were very vulnerable in that position. The round knocked me out for about five seconds. It must have hit my weapon and ricocheted into my face.
"I wiped my hand across my face and saw I was bleeding. It was all a bit of a blur but the guys did well in getting me out of there."
Chillingly, the filmed incident was nothing out of the ordinary for the beleaguered Mercians.
And the story is the same on battlefields across Afghanistan.
Yesterday it was revealed the Allied death toll had DOUBLED in the first six months of this year, with June the worst month on record with at least 102 fatalities among the international services. Nato's new commander General David Petraeus admitted there had been "tough fighting and tough casualties". But he insisted the war against the Taliban was going well.
For the men of Kings Hill, the conflict is not about foreign policy, or tactics. It has become a simple battle for survival.
Each man fights, not for their country, or out of hatred of an extremist and misguided enemy.
The Sun reached the outpost after a daunting journey across the Helmand heartlands. We hopped on a Chinook helicopter at Camp Bastion, the main British military base. It took us to the Danish-run Forward Operating Base Price in the Afghan desert.
From there we travelled with 1 Scots soldiers in a patrol of Husky armoured vehicles. The 16-ton machines offered welcome protection from Taliban booby traps.
They took us to Patrol Base 1, where all British operations in the area are monitored. Finally, on foot and through searing 50°C heat, we made it to Kings Hill.
Corporal Lee Kelly, 32, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, greeted us with a firm handshake. And with a wry smile, he said: "Welcome to Hell." The compound has no running water or electricity. And we soon learned that within its mud walls, tales of terror are told.
Last month, Taliban crept up under cover of darkness and planted nine booby trap bombs in a ditch. The following morning two British soldiers were killed and another three seriously injured.
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