The attack began at dawn on Monday 15 January 2007, on the Taliban base of Jugroom Fort, south of Garmsir. Z Company 45 Commando, mounted in Vikings and supported by C Squadron, Light Dragoons, crossed the Helmand river to the south west of the fort. 3 Commando Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), had already secured the crossing point. The marines then dismounted to engage the Taliban with small arms fire. The attack was supported by elements of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, elements of 59 Independent Squadron Royal Engineers, elements of 32 Regiment Royal Artillery along with attack helicopters and aircraft. Earlier, I Company, alongside the Afghan National Police had conducted an attack further to the north of the fort. The UKTF met ferocious Taliban fire from all sides. As planned, Z Company then withdrew back to the far side of the Helmand river having successfully completed their objective. The engagement lasted for approximately five hours. It is believed a number of Taliban targets were killed but it is not possible to say how many.
In an extraordinary turn to this story, when Lance Corporal Matthew Ford was shot during the assault on a Taliban fortress, his comrades mounted a dramatic rescue mission that saw soldiers being strapped to the wings of helicopter gunships as they crossed a river under heavy enemy fire. The remarkable mission, dubbed "Flight of the Phoenix" by some, did not save the life of the 30-year-old marine who, it turned out, had died instantly from gunshot wounds. But it may gain four courageous marines an honoured place in British military history books.
|Liveleak on Facebook|