Soldier relives double bomb tragedy

A hero soldier described today a Taliban double bomb attack which left five of his comrades dead.

Sergeant Jaime Moncho, of 2nd Battalion The Rifles, was giving evidence at an inquest on the same day it was announced he had been awarded a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his bravery during the attack.



His 2 Rifles comrades lost their lives near Sangin, Helmand Province, last July during Operation Panther's Claw, in two explosions.



They were Corporal Jonathan "Jay" Horne, 28, from Walsall; Rifleman William Aldridge, 18, from Bromyard, Herefordshire; Rifleman James Backhouse, 18, from Castleford, West Yorkshire; Rifleman Joseph Murphy, 18, from Castle Bromwich; and Rifleman Daniel Simpson, 20, from Croydon, south London.



Rfn Aldridge, Rfn Backhouse and Rfn Simpson were hit in the first blast. Cpl Horne and Rfn Murphy went to their aid and Rfn Murphy was carrying Rfn Simpson from the scene when they were killed in the second blast.



The inquest at Wiltshire Coroner's Court, sitting at Trowbridge Town Hall, heard Sjt Moncho braved enemy fire to go to the aid of his fallen comrades and organise an evacuation of the injured.



The soldier told the hearing: "Once we got to the compound ourselves, we could see through the gap, the casualties and where they were.



"At that stage I heard a crack and a thump, a possible round of small arms fire.



"At that time we had to formulate very quickly a set of battle orders."



Coroner David Ridley praised the speed with which he took control of the situation and began treating casualties while under fire.



Mr Ridley told him: "It is tragic that it (the medal) came out of this incident but you quite rightly deserve it."



Sgt Moncho's medal citation reads: "His supreme courage in the face of the most testing of circumstances was exemplary and his personal actions steadied all those around him."



Captain Ross Hocking told the inquest the purpose of the patrol was "a greeting session really, to gather as much information as we could and interact with the locals".



He said: "As we made our way through the compound it drops away sharply downhill. It was at the base of the hill where we heard an explosion behind us.



"We just heard a large boom and saw the top of a dust cloud from the base of the slope."



The team came under small arms fire and pushed into dead ground, before coming back to deal with the first wave of casualties, he said.



Describing the scene, he said: "As soon as we walked back through the gap in the wall there were several people lying on the floor and pretty much everyone was helping to sort out casualties.



"I could see one person not moving, on the floor. The amount of casualties would suggest a large blast - or several. There were two craters either side of the gap in the wall."



The men who were still capable began helping the casualties and getting them on to stretchers when the second blast detonated.



Capt Hocking said: "I looked into the compound to see a lot of bodies, a lot of people on the floor and basically it was something out of a movie really."



The grieving mothers of the five soldiers were among relatives who were at the inquest today.



They went on to launch the charity Afghan Heroes, to provide support for other families who find themselves in the same terrible situation.



The hearing is due to end later today.



Sgt Moncho, 31, is based at Ballykinler, Northern Ireland.



Coroner David Ridley later recorded verdicts of unlawful killing, adding that if the Taliban suspects were ever caught they would face murder charges.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...