Homeless Veterans appeal: The embassy siege sniper who found civilian life a struggle

But he has subsequently mentored former comrades who have fallen on hard times

Mark Blunden
Monday 12 January 2015 21:09
Comments
Robin Horsfall, who fought in the Falklands and helped end the Iranian embassy siege
Robin Horsfall, who fought in the Falklands and helped end the Iranian embassy siege

An SAS sniper who took part in the storming of the Iranian embassy in London in 1980 has revealed how his mental health suffered after he returned to civilian life.

Giving his support to The Independent’s appeal in aid of homeless ex-servicemen and women, Robin Horsfall said he has personally mentored former comrades who have fallen on hard times.

Mr Horsfall was just 23 when the SAS assault team he was part of blasted its way into the South Kensington embassy building to rescue 25 hostages. Amid smoke and stun grenades, they shot dead five of the six Iranian Arab separatists and broke the six-day siege in seven minutes. Four years later, Mr Horsfall left the Army. He had a family and a mortgage and he deployed his Special Forces skills as a mercenary in Lebanon, Mozambique and Sri Lanka.

Despite being a veteran of the Falklands War and Northern Ireland during the Troubles, it was his experiences witnessing death and starvation in the Mozambique civil war that most disturbed him.

“I’d come from an environment where death was an everyday occurrence, where children were starving, where women got their heads chopped off,” he said. “Twenty-four hours later you’re back at home watching a Christmas video of your children with an excess of things they throw in the bin.

“You’ve gone from starvation to excess in a short period of time and that makes you very angry. Your wife thinks she’s done something wrong, your kids don’t understand and you don’t understand.”

Mr Horsfall said Special Forces veterans, particularly younger ones, rely on “the circuit” – private security work that proliferated following wars in the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. After five years on the circuit, Mr Horsfall’s wife “put her foot down” because she did not want him to continue risking his life.

Following “three years of failure” he launched a successful karate school that is still growing 25 years later.

Backing The Independent’s Homeless Veterans campaign, the proceeds from which will be divided equally between Veterans Aid and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, he said: “I support that all the way, anything that does something for the troops, especially in this regard, has got to be a good thing.”

His experiences as a paratrooper, SAS sniper, mercenary and bodyguard are detailed in his book, Fighting Scared, available on Kindle.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in