WITH BAYONETS ATTACHED, THEY FINISHED OFF THE ENEMY WHO HAD NOT RUN AWAY..
May 21 2004
SCOTS TELL OF CHARGE
By Keith Mcleod And Michael Christie
SCOTS soldiers last night told how they launched a bayonet charge on Iraqi militiamen after hours of battle.
An Army insider last night gave the Record an insight into the bravery of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
They were forced to use 'cold steel' as supplies of ammunition ran low.
Many of the militiamen turned and fled but the close-quarters fighting left around 20 rebels dead.
Thirty-five of Shia Moslem cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's followers died and two British troops were injured during the three-hour battle.
A senior Argylls officer said last night: 'After a fierce fight and with small amounts of ammo left, they put in a conventional left-flanking attack.
'With bayonets attached, they finished off the enemy who had not run off.'
It was the first time in 22 years the Army had used bayonets in action.
The last came when the Scots Guards stormed Argentinian positions during the Falklands War.
The battle developed following a distress call from a group of eight British soldiers last Friday.
The troops under the command of Major Adam Griffiths were surrounded on the notorious Route Six highway while en route to Camp Abu Naji in southern Iraq. Their LandRovers were riddled with bullets and they came under attack from rocket launchers and grenades.
But as a 30-strong platoon of Argylls responded to the SOS, the militia were getting reinforcements.
The men from the Stirlingshire-based regiment were forced to dig in and shoot back.
The Argylls were aided by a detachment of the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment, who arrived at the scene in armoured Warrior vehicles.
More than 150 Iraqis were said to be involved in last week's battle. Military sources say the militiamen miscalculated the response from the original group of soldiers.
Last night, a source said: 'Morale is very good following this serious incident.
'The insurgents have been laying ambushes on Route Six one of the main roads between Basra and Baghdad for some time.
'Previously, the response from small British groups has been drive on. These militiamen were obviously expecting this to happen again.
'The enemy have been picking their targets, mainly two LandRovers with six to eight soldiers on board. With those odds, it is sometimes best to keep on going, but the attack was so sustained, the LandRovers stopped and returned fire.
'We now hope that these attacks on Route Six will stop, but we are taking nothing for granted.'
Intelligence gathered since the bayonet charge suggests it shocked the militia fighters, who expected the outnumbered Scots to flee.
The source added: 'The injuries received by our troops were shrapnel to the hand and shrapnel to the groin. Both of these casualties were as a result of rocket-propelled grenades fired at them.
'Both the injured guys are back with their units and doing fine.'
The Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment arrived on the scene in 37ton Warriors just as the Scots' ammo was getting low.
They found many Iraqi militia fleeing the bayonet charge.
Around 20 Iraqis who chose to stand and fight were killed by the troops of both regiments.
The Argylls' forebears formed The Thin Red Line which kept 25,000 Russians at bay at Balaclava during the Crimean War of the 1850s.
In 1967, Argylls commander Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Mitchell known as Mad Mitch stormed a rebel stronghold in Yemen.
Accompanied only by 15 pipers playing Scotland The Brave, he recaptured Crater Town, the commercial heart of Aden, which had been in enemy hands for two weeks.
The regiment has won 16 Victoria Crosses.