Royal Marines Afghanistan 2007

A bayonet charge isn't for the faint-hearted - much less one conducted while running over 80 metres of open ground and being shot at.

That's what Corporal Sean Jones of the 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (1 PWRR), did, six years ago when fighting the Taliban though.

1 PWRR training exercise
1 PWRR on a training exercise

Corporal Jones, from Market Drayton in Shropshire, was second-in-command of a patrol that came under coordinated fire from Taliban fighters in Helmand.

His patrol had been dispatched to draw out insurgents who were intimidating the population of Karkaran village, enforcing a curfew so they could plant IEDs under the cover of darkness.

But the mission went badly wrong when the patrol found themselves under heavy fire from different directions. Jones remembers:

"I have been shot at quite a few times and could tell the enemy was close. Gravel and dirt was flying up all around me from the bullets".

The patrol found cover in a water-filled ditch, but soon realised the Taliban fighters were trying to pin them there, and close in:

"There was something different about this. It was obviously a well-planned ambush and they overwhelmed us with fire from three points initially".

Seizing the initiative, and with two soldiers providing covering fire, Jones said that he ordered three men to fix bayonets along with him, and that he got his 'Commander's Legs' on and charged straight at the enemy:

"I asked them if they were happy. They were all quite young lads and the adrenalin was racing. I shouted ‘follow me’ and we went for it."

"We always said we want to pick our fight. We knew this was the time to do it.

1 PWRR & Corporal Sean Jones MC
1 PWRR on patrol in Afghanistan (inset: Corporal Jones)

As he raced towards an alley in the village, Jones pulled a grenade but decided at the last moment not to fling it when he saw that the buildings nearby were occupied.

Fortunately, the charge had completely disoriented the Taliban fighters, and they'd already pulled back.

They attempted to re-engage, unleashing intermittent fire, but when the rest of Jones' platoon arrived, the show of force made them melt away entirely.

Because of the way he and his patrol were able to handle the Taliban on that day, Cpl Jones said relations improved with the locals they were trying to protect:

"Before this, the locals were wary of us, but this showed they could trust us to protect them from the enemy and that we wouldn't endanger them while doing it...

"We built good relationships, chatting to them on patrols, kicking balls around with the children. They knew the Taliban could no longer enforce curfews on them and things got much better with their way of life".

1 PWRR & Afghan villagers
1 PWRR with Afghan villagers

Jones was awarded a Military Cross for his bravery in 2012, with his citation saying that he demonstrated "extraordinary leadership in the face of extreme and tangible danger".

Cover photo a library image of Royal Marines during an attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2007.

More: 'Afghanistan: Inside Op Toral'

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