When six Royal Military Policemen were killed at Majar al-Kabir on June 24th 2003 it made world headlines. The heaviest combat loss since the 1991 Gulf War also marked the darkest day for British forces in Iraq. These most vulnerable of our troops died in a filthy storage room at the back of a police station, two months after the conflict officially ended; plunged into a calamity that now seems inevitable and pitiably unnecessary.
Last Round is the story of six very different men, how they were blown together and how they died together, the conscientious commander Simon Hamilton-Jewell, the crafty Russ Aston, the charming Si Miller, the shy Tom Keys and the amusing Ben Hyde and Paul Long.
Within 400 metres of where they perished members of 8 Platoon, 1 Para, fought the most brutal and bloody engagement by any British unit since the Falklands War. Contrary to media reports they neither ignored nor forgot about the RMP, they were simply unaware of their presence. But why? Three hours of human drama unfolded like a Greek tragedy. The RMP were virtual non-combatants, conciliators who under the flag of an occupying power came to assist the Iraqis who killed them. Last Round is a story of fear, brutality and heroism casting new light on a war which, deemed unjust by many, threatens heads of state on both sides of the Atlantic.
Mark Nicol was educated at Belmont Abbey in the SAS’ home town of Hereford. His father, a Lieutenant Colonel, served in the SAS between 1970 and 1988 and was awarded the MBE. Mark, 31, worked on regional newspapers after graduating from Reading University with a degree in Politics and International Relations. He was then a reporter for the Evening Standard, Sunday Mirror and the News of the World before writing Ultimate Risk, SAS Contact Al Qaeda the story of the biggest and most destructive battle of the SAS’ history. Ultimate Risk, set in Afghanistan in November 2001, was seri...
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