AUSTRALIAN special forces troops were left for dead by two Dutch attack helicopters during a deadly ambush in Afghanistan.
When the smoke cleared, one American was dead and seven SAS soldiers and two sappers lay badly wounded.
A combined Australian, American and Afghan patrol was under ambush from up to 150 enemy fighters when the two attack choppers arrived at a nearby American base.
As the troops were pounded by enemy mortar, small arms and rocket-propelled grenades near the village of Khaz Oruzgan, they thought salvation had arrived in the form of the Apache helicopters.
The patrol’s air strike co-ordinator told the Dutch pilots by radio: “We’re in an absolute doozy of a s— fight. We need your assistance as we’re taking casualties.”
But the pilots refused to drop under their “safe” height of 5000m, despite the fact Apaches are armour-plated and designed to operate under heavy fire at low altitude.
In his book SAS Sniper, to be released next week, former SAS soldier and ex-Royal Marine Rob Maylor reveals intricate details of the ambush and the lack of help from the Dutch.
“They wouldn’t open up on the Taliban for fear they might draw some fire themselves,” said Maylor, who suffered serious shrapnel wounds during the battle.
“I honestly thought that we wouldn’t get out of there alive. If the bad guys had got any closer it would have been all over for us.”
Another SAS soldier marked targets for the choppers using a machine gun to kick up dust clouds close to enemy positions.
“They still wouldn’t engage. SG (the air strike co-ordinator) had had enough so he told them, ‘If you’re not going to engage then you might as well f— off’, and they did. Cheers boys.”
The book adds weight to the view of soldiers on the front line that they need more firepower – including one whose email appeal for better back-up was revealed by the Herald Sun
One of the specific complaints in the email concerned a lack of helicopter support during another deadly battle that claimed Private Jared Mackinney. Australia asked the departing Dutch to keep five Apaches in Tarin Kowt until mid-November because Australia’s Tiger attack choppers wouldn’t be ready until mid-2011.
Maylor, who retired in January, said yesterday he was surprised the Dutch Apaches refused to fight.
“They do have very tight rules of engagement, but we needed all the help we could get,” he said.
American and when he donned the lid it was full of blood that spilled over his face.
Trooper Mark Donaldson won the Victoria Cross for Gallantry during the ambush when he rescued a wounded interpreter from the battlefield.