A MARKET Rasen army captain who led troops in what was arguably one of the most dangerous missions of the Iraq war has written a book about his experience.
Pathfinder by former captain David Blakeley is the true story of an elite British special forces unit sent deep behind enemy lines, abandoned by coalition command, and forced to fight their way out against overwhelming odds.
When British forces deployed to Iraq in 2003, Capt David Blakeley was given command of a vital mission that sent a small group of highly specialised Pathfinders from 16 Air Asault Brigade, operating alone and unsupported, deep behind enemy lines.
These elite soldiers found themselves facing more than 2,000 heavily-armed enemy forces with no back up, no air support and no rescue plan.
David’s book is the first ever account of the extraordinary mission to seize the Qalat Sikkar Airfield - a previously undisclosed covert operation, designed to change the course of the Second Gulf War. The book has already been released on Amazon and it sold out in five minutes.
David, now 34, joined the army at 16, entered Sandhurst at 18 and at the age of 21 became the army’s youngest captain since Sir Ralph Fiennes. He has served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.
He said: “I led troops in what’s widely seen as the most dangerous mission of the Iraq war – it’s been quite a long process to write the book, it took just under two years.”
David left the army in 2006 after he was seriously injured on active duty. “I was injured on a later mission in the Iraq war. I went behind enemy lines, I was leading the patrol in the front vehicle and driving at night wearing night vision goggles – they need light from the moon and stars but it was really cloudy so they didn’t work very well.
“It was difficult to see there was a drop, I crashed and I was crushed by the vehicle. For one-and-a-half hours I had a guy talking to me trying to keep me alive before I was eventually rescued.”
David was taken to hospital in the UK and spent a long time recovering. He suffered severe nerve damage to his right arm and made a slow recovery after regaining the feeling in his fingers.
David has another book coming out next year and is in talks with TV companies about presenting work – he has been signed by the same agent as TV adventurer Bear Grylls. Keep reading the Market Rasen Mail to find out what David is up to.
Pathfinder is published on May 17 and costs £18.99.