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Sunday, 1 March 2009

A Love Forged in Flames

Last week it was reported that another 4 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan. This takes the British death toll to 149 since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001, and it seems to be rising remarkably quickly. The US have suffered 660 fatalities to date, a drop in the ocean compared to Iraq, but with the coming surge this toll can only rise.

Timely, then is the new book by severely injured Household Cavalryman Martyn Compton (pictured above, with wife Michelle), 'Home From War'.

This is the extraordinary account of how Martyn was caught up in a Taliban ambush in 2006, his recovery, and battling for 2 years to regain his health to the point where he could marry his beloved fiancee Michelle.

Here's his own account of the attack, taken from the Mail's serialisation:

"The Taliban fighter peered over the wall. I recognised the unmistakable warhead of his rocket-propelled grenade. He was close and I was going nowhere. Stuck inside the ruined hulk of my wagon, I was a sitting duck.

Fire and smoke were pouring everywhere - the machine-gun turret had dropped into the tank. The roof was gone. The back door was gone. The floor was gone. And my crew was gone. All I could do was hope for the best. I'd survived the initial attack after we'd driven into this seemingly deserted village, so maybe my luck was in.

The Taliban tilted his head, aimed his launcher right at me and fired.The grenade hurtled towards me, trailing a plume of smoke. It shot past my shoulder and hit the Spartan's engine. The engine exploded. The fireball swallowed me."

Martyn suffered 75% burns in the second attack, and his road to recovery is charted in detail in the book. However, he made remarkable progress, and married Michelle in July 2008 amidst the pomp and ceremony of his regiment, the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry.

My favourite passage concerns his stag night:

"What a night. I didn't buy a beer all night. The club was packed and people kept coming up to me and asking if I'd like a beer. And I kept saying I would.

I think it was down to the T-shirt that my mates had made especially for the occasion. On the front was a picture of me and Michelle and the words: 'Blown Up, Set Alight And Shot By The Taliban', while on the back it read 'I Survived Death To Walk My Fiancee Michelle Down The Aisle'. It was a brilliant night."

What a man. He seems the epitome of the heroic serviceman; he never complains, never curses his luck, just gets on with whatever life throws at him as best he can. This book will be well worth a read for anyone interested in the human aspect of military service, as well as how resilient the human spirit can be.

Martyn Compton is a true hero, and I hope he has many years of happiness ahead of him with his wife - I think he's earned them.

2 comments:

Dr.D said...

This is a very touching story. It says some really good things about the character of this young woman; she showed true integrity and devotion, things we have come to find surprising in the younger generation today.

We may hope that they have a long and happy life together.

LibertyMine said...

Thanks for posting this. I remember him and its nice to hear he is moving forward with his life and love. True hero.