1. ITV Report

Manchester soldier promised 'not to do anything brave'

A Manchester soldier setting off for Afghanistan promised his wife he would not do anything brave - then put himself in the line of Taliban machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

Sergeant Mark Moffitt, 33, of 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Regiment, told wife Tina that he would not put himself in danger on his fourth operational tour - until he found himself in the centre of a carefully planned ambush in November last year.

Sgt Moffitt, then a corporal, stayed in the line of fire for half an hour to foil the ambush and was awarded a Mention in Despatches.

The soldier was a reconnaissance platoon section commander in Lashkar Gah and a crew gunner on a lightly armoured Jackal vehicle tasked to provide a screen around an insurgent stronghold.

As the company withdrew, an improvised explosive device (IED) was identified in the middle of a track.

Irrigation ditches at the roadside meant they were effectively trapped and so a cordon was established as the Counter-IED Task Force destroyed the device.

But as the group moved off again, the enemy unleashed their attack. Sgt Moffitt's rear vehicle was ambushed from three separate firing points all within 200 to 300 metres.

The Jackal offered little protection against the enemy's weaponry in its trapped position. The soldier shouted to comrades in the vehicle to take cover in a ditch while he remained as the gunner, identifying firing points and returning fire.

Realising the other patrol vehicles could not see all of the firing points, he engaged two of the enemy's positions with heavy machine gun fire, knowing it meant exposing his back to the third position.

He said: "I had the heavier weapons system - the noise of it alone is enough to make anyone get their head down, and I was in a better position to see the firing points rather than the other guys in the vehicles having to stand up and make more of a target of themselves. I was just doing my job.

"You look after the guys next to you, I had the better weapons system, so that day it was my job to look after the guys."

During the attack, his heavy machine gun jammed, rendering it temporarily useless.

Undaunted, he immediately jumped over the top of the vehicle to recover the secondary weapon system, a general purpose machine gun (GPMG), before taking up the fight again.

"I saw the GPMG in the front so jumped over and grabbed it, threw all the links over my shoulder and jumped back on top of the vehicle and started engaging the positions again.

"I never felt alone as the other guys were firing too, but I was a little concerned when two RPGs landed close to the vehicle.

"RPGs are designed to take out lightly armoured vehicles so if it had hit it would have caused a lot of damage."