Battle of Al Waki Market (Basra) 2007

In August 2007, a patrol of No1 Squadron RAF Regiment was engaged in a furious firefight with approximately 50 Iraqi insurgents in the Al Waki Market in Basra. For nearly 2 hours both sides fought a pitched battle that left at least 16 insurgents dead. However, a heavy price was paid. With one man already wounded, Leading Aircraftsman Martin Beard, the Section’s Light Machine Gunner, was shot while providing covering fire for his comrades. His Section Commander, Corporal David Hayden, carried him almost 200 metres under fierce enemy fire to medical aid. Tragically, Martin Beard had been fatally wounded. At the same time, Senior Aircraftsman Ben Wharton used his .50 calibre Heavy Machine Gun to great effect in supressing enemy fire, but he himself was hit squarely in the body armour by a high velocity round which flung him from his vehicle. He quickly remounted the vehicle to re-engage the enemy. Subsequently Corporal Hayden was awarded the Military Cross, the first ever awarded to an RAF airman and Senior Aircraftsman Wharton was mentioned in dispatches. The painting by Stuart Brown (the Corps Artist) is available in print through the RAF Regiment shop.

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