The Sunday Mirror has a controversial interview with a serving warrant officer who received devastating injuries on IED disposal duty in Afghanistan:
It’s not with bitterness that Ken Bellringer speaks out today about his experiences with a bomb disposal team in Afghanistan.
It’s just that he’s the only one of his band of brothers left alive to do so.
Warrant Officer Bellringer was one of six elite bomb-disposal men who forged a close friendship as they met on missions around the world.
One after another the men, trained for war’s most dangerous work, were posted to Afghanistan. Only Ken came back – although with such horrific injuries he has been described as the most wounded survivor of the war.
But there’s a lingering emotional pain too… his belief that his five comrades would still be alive today if they had been better equipped.
“There’s no question, men have been killed and injured out there because they were faced with a high level of risk that could have been reduced,” he says.
“We were working with inferior kit. Bomb disposal is a dangerous job. But it was made more dangerous because we weren’t supplied with the best equipment.”
Instead of using sophisticated remote-controlled robots to dismantle deadly devices, the bomb disposal man’s critical tool was a £1 piece of string, Ken says.
He was injured in a freak accident as he went to help a colleague. He lost both his legs, his hands were shredded and his pelvis shattered.
Surgeons who began the repair work reckoned he had at best a 10 per cent chance of clinging on to life.
Sixteen gruelling months later and Warrant Officer Bellringer, 38, is still fighting to rebuild something like a normal family life with wife Chris, 40, and their children Neeve, 12, and eight-year-old Harry, at their specially-adapted quarters in an Oxfordshire barracks.
He’s still a serving soldier… and, as such, it is extraordinary for him to criticise the military in public. “I guess I’m going to be in big trouble,” he says...
- Full story by Sarah Arnold, Sunday Mirror: Bomb disposal hero Ken Bellringer reveals he is the only one of six comrades to return from Afghanistan