Brian Wood was just a young lance corporal at the time when he dismounted his thin-skinned vehicle amid withering enemy fire, and followed his commander’s order to fix bayonets.
The date was May 14, 2004, and Falconer, along with Wood, Private Anthony Rushforth, Sgt Chris Broome, and privates John-Claude Fowler and Matthew Tatawaqa, were speeding down a roadway 150 miles south of Basra in Southern Iraq. They were on their way to relieve fellow comrades caught in an ambush when they were caught in one of their own.
The fire was so close and at such an angle (a close quartered, L-shaped ambush) that the only way to defeat it “was to put boots on the ground,” said Falconer.
So he immediately ordered his men to dismount and fix bayonets.
“When the order came to dismount and attack, it was just like what we?’ve done dozens of times in training,” said Rushforth to the Sun. “We were pumped up on adrenaline — proper angry. It’?s only afterwards you think, ‘Jesus, I actually did that?.’?”
The six soldiers charged across open ground, pausing only to throw themselves to the ground to avoid enemy fire, and return a bit of their own. In a few small sprints, they had traversed to the first trench, into which they immediately leapt, coming face to face with the enemy.
The fighting was close quarters and intense.
“Basically, it was short, sharp and furious,” said Wood, who was later awarded the Military Cross for actions that day.
Cleared, they headed to the next, and the next, fighting, which took almost two hours, and the lives of approximately 30 Mahdi army soldiers of Muqtada Al-Sadr.
A few continued to hold out, holed up in a bunker, until a British tank arrived to level it.
The last time the Army used bayonets in action, was when Scots Guards assaulted Argentinian positions in 1982.