British bayonet charge in BASRA

Discussion in 'History' started by HockaLouis, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

    3,617
    0
    0
    British bayonet charge in BASRA
    Prepared by the U.S. Urban Warfare Analysis Center:

    Executive Summary:

    In May 2004, approximately 20 British troops in Basra were ambushed and forced out of their vehicles by about 100 Shiite militia fighters. When ammunition ran low, the British troops fixed bayonets and charged the enemy. About 20 militiamen were killed in the assault without any British deaths.

    The bayonet charge appeared to succeed for three main reasons. First, the attack was the first of its kind in that region and captured the element of surprise. Second, enemy fighters probably believed jihadist propaganda stating that coalition troops were cowards unwilling to fight in close combat, further enhancing the element of surprise. Third, the strict discipline of the British troops overwhelmed the ability of the militia fighters to organize a cohesive counteraction.

    The effects of this tactical action in Basra are not immediately applicable elsewhere, but an important dominant theme emerges regarding the need to avoid predictable patterns of behavior within restrictive rules of engagement. Commanders should keep adversaries off balance with creative feints and occasional shows of force lest they surrender the initiative to the enemy.

    I. Overview of Bayonet Charge
    On 21 May 2004, Mahdi militiamen engaged a convoy consisting of approximately 20 British troops from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 55 miles north of Basra. A squad from the Princess of Wales regiment came to their assistance. What started as an attack on a passing convoy ended with at least 35 militiamen dead and just three British troops wounded. The militiamen engaged a force that had restrictive rules of engagement prior to the incident that prevented them from returning fire. What ensued was an example of irregular warfare by coalition troops that achieved a tactical victory over a numerically superior foe with considerable firepower.

    The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders are an infantry regiment of the British Army with a rich history. It is one of Scotland’s oldest fighting forces. It is best known for forming the legendry “thin red line” at the Battle of Balaklava in the Crimean War against Russia in 1854. It later fought with distinction in World War I and World War II, including intense jungle warfare in Malaya. After Iraq, it served in Afghanistan before returning home in2008.

    Country: United Kingdom
    Branch: Army, 16th Air Assault Brigade
    Type: One of six Scottish line infantry regiments
    Role: Air assault-Light role
    Motto: Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

    No One Assails Me With Impunity

    Atmosphere Preceding the Attack

    After a period of relative calm, attacks escalated after coalition forces attempted to arrest Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. British soldiers in southern Iraq said they were “stunned” by the level of violence near Basra. In particular, Mahdi militiamen conducted regular ambushes on British convoys on the roads between Basra and Baghdad.Frequent, uncoordinated attacks inflicted little damage, although precise data is unavailable in open sources. Since the Scottish and Welsh troops arrived in Basra, Shiite militias averaged about five attacks per day in Basra.

    The Bayonet Charge

    The battle began when over 100 Mahdi army fighters ambushed two unarmored vehicles transporting around 20 Argylls on the isolated Route Six highway near the southern city of Amarah. Ensconced in trenches along the road, the militiamen fired mortars, rocket propelled grenades, and machine gun rounds. The vehicles stopped and British troops returned fire. The Mahdi barrage caused enough damage to force the troops to exit the vehicles.The soldiers quickly established a defensive perimeter and radioed for reinforcements from the main British base at Amarah – Camp Abu Naji. Reinforcements from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment assisted the Argyles in an offensive operation against the Mahdi militiamen. When ammunition ran low among the British troops, the decision was made to fix bayonets for a direct assault.

    The British soldiers charged across 600 feet of open ground toward enemy trenches. They engaged in intense hand-to-hand fighting with the militiamen. Despite being outnumbered and lacking ammunition, the Argylls and Princess of Wales troops routed the enemy. The British troops killed about 20 militiamen in the bayonet charge and between 28 and 35 overall. Only three British soldiers were injured.This incident marked the first time in 22 years that the British Army used bayonets in action. The previous incident occurred during the Falklands War in 1982.

    II. Why the Bayonet Charge Was a Tactical Success

    The bayonet charge by British troops in Basra achieved tactical success primarily because of psychological and cultural factors. It also shows that superior firepower does not guarantee success by either side. In this case, the value of surprise, countering enemy expectations, and strict troop discipline were three deciding characteristics of the bayonet charge.

    Surprise as a Weapon

    The Mahdi fighters likely expected the British convoy to continue past the attack. Previous convoys of British vehicles had driven through ambush fire. British military sources believe the militiamen miscalculated the response of the convoy and expected the Scots to flee.

    • Although the raid is a well-honed tactic practiced by jihadist and Arab irregulars, the surprise raid has been an effective tool against Arab armies, both regular and irregular.

    Irregular fighters usually are not trained in the rigid discipline that professional counterparts possess, and the surprise attack exploits this weakness.

    Enemy Expectation that Coalition Troops Would Avoid Combat

    Propaganda by Sunni and Shiite jihadists regularly advertised the perception that American and British soldiers were cowards. Similar rhetoric increased after the battles of Fallujah in April2004, perhaps to steady the resolve of militia fighters in the face of aggressive coalition attacks.

    In addition, British convoys did not engage significantly during previous ambushes, which probably validated the narrative for many Mahdi militiamen. Because many of the Mahdi fighters were teenagers, it is also likely that the Mahdi army used these ambushes for training and recruiting. The attacks were an opportunity for young fighters to use weapons in combat with little risk of serious reprisal.

    • In short, the bayonet charge not only surprised the Mahdi militiamen, it also debunked the perception that coalition troops were reluctant fighters seeking to avoid conflict.

    "I wanted to put the fear of God into the enemy. I could see some dead bodies and eight blokes, some scrambling for their weapons. I’ve never seen such a look of fear in anyone’s eyes before. I’m over six feet; I was covered in sweat, angry, red in the face, charging in with a bayonet and screaming my head off. You would be scared, too."

    Corporal Brian Wood
    Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

    "There was a lot of aggression and a lot of hand-to-hand fighting. It wasn’t a pleasant scene. Some did get cut with the blades of the bayonet as we tumbled around, but in the end, they surrendered and were controlled. I do wonder how they regard life so cheaply. Some of these Iraqis in those trenches were 15 years old – against trained soldiers."

    Colonel Mark Byers
    Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

    Strict Discipline

    A crucial distinction during the bayonet charge was the professional discipline of the British troops in contrast to the disunity and confusion of the militia fighters. Irregular militia often fight with passion and benefit from knowledge of the local terrain. Professional soldiers, however, formally trained in tactics and squad unity can often overcome these and other obstacles. During the bayonet charge, the soldiers rarely lost their nerve and not a single soldier lost his life.

    Many of the militiamen fled.


    Courtesy LiveLeak.com


    I took this of the original at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland...
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012
  2. dog2000tj

    dog2000tj New Member

    8,176
    2
    0
    That is awesome, my hats off to those brave soldiers :)
     

  3. JonM

    JonM Moderator

    20,110
    15
    38
    bayonets are a timeless tool to be kept at the ready.
     
  4. dog2000tj

    dog2000tj New Member

    8,176
    2
    0
    Exactly! I found it odd some of the responses in the other thread against having a bayonet on shotgun. :eek: I mean, why would you not want a bayonet? :confused:

    It's not like ones ammo supply is infinite, at some point in time during a firefight one may run out of ammo ... then what? Me, I'd go for the bayonet first before I go for the canteen bludgeoning implement :D
     
  5. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

    3,617
    0
    0
    If I may throw in my 3 sense...

    Ontario Knife Co. Bayonets.

    I like the Marine's OKC 3S. The Army's Special Tanto is excellent too (there's a new Model 10 Army Tanto with wire-cutter cutout). Both are basic knife steels capable of actually cutting and are designed as fighting knives as much as bayonets. Jar Heads, I mean Leather Necks, will recognize the Corp's 3S as a Ka-Bar bayonet.

    Neither fits the Mossberg's well -- the handle is about 1/16" longer than the M-7 or M-9 which fit shotguns perfectly -- but they all fit the AR's most excellently. The M-7 is a better knife steel and are cheap and plentiful. The M-9 is a piece o'junk stainless prybar, to a point, before the handle pops out and it will NOT take an edge. The M-10 is a knife steel version of the M-9 at least and a little longer bowie than the M-7 pig sticker...
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  6. UKShootist

    UKShootist New Member

    20
    0
    0
    There is very little in this world that is as alarming as being advanced upon by a hacked off Jock behind a bayonet. Most of the Scottish regiments have a history of violence to one and all (including each other)that is rarely equalled in this world. But then they hail either from hard as nails hill farms or maniacal city slums where violence was a way of life. I worked with one crazy Jock corporal in the RAF. A Glaswegian, he had more razor scars on his face than you'd find on a drunken barber's customers. He did a bunk and joined the RAF after he broke into a quarry, stole some dynamite and used it to to blow the front door off the house of a neighbour who had annoyed him.
     
  7. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

    3,617
    0
    0
    Great stories to share with our cousins.

    Note Scotland has the highet level of violent crime in the world today -- not murders, but other attacks and rapes are towards the top and so common most don't even go reported.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  8. alsaqr

    alsaqr Well-Known Member Supporter

    6,130
    119
    63
    i'll bet that was a sight for sore eyes: A bayonet on the dinky bullpup gun. :D
     
  9. rocshaman

    rocshaman New Member

    3,250
    0
    0
    Must of looked something like this:

    British Bayonet Charge.jpg
     
  10. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

    3,617
    0
    0
    Nah, the fellas in the story woulda had kilts.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. superc

    superc Member

    782
    7
    18
    For what it is worth, my understanding is some of the US Armed Forces have dropped bayonet training from Basic Training. Sad.
     
  12. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

    3,617
    0
    0
    Someonehere'll confirm that. I heard the same and was dismayed as it was used as much to teach contact, aggression, as anything else. Lotta soft people in the US.

    Dad volunteered and lied about his age. Soon he got caught and they had him enlist in the National Guard until he was legally old enough for, and upon reaching 18 he'd be transferred into, the US Army infantry. He was selected and beat-up his Drill Sargeant at bayonet instruction who asked him if he learned those outdated moves in the Guard, then ordered him never to use them again as they were obsolete. LOL
     
  13. rocshaman

    rocshaman New Member

    3,250
    0
    0
    It's obvious your Dad knew more than the sergeant did...
     
  14. superc

    superc Member

    782
    7
    18
    There is a problem with deliviring a butt stroke upwards with today's M-4. It really is no match for a 1917 Enfield, or even an M-14 if we are talking bayonet drill.
     
  15. pfev1980

    pfev1980 New Member

    223
    1
    0
    Marines still do bayonet training and just recently (maybe 5 years ago) got new bayonets. Your average Marine has an M16A4 which is actually heavier than the previously issued M16A2. Speaking of buttstrokes there was a story of a Marine killing an insurgent in Iraq with a buttstroke from his SAW. I'll try to find it. Was a good story.
     
  16. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

    3,617
    0
    0
    Really now.
     
  17. totallyfrozen

    totallyfrozen New Member

    33
    0
    0
    I went through US Army Basic in 2003. At that time, we were taught bayonet fighting. Out of one side of their mouths, the drill sergeants would tell us that bayonet charges are a thing of the past and we shouldn't expect to use these skills in combat while out the other side of their mouths, they taught us how to fight with bayonets fixed and as handheld knives. It was the full course; not some 1/2 @$$ watered down class. Spent nearly the entire week on it. They taught all the nasty killing business of it such has knocking out an enemy with a rear-naked-choke then stabbing your baoynet in his heart...etc.

    One year later, the Brits used a bayonet charge in combat.

    I can't speak for the US Marines and I don't know if the Army is doing it in their current Basic training cycles (but I assume so), but the Army was teaching bayonet tactics as recently as 2003. I don't know about the modern Navy and the Air Force.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
  18. alsaqr

    alsaqr Well-Known Member Supporter

    6,130
    119
    63
    The last US Army company sized bayonet charge was lead by Captain Lewis Millett in Korea. i have hiked on that hill and have empty cartridge cases and a cigarette lighter found there. Millett was awarded a MOH for his actions.

    Colonel Millett has an interesting military history.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/19/us/19millett.html?ref=obituaries&_moc.semityn.www