Diaries of Front-Line Soldiers
This book is a compilation of diaries from the Royal Marine Commandos stationed in Afghanistan. The primary diary is from Lt. John Thornton, who was killed in action some two weeks before he was to return to England in 2007 during the Herricks series of deployments. He tells of the admin functions he preformed during his tour as well as the patrols, British only and along with the Afghan Army and Police forces, he was part of.
Being in a particularly active area, many of the patrols ended with engagements with the Taliban insurgents.
The primary concerns of the Marines was the proliferation of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices). Thornton was commander of the Fire Support Group. As such, he was usually mounted in a Modified Range Rover vehicle providing heavy machine gun support for the “grunts” on the ground.
As part of his diary he mentioned the fact that his younger brother Ian was currently in training as a troop command officer in the Royal Marines. John Thornton, known as JT, was killed when an IED exploded under his vehicle some two weeks before he was to ship out home.
Two other diaries were included with reminiscences from other officers who were deployed with Thornton. This included the company Chaplin who gave him the last rites of the Anglican Church. All he came in contact with liked Thornton. His commanding officer, as well as fellow officers praised him. His passing was a great loss to his unit, as well as his parents.
The continuation of the book is the diary of his brother Ian, deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 during Herricks 17. Although in much the same area as his brother was killed, his primary concern was for the members of his troop. He describes the limited patrols which he participated in, but the majority of his time was taken up with administrative duties, which depressed him.
As he completed his six-month tour, his thoughts drifted more to his brother’s death and how his anxiety increased when his troop moved into a more active area of operations. He did survive his tour and returned home.
There is an extensive Glossary in the back of the book, to which you will refer often while reading this absorbing book. The language in the book reflects the fact that this is the immediate writings of a combat soldier and is occasionally a bit “rough”. I can recommend this book to anyone who really wants to know what it’s like to be in an active combat zone during the War on Terror. Royalties from this book and being split between the John Thornton Young Achievers Fund and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.