Friday 13 April 2012

UK Soldiers Fought In Vietnam

There is an interesting story this old hero should tell us.

A war hero who underwent surgery for a routine groin operation was stunned when doctors retrieved a bullet that had been lodged in his leg for 40 years.

Former Royal Navy Commando Robert Mitchell, 63, was injured in two separate battles in the Far East during the 1970s.

He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for bravery but continued to feel pain in his groin.
Medal of honour: Mitchell with the inch-long silver bullet out of his leg

Medal of honour: Mr Mitchell with the inch-long bullet out of his leg

Surgeons at Torbay Hospital in Devon pulled the the inch-long bullet out of Mitchell's leg during the procedure.

The grandfather-of-four, who now wears the lucky steel cartridge around his neck, said: 'I could not believe it - it never occurred to me that I could have a bullet still inside my leg.


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'I had no idea that it was there and I was very surprised. The surgeon told me I had a lot to answer for because I had ruined one of his scalpels.

'I now wear it around my neck - which is better than where it was. I decided to put it on a chain because it has already been with me for all these years.'
Mitchell now wears the bullet on a chain around his neck which has been lodged inside his leg more than 40 years

Memory: Mr Mitchell now wears the bullet on a chain around his neck which has been lodged inside his leg more than 40 years

Mr Mitchell, from Dartmouth, Devon, joined the Royal Navy in 1967 when he was just a teenager before signing up with the Royal Navy Commandos in 1969.

In 1970 he was serving on HMS Fife when he did a diving course - but burst his eardrum and ended up stranded in hospital in Singapore after his ship sailed without him.

He ended up being sent to the Thailand / Malaya border with British Army and RAF Regiment forces - tackling drug runners and terrorist insurgents for five months.

But the brave soldier was involved in a fire-fight and hit in both legs.
The two bullets went straight through him, but he said there was always the chance that a third round had struck without him realising.

However, Robert reckons the rogue bullet may have been fired into his groin during a top-secret raid into Vietnam in 1971, when he was just 22.

After recovering from the bullet wounds in hospital in Singapore he found himself aboard Australian and New Zealand gunboats.
Surprised: Surgeons at Torbay Hospital was shocked when they retrieved the bullet from Mitchell's leg

Surprised: Surgeons at Torbay Hospital was shocked when they retrieved the bullet from Mr Mitchell's leg

He was then ordered upriver into Cambodia and Vietnam, where he ended up serving with US forces on the Vietnamese border.

Mr Mitchell claims he was one of 35 British Commandos taking part in covert operations in south Vietnam for six months.

The Government has never officially acknowledged the presence of British troops in the war, but it is believed there were elite soldiers tagged to US and Australian battalions.

In Vietnam he made hit-and-run raids across the border with US troops to attack supply lines, ammunition dumps and bridges.

It was during one of these raids that he was blown up - after a US forces mortar team dropped rounds among their own troops as an attack commenced.

He said: 'We were storming a Viet Cong village which we also believed had a big ammunition dump.

'I got hit by a mortar and was blown up. I had shrapnel in my face and shoulder - I knew I was hit but I didn’t think it was bad.

'I was carrying bodies back to the helicopters when one of my own guys stabbed me with morphine and threw me into the back of the helicopter.

'I think I could have been shot in the groin then but just not realised. I was running on adrenaline then I was completely out of it for a number of days afterwards.'

Mr Mitchell ended up back in hospital in Dartmouth, Devon, and was eventually invalided out of the navy because of his injuries - but no-one picked up his stray bullet wound.

He settled in the town, marrying wife Mavis, now 66, and going on to have two children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The serviceman, who went on to work at Dartmouth College, always suffered from pain in his groin and eventually was booked in for an operation just before Christmas last year.

He said: 'When I came around after the operation the surgeon was there and he told me and I was shocked.

'Then he showed me the bullet, said they had taken it out of me and that’s my problem.

'He said they would clean it up for me and send it to me - which they did.'

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you knew ANYTHING about military service, you would have realised straight away that this guy is a "walt" (for the uninformed that's an abbreviation of Walter Mitty).
None of his story has a ring of truth, and there is no Robert Mitchell listed in the London Gazette as having been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Various military forums are on to this "story" and the man will soon be outed.
He will be the laughing stock of Dartmouth.