Marine's mine horror

A ROYAL Marine from Suffolk has spoken for the first time of the moment he survived an horrific explosion which killed a close friend and injured another while on patrol in Afghanistan.

A ROYAL Marine from Suffolk has spoken for the first time of the moment he survived an horrific explosion which killed a close friend and injured another while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Martyn Williams, 19, from Nacton, near Ipswich, said he still felt dazed by the tragic events of Friday December 12 - one of the darkest days in the recent history of the Royal Marines.

He suffered a broken foot in the blast which tore through the Jackal armoured vehicle he was driving. It claimed the life of Lance Corporal Steven “Jamie” Fellows, 26, and seriously injured his colleague, Marine Alex “Lenny” Lenaghan.

Later in the day three other Royal Marines were killed by a 13-year-old suicide bomber, two of which Mne Williams also knew.

He said: “I am still dazed about being home and everything feels weird. Jamie's death was hard to deal with and it still really upsets me. I do not think of him as being dead. It will be when I get back to work and with all the lads and he is not there that it will hit me.”

It was a clear sunny day when Mne Williams left his base at 8am in the Sangin area of Helmand province in Afghanistan.

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A member of 45 Commando, he had been driving a Jackal armoured vehicle with his close friend and room-mate L-Cpl Fellows at his side, and Mne Lenaghan in the back manning the gun, when disaster struck.

The Jackal they were following had activated an improvised 35lb explosive device laid by the Taleban which threw all three clear of the vehicle.

Mne Williams was left unconscious. He was taken back to the base in Sangin before he was flown by helicopter to the main British base at Camp Bastian.

Last Thursday he was flown back from Afghanistan to Selly Oak Hospital near Birmingham, which treats injured personnel and by Saturday night he was back at his parents' home in Nacton. It will be a year before he is fully fit again.

A former pupil of Nacton Primary School and Kesgrave High School he joined the Royal Marines two years ago. After being based at the 45 Commando base in Arbroath in Scotland, he was sent to Afghanistan in September for a six month deployment - his first posting abroad.

He said: “It is an absolute hell-hole. But if you give me the choice of having this injury or being back there with the lads I would choose to be there so it can't be that bad.

“Somebody said to me that I picked a good time to be blown up and that is true because I am home over Christmas, which I would have otherwise missed. But despite what has happened I would still be far happier there.

“I know three of the four killed that day and Jamie was one of them. I only knew about it when I saw on the news afterwards but the other three dying on the same day, that really did hurt.”

The three other Royal Marines killed on December 12 were Sergeant John Manuel, Corporal Marc Birch and Marine Damian Davies.

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IT was the call that all parents of servicemen and women dread.

Jayne Williams, 44, was thinking of her 19-year-old son as she baked his favourite cake, surrounded by other family members at their Nacton home. But at 7.30pm the phone went. It was Martyn.

She said: “He was very quiet and had a really weak voice. He said 'Hi Mum, I am in hospital'. He started to talk but it all went static and all I kept hearing was 'hospital' 'foot' and 'mine'.

“The doctor then came on the line and I asked him to tell me what had happened and he said Martyn had broken his foot but had not lost it. It was quite a short phone call because the line was so awful.”

Mrs Williams then had to tell husband Andrew, 45, and children Matt, 12, and Helen, 21, what had happened.

But the horror of the situation only dawned on the family when they saw the evening news and saw that four Royal Marines had been killed.

Mrs Williams said: “Our thoughts were that our son was alive but unfortunately four others were dead. It was really hard to take. There was part of us singing and dancing inside and the other half just crying for the other families. We are distraught for them.”

After their son was transferred last Thursday to Selly Oak Hospital, near Birmingham, they finally got to see him. And it made them realise how lucky they had been.

“We walked into the hospital and there were people with lost limbs and there is our son with four broken bones. We saw how incredibly lucky we were, but it is said with a heavy heart because it could have been so different.”

With Martyn now home, the family is looking forward to spending Christmas together, knowing that it could easily have been very different.

Mrs Williams added: “We feel incredibly lucky, somebody was with him that day.”