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John Scarlett's son's heroics during massacre of three British soldiers as he fought single-handedly to save dying comrades despite his own injuries
- Captain John Scarlett was shot in the thigh in Helmand Province last July by Afghan policeman
- Tried to rescue his comrades but three were killed in the attack
- Captain Scarlett was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry
- John Scarlett Snr was Head of MI6 from 2004 to 2009 and worked on dossier backing the Iraq War
PUBLISHED: 13:59 EST, 12 July 2013 | UPDATED: 05:49 EST, 13 July 2013
Captain John Scarlett (left) and Lance Corporal Stephen Shaw (right) were awarded medals for their brave attempt to save their comrades
The son of former MI6 chief Sir John Scarlett told yesterday how he fought single-handedly to save dying comrades after an ambush by a rogue Afghan policeman.
The man had opened fire with an assault rifle from a checkpoint watchtower as the troops filed through a 3ft by 10ft passage, an inquest heard.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard ‘Pez’ Thomas, 44, and Guardsmen Craig Roderick, 22, and Apete Tuisovurua, 28, were fatally wounded.
Their commander Captain John Scarlett, Sir John’s son, was shot in the thigh as he fought to save his injured Army comrades.
He and combat medic Lance Corporal Stephen Shaw, who pulled him to safety, were both later awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.
Dramatic details of the ‘green-on-blue’ massacre in a violent part of Helmand Province were today described to the hearing at Oxford Coroners’ Court.
The soldiers were on patrol on July 1 last year when they were sent to Checkpoint Kamparack Pul in Nahr-e-Saraj to organise a shura, or meeting, for local police chiefs and civilians.
When the troops arrived at the base it was virtually empty with just one uniformed policeman on duty.
He explained his commander was on his way to the compound but after waiting for nearly 40 minutes the British soldiers decided to leave.
Captain Scarlett, a Coldstream Guard who was part the UK police advisory team, told the inquest: ‘I informed the sentry we couldn’t wait any longer and that we would be in touch.’
He said the policeman came down from the watchtower, known as a sangar, to talk face-to-face, then returned to his post.
Captain Scarlett said: ‘As we departed we lined up in single file. The interpreter and I had left the compound and the other four were inside when we heard gunfire from the sangar.
‘Initially we thought he was firing towards a threat from the outside. The realisation came quite quickly that wasn’t what was happening.
The officer ran back inside the checkpoint to try to rescue his stricken comrades. His rifle jammed but he blazed away with his pistol, firing a total of about 30 rounds at the tower.
Three soldiers died in the attack by a rogue Afghan policeman, who opened fire from a watchtower in Helmand Province last July
He said: ‘I could see the shooter through my sights, shooting in our direction. I was shot in the leg.’
He was pulled to safety by combat medic L/Cpl Shaw, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who had to crawl to avoid the bullets which killed his comrades.
Lance Corporal Shaw dashed outside to tell waiting comrades what was happening.
British Army Mastiff and Husky armoured vehicles rammed the closed main gate and blitzed the watchtower with machinegun fire while retrieving their stricken colleagues.
WO2 Thomas, of Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, from the Royal Corps of Signals, and Gdsm Roderick, from Cardiff, and Gdsm Tuisovurua, from Fiji, both of the 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards, were pronounced dead at Camp Bastion.
Sir John Scarlett was head of MI6 from 2004 to 2009. He worked on the controversial dossier that backed the Iraq war
The killer, named as Ziarahman, who was armed with an AK47 assault rifle, was shot and captured alive.
Capt Scarlett told the inquest that the rogue policeman was not wearing body armour when they arrived at the checkpoint.
But he said: ‘As we left, he was. It triggered something in my mind but not enough. In hindsight he was getting ready to engage us.
‘With hindsight there are all sorts of things that appear to be off but at the time it didn’t seem suspicious.
‘We had spent time with him and not felt threatened. I couldn’t see any way in which we could have prevented what happened.’
Coroner Alison Thompson told the hearing in Oxford: 'These men were shot in a position where they had no ability to retaliate. They believed they were walking out of a situation where there was no risk.
'I’m satisfied from the evidence before me that there is nothing to suggest that the policeman was acting other than on his own.
'It is tempting to think this was part of a much bigger picture but certainly I have got no evidence from which I could properly make a finding that there was anybody else involved.'
She said she could find no meaning to what happened, adding: 'I have heard from the witnesses they had no inkling that anything like this was going to happen.
'There’s no evidence before me there was any particular warning sign.'
She recorded verdicts that each of the soldiers had been unlawfully killed while on active service overseas.
She was making no formal recommendations as she accepted lessons had been learned and new measures taken to reduce the risk of similar incidents occuring again.