Craig Robertson

The Pathfinders: Jungle Battle in Sierra Leone | TEA & MEDALS

In 2000, during the British Intervention in the Sierra Leone Civil War, Steve Heaney was the Pathfinder Platoon Sergeant part of the Airbourne Task Force sent to evacuate entitled personnel from the war torn country and Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a murderous rebel organisation famed for their brutality and signature atrocity of amputating the limbs of men, women and children.

During this deployment the Pathfinders where tasked to stop the RUF advance towards the country’s airport and then to its capital Freetown. The Pathfinders positioned in the village of Lungi Lol were deliberately exposed by their commanders with the aim of enticing the RUF, believed to number 2000 fighters to attack their position. The aim being to inflict such a blow that they would think twice about continuing their assault on to the capital. Originally planned to last just 48 hours the mission turned into a 16 day siege.

In the early hours of 17 May 2000 the village was attacked by a significant rebel force, the Pathfinders engaged the rebels during a vicious close quarter battle; the first jungle fighting the British Army had conducted for over 40 years. With no reinforcements available to support them, the Pathfinders were forced to fight on alone.

Steve Heaney, former member of the 3rd Parachute Battalion before joining the famous X Platoon, was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for his courage and leadership under fire, becoming the first Non-Commissioned Officer since the units formation during WW2 to receive this decoration.
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