Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees
The lives of paratroopers were put in danger after the Ministry of Defence sent defective ammunition to Afghanistan, it can be revealed.
The situation became so serious that a platoon from the 3Bn The Parachute Regiment refused to go out on patrol until the problem was resolved. The troops had to borrow ammunition off Canadian and American special forces as they battled to fight off Taliban attacks.
The MoD, which yesterday unveiled plans for British troops to make a quicker-than-expected withdrawal from the front line in Iraq, has been unable to explain why defective ammunition for the .50 calibre Browning heavy machinegun was sent to Afghanistan.
It is thought that the batch was from either Pakistan or the Czech Republic, where a round costs 60 US cents. The price for British, Canadian or American ammunition is $1.50. With many thousands of rounds fired, using cheaper ammunition would have saved thousands of pounds.
A shocking demonstration of the poor quality rounds is shown on a video posted by a paratrooper on the YouTube website. It shows two soldiers in a sandbagged position struggling to operate the machinegun, which can also be mounted on Land Rovers.
One is shown constantly re-cocking the weapon as his colleague seeks to feed through the ammunition belt. At one point, the Para, who becomes exhausted with the strain of constantly pulling the cocking handle, drops the gun and swears in frustration. All the time incoming enemy fire can be heard.
I think I will discuss this story with Kim du Toit later today over a few beers - after I have removed all the valuable crockery! Come the glorious day someone should pay for this.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.