Author(s): Mike Coburn
The SAS book the British Government tried to ban
Soldier Five is the memoir of an elite New Zealand soldier's service within the Special Air Service and in particular, his service during the Gulf War. As a member of a Special Forces patrol, now famously known by its call sign Bravo Two Zero, he and seven others were inserted hundreds of kilometres behind enemy lines to reconnoitre targets, undertake suveillance of Scud missile sites and to sabotage Iraqi communication lines.
From the outset the patrol was dogged by problems that conrtributed both directly and indirectly to the demise of the mission. The patrol's compromise, and subsequent attempts to evade Iraqi troops, resulted in four of Bravo Two Zero's members being captured and three other patrol members perished. One escaped to Syria. Beaten horrifically and repeatedly, the four prisoners of war were held in hideous conditions until their repatriation at the end of the hostilities.
But the story goes further than the Gulf War itself. Despite numerous books, films, and articles on the same subject, the British Government has done its utmost to thwart the release of Soldier Five, at one stage claiming the book in its entirety was confidential. A campaign of harrasment that took some four and a half years of litigation to resolve, has now resulted in the freedom to publish the real story of the Bravo Two Zero mission.
Soldier Five is a gripping and suspenseful account of one man's experiences as a Special Forces soldier, of his ambitions, his loyalties, his relationships and his fight to see his story told. Twelve years post the first Iraqi Gulf War and in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraqi conflict, the story is as relevant as it ever was, providing the reader a stark insight into the realities of war.