Parachute Regiment- OPERATIONAL HISTORY - Sierra Leone 2000
1 PARA Battle Group (BG), (1 PARA minus A company with elements of 2 PARA making up the numbers along with the Pathfinder Platoon) deployed to war-torn Sierra Leone via a forward operating base (FOB) in Senegal on the 7th of May, 2000. Their planned role was to facilitate a Non Combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO).in support of the UNAMSIL (United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone) mission to protect civilians caught up in the country's civil war.
The Battle Group secured Lungi Airport, close to the capital, Freetown, for use as a FOB and potential evacuation assembly area. C Coy touched down at the airport in a RAF C130, to be reinforced the next day by D Coy who arrived in 2 RAF Chinooks (7 Sqn SF flight), who then moved to secure the surrounding Aberdeen Peninsula, incluidng the main road linking the airport to Freetown and the UN command post in a Freetown hotel.
Battle Of Lungi Loi
Whilst the 1 PARA BG stationed in the vicinity of the airport had a mostly peaceful deployment, the Pathfinder Platoon did engage in a heavy nighttime contact at the village of Lungi Loi, situated some 14 miles away. On the night of May 17th, the Pathfinder patrol came into contact with a force of around 40 Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels and a fierce firefight ensued. Back at the airport, elements of C Coy were loaded onto the 2 SF Chinooks and flown into Lungi Loi as reinforcements for the PF Platoon. The Chinooks strafed the jungle with fire from 7.62mm miniguns and inserted C Coy troops, including a mortar team, into Lungh Loi. C Coy linked up with the Pathfinders as an Army Gazelle flew overhead, spotting for the mortar team who pounded the RUF with HE rounds. The Paras were also assisted by Nigerian troops under the U.N., who protected the village's rear approaches. The RUF withdrew from the contact, leaving 4 dead. There were no British casualties.
1 PARA Battle Group eventually returned to the UK on May 25th after being relieved by 42 Commando, Royal Marines who had arrived on HMS Ocean, part of the Amphibious Ready Group that had deployed off the Sierra Leone coast.
When 11 Royal Irish Rangers were captured by RUF forces in late August, 2000, a rescue mission was eventually mounted. A Coy, 1 PARA, having missed out on Op Palliser due to training commitments in Jamaica, were assigned to assist the SAS and SBS operation to free the British soldiers. A Coy were supported by elements from Support Coy (mortars) and HQ Coy.
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