Moment Sussex soldier shot relived at inquest

Soldiers serving alongside Lance Corporal James Brynin have described how they helped their fallen comrade in the face of enemy fire.

Lance Corporal James Brynin of the Intelligence Corps was killed in action in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Tuesday ENGSUS00320131017090808
Lance Corporal James Brynin of the Intelligence Corps was killed in action in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Tuesday ENGSUS00320131017090808

Lance Corporal James Brynin, 22, of Spiro Close, Pulborough, an Intelligence Corps soldier attached to 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare), was deployed to Helmand in August 2013.

The 22-year-old soldier was killed by friendly fire during an operation on October 15, 2013, in the area of Kakaran, north east of Lashkar Gah.

William Hall, a former Captain in the 16th Royal Regiment of Artillery, was on his second mission with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), when the section – including L/Cpl Brynin – came under fire from Taliban insurgents.

Mr Hall, who has now left the army, spoke at an inquest into L/Cpl Brynin’s death, at Edes House in Chichester today (March 11).

He told the inquest the group had worked together in the face of sustained and intense fire from insurgents.

“I could see James moving to the right hand side up the ditch line,” he said.

“From my memory, I could see him take a step out of the ditch line in a very similar place that I had done.

“He then fell. As I was getting closer to him I was shouting out to him trying to get him to speak.

“When I got to him and half turned him he was completely unresponsive to my voice.”

The inquest heard medics reached L/Cpl Brynin within minutes and the section left the area in military vehicles called Warthogs.

Mr Hall, who was awarded the Military Cross for exemplary gallantry for his actions in the operation – said he had not been faced with a casualty during an operation, or faced enemy gunfire before the operation on October 15.

He said nothing else could have been done in the situation, saying his colleagues stayed with L/Cpl Brynin, attempting to help in any way they could.

“You don’t just give up,” he said. “It was the first time I had ever had anything like this happen and it was someone that I knew.

“You just keep going and you crack on. In my mind, everything that James did and the way he handled himself was right that day. He just got on with it.”

The inquest heard Mr Hall did not know who fired the fatal shot, or which direction the bullet came from, until today (March 11).

He said was aware of the circumstances of L/Cpl Brynin’s death but not of the detail.

L/Cpl Brynin was killed by friendly fire from a compound - known to the operation as 79a - located to due west of the site of the incident.

However Mr Hall said at the time he was not aware of shots coming from the west of their location.

Yesterday (March 10) the inquest heard the fatal shot came from Lance Corporal of Horse (LCoH) Kelly, who is set to give evidence to the inquest next week.

Mr Hall described the circumstances surrounding his colleagues death as ‘horrendous’.

He told the inquest he believed the section was trying to give the ‘best situational awareness’ of their location in the field.

L/Cpl Maloney, section commander, described how the section left a compound – known to the operation as 80 – after a grenade attack and enemy fire.

“The urgency was there. We needed to get out of the compound,” he said.

He described the Taliban attack as the ‘most accurate’ fire he had come under and explained he knew enemy fire was coming from the south east because of the direction the branches in the trees were ‘snapping’.

“I think we maybe could have left compound 80 sooner. Looking back we probably shouldn’t have been that close to an engagement,” he said.

But he added: “Everyone did brilliantly. Everyone did very well, they were brave to the end.”

The hearing into the death of L/Cpl Brynin continues.

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