In just 40 days a pair of snipers racked up a mind-boggling 75 confirmed kills, marking them as stick figures on a wood beam using chalk – figures without heads indicated terrorists killed with head shots. At one point, the pair killed eight Taliban in two hours.
Assigned to 4 Rifles of the Welsh Guards Battle Group, Sergeant Tom Potter is credited with 31 confirmed kills while 44 Taliban kills are attributed to Rifleman Mark Osmond.
“I wasn’t comfortable with it at first,” said Osmond, “you start wondering is it really necessary?” The response from locals quickly changed his mind. “We had people coming up to us afterwards, not scared to talk to us. They felt they were being protected”.
“Everybody you hit they drop in a different way,’ says Potter. ‘We did a co-ord shoot on to the one bloke and he just looked like he just fell through a trap door. So we called him Trapdoor Man.”
According to The Telegraph,
The longest-range shot taken was when Potter killed an insurgent at 1,430 metres away. But the most celebrated shot of their tour was by Osmond at a range of just 196 metres.
On September 12th, a known Taliban commander appeared on the back of a motorcycle with a passenger riding pillion. There was a British patrol in the village of Gorup-e Shesh Kalay and under the rules of engagement, the walkie-talkie the Taliban pair were carrying was designated a hostile act. As they drove off, Osmond fired warning shots with his pistol and then picked up his L96, the same weapon – serial number 0166 – he had used in Iraq and on the butt of which he had written, ‘I love u 0166’.
Taking deliberate aim, he fired a single shot. The bike tumbled and both men fell onto the road and lay there motionless. When the British patrol returned, they checked the men and confirmed they were both dead, with large holes through their heads.
The 7.62 mm bullet Osmond had fired had passed through the heads of both men. He had achieved the rare feat of ‘one shot, two kills’ known in the sniping business as ‘a Quigley’. The term comes from the 1990 film Quigley Down Under in which the hero, played by Tom Selleck, uses an old Sharps rifle to devastating effect.
Company commander Major Mark Gidlow-Jackson calls the pair the “epitome of the thinking riflemen”.
“They know the consequences of what they’re doing and they are very measured men. They are both highly dedicated to the art of sniping. They’re both quiet, softly spoken, utterly charming, two of the nicest men in the company, if the most dangerous.”