“Sniper One: The Blistering True Story of a British Battle Group Under Siege” by Dan Mills

Sniper One: The Blistering True Story of a British Battle Group Under SiegeSniper One: The Blistering True Story of a British Battle Group Under Siege by Dan Mills
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book when I was going through a period of reading lots of the genre. Sniper One has to be one of the most honest stories I’ve ever read. Sergeant Dan Mills doesn’t hide anything.

The first thing that the reader has to accept is that snipers are a breed apart. They are specialists and they take great pride in their skill. To them, the more lethally effective they are, the better the chances of their comrades (and themselves) going home alive. If you deplore war, then don’t read the book! Dan Mills doesn’t pretend to be anything but a very effective specialist who enjoys being successful – bringing maximum harm to the enemy.  There’s one point in the story when the sniper squad are immensely excited to have access to the superior weaponry and ammunition of an American special forces member, which reveals just how these men think of their job.

The story involves the deployment of Dan Mills’ platoon of snipers, part of an infantry battalion, to southern Iraq. The battalion’s mission: win the hearts and minds of the local people. It was supposed to be no more than that. Unfortunately, events elsewhere had led to an explosion of violence in many areas, and the battalion walked right into a hornet’s nest that somebody else had just kicked! What followed was nothing less than a small contingent of soldiers trying to operate to mission intentions while virtually under siege from heavily armed militia. They were, effectively, engaged in the longest, most dangerous firefight any British troops had experienced in over half a century.

Mortars pounding the compound the soldiers operated from, militia attacking at every opportunity, these soldiers were isolated, fighting virtually alone. The snipers came into their own. They inflicted heavy damage on the enemy ruthlessly. But they were, after all, only a small platoon. Casualties mounted slowly, but they couldn’t afford any losses. And then the enemy came in waves that threatened to overrun the British position.

A tale of courage, brutal combat, and a soldier’s celebration of his comrades’ outstanding performance under impossible conditions, Sniper One is reminiscent of the famous Battle of Rorke’s Drift during the 19th Century Zulu War (filmed in Hollywood style as Zulu).

It’s not the only tale of British forces facing such a position. Many of those who have served in Afghanistan can tell similar tales of facing impossible odds under siege conditions. What’s remarkable here is the honest pleasure in the execution of combat skills expressed by Dan Mills. It’s also one of very few books concerning the war in Iraq.

I don’t hesitate in giving this book 5 stars, but I repeat my warning: if you are sensitive, don’t read it. And do remember that, while I believe many young people would learn valuable lessons from these books about real warfare, this is very definitely a book for adults!

View all my reviews on Goodreads

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

18 thoughts on ““Sniper One: The Blistering True Story of a British Battle Group Under Siege” by Dan Mills

  1. My son will be 18 in a couple months and wants to go into the Marines, although he still has another year of high school. He only reads these types of books so maybe I’ll read it first and then let him read it. Thanks for the honest review.

    • Thanks for reaching out! I have every respect for those who serve in the Forces, when so few of us could even imagine putting ourselves in harm’s way, and subjecting ourselves to the iron discipline. Certainly, I would advise any young person who intends to enlist to read these honest memoirs of being in combat situations. If they are dissuaded, then that’s undoubtedly for the best – if not, then it is obviously meant to be. Give your son my respects, Even contemplating enlisting is a huge thing for a young person in a free society!

      You are very welcome. It’s always my intention to be as honest as I possibly can be in any review.

  2. Going on the List!!! I just finished reading Black Hawk Down and started Terror at Beslan. Watch for my review of both! Thanks for bringing this to my attention!!! And thanks for being pro soldier! It’s refreshing.

    • Thanks 🙂 It’s always good to know when a review helps bring a new reader to a good book. I haven’t read Terror at Beslan – nor have I seen it around, so I’ll definitely look out for your review!

      Whatever our views about the politics of a war, those who serve always deserve our support. They’re the ones who risk all – and believe in the causes of peace and freedom, for everybody.

      • Agreed. I got Terror at Beslan from my little brother who is really into this type of thing. He gave it to me along with Grossman’s books on Combat. You can find it on Grossman’s website http://www.killology.com. It’s not an easy read in that the subject matter is very intense, but it is one of those things we tend to quickly forget about, but never should. I’ll admit it gave me some troubled dreams. I consider that an easy price to pay to hold onto and remember what happened to those people. Check it out when you can!

      • Thanks for the link! I’ll go take a look.

        I’m fortunate in that these books don’t impact on my dreams – but that may be something to do with insomnia and having too little sleep 😉

      • I guess mine just get lost in the chaos that’s my alleged brain LOL! Seriously though, I’ll never forget the night’s my sleep was disturbed by the sound of my Dad’s shouts in his sleep – usually on full moon nights – as he relived his service during WWII in his sleep. That’s a burden I am so grateful that I don’t have to bear.

      • Wow….that’s heavy. I have woken up once screaming….I had a nightmare about a serial killer in the house that was so vivid I thought it was real. Keeping my Glock close and handy!

      • Fortunately, I’ve never had a nightmare bad enough to do that to me. (And I’d soon get arrested if I had a Glock to hand, here in the UK 😀 )

      • We have a long history of only allowing shotguns for ‘shoots’ or clay pigeon shooting, though a few have gun collections, but ALL guns here have to be stored in secure, locked facilities.

        No, I’ve missed “Killer Elite” – but then I’ve got an ever increasing stack of books and ebooks to work through 😉 I’m in danger of getting so many ‘to read’ books, I’ll run out of Life before I get through them! LOL

      • Boy do I know that feeling. My list of books grows longer and longer. Killer Elite is pretty good. Not as good as BHD but still interesting. 🙂
        So….get through some of those other ones first before you get to Killer Elite. 🙂 They made it in to a movie last year which was pretty good, but the book was better. 🙂 Not that anyone is surprised by that.

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