Lionel O’Connor served with the Royal Anglian Regiment. He lost his left leg above the knee in an attack on his vehicle in Iraq in 2006, which resulted in two of his comrades being killed.
“I think about the sacrifices made by my fellow soldiers, I think about the families of the guys we lost, and I try to be grateful for what I have. Remembrance is a good time to do that.”
“I was in a Land Rover on a routine patrol when, all of a sudden, there was a big cloud of dust and sparks. I fell backwards – it was like I was in a tumble dryer – and everything went silent.
After a while I heard shouting but it took me a few seconds to realise it was me! I could move three of my limbs, but my left leg wouldn’t move at all.
One of the guys I was in the vehicle with was a good friend; he’d looked after me – he taught me how to be a soldier. His face was right by mine. I tried to get him off me but he wouldn’t respond. I opened his eye with my thumb and knew he was dead.
Another soldier, Adam, was lying on top of both of us. He had been killed too.
I felt for my knee and touched the bone that was sticking out – my left leg had been blown off and I had shrapnel in my right leg. But it was nothing compared to what had happened to the others. I was given morphine and passed out in the helicopter.”