Shropshire

Soldier lucky to survive attack by rogue Afghan fighter

A Shropshire soldier was lucky to survive an attack by a rogue Afghan soldier which killed three of his comrades, his family has said.

Bombardier Chris Ellis, 34, from Telford, was wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired into a command centre in Helmand on 13 July.

His wife Carley said her husband got out of the centre when he heard shots.

Three men serving with 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, died in the attack.

Bombardier Ellis, of the Fourth Regiment Royal Artillery, was one of four soldiers injured in the incident in Nahr-e Saraj.

He is being treated for shrapnel injuries and an infected wound at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Soldiers' ward

Mrs Ellis, a former soldier herself, said: "He's lucky - he's alive and he's got all his body parts, which is extremely lucky.

"As much as it's not good for him at the moment, you've just got to look at the good side and he's alive, he's here."

The couple have two sons, Reece and Joshua, aged four and one.

Mrs Ellis said her husband's clothes and possessions were blown up in the explosion.

She said: "When I spoke to my husband he said that because they heard the guy firing inside the camp, him and his friend got out of bed and put some of their kit on because when the rocket-propelled grenade came in it blew up everything."

Mrs Ellis said she heard from a friend that the regiment's welfare officers were trying to get in touch with her.

Image caption Maj James Joshua Bowman, Lt Neal Turkington and Cpl Arjun Purja Pun were killed in the attack

And then she saw on the news about the attack in Afghanistan and for several hours feared her husband had died.

"I had two officers walk up the drive and knock at the door and that's when you really start to panic," she said.

She said they told her that her husband had been injured in the incident and later a welfare officer told her the details.

Mrs Ellis visited her husband in hospital the day after the attack and said he was in a ward with some very severely injured servicemen.

Major James Joshua Bowman, from Wiltshire, Lieutenant Neal Turkington, from Craigavon, and Corporal Arjun Purja Pun, from Nepal were killed in the attack.

Bombardier Ellis's mother Patricia said her son had watched war films as a child and it was "horrific" to think the fictional scenes he had watched then were now his reality.

"A lot of mums will have sons with missing limbs or dead - it's just unbelievable", she said.

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