Letter written by a severely wounded British soldier – Lt Alex Horsfall

Ha ha ha.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing to you from Selly Oak hospital after a somewhat surreal couple of weeks where some chap with an evil-looking beard killed five of my fellow riflemen and injured another four. I would like to quickly let you into the picture, set the story straight (although I understand my brother has done well in keeping the public in the light).

Around 12 days ago I was caught up in a Taliban bomb whilst conducting a foot patrol in Sangin town with the Afghan National Army (these are generally thoroughly nice soldiers who haven’t yet decided whether they would like to kill you or not). My platoon did magnificently to get me on a helicopter where someone could assess my injuries. I have managed to acquire the following:

1. Amputation of left leg (below the knee).

2. Amputation of three fingers to the left hand.

3. Tissue damage to the left arm (at this point I’d like to state that it has been decided that to speed up recovery, my left arm would be better-placed inside my belly. I can feel something grow inside but it may just be a Haribo sweet my brother dropped down there!).

4. Severe lesions to the neck.

5. Tracheotomy (hole in neck to allow breathing. Very odd, yet ever so slightly intriguing to touch).

6. Hearing impaired slightly.

7. Shattered jaw.

8. Broken right elbow and wrist.

9. Severe tissue and muscle damage to the right leg (looks like a bright-purple, plump-breasted guinea-fowl trussed up at your local butchers).

But due to some fortune I have unwittingly earned, I am able still to compose this rather long message. I also have it from good sources that the gentlemen responsible were themselves subjected to a combination of Apache helicopter and Special Forces playtime. Their IED “factory” was destroyed and they met their maker after a relatively brief hellfire missile battle which they lost.Ladies, gentlemen, all to say I am most gratefully alive and most sporadically, temporarily and morphine-gratifyingly pain-free.

Morale has been boosted by the multitude of you who have found time to do some good old-fashioned granny-visiting here in Birmingham, and for that I am forever thankful. Get-well-soon cards and messages of condolence I have growing out of my ears and it is thoroughly and most deeply and sincerely touching. Life here at Selly Oak is great, but everyone must find the fill for each day, so if you do find yourself near, come and reminisce about the days when people had two legs. Unfortunately, my mobile is not yet with me (doing a full tour in Sangin), but I will send you a number where you can get in touch directly.

To all of you, I sign off by saying a big thank you, and that I have realised that there is a huge amount to life that is unappreciated until limbs are lost. You will be chuckling when I am running faster than Usain Bolt on some ridiculous, metallic, spring contraption.

All the best and keep safe,


One comment

  1. my heart gose out to you Alex and all off our very brave men fighting this war, i wish you so well, in your life and has i write this little message, to you tears are in my eyes, i to loss a dear friend in 2004 in bagdad, god bless you allways Alex , sandra x

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