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Lone Wolf

M J Davies

First Published in Great Britain in 2019

Copyright © M J Davies Ltd 2019

The right of M J Davies to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright, design and patents act 1988

All rights reserved. No part of this production may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. With the exception to Stephen Dixon, Sky News presenter. Thank You Stephen.

The Lone Wolf

The Lone Wolf is the story of flawed hero Colin Kane

on his crusade to wipe out the perceived threat to the national identity and security of the country he loves.

Loath or love him,

Kane will have you gripped on the edge of your seat.

For J.

Thank you for all your support and love, for the hours you sat alone while I tapped out my story. Without you none of this could have been possible

In loving memory of Michael and Terri

1935 - 2018

God bless.


London 2018 3.25 am

The cold city night-air cascaded across the River Thames. The water lapped up against the walls of the South Bank facing the Houses of Parliament, lit up like a beacon of truth and morality, when neither are actually achieved within that sanctimonious, self-congratulatory political haven - those who spout righteous words to their desired constituents in a vain attempt to maintain their own positions of power, whether to the left, centre or right of the political spectrum.

Lying on a small bench set out for passing tourists, a large black overcoat was covering the small frame of a woman, her face hidden from view. Was she just another late-night reveller who didn’t make it to Waterloo and the train home? Or was there another reason behind her choice of location for a quick night’s sleep.

Walking away from the bench was a man dressed in a long-sleeved black top, black jeans and black Nike trainers. He was heading in the direction of Westminster Bridge; he came to a halt, briefly looking back over his shoulder, giving a passing glance towards the Parliament building. As he did so he thought to himself:

“I’ve done a lot of terrible things in my life.

Things for which I can never be forgiven.

I have betrayed friends, turned my back on those closest to me.

I have always known that my sins would catch up with me one day.

No sin goes unpunished in this life.

Your life doesn’t flash before your eyes when you are dying, that’s bull-shit.

It’s your regrets that haunt you in your final moments.

Everything you failed to be.

Everyone you have ever let down.

Everything you would go back and change if only you had more time.”

He looked back at the bench where he had moments ago used his heavy overcoat to cover the woman. A gallant gesture? No. Not to keep her warm but to hide the fact that she was dead.

Looking again at the parliament building he shook his head in despair.

They want you to obey, they want you to be sheep like them, obedient, unquestioning, pieces of machinery, sit when told to sit, stand when told to stand. They want you to give up your humanity, your autonomy, for a pay cheque, gold star, bigger TV. The only way to be human, the only way to be free, is to rebel!

London Kings Cross Station 18 Hours Earlier

Across from the exit of King’s Cross station two men were busy handing out their free copies of the latest Metro and Evening Standard newspapers. Each battled to get their publication into the hands of the passing commuters, who would take a cursory glance through the pages and then dump it somewhere along their journey to their place of work. Both newspapers had the same headline; ‘Who is the Lone Wolf?’

As he stood there looking out at the morning chaos, breathing in the stale choking diesel fumes that filled the air as cars, lorries and buses travelled past, he thought to himself by how many names he had been known throughout his life. By his family, it was ‘Colin’, at school, ‘Kane’O’, during his time in the military, ‘CK’, now only he knew that he was the ‘Lone Wolf’ everyone was looking for, from the Counter Terrorism Command SO15, MI5, MI6, Interpol and the CIA.

This morning he was returning to London, a city with an unprecedented level of surveillance. He had the skills to keep hidden from those searching for him, skills his own government had been only too willing to equip him with. Even with so many cameras around, from high street CCTV, the ATM, security cameras at the entrance to office buildings, shops and restaurants, dash-cams in people’s vehicles and of course everyone with a mobile phone.

All these systems would be tapped into when the security services need to invade your privacy, to use you as their eyes and ears.

Coming back to the City was a risk, but he knew full well that no matter how many cameras you have, unless you know who your target is, the target can hide in clear view.

The skill to being invisible is to make sure you blend in, don’t do anything unusual, don’t do something to draw unwanted attention, be a visitor.

The last time he had been to the City he had attacked several targets which had created confusion, anxiety, fear, had changed the social and political atmosphere across the country. Terror engulfed the political commentators, security experts interviewed by the 24-hour news anchors across TV and radio, politicians, London’s Mayor all had something to say and of course social media, Twitter and Facebook went crazy #LondonTerrorAttacks. No one had any certainty of how to respond to what was happening in their capital. It was not the same emotional outpouring as when 9/11 or 7/7 happened. Those terror acts, people looked on in horror, but not this time, this time it was different. The world had changed and what he had carried out had made people start asking questions, the main question being - was the country now at war with an unknown enemy?

Following the attacks in London and the many more that followed, those in power, the elite, could not comprehend the who, how, why, or when the next attack would take place. He had managed to create such confusion within the walls of power, Whitehall, Downing Street, Scotland Yard, The Counter Terrorist Unit, MI5 and MI6. Nothing like it had been seen on this scale before. The change he had desired would start to take place. However, his was not a campaign for power, money or fame; no, this campaign was for a change in the shaping of society. The frightening thing was he had only just begun.

His actions had stirred people to question much of what the country had been told by the political and media elite for decades. They say change can happen in a heartbeat, you just have to want it enough and that’s all he wanted, - was change. For too long the media and the political leaders of the country had jumped on campaigns that they believed would ensure they kept their position of power, of control. From wars in the Middle East, towering infernos, Immigration, Brexit, #metoo, People’s Vote. Across the political spectrum they all try to court minority groups at the cost of the rest of the community.

He believed that equality had become a centralised focus, everyone had to be equal. But he knew you can’t have an equal society, there is no such place. It’s a Utopia that no society throughout history has ever achieved, because it is simply not possible. He had carried out Black Operations in other countries to tip the balance of power in favour of a government or an individual, sanctioned by his government, because it would be to their advantage. Therefore, you will always have someone with an agenda - their aims, their goals, their outcomes. He wanted the world to become more balanced, more focused on the people, to protect the country from anyone or anything that would do it the greatest harm. He wanted to see a return to traditional values, a respect for authority, for an ethos that rewards hard work. That education of the young is imperative to the future of the country. That the government should look inward to help those who need the help the most. That the Police, Prison Service, Military and the health of the nation are the priority to establishing the core of everything the country stands for. He wanted a country that galvanises its people into action not for themselves but for each other.

The Americans, French, Germans, Italians, Russians, Australians, in fact every country in the world are proud to fly their countries flag, but not in the United Kingdom. To fly the flag of St George in England you must be a racist (unless England are playing in the World Cup).

When you think that history is the sum of two components: an erratic component that consists of unpredictable events that follow no discernible pattern and a regular component that consists of long-term historical trends. His concern was the erratic component, to create the change he wanted to see.

To take control, to create change, you have to rebel. However, every rebel needs an army of sorts. He was back in the City not to carry out another attack. This trip was for many different reasons, one of which was how to deal with Donna.

Donna had become embroiled in his world. She was good at her job. She had everything; intelligence and an unstoppable approach to the task she had been given by her security service bosses. As a field-operator she was their best or had proven herself to be the best the security services had for this job. In the past six months the security forces had been searching for him. He had taken out a number of her team. Not only that but several SO15 officers had also crossed his path with unfortunate results.

The security services had put several of their best people on him, including current and former members of the SAS. He had also encountered one of his former colleagues from his days on operations with 22nd Special Air Services Regiment. He had created the chaos, confusion and a new political energy that would deliver his endgame.

The time had come to bring Donna’s involvement to an end and to do it today. He had planned everything meticulously.

Donna would be exactly where he wanted her to be, at the time of his deciding, for him to remove her from the game. She could reveal his identity and that was just not going to happen. There was a much bigger picture she did not understand. He had allowed himself to get to close too Donna and now she had to pay the ultimate price for his mistake.

What he had to do to Donna was for the first time since he began his campaign six months earlier, not something he wanted. His actions so far had been about making change, not killing for the sake of killing. He was not relishing the task; however, he knew it had to be followed through. The motto by which he lived by was; ‘What Ever It Takes’.

But before he could start this day, he needed a coffee, having spent the past two hours on the train catching up on his sleep. He headed off towards the nearest Starbucks just inside the station. As he sat looking into the darkness of his expresso, he looked back across the crowded streets toward the two guys still at it, handing out their free papers filled with the latest gossip and trivia, all with that same lead story. ‘The search for the Lone Wolf’. He drifted back to the beginning of his rebellion, reflecting on what he had single-handedly carried out. This was no movie; the kind of thing Liam Neeson appears in a lot. When the good guy never gets shot, jumps from a moving car and then runs ten miles to catch the bad guy.

They never need a toilet break, shower, food, sleep or to pay their bills. His was real life. He lived by and depended on his training. Throughout his life he was independent. He dreamt of the day he could escape from the mother he hated. When he joined the military, he found a home, a place he could belong. His life would never be conventional. His relationships hard to understand and to manage.

His job was like no other, however it all made him the man, the person he had become.

In the past six months he had challenged himself like never before. He had gone to places, carried out horrific attacks, had risked his life, had always made sure that in his mind the truly innocent never got hurt.

His actions were just the beginning of something much bigger, with far reaching consequences for the country, an outcome for the next generation to embrace, to run with. He knew he needed a face for this changing world he would create, someone to take the helm and justify his physical actions. When everything changes, nothing changes. People die, more are born, and in between we exist. He never wanted to do more than that, just exist. The reality is that he had gone through life tethered, connected, he wasn’t even aware that he had chosen that.

Part One


Army Recruitment Centre Stafford 1986

Colin Kane was a skinny 5ft 8 inches in his stocking feet, red headed with a childlike complexion for his seventeen years of age. As he read aloud his oath of allegiance to the crown: “I Colin Kane, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me.”

And with that he was now a member of the Royal Irish Rangers an infantry regiment with a proud history, although like most of the British Army it was a regiment that had evolved through many amalgamations of other great regiments.

His first choice had been the Irish Guards. Unfortunately he was a quarter of an inch too small and there was no way he was getting in. He was told ‘not to worry we have another Irish Regiment; shall we sign you up to that one instead?’

All he wanted to do was join the forces. He wanted to feel part of something bigger, to have a true feeling of belonging; to get on with his life, to live it on his terms, to have the support of other likeminded people, and you can only find that kind of life in the forces. An Irish regiment was his preferred route, however if there had not been any available, he didn’t care, he would have taken anything, the Gurkhas if they’d have had him. Life so far had been no picnic, it was not going to get any worse than he had already endured.

Germany 1973

Colin had been born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland in 1969. However, he had grown up in a small coalmining town called Rugeley, in Staffordshire. His parents had fled Belfast in the early part of the 1970s due to the troubles. His father had a death threat hanging over him and had been advised by the head of the Northern Ireland Police Force to leave the country as quickly as they could. Therefore, they packed their lives up and off to England via Germany they went to start a new life and leave the old one behind.

From a young age Colin had been very good at adapting to his surroundings, he had to be.

Having left Belfast at the age of four, unknown to him he was leaving behind two older brothers his mother had abandoned with relatives. When he arrived in Germany the family moved into an apartment within a large tower block. It was a dark grey building, built shortly after the war. Concrete construction, drab, unappealing, poorly lit corridors and stairwells, lifts that worked intermittently, it was built for a purpose and that’s all, there were no frills. It had clearly been built in a hurry to accommodate the thousands of homeless people following the bombardment of the city during the final stages of the war. It had been all his father could secure when he received the offer of work at the local Messerschmitt factory. On the ground floor there was a small shop and bar which his parents frequented every night, spending time with the locals and the GIs who were based in the area. They would venture out of their camp enjoying the local beer and ladies. His father did a great trade in American tobacco, American whisky and luxury food items. His parents being in the bar made the evenings long for Colin as he would be left to his own devices. He had to look after himself. Entertaining himself and becoming a dab hand at creating amazing meals from what he could find in the refrigerator or in the lower cupboards in the kitchen. Maybe he would be a great chef one day. His favourite creation was the breakfast cereals which became a staple part of his diet. For a four-year-old, making friends in a foreign country with the added language barrier was difficult, however he made friends with a Turkish man who lived in an apartment directly above his.

This was, looking back on it, wrong on so many levels. It all started on a cold wet afternoon. He was on his own once again, sitting looking out of the apartment window. Suddenly on the balcony a line was dropped from above with a shiny wrapped sweet attached. Colin opened the door to the balcony and reached out to help himself to the sweet. The line was then pulled back up and not before long another one arrived. He duly accepted the gifts, and this became a regular occurrence.

The special deliveries went on for a number of weeks; randomly the line would appear. One day Colin made the decision while his mother was in the bar that he would make his way to the next floor, he wanted to meet with his sweet supplier friend. He climbed the staircase, from the layout of the building he worked out which door to knock on and sure enough when the door opened there stood a very large man, large to Colin anyway.

The man had a huge grin on his face, clearly pleased to have a visitor. His hair was wild and unkempt. He was wearing a bright orange pullover with holes in the front and side. His dark brown trousers appeared to have never seen a washing machine and were heavily stained, his trousers were being held up by a piece of rope. In his hands was a large bowl of sweets, the same selection that had come down to the balcony. Colin’s new friend didn’t speak any English but gestured for him to enter the apartment.

As he stepped in, Colin did not think anything other than what a nice man he was, if not a little strange. He found a small stool to sit on in front of the TV.

The man passed him the bowl containing the sweets. He decided to dive into them, eating one after the other. They never communicated for the entire time he was there. Colin just kept eating the sweets watching the large black and white television sitting in the corner of the room. He had been there for about an hour when the man tapped him on the shoulder. He was saying something; however, Colin couldn’t understand a word.

The man then pointed to the front door. Taking this to mean he wanted Colin to leave. Colin stood up and placed the near empty bowl on the small coffee table and made his way to the front door. The large man leaned over him and released the door lock and opened it for Colin to leave.

Colin smiled and in his best Belfast accent said. “Thank you, see you soon”, as he waved goodbye.

The man smiled back and nodded. Colin was not sure if he understood him, but he was nice.

It was a few weeks later that Colin bumped into the Turkish man again in the street. He was sweeping the road in front of the bar. He waved and said in broken English, “Hello little boy.” Colin waved back.

Colin’s mother was a little surprised by this and looked at Colin for an explanation. As they made their way up to the apartment, he explained what had happened.

His mother was not angry or concerned, she seemed to brush the incident away without a second thought.

Life in Germany would be cut short as the work his father had secured with Messerschmitt had come to an end. His father had managed to secure a new job in England so off they went again traveling back to the UK by plane. His father had their small black and white TV placed between his legs underneath his seat. They only had a few possessions and arrived in their new town by train.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Rugeley Staffordshire 1973

As they climbed off the train that had brought them to the small mining town of Rugeley in Staffordshire, they took in their surroundings. Everything they owned in the world at their feet, consisting of two large suitcases, a laundry bag, the small black and white tv and the clothes they were wearing. They had arrived yet had no idea where they were. Walking out of the station, down a long sloping driveway to the main road. As they came to the main road, directly opposite was a pub called the Yorkshireman. His father made his way there to see if they could get some information as to how far they were from the town.

It was a good mile and a half away, which didn’t sound far, however Colin’s mother was now heavily pregnant. They had nowhere to stay and it was 2:30 in the afternoon. With no change to call a taxi, the pub landlord offered to get one of their locals to run them up to the town. The car dropped them off. It was a small market town; today was a market day so the place was in full swing, busy with shoppers. Colin’s father began his search to find accommodation for them for at least tonight before they could find something more long term. He kept coming back to Colin and his mother each time saying he did not have any good news. He headed off once more. Colin’s mother began to sob, time was running out and she had no idea as to what they would do if they could not find something soon. As she sat crying, a woman approached her asking if she was okay. Colin’s mother explained to the woman, that she was eight months pregnant, had nowhere to stay, her husband was running around the town looking for a place to stay for tonight, and right now all they had to their name was £5.

“Don’t worry duck, get yourselves down to the ‘Red Lion pub’. It’s only a few minutes’ walk from the centre of town.” She pointed in the general direction, saying, “Tell them Irene has sent you, and that they’re to put you up.”

It was a miracle, things like that just don’t happen to you. Colin could see the relief on his mother’s face. When Colin’s father returned again with nothing, his mother explained what had happened. They quickly gathered up their belongings and headed towards the ‘Red Lion’. Colin and his mother waited outside while his father checked with the people in the pub. He came back out with a big smile on his face and the feeling of sheer joy was clear when Colin looked up at his mother.

As they made their way through the old pub, squeezing past the snug bar and up the stairway, they were shown to a small double bedroom. There was a small sink in the corner, a tiny wardrobe, bedside table with a lamp and a double bed and a small window with frilly curtains. The lady who was acting as their guide told them to get settled in and then come down for a bite to eat and a drink. Colin’s mother explained that they only had £5 which even back in 1973 was not a lot of money. The average weekly wage back then was only £40, however when it’s all you have, you have to be careful how you spend it.

“Don’t you worry duck, it’s on the house until you get yourselves sorted out.” The woman reassured them.

Over the coming months Colin would live in that double bedroom above the Red Lion pub. He would then move to a pig farm, settling for eighteen months in a small two bed terrace. All these properties had been with private landlords, however what his mother and father wanted was to get themselves into a council house. Colin’s father devised a plan to ask the landlord to evict them from their terrace house. This would force the council to find them a larger home. They were now a family of four with the arrival of Colin’s little sister, this meant they wanted a three-bedroom council house.

A suitable property was found for them on a large council estate call the Springfield Estate. He would live here until he joined the military.

Colin had already proven to be a handful in the past two years at his previous school. On one occasion he once told the teacher to ‘fuck-off’ and stormed out of the class room. They chased him down and once they had hold of him, he was taken to the head mistresses office. While he was sitting outside the office on a small plastic chair waiting to be called back in, he spotted the fire exit door wide open. He stood up and calmly walked through the door and left the school, walking the two miles home. He was stopped by a dinner lady who recognised him. He simply smiled and explained, “It’s okay. My mom knows I’m coming home.”

This was the mid-70s, not such an unusual thing to see. When he arrived home, he told his mother that he had been sent home with a temperature. She sent him upstairs to have a cooling bath. While he was playing away in the bath, he heard the front door being knocked with quite some force. When his mother opened the door, he strained to listen to the voices below. Two police officers and the head mistress entered the house and stood talking in the front room.

They asked if Colin was home, which his mother confirmed. They then explained why they were there and what had happened when they found him missing from school.

As the story unfolded his mother was getting more and more angry. They explained how he had told his teacher to fuck off, was dragged kicking and screaming to the head mistress’s office, where a damp cloth had been placed across his head and face to try to cool him down. While they were discussing what steps to take next, they asked Colin to sit outside the office.

The discussion only lasted a few minutes, yet when they opened the office door, they found that he had disappeared. They started searching the school building without any luck, which is when they called the police in to look for him. Luckily one of the dinner ladies had spotted him and spoke with him, and let the police know where she thought he was heading - hence their arrival.

Within a few minutes of the police and teacher leaving, his mother appeared at the door of the bathroom.

“You little liar. You weren’t sent home, you ran out of school”.

Colin thought she will never hit me while I am in the bath. How wrong he was. She grabbed him by the hair, pulled him up from the bath water grabbing hold of his left wrist pulling him higher. While his naked body hung dripping, she brought her free right hand around and made contact with his small frame, across the left side of his back, followed by another, and another.

He thought she had broken his rib when he heard a crack. It was actually his arm being dislocated from the socket a problem that would stay with him for life. He would hide the injury by always compensating for it when doing anything that put pressure on that area of his body. She let go of his wrist and he fell to the floor. As soon as he landed, he went straight into the foetal position, curling up as tight as he could, this would give him the best form of protection.

She started kicking at him and stamping on his tiny body, he tightened his shape, taking each blow, trying not to hold his breath which would mean he avoided biting his lip or tongue. He learned that it also reduced the pain of each blow as the attack intensified, he had learned this skill the hard way.

People often think that tensing up will enable you to take the blows, it’s a natural reaction, it’s a reflex action. Watch a boxer, when a big hit comes, they will anticipate the power of the punch and tense their body ready to take the hit. However, a loose body absorbs the hits, sending the shock through the body and helps reduce the level of injury sustained.

The one area he thought was covered was not! He felt his mother’s shoe make contact with his face. This time for sure he knew his nose was broken. He could hear the screams of his mother as she laid into him. Then the screaming in the room changed. He could hear his father’s voice as he rushed into the bathroom. He was pulling Colin’s mother away, stopping her making any further onslaught to his body. She continued to kick out, screaming. “I am going to fucking kill him”.

Colin lay there trying his best to take each blow as they made contact with their target. He stayed perfectly still just in case the lull was just his mother regaining her strength before she began once more, or worse that his father decided to give him his thoughts on the situation. He needn’t have worried. It would be a few more years before his father would carry out a much worse beating, a beating, a physical attack which could have put his father in prison and could have put Colin on life-support.

But for now, stay still until you know it’s safe to get up and get some clothes on. He could hear his mother screaming with anger at his father, over and over she screamed that she was going to kill Colin, as the two of them descended downstairs, - then the sound of the backdoor slamming shut.

The noise of his parents shouting could be clearly heard outside. He took his chance to get dressed and if he was quick enough, he could make a run for it.

He really believed that his life was in danger and that either this time or maybe the next time she would indeed kill him. He made it down the stairs, checked that his parents were still outside. The coast was clear. He made his way to the front room to the front door to make his escape.

As he reached the handle, just as he was about to release the lock he heard his father’s voice, “Where do you think you are going? Get back upstairs to your room and don’t move if you know what’s good for you”.

Colin turned and saw his father standing there in his work clothes, an old pair of jeans, blue shirt and a brown and cream tank top. He was still wearing his safety shoes which had steel toecaps, something Colin recalled when he had been learning to tie shoe laces.

Colin made the wise decision to run past his father and back up the stairs. He closed the door and forced himself to sit with his back in the far corner of his bedroom. This gave him enough time to prepare should the onslaught begin again from either parent. He sat there all night falling asleep only being wakened by his father leaving for work at 5:30 the next morning. That was just one of many beatings Colin received before the age of seven.

As he now stood at the back door of his new home considering the view from his garden, his attention was caught by something shining into the corner of his eyeline. He looked up to see a kid about his age standing on top of the roof of the electric substation which was to the rear of his house. He could make out something in the kid’s hand, it appeared to be a kitchen knife. He was shouting something at Colin.

He couldn’t make out what he was saying. It appeared to be some strange language he didn’t recognise - Scottish.

What he didn’t realise was this kid would become his nemesis and eventually one of his best friends, Alex Moffatt.

Throughout the next phase of his younger life he would mix with kids much older than him, which also meant he got into a whole lot more trouble than he should have for his age. By the time he was nine he had been arrested and brought home by the local police fifteen times, but never charged. He knew each time he arrived home in that shiny blue and white police car he was going to get such a thrashing from his mother. Even though she was only 5 foot 2 inches tall, she still managed to take her anger out on his small frame every time. Colin expected it and accepted it when it came.

One day at school he was stripping off to get ready for his PE lesson. This was the one lesson he enjoyed. He excelled at all forms of sport. Running, he was very good at running. He had to be - the police were getting fitter! As he continued to get changed the teacher called him to the front of the class to her desk. She asked him to turn around. In doing so, he exposed his back and left-hand side of his body. She could see multiple bruising down the side of his back and to the top of his back side. She asked him how he had managed to get himself covered in so many bruises. Colin replied, “I don’t know Miss. Must have been when I was playing football”.

She was not convinced by that answer. She took a good long look at the bruising. There were bruises on top of bruises, she wasn’t buying his story for a second. However, she decided not to probe him any further. She did feel the need to raise her concerns with the social services department who would make a visit to the home. A few days later the social worker arrived at the house.

What did this mean? Was he in trouble again? He couldn’t work it out. They were not the police so that had to be a good thing. Two ladies came in to meet with his mother and he was asked to go upstairs while they chatted.

Fortunately, Colin’s bedroom was directly above the sitting-room. He pressed his ear against the floor and listened intently to what was unfolding below him, keeping his mouth open to enable him to let out false sounds which build up when you press your ear to a wall or floor in this case. If you don’t you will hear your own breathing echo inside your head. He could hear his mother saying, “Take him away. If you don’t I am going to kill him. He is out of control. Last Sunday he went out just before lunch. I told him not to go far, lunch is nearly ready. He came back seven hours later. He was covered in mud and scratches across his arms and face. I found out from one of my friends at work he had gone off to Cannock Chase Woods. Colin had been breaking into parked cars so that his older friends could try and steal them.”

Colin laughed to himself, he thought what a great time he had that day with the older boys from the estate. He moved himself to the top of the stairs as he could hear the conversation coming to an end. He realised that his mother wanted nothing to do with him and that this could be a means of escape, that one thing he had been looking for. He wanted to get away from her. Just before the ladies left, his mother called for him to come back down. She had that look that was all too familiar. He knew she was angry with him, yet this time it was her actions that brought these unwanted people to the house.

One of the ladies from the social services, Deborah, said “I’ll be back in a few days’ time to see how things are.”

“What! I’m staying?” Colin thought to himself.

“What do I have to do to get away from this place?” That was the closest he ever came to be dragged into the child-services system, a system that would not have given him the exposure to the kind of life he was going to live. His life made him self-sufficient, gave him the ability to move and blend into his surroundings, to adapt to any given situation, to speak with people on their level, from anyone from a council estate right up to those from a more affluent back ground. He became an expert in getting the most from those around him.

Colin would become a master of understanding of what made people tick. Not only that, but he could actually get them ticking. That was a skill he found most useful when he moved to his new comprehensive school. He realised early on that he needed to calm things down. He found out quickly that he gained more from going under the radar, being more discrete. He still had a name for being up to no good, being a little wild, but just enough. He didn’t want to be too bright a shining star or be seen as the dummy in the class. The main area he excelled in was sport, playing in the school football, rugby, basketball, hockey and cricket teams along with swimming and athletics.

Many of his skills Colin would refine during his time with the military, being able to run, march, climb, carry, motivate others, shooting. His enhanced instinctive reactions all came very naturally to him during his basic training. He had been marked out for promotion when he arrived at his battalion. His shooting skills had been a revelation to Colin.

He had never held a rifle before, yet with his first visit to the live firing range he had the best grouping of five shots closest to the centre of a target using the SA80 - the newest rifle in the British Army.

St Patricks Barracks N. Ireland 1987

Colin arrived at St Patrick’s Barracks, the training centre for the Royal Irish Rangers located in Ballymena. The blue transit van minibus they travelled in was a standard military issue vehicle. Colin was a little worried at the thought that they were an easy target, especially when driving through known nationalist areas. His fears were both confirmed and alleviated when he spotted that one of the escorts had a Browning 9 mm, jutting out of his backside. At least they would stand a fighting chance, in the event of them being hit as they made their way through the country roads. The minibus contained six other squaddies all much older than Colin and all much bigger than him. They were a mix from the north of England; Manchester, Liverpool, Burnley and Bolton and one called PIP from Birmingham. Colin and PIP had flown over together from Birmingham Airport on a Jersey European flight, not realising they were heading for the same destination.

They debussed once they were in the safety of the barracks. The group of new recruits were ordered into a red brick building which would become their home for the next four months. The barracks had been built in 1937, it was to be the new home of the Royal Ulster Rifles who relocated to the barracks from Victoria Barracks in Belfast. It had also been occupied by the United States Army during the second world war. The building had two levels, Colin’s platoon were located on the lower floor, the upper floor had another platoon already into their second half of the twenty-week basic training programme. Each squaddie was allocated a locker and bed. Their first night would be a nice and easy affair, a visit to the Naafi for a couple of pints and get to know the rest of the platoon. Colin decided to keep a low profile until he had worked out who were the right people to mix with, and those to stay well clear of. The Scousers all sat together in a mass group. Their grannies had come from Ireland, many still had family living in the country. Colin stayed well clear of them.

He sat down with his second pint when he came across a young lad who looked completely out of his depth. It turned out that he had come from the Falls Road in Belfast, the single biggest nationalist area in the city. Many had already asked why the fuck he was there? The standing joke was he was undercover, trying to gain the secrets of the British Army from within. Colin knew he would not last the twenty-weeks they had ahead of them.

He headed back to the room he had been allocated. It was split into two separate areas each had space for up to four beds and lockers, eight in total. Colin was in the far end with three other lads, one from Manchester, and two Irish lads from Belfast and Bangor. The training NCO came in to give them their briefing on how to build a bed block, how to layout their lockers and more importantly how to iron their military clothing. Firm crease in the front and back of your trousers, no tramlines, your shirt also needed to be well pressed, the patches on your pullover and your flaps needed to be flat. It was at this point that the cans of spray starch came into effect. There was only one iron and ironing board between eight. It was being hogged and it was a case of negotiating when you would get on next. As time went by people began to become frustrated waiting their turn.

Everyone was keen to get their kit ironed for the next day. Luckily one of the lads from Belfast had been in the UDR, - the Ulster Defence Regiment as a part-timer and knew a few tricks that the small group Colin now found himself in could use to get ahead of the rest of the platoon. Colin had one thing up his sleeve that became very handy. His mother had given him the skill he never thought would come in so handy as it did now - he was an expert at ironing shirts and trousers to perfection. He soon became the go-to person and he was quick to cash-in on his in-demand services. He charged a fiver for two shirts and trousers – in a night he was cashing-in over £60.

During their first morning the platoon had been shown how to make a ‘bed block’ which involved folding your bedding in such a manner that you would create a square block wrapped around one of the coarse blankets. This would be placed in front of your pillows which had to be squared off, a top blanket would be wrapped around your mattress with the double lines running through the centre of the bed. Each corner was folded with hospital corners making a neat and firm finish. Once you had carried out this you would place the pillows at the head of the bed and your bed block in front, square to the pillows. Your bed block had to have the two lines running through its centre; these two lines would have to match the two lines on the bed. Everything had to be square.

Once you had managed to get the bed right, your next task was to lay out your locker. Civvies separate from your military wear, everything square. Your mess tins, square to your socks, t-shirts. Each arm of your shirts and jackets had to have a single strong crease - it had to be perfect. Colin’s locker was never touched by any of the NCO’s during inspections, they never found a thing out of place.

However, that was not the case for the entire platoon, this meant they would all get a beasting, screaming down the hallways to get on parade.

One night they were awoken at 1:30 in the morning, forced to get dressed quickly and taken to the nearby football field.

As soon as they arrived the entire platoon were made to bunny-hop three times around the field. Once they had completed three laps, it was then, ‘assume the position’, this took the form of a plank-hold, then down to push twenty press-ups. This went on until the last man had finished three laps. Colin made a mental note; don’t be in a rush to be first.

Once the torture had been completed, the true reason for the late-night exercise around the field was discovered on their arrival back to the lines. To every one’s horror they found that every bed had been turned over, the contents of each locker removed and thrown across the room. It was like the scene from a break-in - all but one bed and one locker. Colin walked back to his bed expecting to find the same horrific scene his mates had met on their arrival back to their private bed space, but to his surprise nothing was touched. Why he wondered?

It quickly went up and down the lines that his shit had not been touched. This could have spelt trouble and in so many ways that’s why it was done. The training wing were testing him. Colin was bright enough to know the best way to get around this was to help as many of his mates as he could, he needed to be their go-to person when they were in trouble. He wanted them to know he could be relied upon when things got tough. He got stuck-in helping to get their shit sorted in the fastest possible time. He even highlighted that his locker was in a worse state than some of his mates, explaining that it’s just part of the game the training staff were playing.

Luckily for Colin, he had a talent for getting people to think like he did, (unfortunately this marked him out).

What Colin did not know was that he had indeed been selected for special treatment by the training wing. He was so far ahead of the rest of the platoon. The Company Commander had been sending reports back to both the First and Second Battalions of the Regiment on his progress.

Ultimately where he decided to serve, either the First or Second was all down to Colin, but each Battalion CO would make a claim for the young man’s talents. Little did they know that each of the reports were also being shared with another part of the British Army.

When it came to the conclusion of his basic training, it was time to head to his chosen battalion - the Second, along with most of the guys he was closest too. However, on arrival they would be split into different companies, Colin heading for A Company. He had passed off the parade square with flying colours. His platoon would be the first platoon anywhere to be trained with the new rifle, the SA80, and to pass off with the new weapon in 1987. However, when he joined his battalion in Dover, he had to learn the old SLR as the SA80 had yet to be rolled out to all parts of the army, due to a delay of six months. Colin was glad to be learning something new, when he was bored, that was when the danger set in. He would and could get himself in to trouble.

This new weapon gave him the opportunity to learn a new skill, and to become a marksman with the SLR as he had with the SA80 in basic training.

Magilligan N. Ireland.

While carrying out a night shoot on a live range, Colin was able to try out his marksman skills on moving targets using his SA80, then using the much larger GPMG (general purpose machine gun) with tracer fire, followed by the shorter SMG. It was while doing a close quarter firing with the SMG that he caught the attention of the NCOs’ overseeing the shoot. Colin’s grouping was the tightest they had seen. At one point they believed he must have missed the moving target all but one shot. When they looked closer, all five shots had gone through the same hole within millimetres.

A decision by senior staff within the army was made to send Colin to Magilligan in Northern Ireland. This was a range he was all too familiar with. He had done his final weeks of basic training in the area, including time on the range. For the next three days he was due to try out his skills using a sniper rifle. He was very excited by this, if not a little surprised, as he knew that the sniper course was nine weeks long, split into marksmanship (firing) and field craft (stalking, concealment etc.) modules.

For most army cap badges, each battalion runs its own sniper selection cadre. Students who pass their unit's SSC then attend the arduous Basic Sniper Course (Part 1) run by Sniper Division, Support Weapons School at the Infantry Battle School (IBS) at Brecon in Wales. This is a multi-week course that covers marksmanship. Students then return to their unit for Part 2, which covers field craft.

A qualified British Army sniper is eligible to wear insignia with a crossed rifles design and an 'S' between the barrels.

Further training may be undergone at Sniper Wing, Direct Fire Support Division, Specialist Weapons School, Warminster via a Sniper Commanders Course. This 12-week advanced course teaches the command, planning and logistical skills needed for the role of Sniper Section Commander and Sniper Platoon Commander. The course includes Urban Operations, Counter Sniping, Command and Control and Tactical employment modules. They are also trained to act as instructors for their unit's sniper cadres. Colin knew he could have done this; however, he was not going to argue the toss and just enjoyed the trip back to Northern Ireland.

His first two days were spent familiarising himself with the sniper rifle. He was firing from up to 800 meters from the target. The main Point Road which runs past the range and to Magilligan Point had to be closed off. He needed to lay up in the sand dunes on the far side towards the beach. He managed to achieve a near perfect grouping, something never before achieved on a first day shoot by a new recruit, especially one who had not attended IBS.

As he lay there looking through the sight the instructor told him to close his left eye and focus down the sights to the target.

Colin replied. “If I do that, I can’t see what’s to the side of the target.”

“There’s nothing there Kane!” The instructor raised his binoculars to double check.

“Yeah there is”, Colin said, then with a smooth movement Colin pulled the trigger and a small field mouse went flying through the air.

“Cheeky fucker Kane the NCO said aloud, looking at Colin lying there.

The NCO had a small amount of admiration for what he had just seen. Walking over to his colleagues who were huddled in a small group, two of them standing with their hands on their hips, Superman pose. The three of them started to discuss what had just happened.

Colin was lying in the prone position with his right cheek resting on the butt of his rifle, looking down the sights towards the shape of a World War II German soldier running towards him. He pulled the trigger again and let out a silky soft breath. Through his nose he filled his lungs with a new batch of oxygen, holding it for just a few seconds before releasing it once again gradually. This action he had now perfected, deliberately filling his lungs with new oxygen, as he did so it rushed through his body, to his brain making its way through the neuro pathways to his visual cortex.

As he focused again on his target, suddenly in the distance a bird flew into his vision, this was way past the paper targets set at 800 meters. His new flying target was more likely around 1400 meters away, taking into account the height the bird was flying at. The bird flew into his sights, pulling the trigger once more, contact was made instantly as the bird started to spiral down to the earth. A sudden boot to the side of his body was a reminder that he was not on his own. The NCO screamed at him.

“What the fuck do you think you are playing at Kane? This is not your private fucking shooting party, you fucking arse wipe.” Colin smiled and turned his attention to the paper targets running towards him.

One of the NCO’s grabbed a member of the squad to retrieve the bird and count out how many paces away they were when they reached the animal. When he returned with the dead bird, he passed the count to the NCO who nodded and pointed at Colin. Taking the dead bird and putting it next to Colin’s head.

“Here’s your trophy Kane, don’t let me see you without it.”

Colin was all too aware that he had stepped over the mark a little. He would take the bird to the cook-house and see if it was any good for the lads in there – he might get a pie out of it.

That night, the NCOs running the shoot decided that they needed to bring this new hot-shot back to earth. As they slipped into the lines at 3:30 am where Colin was sleeping, they grabbed each side of his mattress and threw him, mattress and all onto the floor. As he came around, he saw the three of the NCOs standing over him. His first instinct was to protect his body from any potential beatings, somethings stay with you, yet nothing came.

“Get your arse off the fucking floor and get in to your kit now!” One of the NCOs screamed at him.

Colin jumped to his feet and ran to his locker grabbing his trousers and t-shirt pulling on his socks and boots as quickly as he could.

“Assume the position Kane”, came the order.

The commotion woke the room with many raising their heads from their pillows to get a better view of what was happening just a few feet away, hoping they were not next.

He got into ‘the position’. This was a stress position which took the form of holding a steady plank before the real pain started, twenty press ups, followed by jogging on the spot, this time he was told to double forward. He got five feet then he was told down push twenty, then up, five feet, down push twenty. This continued until he had made it to just outside the doorway, a distance of about forty five feet.

He was doubling on the spot when he saw the old wooden and brass shell case in front of him, the shell stood at three foot tall and weighed in at around thirty five pounds, he knew what was about to happen.

“Pick up the shell Kane,” The NCO yelled at him. He lifted the shell onto his right shoulder and started to run on the spot.

“Start fucking running Kane. We will tell you when you can fucking stop!”

As he started running, he realised he was heading towards the sand dunes of the Magilligan beach. It was 3:45 in the morning. It was dark and cold which was a god-send for him as the moist air gave him something to suck in while he made his way towards the beach. He could feel the soft sand beneath his boots giving way with the weight of the shell as it bounced up and down on his right shoulder. It was already starting to cause pain to his skinny body, struggling to keep upright. If he could just get through the dunes and on to the beach, then he would be on firmer ground.

As he made his way over the sand dunes, he stopped for a brief second to change sides. The pain of the wooden shell on his right side was intense. He had no option but to throw the shell onto his left shoulder and push on. The screams from the two NCOs filled his head. He could feel the pain in his thighs and calf muscles burning as he tried to push forward, with every intake of breath. If he could just get that last 10 metres over the dunes to the beach, he knew he would be okay. During his first few days at the camp, and from his days in basic training, he knew the area, the distance he had covered, and how much further he had to go. During basic training he had been forced to run with his gas mask on, and with his SA80 raised above his head. That went on for two hours and he thought then he was going to die. This should be easier, but pain is pain, no matter how many times you do something. If you can feel it, you have to find a way to control it, make it disappear in your mind. He remembered one of his training NCO’s screaming at him during that run, “Pain is temporary. Achievement lasts forever!”

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