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Operation Barras - Hostage Rescue Sierra Leone

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Unit/ Formation: SBS


Location: Sierra Leone


Period/ Conflict: Sierra Leone Civil War


Year: 2000


Date/s: 10 September 2000


In September 2000, British troops undertook a daring hostage rescue operation in the war-torn West African country of Sierra Leone. They successfully freed five British soldiers who had recently been captured and around 20 civilian prisoners.


Special Forces deploy by boat during Operation Barras, September 2000 ©Andrew Chittock

The ground operation to rescue Royal Irish hostages was conducted by D Squadron, 22 Regiment SAS supported by SBS who assaulted Gberi Bana and elements of 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (1 PARA), who launched a diversionary assault on Magbeni.

'Operation Barras, 10th September 2000. Special Forces Lynx from 657 Squadron Army Air Corps and Chinooks from 7 Squadron Royal Air Force in direct fire support' [Image number: 232118]

At the same time, the Paras attacked the village of Magbeni on the other side of Rokel Creek. This was vital to prevent the West Side Boys stationed there from intervening against the rescue mission taking place at Gberi Bana.


www.royalmarineshistory.com

The Paras had to jump out of the helicopters into a waist-deep swamp. Worse, in the early stage of the battle, their commander and some key personnel were wounded by a mortar shell. Despite this setback, they pressed on and, after bitter fighting, were also victorious.


They released civilians being held prisoner there and recaptured the vehicles belonging to the Royal Irish Regiment patrol.

Colour photolithograph after David Rowlands, 2001. Published by Saville Fine Arts, Bristol, 2001 (c).


A Special Forces team fast-roped down from the helicopters into the heart of Gberi Bana and raced to get to the hostages before they could be executed. The Special Forces reconnaissance troops provided crucial fire support from the jungle.


Other teams deployed around the village to secure the position and drive the West Side Boys into the jungle. Against the odds, the hostages were all rescued and no helicopters were shot down. However, one soldier was killed. Reference: National Army Museum - Operation Barras

Read More/ Web Link: Wikipedia

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