Author(s): Steve Heaney, MC
Military | No Category
OPERATION MAYHEM is the first ever account of a truly epic elite forces mission: one of the most highly decorated in modern military history. Airlifted deep into the heart of the African jungle in the midst of a bloody civil war, twenty-six operators from the secret British unit X Platoon were sent into combat against two thousand rebels - being used as bait to lure the enemy into a decisive, do-or-die battle. High on blood-lust, voodoo and drugs, the rebels were notorious for their brutal savagery. Equipped with captured armour, heavy machine-guns and grenade-launchers, they vastly outgunned the men of X Platoon - who were kitted out with pitiful supplies of ammunition and malfunctioning rifles, plus no body armour, grenades or heavy weaponry. Intended to last just days, the mission mutated into a desperate siege, as the men of X Platoon - more formally known as the Pathfinders - faced what the rebels dubbed 'Operation Kill British'. Half-starved, surviving on giant African snails, fungi and other bush tucker, this handful of elite warriors were forced to make their stand unaided and alone. They fought using grenades made from old food-tins and 'punji fields' - rows of vicious sharpened bamboo-stakes - as the locals joined forces with them to defend against the onslaught. Sergeant Steve Heaney was awarded the Military Cross for taking control of the battle after X Platoon lost their commanding officer. His story is full of the rough-and-ready humour and steely heroics with which these elite soldiers carried out operations far into hostile terrain. The ferocious close quarter combat at the village of Lungi Lol brought to an end the horrific, decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone. OPERATION MAYHEM is the first ever account of this untold true story - one fought and won deep behind enemy lines.
The public's appetite for reading about daring elite forces operations remains keen. Steve Heaney has a keen interest in tying the subjects covered in his books to current affairs, and both he and Damien Lewis will be great figures at literary festivals. The nature of the operation also makes it a good candidate for serialisation.
Steve Heaney joined the Parachute Regiment Juniors at sixteen, then passed Parachute Regiment selection and joined 3 PARA in 1987. Two years later he successfully undertook selection into X Platoon - more formally know as the Pathfinders. He went on to serve with that unit for over a decade, working with almost every Special Forces unit with which the British military has links. In 1999 he was promoted to Platoon Sergeant. The following year, he was the first non-officer in the unit's history to be awarded the Military Cross for his leadership and courage during Operation Mayhem. He was also awarded the Commanding Officer's Commendation for finding arms caches in Northern Ireland. Sergeant Heaney left the British military in 2001, by which time he was the most experienced Military Parachutist in the British Army. He has spent the last decade working as a senior military advisor to one of Britain's key allies. Damien Lewis worked as a war and conflict reporter for major broadcasters, reporting from across Africa, South America, the Middle and Far East, and has won numerous awards for his journalism. In 2001 he wrote his first book, an international number one bestseller translated into over thirty languages, and adapted into a film and stage play. His books OPERATION CERTAIN DEATH, APACHE DAWN and ZERO SIX BRAVO were all SUNDAY TIMES bestsellers, as were his previous co-authored military books, FIRE STRIKE 7/9, co-wriitten with Sergeant Paul 'Bommer' Grahame, and IT'S ALL ABOUT TREO, co-authored with Dave Heyhoe. Several of his elite forces books are in the process of being made into movies or TV dramas.