HERO OF THE SKIES

First published in Saga Magazine in January 2022.

As the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War approaches, we celebrate one of its heroes, William O’Brien, who is the only Royal Marine ever to receive the Distinguished Flying Medal. ‘Uncle Bill’ went on to be the oldest pilot to fly missions in Afghanistan, flying helicopters with the Royal Naval Reserve. By Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Four decades ago, his skill and bravery in the Falklands – evacuating casualties by helicopter under enemy fire – earned pilot William O’Brien a unique honour. In recognition of 17 night-flying sorties, rescuing wounded personnel and resupplying vital ammunition, he became the only Royal Marine ever to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), and received the only such decoration of the conflict.

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See the January issue of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new bravery article

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.

The January issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Major Charles George Gibson “Pat” Riley DCM, one of the earliest and most courageous members of the SAS.

Riley was born in Wisconsin, USA, to an Irish-American family. However, when he was just seven, the family moved to Cumbria. After working first in a quarry, he joined the Coldstream Guards in January 1934, aged 18. (more…)

‘SAINT’ WHO WENT MARCHING ON

First published in the Daily Express on 04 January 2022.

As his medals join the world’s greatest collection of gallantry awards, the long journey of Colour Sergeant Alwyn Stevens from the remote island of St Helena to guts and glory in Afghanistan.

I WAS a toddler when I first visited St Helena. It was a stop-off for my family on our way to Africa where my father Eric Ashcroft was taking up a post as a colonial officer. I’ve had a soft spot for the remote volcanic island ever since and until Covid-19 intervened, was a regular visitor to the British Overseas Territory where Napoleon was exiled after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

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Rhino dehorning team find mutilated female rhino in the south of the Kruger National Park

Discovery made on 13 December 2021.

The South African National Parks (SANParks) reported over the weekend that its rhino dehorning team made a gruesome discovery of a badly mutilated female rhino in the south of the Kruger National Park (KNP). SANParks is aware of a video circulating on social media depicting the severely injured White Rhino cow. The video is distressing to watch, warns SANParks.

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Ulster and the Union: the view from the North

This article was first published in the Mail on Sunday on 12 December 2021.

The news that Northern Ireland voters would choose to stay in the UK – by a majority of 54% to 46% in my poll, once undecideds are excluded – is a welcome early Christmas gift for unionists. In a similar survey two years ago, I found a wafer-thin margin for Ulster to join the Republic in a united Ireland. As in Scotland, where support for independence has fallen, ideals of national identity are being edged aside by a renewed post-pandemic focus on practicalities like public services and living costs.

Some doubt that Ireland would want to take on the North, given the current state of both economies and the extent to which Northern Ireland benefits from UK public spending. Apart from the call of old loyalties and historical destiny there are practical questions: what would the health service be like, would you have to pay to visit the GP, would you still get your old age pension?

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Boris promised he’d ban the import of sickening hunting trophies. This week he MUST deliver.

First published in The Daily Mail on 06 December 2021.

Animal cruelty is something which I simply cannot abide and I have spent a significant amount of time in recent years raising awareness of crimes against nature.

Last year I published a book, Unfair Game, which tells the story of two undercover missions I funded in South Africa in 2018 and 2019. These operations exposed the grim truth about the shocking abuse of lions there. Over the last 30 years, they have been commoditised to such a degree that a new, captive-bred species has in effect been created.

The typical lifecycle of the captive-bred lion is heart-breaking. It is born to die. Cubs are taken from their mothers when just days old and used to lure naïve tourists into paying to cuddle and pet them.

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See the December issue of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new bravery article

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.

The December issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Guardsman Edward Charlton, who was awarded the last VC of the European theatre at the end of the Second World War.

Charlton, who was born in Rowlands Gill near Gateshead in County Durham, volunteered for the Irish Guards shortly after the outbreak of the war in September 1939. He was then aged 19. (more…)

Forty years on since the Falklands War, my new book celebrates the bravery of our Armed Forces

First published on ConservativeHome.com on 17 November 2021.

Last night I was able to host what habecome that rarest of events: a live book launch with real guests. My book launches over the past 20 months have, sadly, had to be “virtual” online events because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I welcomed nearly 250 guests to Millbank Tower, central London, to mark the publication of my latest bravery book: Falklands War Heroes. Politicians, members (and former members) of our Armed Forces, business leaders, lawyers, charity bosses and journalists mixed happily with my friends and family.

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Times Radio interviews Lord Ashcroft

Released on 16 November 2021.

Matt Chorley of the Times Radio interviews Lord Ashcroft about his book, Falklands War Heroes, on the day of its official launch.

Listen to full interview … 

Hero Para who led charge on an Argentine machine gun post – and won last VC of 20th Century: Sergeant Ian McKay’s disregard for his own life was awe-inspiring

Serialisation published in The Mail on Sunday on 14 November 2021.

During the long sea crossing from England to the Falklands, Sergeant Ian McKay wrote to a friend in the spring of 1982: ‘I have no intention of taking any risks and getting killed. If I do, then it will be to protect my men, to save lives.’

His words were tragically prescient. He would go on to be awarded the last Victoria Cross earned in the 20th Century for the extreme valour and selflessness that cost him his life.

The 29-year-old’s call to arms had been sudden and unexpected as events in the South Atlantic escalated.

Finishing a game of football with a group of friends, he had received an urgent message to return to his barracks at Aldershot in Hampshire.

‘He came in and went out,’ his wife Marica later recalled. ‘I put his dinner in a Tupperware container and he went straight away. He just said, “I’ve got to go.”

‘I never saw him again.’

Read more … 

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