TWO North soldiers serving in southern Afghanistan have foiled a suicide car bomber who attempted to attack their patrol as they were returning to base.

The incident, which lasted a matter of seconds, happened as the soldiers, from 473 Special Observation Post Battery, 5 Regiment Royal Artillery, based at Catterick, North Yorkshire, were heading back to the camp in Gereshk.

A white Toyota Corolla, which contained a suicide car bomber, suddenly pulled out and attempted to drive into their convoy of Pinzgauer vehicles.

The first Pinzgauer swerved to avoid the car and the top cover sentry, Corporal Lee Wilbor, from Northallerton, fired a single shot through its window, causing the driver to collapse at the wheel. But the Toyota carried on, swerving erratically into the path of the rear vehicle, whose soldiers opened fire causing the car to veer out of the way before it dramatically exploded.

Describing the incident, Captain James Ashworth, said: "Initially I thought 'what is this guy up to', as the local traffic usually pulls over. I then shouted a warning, fortunately my top cover sentry, Corporal Wilbor, was in an ideal position to fire a single well aimed round.

"The rear vehicle then opened fire on the target and the bomb detonated. Luckily it was now between our two vehicles and we were sufficiently far apart from the blast not to sustain any serious injuries."

Corporal Darren Clark, the driver of the front vehicle, from Middlesbrough, said: "As soon as I saw the car heading towards us, I knew it must be a suicide bomber, I veered off but he still managed to clip the rear of the Pinzgauer, at the same time, Frodo Corporal Lee Wilbor got a round off at him and then the rear vehicle opened fire.

"The white vehicle then detonated. I felt shrapnel flying over our heads. I was told to stop, but the explosion had blown the brakes, so it took me a while. We then jumped out and got to business in clearing up."

Corporal Sandy Blunt, Top Cover sentry of the rear vehicle, said: "I had just noticed some kids waving at me and I waved back. It was then it happened - I heard a crash and then a shot rang out from the front vehicle. I turned and saw the white vehicle heading toward me. We then as a team opened fire on it.

"When the white vehicle was about ten metres away, it exploded. Corporal Bayliss and I were flung to the floor by the blast. I jumped up and thought the Sergeant Major and driver must be dead. But to my amazement, the 'Boss' was on his feet, calm as you like, and round the vehicle to see if we were all ok."

The blast caused only slight damage to the vehicles and some of the patrol sustained minor blast injuries like nose bleeds. They secured the area and took care of those needing medical attention. The medics also attended to an Afghan motorcyclist who had been trying to pass as the bomb was detonated, unfortunately he had died instantly.

The Officer Commanding 473 Special Observation Post Battery, Major Tony Phillips, added: "This proves the training works. The key thing is we went in and performed a role of which we are highly trained and able to react to any given situation. I am extremely pleased and delighted with the performance of my troops on this and all the other missions they have completed. There is a real confidence throughout the Battalion for all the scenarios that they will encounter on this tour."

This incident was announced during the week when Captain John McDermid of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was killed by a roadside bomb in Sangin.

473 Special Observation Post Battery are the newly formed 52 Brigades' Reconnaissance Force.

Are you relatives of Cpl Wilbor or Cpl Clark? If so contact the newdesk on 01325-505064 or email