Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 14:56 UK

Soldier's 'lucky' bullet escape


Private Wilson: 'I was shot in the head' (footage courtesy of the MoD)

A soldier has been described as "the luckiest in the British Army" after a bullet went through his helmet, but missed his head by 2mm.

Private Leon "Willy" Wilson, 32, a Territorial Army soldier from Bolton, was knocked over by the impact of the shot in Afghanistan.

But he was left without a mark after the bullet ripped through his headgear.

"The medic was looking queasy - I don't think anyone wanted to take my helmet off," Pte Wilson said.

The father of three was back on duty within an hour of the near-miss.

It shook me up but there is not much else you can do but get on with the job you are out here to do
Pte Leon Wilson

Defence chiefs pronounced Pte Wilson, who is on attachment with 2nd Battalion of the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) "officially the luckiest man in the British Army".

Pte Wilson was manning a machine gun during a fierce battle with the Taleban in Helmand Province when he was hit by the 7.62mm AK47 bullet, the Ministry of Defence said.

"I took my finger off the trigger when the shot hit my helmet," Pte Wilson said.

"I was knocked clean off my position and landed on my back. I had my eyes shut."

Pte Wilson, who usually works as an electrician, asked a comrade if he had been shot.

'Good soldier'

"He was just staring at me in amazement and swearing, and said 'Yes'," Pte Wilson said.

"It shook me up but there is not much else you can do but get on with the job you are out here to do."

Pte Wilson was wearing a Mark 6a helmet, which is made from several layers of Kevlar armour.

Pte Wilson's commander, Captain Rob Agnew said: "Willy's a good lad - and a good soldier."

Pte Wilson's mother said he would not be so lucky again

Cpt Agnew said that during the operation Pte Wilson was involved in, a bomb-making factory was found and destroyed and several improvised explosive devices were uncovered.

The Commander of Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Tim Radford, said: "It may well have been luck that saved Pte Wilson but it was bravery that put him back up on the roof within the hour to continue fighting alongside the Warrior Afghan soldiers."

Speaking from her home in Knutsford, Cheshire, Pte Wilson's mother, Jennifer Hughes, agreed that her son had been very lucky.

"His first words were that he'd been shot 'through the head' he said, but that he was OK. He'd been shot through the helmet, but through the padding and it was very close," said Mrs Hughes.

"He was very lucky. He won't be that lucky again," she added.

"I'm still very worried because he's still got a further five and a half months out there and I'm constantly worried every day - but I suppose all mothers are."

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