On 11th September 2006 - exactly five years after the attacks on the Twin Towers - a modern day Rorke's Drift was played out in the town of Garmsir, known as the Taliban gateway to Helmand Province. 40-year-old Capt. Doug Beattie of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment was charged with the mission to help retake Garmsir from the Taliban. His commanders said it would take two days; it actually took two weeks of exhausting, bloody conflict in which at times he would be one of only a small unit up against a ferocious enemy in impossible conditions.For his repeated bravery Doug Beattie was decorated with the Military Cross. AN ORDINARY SOLDIER offers an extraordinary insight into the mission in Afghanistan and, crucially, the relationship between British troops and the Afghans they serve alongside. Above all, it's Beattie's personal story of being what he modestly calls 'an ordinary soldier' - someone who balances being a loving father and husband with that of fighting in the world's most hostile place. It demands to be read.
Doug Beattie entered 1 R Irish as 17-year-old. He served as an NCO in Bosnia, an RSM in Iraq, and is currently in his final tour of duty in Afghanistan before he retires in autumn 2008. Co-writer Philip Gomm is Westminster Correspondent for ITV News.