Scott Ransley, Royal Marine, 26
I was with 42 Commando Royal Marines, Lima Company, on Op Herrick 14 in 2011 when I got injured. We’d been out in Afghanistan for about three and a half months and our job was to do strike operations, which deliberately focus on a specific target. On the day it happened – May 15 – we were heading towards an IED-making facility to try and take it down, and we’d had to navigate our way through approximately 18-20 mines before we could even get close to the compound it was located in. We were still about 100m away and my friend Nigel Dean Mead – who we called Deano – was first in the assaulting section, with me as number two, when there was suddenly a loud bang and a flash.
I remember what felt like sunburn all over my face and hands and I shouted to Deano to make sure he was alright. I fully expected him to shout back ‘yes, that was close’, but there was no reply. So I went over and pulled him out of this irrigation ditch with another lad. He had no legs, and one of his arms was pretty much blown off. We tried to do everything we could, to put him back together so to speak.
Then I got into the rescue helicopter with him and realised I couldn’t see properly. I didn’t know I was blind in one eye at the time, I just thought my eyes had been peppered with a load of shrapnel. That was the end of the tour for me.
I got flown to Camp Bastion for an operation, then to Kandahar for another and finally back to Britain, to Birmingham Eye Hospital, 48 hours later. There were 11 pieces of shrapnel in my right eye, all at different depths, and to get them all out they had to damage the eye so I knew I wouldn’t be able to see with it again. Luckily, the other eye is fine – I was behind a tree when the IED went off and I’m assuming that it stopped a bit of the shrapnel. I should have been wearing our ballistic eye protection and I had been, but it was early morning and hot, and out there they flood the fields so when the sun starts coming up, the water evaporates and it gets really humid. As we got closer to the compound I was forever wiping the eye protection, and I thought I’d rather be able to see clearly. Literally two minutes after I took them off, the bomb went off.
I came to terms with only having one working eye pretty quickly. My depth perception isn’t good any more and I can’t catch for anything, but I try not to stress myself out. Having lost Deano, it was pretty insignificant. He was 19. It’s not nice to lose anybody but the bad thing about it being Deano was that I’d joined the Marines with him, done my training with him. Then when we’d passed that, we even went to the same unit, which is when everybody usually gets split up. Everything that we did, we did together.
I had to leave the fighting company 42 Commando from then on, and go to Hasler Company in HMS Drake, which is a unit for injured and recovering Marines. From there I got put in touch with the charity Walking With The Wounded and heard about the 1,000 mile fundraising Walk of Britain.
My main reason for doing the walk? The challenge: it’s definitely going to be a challenge. Since leaving the Marines I like to go to the gym and keep myself fit – I work as a personal trainer and run boot camps in Ripon and Halifax, in Yorkshire – but it’s not really a challenge. I never would have left the Marines by choice. I’ll also enjoy being with the other like-minded people on the team. Military lads have got a different type of banter, and obviously that goes away when you leave. This won’t be quite the same, but it’s the closest thing.
Support the walk
The team would like the general public to get involved in the Walk of Britain in any way they can, by donating, buying a mile or joining them along the route. See walkingwiththewounded.org.uk and follow the walk on Twitter.