Front line woman

John A Silkstone

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First British woman fires weapon on the front line

Lance Corporal Amy Thomas has become the first British female soldier to fire a weapon on the frontline, during a firefight with Taliban insurgents.

Lance Corporal Amy Thomas, is thought to be the first British woman to fire on the frontline in Afghanistan Photo: MoD
The 20-year-old was serving with Royal Marine Commandos in Helmand province when she found the enemy in her sights.

L/Cpl Thomas, a Royal Military policewoman, had been attached to the commandos to gather intelligence and frisk women suspects.

"As soon as we left the helicopters the company came under fire and then it was non-stop," she said. "There were loads of Taliban in the area. I identified one of them running with a weapon and indicated him to the lads.

"They didn't see him so I took the shot. I don't know whether I hit or killed him. It was the only time I opened fire on the Taliban."

L/Cpl Thomas, from Port Talbot in South Wales, was attached to the marines for a two-month period.

Under current rules, women are not allowed to serve in either the infantry or the Royal Armoured Corps, though they serve in other front line units such as the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers.

"I just got on with it because you have to," said L/Cpl Thomas. "At first I thought I wouldn't be able to because I'm quite a girlie girl but once I was out, the training kicked in. The Marines did not treat me any differently as a girl and I felt like one of the lads when I was out with them."

Major Dave Bradley, her commanding officer in 114 Provost Company, said female military policewomen were in increasing demand from other units.

"With most operations involving interaction with the locals, showing respect for traditions and cultures is paramount, with the treatment of females central to this," he said.

Last year, leaked military documents showed that the ban on women serving in the infantry was potentially open to legal challenge.

Service women have been killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan and have also been decorated for bravery.
 

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