A Leyland surgeon’s experience of horrific war injuries is being used to tell a tragic true-life tale in the first modern British war film.
Eddie Chaloner, a former pupil of St Peter and St Paul’s Primary, has been approached to advise on forthcoming Kajaki, by Pukka Films.
The feature-length movie will recount the last hours in the life of paratrooper Cpl Mark Wright (inset) in the Afghan area of the film’s title. The 27-year-old was leading an attempt to rescue a three-man patrol injured by landmines when he was fatally wounded by a blast in 2006.
Mr Chaloner, who joined 144 Parachute Squadron in 1990 and who has worked with landmine charities, will be advising on correct medical techniques and equipment.
He said: “My main expertise relates to landmine injuries in general and what actually happens during a mine strike. While I was working in Afghanistan with the HALO Trust I saw two men in separate incidents blown up right in front of me.
“The purpose of the film is to show the public what working in places such as Afghanistan entails for the frontline armed forces and to illustrate what bravery actually looks like in real life.
“Having met the director and discussed the film, there is a clear intention to make this movie as authentic and real as possible, so I think that is a very important thing for the public to see. It’s a great project and for me it is very personal, quite emotional.”
During Mr Chaloner’s military career, he provided medical support to the airborne brigade and was deployed to Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo before leaving the army in 2002.
He also worked with The HALO Trust in Afghanistan, Mozambique, Angola, Sri Lanka and Iraq, working on the medical logistics of mine clearance, medical training of staff and operating on patients at the local hospitals, either alongside other aid agencies or with local clinicians.
He said: “In most cases, landmines detonate when people inadvertently step on them, blowing their leading leg off.
“You’re usually dealing with the traumatic amputation of limbs - usually legs, sometimes arms, but there are other types of landmines that can cause fragmentation to the chest and face.”
Mr Chaloner, whose sister, Dr Judith Chaloner works as a GP in Preston, has had to perform lifesaving surgery in tents, carrying light-weight operating tables and anaesthetic equipment out of aircraft and into the open war zone.
He said: “We would get a call and have to be ready to fly to the incident and jump out with all the equipment in a tent, carrying out surgery within an hour.
“This didn’t happen all the time though, we’d try to find hard standing medical facilities in the area that we could occupy.”
Now 50, he is now a leading varicose veins consultant in London, dividing his time between NHS work at Lewisham Hospital and at private hospitals.
He added: “I’ve gone from being an action man to something much more sedate.”