Soldier’s miracle recovery

Shot: James Murphy looks through some of his regimental photos
Shot: James Murphy looks through some of his regimental photos
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A soldier left with a bullet lodged in his brain after being shot by the Taliban has spoken out about how lucky he is to be alive.

James Murphy, 20, of Wesham, near Preston, was fired at while serving in Afghanistan and took two rounds above the right ear shattering his skull and leaving him paralysed down his left hand side.

James with the scars from his lifesaving operation.

James with the scars from his lifesaving operation.

However, after undergoing months of surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, James is slowly building his life back together, although he is devastated as he knows he can no longer serve his country as a soldier.

James today said: “Even after what has happened to me, I have no regrets about joining the army.

“Until I was shot, it was the best experience of my life and I enjoyed every minute.”

James, a former pupil at Kirkham’s Carr Hill High School, joined the Scots Guards Infantry when he was just 16 and trained at Catterick and Winchester before doing six months of ceremonial

duties in London.

After returning to Catterick, just one month later, he was sent to Afghanistan.

James and his comrades were fired at almost every day, but usually when they were in their check points.

The life-changing incident happened on September 2, 2010 when James had only been in Afghanistan about a month.

James said: “We were clearing some bushes at the side of the road near an irrigation ditch which were obscuring our view of a building.

“While we were doing it, we felt quite safe because we were inside the irrigation ditch which came up to our faces and we had our helmets on too.

“We were just clearing the last of the bushes when our section commander told us to come back.

“I came out of the ditch and the last thing I remember is helping my mate out of the ditch. The next thing I recall after that is waking up in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham weeks later.”

James later discovered that a sniper had fired a machine gun and the first bullet bounced off his helmet while the second went underneath the helmet and pierced the right hand side of his head and causing him to drop to the ground.

Just 28 minutes later, James was on the operating table in Kandahar undergoing surgery to remove the bullet.

His injuries were so horrific that when he was flown to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, he was put into a medically induced coma for 12 days while he was treated.

Surgeons removed as much of the bullet as they could, but had to leave fragments as it would have caused too much damage to remove them.

James had a large piece of skull removed from his right hand side and this has since been replaced with a titanium plate.

However, after being transferred to Headley Court for physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and counselling, James began regaining use of his body.

He even managed to receive his Operational Service Medal alongside his comrades from 1st Battalion Scots Guards.

The lasting effects of James’ injuries now are that he cannot move his left hand and his left leg is still weak.

He has also been left with post traumatic epilepsy which caused him to suffer terrifying fits, but is now under control with medication.

James is also affected psychologically as horrific memories sometimes come flooding back.

James will be discharged from the army on November 7 and says while he is saddened, he has accepted it and is trying to build his life in other ways.

He said: “When I first signed up, I envisaged myself doing a full service of at least 20 or 30 years.

“I love football and as I am not really strong enough to play myself, I have lined up some coaching of youngsters at Burnley and am also hoping to get involved with the football community development team at Preston.

“And other soldiers have been left amputees as a result of their injuries.

“Even though I came close to death, I count myself lucky in so many ways.”