Private McCallion, 24, from Dunbartonshire, Scotland, wriggles the thumb and fingers of his left hand and shows how he can close them in a gentle grip. ‘That’s the most I’ve been able to move my fingers in ages,’ he says. ‘After the incident I thought they wouldn’t be able to save my hand.’
The incident was a suicide bomb attack in Kabul on 4 September 2006, the day after his 22nd birthday. Private McCallion had been in Afghanistan for five weeks with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. At 6am, a convoy set off to give water, stationery and clothes to schools.
‘The kids were so excited to be getting stuff from us soldiers,’ says Private McCallion. He and his friend, another private, were on top cover. This means they were standing in the lead vehicle, a Land Rover, and watching the roads. As the convoy left the second school of the day, Private McCallion felt a thud.
Cold and numb