A Coldstream Guards marksman on one of the last tours of duty carried out by the British in Afghanistan in December 2013 managed to kill six enemy fighters with a record-breaking single shot.
The sniper, who cannot be named for security reasons, is a lance corporal who was UK troops as they were preparing to leave their last frontline base in Helmand. Commanders were concerned that a suicide bomber was planning to detonate his suicide vest either at a UK base, an Afghan security checkpoint or a civilian target such as a school or government building.
This sniper, on his first shot of this tour of duty, was able to kill a Taliban machine gunner from 1,465 yards (1,340 meters). When the troops encountered the suicide bomber, the sniper noticed him moving along the tree line with a machine gun.
When the insurgent moved into a firing position, the sniper engaged him, and the insurgent exploded. There was a pause before the sniper said over the radio, “I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber.” The other five enemy fighters were killed in the explosion. The sniper was using an L115A3, the most powerful weapon in the Army.
Other soldiers said that the sniper prevented a significant attack by the Taliban. A second suicide vest was found near the target. The sniper was able to hit the detonator from 850 meters.
A former marksman (who asked not to be named) who trains other soldiers to be snipers said that you need both mental and physical toughness to be a sniper. He said that many people practice well, but when they are aiming at a human being, knowing that they are ending a human life, they just can’t do it. “And that’s not their fault,” he said.
This marksman said that he would consider it another drill. He reminded himself that these targets intend to kill others themselves and shooting them removes that threat and protects lives.
He served in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. One incident in Afghanistan stands out to him.
A Taliban soldier was concealed in a hay bale, observing their base. He must have been radioing information to a mortar installation because mortars kept falling on the base.
“Then one day I was observing the area with the sun shining behind me. It must have just caught the lenses of his binoculars because I saw something shining in the bale, and I fired a round into it from about 700 meters away.
“Within 24 hours the observation point had collapsed and disappeared. We weren’t bothered by mortars anymore – at least not for a couple of weeks.”
His service on the frontline ended when an explosion damaged his hearing to the point that his commanding officers worried he would not be able to hear instructions of the radio. Since then, he has trained soldiers all over Europe to be snipers.
Two of the top snipers during WW2 are:
Ivan Mikhailovich Sidorenko-USSR
Ivan had about 500 kills during the war. He had more kills than anyone else from the Soviet Union. Before joining the military, Sidorenko studied art and went to college. He dropped out of college and became a member of the Red Army. He had no proper training in sniping and taught himself in the early part of the war. During the war, he once used incendiary bullets (bullets that can cause fires) to destroy three vehicles and a tank.
Sometime in 1944, Sidorenko was injured. He spent his remaining military time as an instructor, teaching young snipers how to be more accurate.
The most deadly sniper of World War II: Simo Häyhä. He had 542 confirmed kills, with an unconfirmed total number of 705. Not only is he the most deadly sniper of World War II, but he is also believed to be the most deadly sniper of all time.
All his kills were against the Red Army, who nicknamed him White Death and Häyhä wore white camouflage, to match his environment, the snow. He would even keep snow in his mouth, believing the steam produced from his mouth could fog up his scope, causing issues. He was shot in the war, which disfigured his face, but he lived to be 96, only dying in 2002.