Sergeant Paul "Scruff" Mcgough, who has died aged 41, was a member of the Special Boat Service unit which took part in the siege of Qala-i-Janghi, Afghanistan, one of the most highly decorated missions in the recent history of the British special forces.

In November 2001 McGough was with C Company, SBS, when it flew unannounced into the former Soviet airbase at Bagram. 

A key strategic objective in north-east Afghanistan, it was disputed by thousands of Afghan government fighters, and the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, led by the Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. 

Though vastly outnumbered, the SBS held the huge airbase for a day and a night, to the fury of both armies, and to the chagrin of the Americans, who had expected to be first there.

Once relieved by the much larger US 10th Mountain Division and Delta Force (the American equivalent of the SAS) McGough, in local dress, undertook intelligence-gathering patrols in the mountains. 

On November 25, as his team returned to the Anglo-American special forces base in the newly captured town of Mazar-i-Sharif, McGough heard the sound of battle at Dostum's sprawling headquarters in the mud-built prison-fortress of Qala-i-Jangi, known as the "Fort of War". 

Several hundred prisoners had revolted while being interrogated by the CIA, and, overpowering their Northern Alliance guards, armed themselves with AK47s, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades from Dostum's huge armoury. 

They killed Captain "Mike" Spann, a former member of the US Marine Corps with the CIA, and cornered another agent, Dave Dawson, in a blockhouse.

McGough was one of eight SBS men in two armed Land Rovers under a British commander, and nine US special forces, led by Major Mark Mitchell, who raced to prevent the Taliban from breaking out of the jail to retake Mazar-i-Sharif. 

Using only Leatherman handtools, McGough and a comrade stripped two general purpose machine-guns (known as "jimpies") from their vehicle mountings and carried them with ammunition to the ramparts.

McGough stood silhouetted against the sky firing his heavy jimpy from the hip to halt a determined charge by scores of screaming warriors, despite a hail of bullets which tore up the battlements under his feet. 

Next he and another SBS man set alight three pick-up trucks. As the guns in the fort fell silent for first time since the battle had started, Dawson made his escape. 

McGough's action marked a turning point, and for two days he and the other seven SBS men displayed extraordinary heroism in the face of hundreds of fanatical Taliban. 

A man of few words, he chain-smoked while repelling charges by the tribesmen for several days until the US Special Forces called in air strikes.

Chief Petty Officer Stephen Bass (USN), who was attached to the SBS, received the Navy Cross from the American President and the Military Cross from the Queen. 

Mitchell received the US Distinguished Service Cross from his government, and two SBS men received the British Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. 

Despite reports to the contrary no Britons received any foreign awards, and McGough, though rumoured to have been recommended for the award of the Military Cross and the Congressional Medal of Honor, received a mention in dispatches.

True to the cloak of secrecy which surrounds all operations of the SBS, whose motto is "By Strength and Guile", little else is known about Paul McGough. 

He was one of the most respected men to serve with the SBS and fought in Operation Barras during September 2000, when 11 members of the Royal Irish Regiment and a Sierra Leonean soldier were being held hostage by "the West Side Boys", former members of the Sierra Leone Army.

Some of McGough's exploits were described in Damien Lewis's Bloody Heroes, published earlier this month. 

He was killed in a hang gliding accident on Cyprus on June 1, and leaves a widow and children.


6 Rounds For time of:
1 Squat Snatch (70/50kg)
6 Ring Muscle Ups
11 Calorie Assault Bike
64 Double Unders
11 Burpees
6 Chest to Bar Pull Ups
1 Squat Clean (70/50kg)

Please write completed times to the whiteboard…