* Camp hospital deals with 30 casualties
* Wounded taken to Kabul and Britain
By Peter Graff
CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan, July 12 More than 30
wounded British soldiers were flown into Camp Bastion off the
battlefield in Afghanistan and the operating theatre went
through more than 100 pints of blood products over the weekend.
In the bloodiest day in the history of the British war
effort in Afghanistan, eight soldiers were killed on Friday.
Doctors, nurses and staff at the field hospital at Britain's
Camp Bastion worked round the clock, sometimes 15-16 staff
tending to a single badly injured patient.
The 33-bed hospital was already almost full when the carnage
began, but never overflowed. Almost as quickly as helicopters
arrived from the battlefield, planes and other aircraft took
stabilised casualties to Kabul or Birmingham in Britain.
"We've had some very badly injured young people go back to
Birmingham, and go back to Birmingham in very good shape. And I
think there's no question that the hospital system has saved
lives," said Colonel Peter Mahoney, the hospital's director, a
professor of anaesthesiology and airborne soldier.
The battlefield casualties -- the most a British military
hospital has coped with in a single day since the 1982 Falklands
War -- has led to questions back home about a war that has had
lukewarm public support.
But commanders say they expected a surge of casualties this
summer, part of what they aim to be a decisive push to take
advantage of U.S. reinforcements and seize Taliban-held
territory ahead of an Afghan presidential election next month.
Taliban casualty figures were not immediately available.
Britain and the United States have launched simultaneous
operations this month in Afghanistan's most violent province,
Helmand, nearly half of which was under Taliban control until
The British "Operation Panther's Claw" has met tough
resistance from Taliban home-made bombs and sniper positions.
Fighters have also struck back elsewhere in the province.
A Taliban homemade bomb struck a British foot patrol before
dawn on Friday, killing one soldier instantly and wounding
several others. When troops attempted to evacuate, they were hit
by another bomb, killing a stretcher bearer and one of the
Another bomb planted in a field prevented a medivac
helicopter from landing, so troops had to bring the wounded back
to base to fly them out. Two more soldiers later died of wounds.
Five others and an interpreter were injured.
Two other roadside bombs killed another three soldiers in
other parts of the province.
Captain Jac Solghan, a nurse from the U.S. Air Force working
at the British hospital, said he worked 32 hours straight from
2:00 a.m. on Saturday, looking after patient arrivals from the
battlefield and their evacuations to hospitals further on.
"We'd just stay and keep working and working," he said.
"That morning the hospital had not quite full capacity. By the
time we ended the day, the hospital was still full and we were
still pushing patients out."
Mahoney said the hospital had been warned in advance that a
big operation was being planned, and had mobilised additional
staff in expectation of a surge in casualties.
"There's no doubt it has been wearing. But none of the staff
have ever complained and said they hadn't wanted to do it.
Everybody's risen up to the occasion," Mahoney said.
(Editing by Paul Tait)