A CHAPLAIN from Horwich has been injured in a rocket attack in southern Iraq just months after joining the Army.

Mike Thomason was thrown sideways when a mortar landed close to him as he was serving in Basra.

He broke his upper arm and was airlifted back to Britain where is he currently recovering in hospital.

His wife, Sue and their baby son, Alexander, who was born in September, have been flown from their home in Germany to be by his side.

Ironically, Mr Thomason's tour of duty was due to end only two days after the attack and he was set to return to his base in Germany.

"A mortar landed quite close to him," said friend, Chris Moody who worked alongside him as a volunteer with the Bolton Mountain Rescue Team when Mr Thomason was a reverend in Horwich.

"Mike was thrown sideways and when he landed he suffered a break to his upper arm."

Mr Thomason was a reverend at the New Chapel United Reformed Church and the Horwich and Adlington United Reformed Church.

But life in the Army beckoned for the 29-year-old and for the last six months he has been in Basra as chaplain to the Combat Support Engineer Regiment, which is responsible for reconstruction projects and bomb disposal. The regiment is based in Bolton's twin town of Paderborn, Germany. But away from the quiet of that town, Mr Thomason has told how he had become used to cowering under his desk when his camp in Basra came under attack.

"The main thing to say is that it's not as bad as it sounds over here," he told The Bolton News last month.

After being airlifted back to RAF Brize Norton he was transferrred to Selly Oak Hospital near Birmingham where he is recovering.

Mr Mooney said that his pal "seemed in good spirits" when he spoke to him by phone recently.

  • The total number of UK troops killed in Iraq has risen to 125 after four soldiers were killed in Basra City on Sunday, November 12, 2006.