A British soldier who was badly injured in an Afghanistan ambush is holidaying in Cyprus with his family thanks to the generosity of a local charity and its supporters.
Lance Corporal Martyn Compton, a Household Cavalry soldier, was at 24, the only survivor of an attack during a roadside ambush on his convoy in Helmand province in Afghanistan in 2006.
Three of his patrol were killed when a massive roadside bomb was detonated before he was blown up and set on fire by Taliban rockets. He was then shot twice as he dragged himself to safety.
Compton, from Kent, suffered horrific burns to most of his body, he also lost his ears, much of his nose and his eyelids were fused.
Thanks to a local Paphos charity, The Military and Retired Holidays for Heroes (March) the soldier and his family, wife Michelle, father Robert and children Archie, 7 and Coral, 6, –– are currently enjoying a much-needed holiday in Paphos.
They have been to Cyprus before and thoroughly enjoy their time here
“This gives you time as a family, it’s great to come out and enjoy ourselves and being together is important. I hope people continue to support this charity,” Compton told the Sunday Mail.
“It’s lovely to know that people have donated their house for us, it’s unbelievable what people actually do, and Alan and Barbara put in a lot of hard work too.”
Alan Wilson and wife Barbara, set up ‘March’ in 2010 as a non-profit organisation offering donated holiday homes to injured or traumatised military personnel.
Wilson said they were delighted that a generous property owner in Peyia came forward and offered a villa with pool to enable the Compton family to enjoy a holiday abroad this year.
“Martyn has severe burns and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and is staying in Cyprus for two weeks. We are so grateful to everyone that supports us and donates their properties for free to enable families such as Martyn’s to spend some much-needed relaxation time together,” he said.
The member of the Household Cavalry suffered 75 per cent third-degree burns all over his body.
Since the ambush in 2006, he has undergone more than 500 hours of operations and years of rehabilitation.
Wife Michelle, (they were engaged at the time), received the news of the attack from her future father-in-law.
“The first glimpse of Martyn, he was wrapped head to toe in bandages. I knew he was badly injured but not to what extent,” she said.
She said that he looked like a Michelin man – swollen and completely bandaged.
“I think it was easier for me to see him, than for me to see himself. I’d got used to it,” she said.
Compton said that realising the extent of his injuries and how they had altered his appearance was a strange experience.
“It was weird, I felt like myself inside and I didn’t really know what to expect or what I looked like. That was the hard bit. I lost three blokes that day, so for me obviously, I was the lucky one. That’s how I deal with it.”
He was in a coma for months, then continuous pain and endured more than 500 hours of operations and skin grafts. He has many more to come throughout his life.
Compton was also shot straight through his right femur, an injury alone that sees a lot of people die from the loss of blood, said his wife.
One of the hardest challenges Compton faces on a daily basis is the way that his skin reacts, as the burnt areas don’t sweat and the small burn free areas sweat twice as much. His sense of smell is heightened and his hearing isn’t great.
“He is the same person and it’s important that he remembers that. When he came to and it was time to look in the mirror, I said: ‘You’re still you, you haven’t changed, but if you change as a person and become a recluse I will walk away.’ Now he’s probably more outgoing than he was before,” she said.
After working at a Pupil Referral Unit, (PRU) Michelle is starting a new job in September as an alternative learning provision teacher, teaching students who find it hard to stay in lessons and behave.
“I feel very lucky to have her,” said Compton, who said that he is used to people staring at him.
“It’s just one of those things.”
In 2010, he discovered KartForce and has gone on to compete as part of a high-level team. He was appointed the first KartForce Ambassador and in 2015, and was selected to be one of four founding members of Team BRIT, a new division of KartForce aimed at team endurance car racing.
He credits racing with pulling him out of a very dark hole and a cycle of operations and rehabilitation. Initially, he was invited to try go-carting and then started racing.
Compton said that the aim is to be the first all-disabled team to race at Le Mans in 2020, consisting of around fifteen ex-military and civilian members. He said that they operate as a normal team and are trying to get sponsors, which is the hard part.
He will also cycle in a race across New Zealand from South to North with the Pilgrim Bandits a specialist military charity which offers challenging missions around the world that rebuild self-belief and confidence.
“I like to push myself and there are charities that help you to do that, so I haven’t let my injuries stop me from doing anything. It’s an important message.”
His wife added: “We take every day as it comes.”
To support Martyn Compton raise money for the Pilgrim Bandits: https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/martyns_opride