Painting the Sand by Kim Hughes GC

Painting in the Sand is a first hand account by Kim Hughes, a British Army Ammunition Technical Officer – AKA bomb disposal specialist – operating in Afghanistan. Reading this book providers a glimpse of what ATOs went through on a daily basis in one of the most dangerous places in the world. There are some light-hearted moments and the book has a strong pace.

[The author’s George Cross citation includes: “Dealing with any form of IED is dangerous. To deal with seven Victim Operated IEDs linked in a single circuit, in a mass casualty scenario, using manual neutralisation techniques once, never mind three times, is the single most outstanding act of explosive ordnance disposal ever recorded in Afghanistan.”]

The last few pages show the citation for bravery and why the author was awarded the George Cross and gives first-hand insight into the dangers the author faced several times a day.

We need books like this to provide history markers and give an understanding to new generations what it must have been like to be involved in a theatre of war in a far and distant land by someone who was at the nasty end.

Recently this book was put on the recommended reading list for the Army Selection Board and at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. This is certainly a recommended read. 5/5