A SCOTTISH soldier kept firing at the Taliban – even after a bullet smashed the top of his head.
Craig Paterson continued blazing away at the enemy despite a horrific head wound that meant the top of his skull had to be replaced with a titanium plate.
The AK47 bullet went straight through Private Paterson’s Kevlar helmet, punching a neat hole in the front and tearing a jagged hole in the back.
The 22-year-old soldier with 4 Scots, the Highlanders, is now planning to cycle a 500-mile route from Edinburgh to London to raise cash for the charity that helped nurse him back to health.
Private Paterson, from Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, had been in Helmand province, Afghanistan, for three months when his position was attacked last July.
He and three colleagues were on a roof when heavy automatic fire was poured on them by Taliban fighters.
Despite a bullet ripping through his helmet and destroying the top part of his skull, Private Paterson remained conscious and remembers continuing to fire back.
Royal Navy reservist Michelle Ping, 37, gave the soldier medical treatment and even shielded him with her own body, receiving a Mention in Dispatches for her own bravery.
The soldier was so badly injured he spent three days in a medically-induced coma before being flown back to the UK.
A surgeon had to delicately remove part of the top of his skull and it was later replaced with a titanium plate.
The chunk of super-tough metal is held in place in his skull by 32 screws.
He says: “I tested it, but it doesn’t seem to be magnetic though I don’t know yet what effect it has on airport security metal detectors.”
Private Paterson has has kept the bone fragment as a grisly reminder. He said: “I have it in an envelope upstairs as a war souvenir.”
He needed a month’s treatment at a hospital in Birmingham followed by seven months rehabilitation at Headley Court, Surrey. Even now, he still suffers from weakness down his right side.
His mother, Alison, and girlfriend, Louise Dalgarno, were given accommodation nearby and support from the Soldiers, Sailors Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA).
He is now preparing for a 510-mile cycle of Britain which will last five days.
The Ride of Britain will raise money for SSAFA, who Private Paterson says he is grateful to for helping him be with his family as he recovered.
He said: “It’s another challenge but I’ll do it to help SSAFA continue their great work.
“It meant so much to us to be together.”
Private Paterson has to ride a specially modified reclining bike for the journey.
He can be sponsored online at www.justgiving.com/Hldr-Craig-Paterson1.