An RAF veteran who was injured in a rocket attack during the “hardest fighting since the Second World War” says he is still finding shrapnel 12 years later.

Senior Aircraftman Phil Kimber was in a coma for three weeks after suffering brain injuries from the blast, which killed three soldiers in Basra, Iraq, in July 2007.

The Help for Heroes campaigner said a doctor removed shrapnel the size of a “pea” from his leg just two months ago as he admitted he was still “mentally broke”.

He said: “I got injured in Iraq, took the wrong end of a 240 rocket that exploded next to me, sustained 15 injuries, pronounced dead at the scene and was in a coma for three weeks afterwards.

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“Two months ago I had a lump on my leg – I had asked two doctors before about it and they said it could be a cyst or an ingrowing hair. So I finally got to see my doctor and she said: “That’s rather a hard lump down in there, if you come down tomorrow I’ll do minor surgery on it”.

“She cut it open and she said: “I think there’s shrapnel”.

I had a piece of shrapnel in there the size of a pea. It had been there 12-and-a-half years.

“Basically, in a light-hearted way I suppose, I’m still physically and mentally broke but I’m alive and Help for Heroes has helped me get through all that.”

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He added at a promotional event for HfH’s Hero Up campaign: “Nobody knew about it back here at the time but in 2007 in Iraq it was the hardest fighting since the Second World War.

“The six-month tour before us had eight rockets land on them, the tour after us had four rockets – we had nearly a 1,000 rockets.

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“For about seven years I was in a really dark place at home, drinking from the bottle. My skull was broke in two places.

“I had a severe traumatic brain injury. I had fragmentation in my left eye.

“Both my ear drums were blasted out, so now I’ve got tinnitus and my neck was broken in three places.”

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