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Black Ice - The memoir of a soldier, double-amputee and world champion

Black Ice - The memoir of a soldier, double-amputee and world champion

On 3rd November 2022, military historian Christopher Joll will be giving a talk on Mirthy about Black Ice, the book he co-wrote with Corie Mapp during the Covid 19 lockdown of 2020.

BLACK ICE - The memoir of a soldier, double-amputee and world champion

by Corie Mapp & Christopher Joll

Published by Nine Elms Books (www.ninelemsbooks.co.uk)

At first glance, the most remarkable thing about the book is that – thanks to lockdown – it was written in its entirety without the co-authors ever meeting, despite living within 30 miles of each other. In fact, they only met for the first time once the manuscript was completed. Remarkable though that may be, the story of the power of the human spirit to overcome everything including death, as told in Black Ice, makes the story of its writing insignificant.

The book opens in January 2020 in the Intensive Care Unit of the military wing of Selly Oak Hospital  (now Queen Elizabeth Hospital) in Birmingham, England. A soldier, who has been badly wounded while on active service in Afghanistan, returns to consciousness for the first time since his injury two weeks before. All he can think about is that his boots are killing him. He calls over a nurse and asks her to remove them. The nurse has no idea what to do because, not only does the soldier have no boots to remove, he has no lower legs either… eight years later this same soldier, Lance Corporal Corie Mapp of The Life Guards, is standing on a podium in St Moritz, Switzerland, holding aloft the Para Bobsleigh World Cup.

Corie Mapp was born in rural, eastern Barbados in 1978. After leaving school at 16 with no qualifications, he served – often in life threatening situations – with the Royal Barbados Police Force. But in 2005 he bought a one-way ticket to London in pursuit of his dream: to serve in The Life Guards, the senior regiment of the British Army.

Despite the misgivings of the recruiting team, Mapp passed easily though basic training before being sent not to drive light tanks with the Household Cavalry Regiment based in Windsor, as was his intention, but to serve in the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in London where he would be required to learn to ride horses. In the event,  and despite never having ridden before, he loved it. In the process, he became the first ever Barbadian to ride on The Queen’s Birthday Parade and other State occasions.

However, eventually he got his wish to drive light tanks when, in 2008, he was posted as a combat vehicle driver to the Household Cavalry Regiment in Windsor, where he came under the command of Captain Wales, better known now as The Duke of Sussex.  In late 2009, Mapp’s squadron was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan and, in January 2010, while on active duty under enemy fire, his armoured vehicle ran over an IED.

Two weeks later, as already related, he returned to consciousness in Selly Oak Hospital minus his legs, and with a broken jaw, a severely lacerated faced, a broken hand, a punctured lung, blood poisoning and an undiagnosed allergy to morphine, with which he was being treated intravenously.

Although initially devastated mentally and physically by his life-changing injuries, Mapp drew on the love of his family and his skill at sports to recover while at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, then at Headley Court. Within a two weeks of regaining consciousness he was walking on prosthetic legs, within a month he was driving a car and he went on over the coming months to  compete successfully in athletics and sitting volleyball for the British Army in the 2013 Warrior Games, and the first two Invictus Games.

Corie Mapp winning gold medal at invictus games

Image: Corie Mapp winning the Gold Medal point in Sitting Volleyball for Team GB at the first Invictus Games.

Then, in 2013 Mapp was introduced to para bobsleigh. Initially he was reluctant to participate in the sport, but quickly discovered that he was a natural mono bobsled pilot. As the book recounts, his fireplace at home was soon full of trophies. However, Mapp was not content with this and, despite being financially secure, in 2020 he joined Wilshire Police as a full-time Police Community Support Officer. Two years on, he is about to start training to become a Police Constable.

Corie Mapp Black Ice book cover

In his compelling book, and as Mirthy subscribers will see and hear on 3rd November, Black Ice recounts Mapp’s extraordinary life story with a disarming modesty, considerable humour and no end of self-deprecation – but also with some very firmly held beliefs and convictions about life, death and racism. This is a human interest story like no other, that takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride from the backwoods of Barbados to the mountains of Afghanistan, from drugs busts and prison riots, to the uninhibited behaviour of a prince when away from the cameras.

 

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