SAS war hero Andy McNab has spoken out about his first-ever kill at the age of 19, claiming that soldiers were rewarded for taking down IRA terrorists during the Troubles.

The 60-year-old veteran joined the Army at the age of 16 and had undergone basic military training when he was sent to Northern Ireland to fight the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

At the age of just 19, he made his first kill. In June 1979, his patrol stumbled across six IRA soldiers who were believed to be preparing for an ambush in Keady, South Armagh.

A gunfight ensued in which Andy shot IRA member Peadar McElvenna. He later died from his injuries.

Andy was 19 when he was sent to Northern Ireland to fight against the IRA [file photo]
Andy was 19 when he was sent to Northern Ireland to fight against the IRA [file photo]

In an exclusive interview with Daily Star Online, Andy alleged soldiers were given an added incentive for making arrests of high-profile targets or killing IRA members.

He explained: "There was an incentive, called the A1 arrest, which was like one of the top 20 IRA guys. If you got an A1 arrest or you got a kill, you got two weeks leave.

When asked how it felt making the kill, Andy continued: "There was a mixture of feelings really, it was the first kill of the tour.

He said soldiers could get a two-week leave at the end of the tour when they made a kill or an A1 arrest of the high-profile targets [file photo]
He said soldiers could get a two-week leave at the end of the tour when they made a kill or an A1 arrest of the high-profile targets [file photo]

"I've got the credibility of all that within the infantry battalion. There was obviously the fact that you got two weeks leave extra at the end of the tour, which was great."

Andy was awarded the Military Medal for the incident but the former SAS commando has since admitted that the "bravado" surrounding the army meant he felt he couldn't express how truly scared he was.

"What I thought I couldn't do, and I was 19, and there are other 19-year-olds in the army and it's sort of full of bravado, I couldn't say to them like 'I didn't like that' because everyone was at very, very close contact," he told this site.

The war veteran said he felt scared after his first kill but later realised he could get killed as much as the enemy could
The war veteran said he felt scared after his first kill but later realised he could get killed as much as the enemy could

"So I was thinking 'I don't want to do that again' because I might be getting killed. But I couldn't say that because in that environment, people don't want to hear that, they just want to hear the bang bang, the good stuff.

"It took me quite a while to really understand that it's alright to be worried about this sort of thing because what it does makes you more realistic and brings everything down to a realistic level.

"You can get killed just as much as they can. But at 19, I didn't really think of that, in that way.

"What I thought I couldn't tell was that it was scary. And that was only the later days when you realised that, not being shot at brings everything to a realistic perspective."

Daily Star Online has contacted the Ministry of Defence for comment.

A new edition of Andy McNab's best-seller Bravo Two Zero will be released in July.