Members of the RAF Regiment who have died whilst still serving are recognised here. It is intended that this will become a fuller record as we are able to gather the information needed to make this page more complete.
Serving SAC Warren OWEN, born 1 Aug 93, died in a tragic road traffic on 26 May 12, aged 18. He was a member of 27 Sqn RAF Regt, based at RAF Honington.
RAuxAF Regt Gnr Kamrul HASSAN, of 504 Sqn RAuxAF based at RAF Cottesmore, died as a result of a road traffic accident on 24 Feb 12, aged 28. No other details are known
SAC Ryan Tomlin
It is with great sadness that the Royal Air Force must confirm the death of Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, of 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment who was killed on the 13 February 2012. SAC Tomlin was taking part in a partnered patrol to reassure and interact with the local population in the Western Dashte area on the edge of Nad-e Ali district in Central Helmand Province when he was fatally wounded by small arms fire from an insurgent attack. He was evacuated by air to the field hospital at Camp Bastion where sadly he succumbed to his wounds.
Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, 21, from Hemel Hempstead was born on 29 May 1990. He joined the Royal Air Force in October 2008, completing his Trainee Gunners Course in April 2009 before moving on to the Phase One Field Gunners Course. He was selected to join 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, based at Royal Air Force Honington, in June 2009.
He arrived at an incredibly busy time for the Squadron and launched straight into Afghanistan pre-deployment training. Ryan completed his first tour in Afghanistan in 2010 as a specialist driver on a rifle flight (the RAF Regiment equivalent of a platoon), defending Kandahar Air Base. After returning from this successful deployment, he showed promise and desire to develop new skills.
He deployed on a second tour to Afghanistan with No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing at Camp Bastion in October 2011. From the start of the tour, he and his section supported Squadron operations out on the ground around Bastion with great skill and determination, often deploying for several days at a time through the harsh Helmand winter.
A highly professional and skilful gunner who achieved all he set out to do in his three years in the Royal Air Force Regiment, Senior Aircraftman Tomlin became one of the rising stars of his squadron and regiment, and showed great potential for what promised to be the brightest of futures.He leaves behind his mother and father, Diane and Kevin, and a sister, Michelle. The thoughts of all in 2 Squadron and No. 3 Force Protection Wing are with them at this most difficult of times.
The family of SAC Tomlin said: “Ryan loved and lived life to the full. He gave his life at a very young age doing the job he loved. Ryan will be sorely missed by his family and friends and everyone who loved him. We will remember his cheeky grin and great sense of humour. Ryan will be forever young and never forgotten. Our true hero and shining star.”
Wing Commander Jason Sutton OBE, Commanding Officer, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said: “Senior Aircraftman Tomlin was one of the finest men on my wing and his loss has come as a terrible blow to all of us, especially his comrades on his beloved 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment. Bright, gifted and an absolute master of his craft, he had the complete trust of those who had the privilege of serving alongside him. When the task was hard, he would immediately rise to the challenge. When those around him were weary, he was the one to lift their spirits, and when the enemy threatened, he was the first to be ready to fight. In our grief, we take comfort that he fell doing the job he loved, protecting his mates and the Afghan National Army soldiers we work to support in our shared task of building a better future for Afghanistan. “Senior Aircraftman Tomlin had the brightest future ahead of him, and his loss has deprived the Royal Air Force Regiment of one of its very best. In continuing our mission here to protect air operations and the people who work at Camp Bastion, we will strive to do justice to the fine example he set. His loss is deeply felt by us all, but our grief can never be deeper than that of Diane and Kevin and their family, with whom our thoughts and prayers are with at this most difficult time. He will never be forgotten. Per Ardua.”
Flight Lieutenant David Martin, Deputy Squadron Commander, 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said: “Professional, experienced and extremely popular, Senior Aircraftman Tomlin was one of the best gunners in 2 Squadron. He excelled at everything he did and he epitomised the Royal Air Force Regiment spirit in every way. He was hugely respected by his peers and he frequently mentored the younger members of the Squadron. Joining the Squadron in 2009, Senior Aircraftman Tomlin soon proved to be an exceptional marksman, displaying an excellent flair for fieldcraft. “Senior Aircraftman Tomlin enjoyed banter within his close knit section, always remaining upbeat and lifting the spirits of those around him. Already an experienced gunner with a tour in Afghanistan to his name, on this tour his confidence grew quickly in just a few short months. He was depended upon time and again to provide vital surveillance and reconnaissance and long range fire support to his colleagues when needed. Indeed, I witnessed at first hand his quick thinking and calm professional manner during a meeting with village elders when he and his colleagues successfully fought off an insurgent attack. “Senior Aircraftman Tomlin was fatally wounded whilst on an important engagement patrol, reassuring villagers and improving the lives of local Afghan people. He loved his job, he was a pleasure to command and I am honoured to have known him. Senior Aircraftman Tomlin clearly possessed an exceptionally bright future and the Squadron is devastated by the loss of a brother. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and friends – we will never forget him. Nunquam Non Paratus.”
Corporal Thomas Vardy, Section Commander, 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said: “I first met Ryan when I was posted to 2 Squadron in October 2009. I know it’s not fair to have favourites, but I took an instant liking to Ryan. He was young, enthusiastic, funny and had knowledge beyond his years. “I had the privilege not only of having Ryan on the same flight, but on my section. He was my driver for six months on his first tour of Afghanistan in early 2010. I particularly remember haranguing him on his birthday because it was 10 o’clock in the morning and he still had his night sight on his weapon. “Ryan was very keen and a good soldier. He was a constant source of morale and nothing got him down. I’m certain he would have had a very successful career. “It was clear that Ryan was very close to his family and friends as he made every effort to go back home to Hemel Hempstead at weekends. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends and they should be extremely proud of him. “It’s hard to put into words how much you are going to miss someone. Ryan wasn’t just one of my team, he was my friend. Nobody had a bad word to say about him and it was difficult to put him down. If you were having a photo, he would be in the background messing around. When he got excited the decibels went up and he talked too fast, but that was just Ryan. “Ryan will be sorely missed and never forgotten. Your smile will stay with me forever.”Senior Aircraftman Robert Zuccolini, Signaller, 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said: “Ryan Tomlin always had morale to give out. You would never find him in a bad mood and he would never put you in one. I had the privilege and honour to go through basic training with him. Ryan was always someone who could get you through the tough times. He was a ‘Rock Ape’ through and through and passed out with his regimental brothers with pride. “After spending a few months in 2 Squadron doing driver training and getting to grips with squadron life, we all went into pre-deployment training getting ready for Kandahar. It was new to us all but no-one seemed worried, especially Ryan. He couldn’t wait for the operational bonus at the end! During the tour, Ryan proved himself to be an outstanding soldier and a true friend. “As a close friend of Ryan, I feel privileged to have known someone as talented, funny and outgoing who would always be there for you, who you could lean on, count on no matter what. “Every gunner is my brother and 2 Squadron, RAF Regiment has just lost a family member.“Nunquam Non Paratus”
Lance Corporal Robert Banister, 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said: “For Ryan Tomlin; “Together we stand as warriors, brave and bold.“We stand in the face of danger, we conquer our fears and prevail victorious.
“To those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, may the spirit of the fallen live on in the heart of the warrior.” Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond said: “I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin. The tributes of his colleagues in 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment speak of a popular member of the unit and a confident, respected gunner. My thoughts at this time are with his family and loved ones.”
SAC Scott ‘Scotty’ Hughes
SAC Scott ‘Scotty’ Hughes, serving with Number 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, died from injuries two days after the accident. SAC Hughes was undertaking ‘decompression’ activities – a period of 36 hours spent at RAF Akrotiri, after leaving Operation Herrick before returning to the UK – when the accident happened. In a statement SAC Hughes’s family said: “Our beautiful, brave, fun-loving son has been cruelly taken away from us, but we know that Scott fulfilled his dreams by serving his Regiment and his country. “Words cannot express the loss we as a family are feeling at this time and a huge void will be in our lives without Scott forevermore.”
SAC Hughes was struck by a power boat while swimming, the MoD has confirmed. The vessel was operated by the Military Training Wing, British Forces Cyprus. Military chiefs have launched an investigation into the tragedy.
Squadron Leader David Crook, Officer Commanding 1 Squadron RAF Regiment paid tribute to the young SAC. He said: “Scott was an extremely professional and brave young man, who spent his last six months risking his life to protect and save others. “His death is a tragedy and words cannot express our sense of loss and shock. Scott was fiercely proud of his Regiment and we are fiercely proud of him. He will be deeply missed and never forgotten.”
SAC Scott ‘Scotty’ Hughes, joined the Royal Air Force in 2009 as a Gunner in the RAF Regiment. He graduated from basic training in June of that year and was posted to Number 1 Squadron RAF Regiment Popular with his colleagues for his sense of humour he was also respected for his ability and professionalism. He won the top student award on a Squadron Mortar Cadre and he was immensely proud to wear his Mortar Badge, friends said. On operations in Afghanistan, he was employed as top cover on the lead patrol vehicle as well as a signaller on the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) helicopter where he took part in numerous casualty evacuation tasks.
According to Wg Cdr Paul Weaver Smith SAC Hughes’ calm professionalism and willingness bore testament to his courage, determination and dedication to duty.
Wg Cdr Weaver Smith said: “Scott Hughes was a highly respected and utterly professional young man with a very promising career ahead of him in the Royal Air Force Regiment. “His tragic death has hit the Wing hard; our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this very difficult time.”
1 Squadron RAF Regiment took part in a homecoming parade in Wootton Bassett recently. Regiment colleagues have paid tribute to the young gunner who played an active role on their latest tour of Afghanistan. SAC James Carpenter, B Flight, 1 Sqn RAF Regiment, said: “Scotty Hughes was one of the most professional soldiers I have ever had the honour to work with.
“He excelled at everything he did and he will be dearly missed.” Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox said: “I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Senior Aircraftman Hughes. “He was returning home from what I understand to be a highly successful tour in Afghanistan where he demonstrated to his colleagues and senior officers utter professionalism, courage and natural ability for his role as Gunner. “My thoughts go to his family and friends at this extremely sad time.”
Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate
Senior Aircraftman Southgate was part of the Kandahar Airfield Force Protection Wing and was conducting a patrol to protect Kandahar Airfield, and all who operate within it, from the ever-present threat of rocket attacks when he was killed by an improvised explosive device whilst driving his WMIK Land Rover. Senior Aircraftman Southgate was born in Bury St Edmunds on 10 March 1989 and was soon to celebrate his twenty-first birthday on operations in Afghanistan. He joined the RAF on 10 August 2008 as a Gunner in the Royal Air Force Regiment and quickly proved his potential during basic training at Royal Air Force Honington. He was identified early as one to watch owing to his natural soldiering ability and leadership potential that earned him the Frank Sylvester Trophy for Top Student on his Trainee Gunners Course. On completing training he applied for parachute duties and was subsequently selected to serve with Number II Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment where he promptly qualified as a Direct Fire Weapons Specialist on Machine Gun Flight. He was attached to D Flight for his tour of duty in Afghanistan and deployed in January 2010. SAC Southgate was immensely proud to be a member of the Royal Air Force Regiment and even more so to be a machine gun specialist. A reserved character, he was an extremely fit and strong Gunner who was described as ‘happy, compassionate and fiercely loyal to his friends, who consider themselves lucky to have known him’. He used his strengths for the good of the team in the selfless style in which he led his life.
“Senior Aircraftman Southgate was one of those Gunners that you wish you had more of in the squadron. He was devoted and worked tirelessly for his squadron and more importantly his friends.”
Squadron Leader Matt Carter
SAC Southgate intended to remain with II Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment for another two years before volunteering for a new challenge with UK Special Forces. However, his more immediate priority was to move in with his beloved girlfriend Caley of whom he openly spoke with loving affection. The heart-felt thoughts and prayers of his squadron and regiment are with SAC Southgate’s loved ones, particularly his parents and his girlfriend Caley whose tragic loss is shared far and wide by his fellow brothers-in-arms. The RAF Regiment has lost a friend and an exceptional Gunner who had a glittering future ahead of him. SAC Southgate will always be remembered with fondness and admiration.
Senior Aircraftman Kinikki Griffiths was part of the Bastion Joint Operating Base Force Protection Wing and was conducting a patrol within the surrounding area of operation when he was involved in a tragic accident involving a Jackal patrol vehicle. The thoughts and prayers of his Squadron, his Wing and the Royal Air Force Regiment family are with his loved ones, in particular his parents and his girlfriend Chloe during this very difficult time. The Royal Air Force Regiment has lost an exceptional young man, with a very promising future ahead of him, but this is nothing compared to his family’s loss. Senior Aircraftman Griffiths will always be remembered for the proud and dedicated gunner he was and will always be.
Wing Commander Paul Weaver Smith, Commanding Officer Bastion Force Protection Wing said:
“Senior Aircraftman Kinikki Griffiths tragically died whilst on vehicle patrol within the Bastion Joint Operating Base area of operation, just short of his twenty-first birthday. Kinikki was the consummate professional gunner and, even at this early stage, had much promise; he will be sorely missed by all who knew him in the RAF Regiment. “Kinikki was serving his country by protecting a key UK operating base and he died whilst ensuring the security of others and enabling airpower. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and girlfriend at this very difficult time.”
Squadron Leader David Crook, Officer Commanding 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment said:
“Senior Aircraftman Kinikki Griffiths was a young gunner with huge potential. He loved his job, took pride in his work, and gave his all to every task he was given. I could not want for a better Gunner. But more importantly, Kinikki was an affable, modest and thoughtful young man, who was a pleasure to know, and whom I had the privilege to command. He will be missed by all on 1 Squadron. Per Ardua.”
Flying Officer Matthew Quinney, Officer Commanding B Flight, 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment said:
“Senior Aircraftman Griffiths was my signaller and right hand man. He was always positioned next to me on patrols and as such we were close, both on and off duty. At work, he was a consummate professional; always ready to help, and at weekends, we would run the cross country routes around RAF Honington and play football. “He was enthusiastic about his career in the Royal Air Force Regiment and we were planning to undertake the Pre-Parachute Selection Course together in March next year. I will miss “Griff” both personally and professionally. He was a fine Gunner and a good man.”
Corporal Ryan David, B Flight, 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment said:
“Griff was a very hardworking soldier, always smiling and never complaining about any task given. Whilst working with him on the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT), he would never need prompting to help casualties. “He would also work as hard as he possibly could, impressing everyone who had the pleasure to work with him. Griff was always happy and was an extremely fit person, who excelled in fitness and could always be found on the running machine during downtime. It was an honour to have had Griff in my Section, not just as an exceptional soldier, but as a close friend who always acted professionally and inspired everyone he met.”
Senior Aircraftman Stuart Smith, C Flight, 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment said:
“Griff always had a smile and never a bad word for anyone. I know Robbo will miss his favourite phys partner. We started on “Basics” together, El-Alamein Flight, and I know on behalf of everyone, but especially Senior Aircraftman Robson we share the grief with your family. Rest in Peace Griff. Love you forever, Senior Aircraftman Smudge Smith and all those from El-Alamein flight.”
Senior Aircraftman Christian Tee, C Flight, 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment said:
“Griff was a great friend and role model. I could always count on him to help me and watch my back both on and off duty. I will always remember his seemingly constant smile and his uplifting attitude towards everyone around him, no matter what the situation, whether it was on “Basics”, the Squadron, or a night out. “Griff was always ready to help his friends with their troubles and without any thought for himself. Cheers buddy, for everything; you will always be missed and never forgotten.”
Senior Aircraftman Kinikki Griffiths
Senior Aircraftman Kinikki Griffiths, from the RAF Regiment, was killed in a vehicle accident in Afghanistan on Friday 16 July 2010. Senior Aircraftman Griffiths, serving as part of the Camp Bastion Force Protection Wing, was killed in the vicinity of Camp Bastion, Helmand Province. Senior Aircraftman Kinikki Griffiths was born on 12 August 1989 and was soon to celebrate his twenty-first birthday. He joined the Royal Air Force on 15 February 2009 as a Gunner in the Royal Air Force Regiment and in July, on completion of training and passing out as “Best Shot”, he was posted to Number 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, where he flourished earning the respect of his colleagues and peers alike. Kinikki was selected as his flight commander’s signaller and driver and it was whilst carrying out these duties that he met his untimely death. Senior Aircraftman Griffiths was hugely proud to be a member of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Air Force Regiment family. A naturally quiet character he was an immensely strong and resourceful gunner who always got “stuck-in” to any task and was an utterly dependable member of his flight and squadron. Senior Aircraftman Griffiths planned to complete his tour in Afghanistan, remaining on 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, and on returning to the UK was intending to complete pre-parachute selection training with a view to eventually serving with the UK Special Forces.
Senior Aircraftsman Paul Mahoney
Serving RAF Regt SAC Paul MAHONEY, born 20 Oct 83, was killed tragically on 4 Feb 10 while participating as a member of 15 Sqn RAF Regt in the Adventure Training Exercise SNOW EAGLE, in Riedbergehorn, Germany. Known to his friends as Mo, SAC Mahoney was 26 years old and single. Enlisting on 10 Feb 08, he graduated from his Trainee Gunner Course in 2008 prior to joining 15 Sqn RAF Regt and deploying to Iraq as a BULLDOG AFV driver; he was among the last operational British Servicemen to leave Iraq in mid-2009.
Senior Aircraftsman Gareth Allen
Serving SAC Gnr Gareth (Gaz) ALLEN of the RAF FP Centre, born 19 Apr 77, died on 18 Jan 10 at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, after a valiant battle against Leukaemia. He joined the RAF Regt in Aug 94 and, after winning the Frank Sylvester Trophy for Top Student on his Trainee Gunner course, was posted to 3 Sqn RAF Regt at RAF Aldergrove. During his time with 3 Sqn, he underwent operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, drawing praise for his courage and determination in the most arduous of environments. He is survived by his wife Michelle and three children.
Senior Aircraftsman (Acting Corporal) Marcin Pawel Wojtak
Senior Aircraftsman (Acting Corporal) Marcin Pawel Wojtak was killed while patrolling close to Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan.
Leicester-born SAC Wojtak was a 24-year-old gunner from 34 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment and was known to colleagues as “Big Ted”. He died on Thursday, 1st October 2009 in an explosion near Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province. His family paid tribute to him as a “gentle giant who was admired for his caring nature and endless kindness” and “placed his happiness in the happiness of others”. “His love of the military led him to a career in the Royal Air Force where he remained loyal and courageous to the end. “We are so proud of him. Marcin is a beloved son, grandson, brother, uncle and boyfriend.”
SAC Wojtak was taking part in a regular patrol to prevent insurgents launching an attack on Camp Bastion. He was killed by an explosion while commanding his vehicle in the desert, south of Camp Bastion.
Marcin Wotjaj joined the Royal Air Force Regiment in 2005 as a gunner and served in the Falkland Islands and Kandahar. , He was posted to B Flight, 34 Sqn Royal Air Force Regiment in May 2008 where he served as a Rifleman. He deployed to Kabul in August 2008 for six weeks to perform Force Protection duties.
Number 34 Sqn RAF Regiment is based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, is tasked with protecting the security of the airfield at Camp Bastion to ensure that British aircraft can safely take off and land there.
Marcin Wotjak was was a lifelong Leicester City supporter from Croxton Kerrial, near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.
Corporal Dave Hayden MC, one of his colleagues, said: “Ted worked for me as my second-in-command. He was essential to the section and even more so to me.
“He was a big figurehead on the flight. Every lad on the squadron loved him. He was the big teddy bear who loved to help, whatever the problem.”
Senior Aircraftman Tom Peterson said: “I knew Teddie for about five-and-a-half years. He was always thinking about others rather than himself. He enjoyed the more relaxed pace of the Falklands and Kabul but he never shied away from the faster pace that life in the regiment can bring. Our thoughts are with his family and his girlfriend, Sam.”
Two RAF Regiment Gunners from Number 3 Squadron RAF Regiment Killed in Action in Afganistan
RAF Regt Gunners SAC Graham LIVINGSTONE, aged 23, of 3 Sqn RAF Regt and SAC Gary THOMPSON, 52, of 504 Sqn RAuxAF were Killed In Action on the evening of Sun 13 Apr in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Two other servicemen were also injured in the same incident. At approximately 1848 hrs local time, the men were conducting a routine patrol some two Kms west of Kandahar Airfield (KAF) when the vehicle they were travelling in hit a mine. Medical care was given at the scene and all four servicemen were evacuated to the field hospital at KAF. Sadly, despite the best efforts of the medical team, two of the servicemen died as a result of their wounds. The injuries sustained by the other two men were not serious and, in fact, they have returned to duty.
Sgt D Barwood
Sgt D Barwood formely of the RAF Regiment, killed in Iraq on 29th February 2008
Duane Barwood from Carterton, Oxfordshire, joined the Royal Air Force in 1985 as an RAF Regiment Gunner and later transferred to become a Motor Transport Driver. He was promoted to Sergeant within nine years in the trade, which is exceptional by any standard.
Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge, 51 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, killed in Afghanistan – 31 Aug 07
It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge from C flight, 51 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment in Kandahar Province, southern Afghanistan on the morning of 30 August 2007.
A civilian interpreter was also sadly killed in the incident and two other servicemen received minor injuries. Shortly after midnight local time, C Flight was conducting a routine security patrol around Kandahar Airfield when the vehicle SAC Bridge was travelling in was caught in an explosion.
All the casualties were evacuated to the ISAF medical facility at Kandahar Airfield by emergency response helicopter. Sadly SAC Bridge was pronounced dead on arrival and the interpreter later died of his wounds.
SAC Christopher Bridge, aged 20, from Sheffield joined the Royal Air Force on 12 June 2005. After successful completion of his Trainee Gunner Course, undertaken at RAF Honington, he was posted to 51 Squadron RAF Regiment at RAF Lossiemouth on 18 November 2005. During his time on the Squadron he served in Southern Iraq between January and June 2006 providing Force Protection for Basra International Airport.
More recently, SAC Bridge had been deployed on Operation HERRICK providing Force Protection for Kandahar Airfield since April 2007. His role took him into the local community to deliver enhanced security, not only for the Airfield but also for the Afghan population. At the time of his death he was providing security for his colleagues as a top cover sentry for a mobile patrol.
SAC Bridge was an extremely popular and professional Gunner. He was relatively junior in rank; however, he was immensely dependable and hard working. His infectious sense of humour made him stand out amongst other Squadron personnel and he could be relied upon to raise a smile in adversity.
Squadron Leader Tony Brown, Officer Commanding 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, said: “Senior Aircraftman Chris Bridge was a very competent Gunner, unassumingly professional and with a promising career ahead. Following operational service in Iraq, Chris had consolidated his position on the Squadron as a capable and enthusiastic Gunner whose likeable personality and witty sense of humour made him engaging to serve with. Passionate about travel, he had clearly made his mark on the Squadron and will be sorely missed.”
Flying Officer Matt Jupp, Officer Commanding C Flight, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, said: “Chris Bridge was a very well liked, motivated and hard working member of the Flight. A once quiet young man he grew into an adventurous, charismatic and intelligent Gunner. He was a high calibre member of the Royal Air Force Regiment and a generally good bloke. I will miss him.”
Sergeant ‘Oz’ Bailey Senior Non Commissioned Officer, C Flight, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, said: “Chris Bridge was a member of C Flight for the best part of 18 months. He was a quiet and confident young man and well liked by all on the Flight. His one outstanding trait was his dry sense of humour, which always had us in fits. Never one to complain he worked hard for everyone. He will be missed by me personally and the rest of the gunners on C Flight.”
Senior Aircraftman ‘Parky’ Parkhouse, C Flight, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment said: “He was a good mate and when we worked together, Chris was nothing less than totally proficient and hard working. He was liked amongst the whole Flight and Squadron. He will be missed so much by everyone and forever in our thoughts.”
Senior Aircraftman ‘Burky’ Burke, C Flight, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment said: “Chris was a top lad and liked by everybody. He was always happy in a quiet way. Very well known throughout the Squadron for his dry sense of humour. Chris was on C Flight as a specialist machine gunner and will be missed and remembered forever. He will always be with us in our hearts.”
Ms Nicolette Williams, mother of Christopher Bridge, said: “Christopher was my pride and joy; everybody is heartbroken who knew him. He touched so many lives. He died courageously serving his country and Queen and we are all very proud of him.”
Defence Secretary Des Browne said: “Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge was held in very high regard by his comrades and officers. His death is a tragic loss which is being felt by all who knew him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and comrades at this most difficult of times.”
Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard killed in Iraq on 7 August 2007
Leading Aircraftman Beard, aged 20, was taking part in a routine foot patrol in the Al Waki district north of the British Base at Basra Air Station. The aim of the patrol was to deter indirect fire attacks on the base and reassure the local population.
Leading Aircraftman Beard sustained a gunshot wound when the patrol came under attack as it moved through Al Waki Market. He was evacuated by helicopter to the field hospital but sadly did not survive.
In a statement, the Officer Commanding No 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, Squadron Leader Jason Sutton, said:
Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard had just turned 20 and had been with the Squadron since September, when he graduated from basic training with flying colours; an extremely proud day for his whole family but particularly for his sisters Victoria and Rachael to whom he was especially close. Better known to the Squadron as ‘Beardy’, he was outwardly a quiet man but this concealed a wicked sense of humour which would emerge at the most unexpected moments, usually when morale on his Flight needed a lift.
“Strong, fit and an exceptionally gifted infantryman, he had such a bright future and had already set his sights on selection for special forces. I have no doubt whatsoever he would have succeeded in that as he did in all else. He was due to marry upon his return from Iraq and we all feel so deeply for his fiancee, Nic.
My words though, can never be as meaningful as those of his friends on his Flight. Leading Aircraftman Matthew Brown, who underwent basic training with Martin, told me:
‘I first met Beardy on our basic training, where his confidence was obvious. We were busy but he always found time to talk to you and cheer you up. He was always up for going out with the lads and was a very happy person. After he passed out of training he planned to propose to his girlfriend of many years. He was so nervous, even though he pretended not to be, but when she accepted he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. A few weeks later he was proudly giving away his sister at her wedding, showing off his new uniform: but that was him, a poser on the sly. When I found out I was going to be on the same squadron, the same flight, the same fire team and even his battle buddy, I told him that try as I might I would obviously never get rid of him! He was a great soldier with potential to go far and had a future planned in the Regiment. He will never be forgotten and remembered for the good things and times. Per Ardua.’
Leading Aircraftman Craig Richardson added:
‘I sat next to Beardy in basic training and we were all told by the instructor that the person sitting next to you would probably not make it through the tough training. That got me worried because he stood out so much and I thought there’s no way it’s going to be him, but probably me. He was my battle buddy and the first night in our shared room I noticed how loudly and weirdly he snored, and thought it would give our position away in the field. He wasn’t the easiest person to get up for sentry duty, either! Whenever we went out to a club or even just the pub, he was always posing and pouting in his skin-tight t-shirts. When I found out we were joining the same Squadron and Flight I was so happy that we could remain mates. He was a true friend and we will all miss him.’
Sqn Ldr Sutton continued:
I could have asked almost anyone on the Squadron and I know that every man would have a good word to say about Martin. Though he was with us for less than a year, he had made his mark and on this most demanding of operations his were the qualities – loyalty, courage, dependability – that make success in our mission possible. In Martin the RAF Regiment has lost one of its most promising young men who will be terribly missed by us all. As we grieve for him, we here in Iraq can draw some comfort that he fell, weapon in hand, fighting for and alongside his comrades, doing the job he loved so much. For all of us, there can be no greater inspiration to continue to do our duty with renewed determination and fighting spirit, to live up to his legacy and our Regimental motto: Per Ardua – Through Adversity.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Victoria, Rachael, Nic and all his family at this tragic time.
Statement from LAC Beard’s family:
Martin was always incredibly loyal to his family, to his fiance Nic, to those privileged enough to know him as their friend, and to the Royal Air Force Regiment.
He will always be known for his fantastic and vibrant personality, and for his cheeky desire to be the centre of attention.
The news of Martin’s death has come as a huge shock to all of us, and his loss will create a huge gap in all our lives.
To Victoria, the memory of Martin giving her away at her wedding three months ago will always be the proudest moment of her life. A fact that she knows would have instilled equal pride in their mother
Every time Nic thinks of him she always sees a picture of his smiling and happy face. She knows that although their future together is no longer possible, the happiness of the last four years will stay with her and keep her company forever.
We would like thank everyone their kindness and support at this very difficult time, and for the consideration that so many people have shown in the numerous messages we have received.
Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence, said:
Leading Aircraftman Beard was a very popular and highly promising young man who was a credit to The Royal Air Force Regiment. His death is tragic and I would like to express my condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. My thoughts are with them and we will do all we can to support them through this difficult time.
Senior Aircraftsman Matthew Caulwell, Senior Aircraftsman Christopher Dunsmore and Senior Aircraftsman Peter McFerran killed in Iraq on Thursday 19 July 2007
As members of B Flight they were tasked on 19 July 2007 with protecting aircraft operating from Basrah Airport. Their job was to ensure that the ground over which the aircraft fly was clear from the threat of militia, who have tried to target the aircraft whilst they are at their most vulnerable, during take-off and landing.
During the early afternoon there were no aircraft movements and the three men were resting, prior to going out to patrol again. The COB came under rocket attack and tragically all three were killed instantly by the attack.
Officer Commanding No 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, Squadron Leader Jason Sutton, said:
“The Squadron has been a close knit family throughout its 85-year history, and our ethos of mutual trust and dependence is never more important than when we are engaged on challenging operations such as now in Iraq. The loss of Senior Aircraftsman Caulwell, Senior Aircraftsman Dunsmore and Senior Aircraftsman McFerran has been felt very deeply by all the on the Squadron and by other members of 903 Expeditionary Air Wing.
SAC Matthew Caulwell
“SAC Matthew Caulwell was 22 years old, from Birmingham and had served on 1 Squadron since 2002. Better known to the Squadron as ‘Lip’, he was a true character known for his outgoing, gregarious nature. Though he was able to find humour in even the most difficult situation, he was also a true professional and his skills as a leader had been recognized by his promotion to Acting Corporal.
“He rose to this new challenge magnificently and the bearing and deportment of a junior non-commissioned officer came very naturally to him: his lads held him in the utmost respect and instinctively followed his example. Throughout all, his trademark good humour would keep up the spirits of his many friends, one of whom, SAC Greenwood said about him ‘Lip was morale, when morale did not exist’. Loyal and unfailingly dependable, Matthew had a very bright future in the Corps and he will be sorely missed by us all.
Senior Aircraftsman Peter McFerran
“SAC Peter McFerran was 24, from Connahs Quay in Flintshire and the Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) operator for his unit, a position requiring great skill for which he had been carefully selected. He demonstrated during training a genuine and natural aptitude for the role and brought to it the professionalism and ingenuity that characterized all he did.
“Like his father before him Peter joined the RAF Regiment in 2004, a source of great pride to them both and he was every inch the epitome of a Regiment Gunner: robust, strong, dedicated and loyal. SAC Bell, who served in the same vehicle with Pete says simply ‘he was a genuine friend that was capable of much more than he knew’.
“He was utterly dependable and as his Squadron Commander I knew I could rely on him not only for the consummate skill he brought to the job but also for his honest, incisive opinion. His job was his life, his hobby, everything, and in Pete we have lost one of our finest.
Senior Aircraftsman Christopher Dunsmore
“SAC Christopher Dunsmore was 29, from Leicester, and had been a member of 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment at RAF Cottesmore for four years. Engaged to Donna, he held a managerial position in a paint company and was a keen snow boarder, but since August 2006 he had been attached to 1 Squadron having committed a year of his life to the service of his country.
“Our Auxiliary colleagues fill vital roles on the Squadron, and none more so than Chris. He was a highly skilled individual, and from the very start of his time with us he put 100% into everything he did and was always ready for any challenge. His joie de vivre was infectious when times were hard and one of his friends, SAC Hammer captured him perfectly ‘Chris had a passion for everything he did: life, hobbies and his friends’.
“Intelligent, determined and a fine comrade and friend, he was as immensely proud to serve with 1 Squadron as we were to serve alongside him. He was one of us and his loss has been deeply felt by us all.
“To lose any member of our Squadron is a tragic blow to all who knew them, trained with them, laughed with them and fought alongside them. The loss of three such popular and professional men is simply devastating. Lip, Pete and Chris will be terribly missed by all of us on 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, and we will honour their memory by continuing to do our duty here in Iraq in the manner they embodied: with determination and pride. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this tragic time.”
Commanding Officer 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment Squadron Leader Jan Burton said:
“Chris Dunsmore was a quiet, thoughtful individual who brought much to the Squadron. Fit, smart and very keen he participated in as many Sqn activities as possible skilfully balancing the demands of his long-term relationship to Donna, his civilian job with METOKOTE and his Sqn training obligation.”
Defence Secretary Des Browne said:
“I was deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of RAF Regiment Gunners, Senior Aircraftsman Matthew Caulwell, Senior Aircraftsman Peter McFerran and Senior Aircraftsman Christopher Dunsmore. They were all exceptional and talented young men whose professionalism and selfless commitment will not be forgotten. My heart felt condolences go out to their partners, families, friends and colleagues in Iraq at this most painful and difficult of times.”