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British soldier killed in Basra bomb attack

British soldier killed in Basra bomb attack
 Kim Sengupta | June 29, 2004

Independent A 19-year-old British soldier was killed and two seriously injured yesterday in a bomb attack on a patrol in Basra in southern Iraq.

Fusilier Gordon Gentle, from Glasgow, who had been in the Army for just three months, died when his convoy was hit by a blast from a hidden roadside bomb in a supposedly safe part of the British-run city at just after 8.25am.

The toll of British dead from the war and its aftermath

British soldier killed in Basra bomb attack
By Kim Sengupta
29 June 2004

A 19-year-old British soldier was killed and two seriously injured yesterday in a bomb attack on a patrol in Basra in southern Iraq.

Fusilier Gordon Gentle, from Glasgow, who had been in the Army for just three months, died when his convoy was hit by a blast from a hidden roadside bomb in a supposedly safe part of the British-run city at just after 8.25am.

The soldiers were all from the 1st Battalion, the Royal Highland Fusiliers. The two injured were taken to a local hospital. Their conditions were not believed to be life-threatening.

British commanders were bracing themselves for further attacks after receiving intelligence reports of paramilitaries moving into the south from the “Sunni triangle” in the north. Contingency plans have been made to send reinforcements, but no announcement of details was expected for at least two weeks unless there was a sharp deterioration in the security situation.

Fusilier Gentle, who was single, was on his first tour of duty in Iraq. His commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Cartwright, said last night: “His name says it all. As a new member of the battalion he settled in with ease, happy in the team, and always willing to help others. His enthusiasm for his job instantly caught the eye of his peers and superiors alike.”

Until yesterday there had been no British deaths in action since 31-year-old Corporal Ian Plank was killed in October last year. Five other British servicemen have died in road accidents this year.

In April this year, suicide bombers killed 68 people and injured more than 200 others in a series of rush-hour blasts in Basra. Sixteen schoolchildren are thought to have died as buses taking them to school were pulverised in the explosions. Five soldiers from the 1st Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers were hurt in the blasts, one of them seriously.

The British-controlled Basra region has been relatively peaceful in comparison with the Sunni area to the north. Military commanders insist that the attacks carried out in the area are the work of insurgents and not local people.

The governor’s house in Basra was taken over earlier in the year by the militia of the Shia leader Muqtada Sadr. But they left voluntarily after negotiations with the British military.

Also in Middle East:

Allies return powers two days early to wrongfoot insurgents
British soldier killed in Basra bomb attack
Israel to step up military campaign after Hamas rockets strike nursery
Main players in the new Iraqi government
The toll of British dead from the war and its aftermath

2 comments to British soldier killed in Basra bomb attack

  • Anonymous

    …to the UK command, what was a squaddie with 90 days in the army doing in a combat zone? Regardless of how good his training may have been, I have grave reservations as to whether a 19 year old private with so little experience should have been deployed. It’s difficult enough to adjust to army life without having to do it in conditions of immediate lethal threat.

  • Anonymous

    http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3137853

    12:23am (UK)
    Soldier Killed in Iraq ‘Didn’t Have Enough Training’

    By Jennifer Hill, Scottish Press Association

    Family and neighbours of a British solider killed in Iraq have hit out at the army, claiming the teenager did not have adequate training to be sent to the war-torn country.

    Gordon Gentle, 19, from Glasgow, was killed in an improvised explosive device attack on British military vehicles on routine patrol in Basra yesterday morning.

    His family, mother Rose, 40, and father, George, 45, and sisters Pamela, 21, and Maxine, 14, were “devastated” by news of his death.

    And they hit out at the Ministry of Defence for deploying the solider, who joined the 1st Battalion Royal Highland Fusiliers just three months ago, to the Gulf.

    Pamela, who last spoke to her brother on Wednesday, said last night: “They were too quick in sending him there. He didn’t have enough training to be sent out there. He was shot at the other week.

    “We are all devastated. It just doesn’t feel real. It feels as though somebody is going to tell us there has been a mistake.”

    Pamela said the family were also angered they had not been given 24 hours to grieve in peace before news of her brother’s death was made public.

    Friends visiting the Gentles’ Templeland Road home in the Pollok area of Glasgow also blamed the MoD for his death, saying Iraq was no place for a young, recently-qualified solider.

    “We feel he didn’t have the training, he shouldn’t have been there,” said one neighbour.

    “He was only fully trained six weeks ago. He’d been in Cyprus and was then sent out to Iraq. How can you train for a fortnight to dodge bullets and mines?”

    However, a spokeswoman for the MoD last night said the teenager had been fully trained.

    “Fusilier Gentle was obviously involved in a tragic accident, but prior to deploying out to Iraq he did complete all of his basic army training and his combat infantry training.

    “He was, therefore, fully trained to deploy out to a theatre of operation. Our deepest sympathy is with his family at this moment.”

    Friends and neighbours rallied round the Gentle family and paid tribute to “the nicest big boy you could ever meet”.

    The fence outside their home was adorned with flowers and Celtic football shirts in tribute to the teenager who was an avid fan of the club.

    A close family friend, Paul Montague, said the soldier was “brilliant”, and had given him his first Celtic football top.

    “He was a marvellous guy, nothing could change that. Everyone knew him, all the kids in the street are devastated.

    “He was absolutely brilliant, everyone you spoke to knew him, and said he was a great guy.”

    Another neighbour said: “He was a great big gentle giant, the nicest big boy you could ever meet.”

    A group of tearful female family friends also paid tribute to Mr Gentle after leaving the house.

    One said: “All the kids loved him in the street. He was a handsome boy, a great boy.”

    The tributes outside the Templeland Road house spoke of a soldier who would be sadly missed.

    One read: “Gordon, you will be remembered, big yeen.” Another declared: “You will always stay in my heart”, while a third said: “Gentle, gone but not forgotten, you will always be in my thoughts, you will never walk alone, rest in peace.”

    Among the other tributes were teddies, a heart-shaped soft toy with the words “I love you”, pinned on the fence by Mr Gentle’s three-year-old next door neighbour, and a snowman which his younger sister Maxine said she put there because her brother’s birthday was at Christmas.

    His sister Maxine, 14, said: “It just hasn’t sunk in yet. We were just talking about him yesterday, planning nights out for him coming home.

    “He was meant to be going on holiday on July 17 to Greece or Spain.

    “I had just written a letter to him and we were going to do up his room for him as well.”

    Mr Gentle – who attended Hillpark Secondary School and had often spoken about joining the army – had recently been told he would be given three weeks holiday and was due to fly back to Cyprus on July 10, Pamela said.

    She was unable to say when her brother’s body would be flown home.

    “We haven’t been told what is happening. We asked how bad was the body, but were told they didn’t know.

    “I had to look up the internet to find out my wee brother’s body was still intact.”

    The teenage soldier’s grandmother and grandfather are due to return from holiday today and were last night unaware of his death.

    The Royal Highland Fusiliers, Princess Margaret’s Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment, was created in January 1959 when the Royal Scots Fusiliers and Highland Light Infantry amalgamated.

    The regiment has won more than 200 battle honours – believed to be a record in the British Army.

    Mr Gentle, who was single, was killed and two other British soldiers injured when a UK military convoy was involved in an explosion at 8.25am yesterday.

    The wounded pair were receiving treatment in a nearby hospital. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

    The attack came as the US-led coalition handed over sovereignty to the new Iraqi government in a surprise move yesterday – two days earlier than planned.

    The blast brings the total number of UK service personnel who have died during military operations in Iraq to 60 since the war began in March last year.  

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