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Fallen Comrades Allied Forces

Lieutenant-Commander John Russell, who has died aged 88, lost a leg while acting as beach master during the Allied landings in Italy; more than 40 years later, he displayed notable dash in disarming a knifeman in an Exeter traffic jam.

Russell commanded an elite Royal Naval Commando unit, "Nan", from September 1943 until he was blown up in February 1944. The RN Commandos were specialist officers and seamen deputed to plan and control landings before directing ships and speeding troops into battle.

During the Sicily landings, the crossing of the Messina Strait and the Allies' arrival at Sapri and Salerno, he had seen how sandbars could form on the tideless Mediterranean coasts and soldiers were drowned when their landing craft became stranded in deep water. So he volunteered to reconnoitre the beaches of Anzio, flying a Seafire at low level.

Russell expected to spend weeks at Anzio, but this turned into months as Kesselring's armies counter-attacked. He kept the beachhead functioning under intense German shelling, and became more involved in fighting than intended. His men probed the shingle with their bayonets for wood-encased mines and defused German booby-traps. Russell himself surveyed the shallow water in a rubber boat while under fire, and his seamen drove new Bren-gun carriers to the front line.

When German fighters strafed the beach and set alight a supply ship, he called for help to rescue the wounded and put out the fire. The only available British troops were guarding German prisoners of war, and American troops refused to leave their shelter. Nevertheless, the prisoners volunteered, a German officer telling Russell: "We will rescue your wounded but will not fight your fire." When the American Major-General Lucas saw this, he mistook the situation and promised the Germans a citation, only to be told by a Wehrmacht officer in perfect English language where to put his medals.

Eventually Russell was caught by "Anzio Annie", a long-range gun which was bombarding the beaches. He was blown several feet into the air, and landed with a badly shattered leg and multiple shrapnel wounds.

He made his own tourniquet but denied that he had amputated his own leg using his commando dagger, instead claiming to have used "a couple of sizeable bits of tibia or femur that I seemed to have spare" to attract the attention of some scurrying Americans. He arrived at the operating table fully conscious and still with his boots on. His leg was amputated close to the groin.

For his courage, leadership and determination Russell was awarded his second DSC of the war. After several months in hospital he was repatriated to England, where he saw his three-year-old daughter for the first time.

John Blakeley Russell was born on March 11 1917 at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, Hampshire, where his father, a veteran of Lord Wolseley's expedition to relieve Khartoum in 1884, was military commandant. He was educated at Taunton School and Pangbourne from where he followed his brother Vincent into the Royal Navy.

After service before the Second World War in battleships and cruisers, Russell joined the Fleet Air Arm and flew Walrus amphibian aircraft, only to be grounded after 170 hours flying because he experienced chest pains at 15,000ft without oxygen (then a compulsory test for Fleet Air Arm pilots).

He returned to general service as first lieutenant of the Hunt class destroyer Exmoor, and was escorting convoy HG76 off Madeira in December 1941 when two U-boats were sunk in two days. U-131 was depth-charged repeatedly during December 17 and was attempting to escape at speed on the surface when Russell saw it on the horizon.

As Exmoor gave chase, Russell opened fire, scoring several hits with his first salvoes at extreme range and sinking the U-boat. Next day Exmoor took part in the destruction of U-434. Russell, whose captain noted that he had controlled the guns with skill and coolness, was awarded his first DSC. He trained as a commando in Scotland in 1942.

Despite 40 years' phantom pain from his missing leg, Russell was undaunted. He kept a smallholding with pigs and vegetables near Battle, Sussex, and later managed a feed mill for North Devon Farmers. As commodore of the North Devon Yacht club he used to stow his tin leg in the forepeak "as it got in the way" and in the 1950s he sailed with the legless station commander of RAF Chivenor. Despite having only one good leg between them, they used to win many races.

In 1986, Russell was sitting in his car in an Exeter traffic jam, when a robber with a knife backed against the driver's window. As the man lashed out at several policemen advancing behind a shopping trolley, Russell reached out to grab the thug's shirt, and squeezed his arm in a way to make him open his hand and drop the 10in blade. The policemen were commended for their bravery, and Russell was given a good citizen's award. He said: "I didn't do very much."

Russell, who died on April 11, married, in 1941, Mary Wendy "Bimmy" Chichester, who had first captivated him when he saw her playing a minor part in the film Knight Without Armour (1937), which starred Marlene Dietrich. She survives him with two daughters and a son; another daughter predeceased him.

Next time the discussion turns to BFT (minimum) standards ...
"... he carried a wounded soldier on his back a mile from the front line to a dressing station ..."

Cecil Withers
June 8, 1898 - April 17, 2005
Soldier who lied about his age to serve in the First World War

ONE of the last survivors of the First World War, Cecil Withers was among many young men who lied about their age to serve in the Army. Withers also gave the recruiting sergeant, to whom he applied to enlist in Tooting, Southwest London, in 1915, a fictitious name and address, so that his parents would not be able to trace him.

It was only when he was told he was to be sent to join his regiment on active service on the Western Front in 1916 that he wrote to his father and told him he would divulge his whereabouts, provided his father assured him via an advertisement in The Times that he would not apply for his son's discharge.

His father did so, assuring him additionally : ". . . past forgiven - Fatherâ ?. With a conscience relieved of that burden, Withers sailed for France to join the 7th Battalion Queen's Royal East Surrey Regiment on the Somme in December 1916.

Withers first went into action at Arras on Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, the first day of a battle of attrition that was to last more than a month. During the course of it he carried a wounded soldier on his back a mile from the front line to a dressing station.

By the end of the battle in May the British had taken 20,000 prisoners and captured 257 artillery pieces and a similar number of mortars, at a cost of 84,000 casualties. German losses were 75,000.

Withers returned to the front at Arras in August, and was wounded by shrapnel. After recovering, he was transferred to the 17th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, and took part in repelling the final German offensive on the Western Front in the spring of 1918. Thereafter, he was involved in the Allied advance to victory in November.

After the end of the war he served in the Army of Occupation in Germany, and was based at Düren in the Rhineland. He was demobilised and returned to civilian life in 1919.

Thereafter he worked in various capacities in the Civil Service, including telephone operator.

His wife Grace, whom he married in 1919, died in 1990. He is survived by one of their two sons.

Cecil Withers, First World War veteran, was born on June 8, 1898. He died on April 17, 2005, aged 106.

David Hackworth, Vietnam vet and military analyst, dies at 74

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) â ” Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, a decorated Vietnam veteran who spoke out against the war and later became a journalist and an advocate for military reform, has died, his wife said Thursday. He was 74.

Hackworth died Wednesday in Mexico, where he was receiving treatment for bladder cancer. His wife, Eilhys England, was with him.

Hackworth, a syndicated columnist for King Features, advocated a streamlined military and improved conditions for troops. He wrote several books including The Vietnam Primer, About Face, and Hazardous Duty.

"Hack never lost his focus," said Roger Charles, president of Soldiers for the Truth, a California-based veterans group for which Hackworth served as chairman. "That focus was on the young kids that our country sends to bleed and die on our behalf. Everything he did in his retirement was to try to give them a better chance to win and to come home. That's one hell of a legacy."

Hackworth served four tours of duty in Vietnam and was one of the first senior officers to speak out publicly against the Vietnam War. He was nearly court-martialed before he retired from the military in 1971 and gave up his medals in protest.

He moved to Australia and made millions in a restaurant business and a duck farm. His medals were reissued by Brig. Gen. John Howard in the 1980s and he returned to the United States.


I only learnt of his passing last week.
He was a Officer who cared for the ranks. :salute:

Sixteen special operations warriors killed in action. RIP.
SEAL memorial service at the Punch Bowl in Hawaii.


Nightstalker memorial service.

July 18, 2005

Comrades recall special memories of fallen troops

By Russ Bynum
Associated Press writer

SAVANNAH, Ga. â ” Even some of the toughest soldiers cried July 7 as they remembed the elite helicopter crew of eight soldiers killed when their MH-47 Chinook was shot down in the deadliest single attack on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

â Å“A loss of one is felt by everybody, but a loss of eight is a shockwave,â ? said Maj. Chad Chasteen, a company commander in the slain soldiers' unit, the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

More than 800 people attended the service at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah.

The Chinook crashed June 28 after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all on board as well as eight Navy SEALs.

A slide projector flashed photos on a screen of the crew â ” Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, Maj. Stephen C. Reich, Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach and Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III.

In eulogies the soldiers were described as heroes who routinely took on missions others would deem too dangerous.

â Å“I can still see Mike hanging off the ramp, one wheel on the side of a mountain, amazingly able to get his teams into their landing zones,â ? former unit member Jason Sims said of Russell, 31, of Stafford, Va.

A fellow soldier remembered Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Conn., for putting his career on the line for altering a mission plan to rescue a group of soldiers.

Scherkenbach, 40, would take his orange University of Florida ballcap on deployments for luck. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minn., loved hunting deer and the quiet of the woods.

Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind., was a medic a quirky sense of humor. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio, comforted newcomers with stories of the tongue-lashings he'd endured from commanders. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Fla., had arms decorated with tattoos and was at ease with strangers.

Ponder, 36, of Franklin, Tenn., had been temporarily assigned to the Savannah unit from Fort Campbell, Ky., which held a memorial service for him July 6. About 500 special operations soldiers attended that service. Ponder was remembered by members of his unit as a no-nonsense soldier and a Christian who was devoted to his country.

Formed in 1981, 160th has has had 21 soldiers killed in action since 2002.

â Å“I know you punched your ticket the way you wanted it, flying in the clouds,â ? Sgt. Jason Bailey said, sobbing during his eulogy to Goare. â Å“Grab Muralles by the shoulders and tell him it's OK to sit on the gun cans. Because guns aren't needed where you're going.â ?
found on another forum site.... so touched i had to share....


Sorry mods... delete if you must
Frankie said:
found on another forum site.... so touched i had to share....


Sorry mods... delete if you must
Frankie your post will not be removed mark words as one of many Mod's. on our site.
I must say I did like the comment about the long winded Sky Pilot ;)
But a impressive display of small town Texas for the loss of one of their Son's. :cdn: :salute:

Got blurry vision on that one, even the second time as i was explaining it to my wife

Thanks Spr....  :salute:
Sergeant Chris Hickey of 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards killed in Iraq
Published Thursday 20th October 2005

Sergeant Chris Hickey of the 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards [Picture: Army]It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the death of Sergeant Chris Hickey of the 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards.  Sergeant Hickey died as a result of injuries sustained from a roadside bomb at approximately 2320 hrs local time in Basra, Iraq, on Tuesday 18 October 2005.

The Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Battle Group, Lieutenant Colonel Nick Henderson, has made the following statement:

"I regret to announce that late last night a British Army Patrol was attacked using an Improvised Explosive Device in Basra City, Southern Iraq.  At the time of the attack the Patrol Commander, Sergeant Chris Hickey, had moved forward on foot to reconnoiter a route for the patrol and as such he was severely injured in the blast.  He was given first aid at the scene before being evacuated by ambulance and helicopter to the British Military Hospital in Shaiba, where, despite the best efforts of all those involved in treating him, he was declared dead on arrival.

"Chris joined the Coldstream Guards in 1993 where he immediately made his mark as a capable and reliable individual.  He was to maintain this impression throughout his service in the Regiment as he promoted through the ranks, always displaying great commitment and efficiency in everything he did.  In so doing he set a fine example to those of all ranks who served with him; it is significant that at the time of his death he was, as ever, leading his men from the front.  A bright future in the Army beckoned and he would undoubtedly have gone far in the profession that he had chosen and that he loved.  He was the epitome of a professional soldier. 

"Chris was more than just this.  He was a fun-loving and warm hearted character who always displayed an irrepressible cheerfulness; however bad things were Chris could always raise a smile.  He had a certain spark that brought out the best in people and this, coupled with his infectious sense of humour, could be relied on to lighten any situation.  To him things were always good, or, as he would put it, 'Canny'. 

"We are also keenly aware that Chris was not just a comrade and friend to those of us who were fortunate enough to serve alongside him; he was also a loving husband and son.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, parents, family and friends at this tragic time."

John Reid, Secretary of State for Defence, said:

"The death of this British soldier in Iraq last night deeply saddens me.  All our thoughts and sympathies are with the family at this very difficult time."

We would ask that the media respect the privacy of his family at this difficult time
Lance Corporal Steven Sherwood killed in Afghanistan
Published Monday 31st October 2005

Lance Corporal Steven Sherwood, of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry.It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the death of Lance Corporal Steven Sherwood, of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry.  Lance Corporal Sherwood was killed on 29 October 2005, in a shooting incident in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.  Five others were injured.

Lance Corporal Sherwood, was 23, and single.  He was from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.

The 1st Battalion's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Nick Welch, made the following statement:

"Lance Corporal Steven Gregory Sherwood joined his local regiment, the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry in June 1999.  He joined the 1st Battalion in Colchester and shortly after deployed on a two year operational tour to Northern Ireland.  Since then he has served in Belize, Jamaica, Norway, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

"Steven Sherwood, known to his mates as Shirley, was a thoroughly professional and dedicated soldier who was promoted to Lance Corporal earlier this year.  A highly capable field soldier at the top of his profession, he was a key member of his Battalion's close reconnaissance platoon.  In Afghanistan he worked as a key member of a tight-knit, experienced and highly professional military observation team.  He thrived on the challenges provided by his team's tasks.  He traveled with his team to parts of Afghanistan that had not previously been patrolled by the multi-national International Security Assistance Force.
"Only the night before he was killed, Lance Corporal Sherwood and his team had assisted at the scene of a traffic accident involving an Afghan National Army patrol and civilian vehicle, where he provided immediate first aid and coordinated the extraction of the injured.

"He epitomised all that is excellent about his Regiment.  A keen sportsman, his particular talents lay in skiing and football.  Lance Corporal Sherwood was renowned for his character and could always be relied on to lighten a situation with his keen sense of humour.  He could usually be traced to the scene of an amusing incident, but rarely implicated.  He will be remembered by all as a good mate who would never leave a friend and could be counted on to cover his buddies' backs, in the finest traditions of his Regiment.  He will be sorely missed by so many of the Regiment who regarded him as a close friend."

Commenting on the incident, Secretary of State for Defence John Reid said:

"My thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of the soldier tragically killed in Mazar-e-Sharif".

We would ask that the media respect the privacy of his family at this difficult time.
Death of Corporal Ian Humphrey in Gibraltar
Published Thursday 10th November 2005

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence can confirm the death of RAF Corporal Ian Humphrey, who was found dead in his accommodation whilst serving in Gibraltar.

The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.  Cpl Humphrey's next of kin have been informed and have asked that the media respect their privacy at this difficult time.

Squadron Leader Peter Revell, Second in Command of RAF Gibraltar, made the following statement:

"Corporal Ian Richard Humphrey joined the Royal Air Force as an Apprentice Aircraft Engineering Technician Airframes and Propulsion in March 1990.  Following training he was promoted to the rank of Junior Technician in 1993 and then to Corporal in 1994.  He served at Royal Air Force stations St Mawgan and Wittering in the UK prior to joining Aircraft Weapons Engineering Section at Royal Air Force Gibraltar in June 2003. 

"Cpl Humphrey was a highly proficient airman, who meticulously carried out the duties associated with the ground handling and first line engineering support of visiting and detached aircraft.  He was appreciated by visiting air and ground crews for the professionalism and courtesy given without reservation, often out of normal working hours.  He was totally dedicated to the Service and was awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal in February 2002. 

"Cpl Humphrey was also a keen sportsman, crewing as a member of the Tri-Service Gibraltar Gun Crew team, competing in the UK recently and playing as part of the Royal Air Force Gibraltar football team.  The news of the death of Corporal Humphrey shocked the entire Service community of Gibraltar. 

"Ever popular for his outgoing personality and friendly nature, he will be sorely missed by the many friends and colleagues he leaves behind."
Sergeant John Jones killed in Basra
Published Monday 21st November 2005

Sgt John 'Jonah' Jones of 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers 
It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the death of Sergeant John Jones in Basra on 20 November 2005. Sergeant Jones, from 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers as a result of injuries sustained from a roadside bomb at approximately 1230 hrs local time in Basra, Iraq.   He was on a routine patrol as the commander when the incident occurred.

Sergeant John 'Jonah' Jones was born on 21st April 1974 in Birmingham.   He lived in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham and attended the Park Fields School before joining the British Army at the age of 16.

Sergeant Jones joined the British Army in June 1990 and completed his basic training at the Junior Leaders' Regiment, Shorncliffe.   Completing his training in June 1991, he joined A Company 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Hemer, Germany.   His talent for boxing was soon noted and within a year Sergeant Jones had represented the 3rd Battalion in a Novice competition.   Sergeant Jones moved to the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Warminster 1993 when the 3rd Battalion merged with the 1st Battalion as part of 'Options for Change'.   As a Fusilier in Y Company of the 1st Battalion he saw active service in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Kosovo.   In 1998 he was posted to Army Training Regiment Bassingbourne as an instructor where he honed both his fishing and instructional skills.   He returned to the 1st Battalion in 2000.

Sergeant Jones served with the 1st Battalion in both the War Fighting and Peace Support phases of Operation TELIC 1 as part of the First Fusiliers Reconnaissance Group in early 2003.   He was initially employed as a Recce CVR(T) Car Commander.   He was promoted to Sergeant in 2003, becoming a Platoon Sergeant in Z Company and he led his Platoon in winning the Battalion's Military Skills Competition in March 2004.   He was a dedicated and consummate professional, who hated tardiness, was physically fit and had a keen eye for detail.   Always willing to lead by example, he was never afraid to get his hands dirty and set high standards for himself and those whom he commanded, but he was always fair, just and compassionate.

Sgt Jones was a keen sportsman.   He boxed for both his Company and the Battalions he served, was a keen footballer and represented the Army at fishing.   He was popular with all ranks from across the Battalion.   He possessed a dry, but razor sharp sense of humour which could lighten any situation.   A committed Aston Villa fan, he made every effort to never miss a televised match and regularly invited his platoon to his house to join him.

He was a loyal husband to Nickie and a devoted father to his son Jack, 5.   He was a highly professional soldier with energy, charisma and compassion.   He was an immensely well liked and respected member of the First Fusiliers and he will be sorely missed by all those that had the privilege of serving with him.

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Marr MBE, said:

"It is with deep regret that I must announce that, yesterday afternoon at 1230 hours local, a British Army patrol from the First Fusiliers was attacked by a roadside bomb in Basrah City, Southern Iraq.   The explosion hit the leading vehicle of a two vehicle landrover patrol as it was returning to its base after completing a routine patrolling task.   Sergeant John Jones, the patrol commander, received a fatal wound and despite the best possible efforts of the medical staff at the scene he could not be saved.  

"Sergeant John Jones' tragic and untimely death has come as an immense blow and shock to his immediate family, his friends and all members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.   'Jonah' Jones was a much loved and highly popular member of our Battalion, the First Fusiliers.   Brimming with energy, a love of soldiering and an endearing sense of humour and compassion for his men, he will be sorely missed.   Whether it was on operations or during training with the soldiers he led so ably, or on the sports field or in the boxing ring, he showed remarkable qualities of professionalism, grit and absolute determination.   Having already completed a tour of Iraq in March 2003, he looked forward with optimism and determination to playing his part in bringing a semblance of stability and normality to Iraq.   In the short period of this tour, he and his patrol had already established an excellent rapport with the local population and he was enjoying the challenges of his role.

"Sergeant Jones was an outstanding soldier, a wonderful husband and a loving father, who always found time to speak to and encourage those around him.   He had a smile for everyone.   We are left remembering his drive, his courage, his humour and his typically understated contribution to the Battalion.   We will never forget him.   Our thoughts and prayers are now with his wife, Nickie, and his young son, Jack.   I would ask the media to respect the family's privacy at this very difficult time."  

Sergeant Jones' wife, Nickie, paid the following tribute to her husband:

"Jonah was a real all round sportsman.   He boxed, played football and was passionate about Aston Villa.    He loved being a soldier and was very proud of his Regiment.   But most of all he was a fantastic Dad and loving Husband.   I would ask the media to respect the privacy of my family at this time as we try to come to terms with our terrible loss."

The Secretary of State for Defence, John Reid, said:

"I was very saddened to hear yesterday morning that a British soldier had died whilst performing his duty in Iraq.

"As always, my thoughts and prayers are with his family, and those of his fellow soldiers injured in this barbaric act of terrorism."

Sgt John 'Jonah' Jones of 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Death of RAF Falcon Sergeant Marc Little
Published Friday 9th December 2005

Sergeant Marc Little It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the death of Royal Air Force parachutist Sergeant Marc Little on Wednesday 7 December 2005 during a parachute training exercise in the United States.

Marc Little was born in 1973 in Bishop Auckland, County Durham where his parents still live.  Marc joined the Royal Air Force in 1993 as a Physical Training Instructor and served at Halton, Chicksands and in the Falkland Islands before arriving at the Parachute Training School, RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire in 2000.  He married in 2003 and settled in the local area. 

Marc was entering his second year as a Royal Air Force Falcon display parachutist. He was selected for this duty on the basis of his outstanding talent and potential as a future freefall instructor.  Marc also consistently displayed those other essential personal qualities required to be member of a talented team engaged in high risk activity; courage, teamwork, professionalism and discipline. 

The  RAF Falcons display programme runs throughout the summer,in the UK and overseas. An extremely fit and talented sportsman, Marc also regularly represented the Royal Air Force at football.

Gp Capt Elliott, Station Commander RAF Brize Norton, said:

"Marc was immensely popular; a loyal friend with a positive outlook on life.  He was a highly respected member of the Falcons Display team and an outstanding ambassador for the Royal Air Force. 

"The Parachute Training School is an important element in the development and continuation of airborne capability and, as with all specialist capabilities, regular training is essential. This tragic accident has deeply shocked us. We will all miss Marc greatly and our thoughts and condolences go out to his wife and family."

Sergeant Marc Little
One o'clock gunner dies

Tam mans the The 105 millimetre light gun at Edinburgh Castle.It is with great regret that we hear of the death of Staff Sergeant Thomas McKay MBE, or as he was known to hundreds of thousands of Scots and tourists, Tam the Gun, of cancer at the age of 60.

Tam had been Edinburgh's District Gunner, firing the capital's infamous One O'Clock Gun, since July 1979, until he became ill earlier this year.
As well as his firing duties, Tam was an active member of the Territorial Army for most of his life, latterly working as an Army chef at 243 Provost Company (Volunteers) of the Royal Military Police in Livingston until he retired five years ago.

Tam was one of the most famous faces in Edinburgh and was loved by visitors to the castle for his approachable character and his anecdotes of working there. These anecdotes eventually became a book which Tam wrote in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund, called 'What time does the One O'Clock Gun fire?' which saw its way to all corners of the world as a souvenir. A staunch supporter of the Army Benevolent Fund, Tam did many talks to various organisations around the country about his work as District Gunner in aid of this charity.

Tam also had the honour of having several things named after him; 'Tam's Dram', a whisky which is sold in the castle, and GNER are due to name a train after him next month. He was also responsible for the creation of the One O'Clock Gun Exhibition in Edinburgh Castle, for which he received Lottery funding to set up.

Tam's greatest honour came when he was awarded the MBE by her Majesty The Queen in 1999, for his services to the Territorial Army.

Not content with his day job, Tam also worked at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo each August, including, despite his illness, this year's show. It was while doing his job looking after the overseas contingents at the Tattoo that he became friendly with the Norwegian Army's Kings Guard, who have appeared at the show on numerous occasions and who have maintained strong links with Tam and Edinburgh Castle. Tam and his wife Joyce were married last year in the city of Bergen in Norway, at the invitation of his Norwegian friends whom met through this alliance.
Tam also could be seen each New Year firing the Gun on the BBC's Hogmanay Show, and he brought the millennium in with a bang for millions of viewers. No stranger to the media, he was frequently the subject of news reports and documentaries on television all over the world.

Major Andy Jackson, the Deputy Chief of Staff at the castle's 52 Infantry Brigade said, "Tam will be sadly missed by all members of the military community and the staff of Historic Scotland in Edinburgh Castle. He was a true character and he and his gun will remain a cherished of many tourist's trips to Edinburgh. Our thoughts are with Joyce and his son and two daughters."

Hugh Thompson
April 15, 1943 - January 6, 2006
Helicopter pilot who intervened to save lives during the US Army massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai

::nobreak::HUGH C. THOMPSON JR, was a helicopter pilot who tried to halt the infamous My Lai massacre by American troops, during the Vietnam War. He valiantly rescued 15 defenceless civilians while training his machine guns on US infantrymen commanded by the infamous Lieutenant William Calley, threatening to “blow them away” if they did not stop the slaughter.

March 16, 1968, was one of the darkest days in US military history. Thompson believed Calley’s men behaved like Nazis: “We were supposed to be the guys in the white hats — they were the enemy that day, I guess.” When evidence of the 504 civilian deaths in the atrocity was finally made public in late 1969, Thompson was immediately castigated by pro-Vietnam War politicians conducting an inquiry for the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

Concerned to protect the image of the US Army, the chairman, L. Mendal Rivers, and one of his fellow Southern Democrats claimed that the real guilty party at My Lai was the rogue helicopter pilot who they argued had committed a crime by threatening to shoot American troops.

Only 30 years later was Thompson belatedly recognised as a genuine American hero by the Pentagon. In March 1998, he received the Soldier’s Medal, the US Army’s highest award for bravery in peacetime. It was presented by a two-star general at a special ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, complete with band, flags flying, much razzmatazz and full media coverage.

A nine-year letter-writing campaign to get him the award had won support from President George Bush Sr, General Colin Powell and several retired general staff officers and senators. The Clinton White House had held up presenting the award for 18 months. Cynics believed that the sitting President did not want to draw attention to his having avoided going to Vietnam while Thompson had nobly served his country.

Hugh Clowers Thompson Jr was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1943, and moved to nearby Stone Mountain — population 2,000 — when he was 3. His father, Hugh C. Thompson Sr, served with both the US Army and Navy in the Second World War and then spent 30 years with the US Navy Reserve. Thompson’s paternal grandfather was a full-blooded Cherokee, forced off tribal land in North Carolina in the 1850s and resettled on a farm in Georgia.

Both his parents were Episcopalians, and strict churchgoers. Thompson’s mother, Wessie, had a simple creed with her two sons, Hugh and his brother Tommie, who was five years his senior: “Do your chores. Don’t lie. And don’t run if you’re about to get a whipping.” Hugh Sr was a local Scoutmaster and his boys had Scout laws drummed into them. They were taught to be polite during meals, to say “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am ” when talking to adults, and always to stand up for the underdog. In one early encounter Hugh Jr got into a scrap with a group of boys at school making fun of a physically handicapped child.

Before his teens he was earning money ploughing local cornfields, and at 15 had a part-time job with a local undertaker. A few weeks after his 18th birthday, before he graduated from the local Stone Mountain High School, he married a local girl secretly. The marriage was annulled a few months later just as Thompson joined the US Navy and spent three years with a Seabees construction unit.

After a brief return to civilian life in 1964, during which he became a licensed funeral director, Thompson re-enlisted — this time in the US Army, which was becoming heavily engaged in the Vietnam War. There had been a massive build-up of army helicopters in Vietnam, which meant a dramatic increase in pilot recruitment. Thompson enlisted and trained at Fort Walters, Texas, and Fort Rucker, Alabama.

By the time he arrived in Vietnam in late December 1967, he was a 25-year-old chief warrant officer, a reconnaissance pilot with the 123rd Aviation Battalion. It was dangerous work, flying low over enemy territory in advance of ground operations, spotting enemy defensive positions and calling in gunships to engage.

On March 16, 1968, Thompson was flying his small H23 scout helicopter, with its three-man crew, over a part of Quang Ngai province thought to be infested with Vietcong troops. He was in support of a search-and-destroy assault on several villages, which faulty intelligence had indicated were heavily defended. The US 1/20th Infantry Battalion attack was led by Charlie Company — commanded by Captain Ernest Medina. He sent in the 1st platoon led by Calley — with orders to clear out My Lai and several neighbouring hamlets.

Charlie Company was bent on revenge. Days earlier several of its members, including a popular sergeant, had been killed by Vietcong mines and booby traps. Without a shot being fired against them Calley’s men began slaughtering anyone they could find — old men, women and children. Groups of villagers, 20 and 30 at a time, were lined up and mown down. In the four-hour assault, men of the company’s other two platoons joined in. Many women and girls were raped and then murdered.

Thompson early on spotted a young woman injured in a field. He dropped a smoke canister to indicate that she needed medical help. He later told a court martial how Captain Medina went over and shot her with his rifle. Medina claimed that he thought she had a grenade. Later Thompson halted at a drainage ditch on the western side of My Lai — filled with 170 bodies of massacred villagers. One of Thompson’s crew rescued a child still alive and flew it to hospital at Quang Ngai. In another incident Thompson saw a group of 15 civilians hiding in a bunker.

Calley’s men were about to attack them when Thompson landed his helicopter and challenged the 1st platoon commander, asking for help to get the women and children out. “The only way you’ll get them out is with a hand grenade,” replied Calley. Thompson returned to his helicopter and told his gunners to open fire on Calley’s men if they advanced any closer. He then called down gunships to rescue the civilians, who were flown out of the village to safety.

On returning to Chu Lai military base Thompson reported everything to his commanding officer. The allegations were passed on to brigade and divisional commanders but a local inquiry whitewashed Thompson’s complaints, claiming that the civilians deaths had been caused by artillery fire.

An elaborate cover-up ensued which involved falsifying brigade documents and included Thompson being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving the lives of Vietnamese civilians “in the face of hostile enemy fire”. The citation omitted to mention that the hostile fire was coming from his own side. He threw the medal away, believing that his commanders wanted to buy his silence.

A year later the Pentagon learnt the truth and a high- level inquiry was conducted by Lieutenantt-General William R. Peers. So impressed was Peers with Thompson’s courage he chose him as his personal pilot when he went on a 12-day fact-finding trip around Vietnam during the course of his investigation.

Thompson later appeared as a witness at the courts martial of several men involved in the massacre or cover-up. The only person convicted was Calley, who served a few months in jail before having his life sentence reduced and being given parole.

During his time in Vietnam, Thompson was shot down five times — finally breaking his spine. He received a commission, but back in America some of his uninformed colleagues regarded him as a turncoat. The full extent of the carnage at My Lai had been deliberately hidden from the American public. Returning to Fort Rucker he went to the officers’ mess for a drink. All 12 men there got up and walked out. One anonymous postcard he received asked: “What do you think war is? ” Calley meanwhile — facing a trial — was being regarded as a hero. Even Jimmy Carter, Governor of Georgia, held a “Rally for Cally”.

The My Lai experience and its aftermath affected Thompson badly. He grappled with alcohol and had several failed marriages. After service in South Korea, Thompson returned to the US, dropping the name Hugh and calling himself by his family name Buck, trying to distance himself from past events. He left the army briefly and then re-enlisted, flying with medical evacuation units, and instructing trainee pilots.

He retired from the army in November 1983, and worked as a helicopter pilot for oil companies off the Louisiana coast.

In 1989 he appeared in a Yorkshire Television documentary, Four Hours in My Lai, which won a Bafta and an Emmy. After it was shown in America, David Egan, a former soldier and professor of architecture at the University of South Carolina, began a campaign to have Thompson’s bravery recognised and his wartime DFC replaced by something more fitting.

The US Army agreed finally after seven years, but wanted the Soldier’s Medal presented quietly, preferring to keep what happened at My Lai in the background. Thompson resisted. He wanted a ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial and the bravery of his fellow helicopter crew members to be recognised as well. They also received the Soldier’s Medal, one of them posthumously.

Mike Wallace, of the CBS 60 Minutes programme, took Thompson and his surviving crew member, Larry Colburn, back to My Lai, where they were introduced to three women who survived the massacre. On a second visit three years later he met an electrician from Ho Chi Minh City called Do Hoa, aged 42, who aged 9 was one of the children Thompson rescued from the bunker.

Thompson worked for the Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs for six years, giving lectures to students and schoolchildren. He delivered addresses to the military academies of the army, navy and air force and regularly attended the West Point Military Academy, speaking about ethics.

He died in Alexandria, Louisiana, after a short illness.

After his annulled marriage in 1961, his three subsequent marriages were dissolved.

He is survived by three sons, and by his long-time partner, Mona Gossen.

Hugh Clowers Thompson Jr was born on April 15, 1943. He died on January 6, 2006, aged 62.

Canadian-born soldier killed in Iraq
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Posted at 8:16 PM EST
Canadian Press

Montreal — A Canadian-born U.S. soldier was among the 12 passengers killed when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in northern Iraq over the weekend.
The CBC's Fench-language service reports that David DeMoores, 36, left Canada several years ago to live with his girlfriend in the United States.

The couple later married and had three children.
Mr. DeMoores, a native of Aylmer, Que., gave up his Canadian citizenship when he decided to join the American army in order to support his growing family, Radio-Canada reported Wednesday.
“It wouldn't be my first choice, but it was his,” said Mr. DeMoores's mother, Danielle DeMoores-Lanthier, of her son's career choice.

“We supported him and encouraged him and we're proud of him.”
Mr. DeMoores visited his mother and adoptive father in Gatineau, Que., last year, just before leaving for Iraq.

U.S. officials have not yet said what caused the crash, which occurred east of the insurgent stronghold of Tal Afar, near the Syrian border.
More than 2,200 members of the U.S. military have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tributes to Iraq blast sergeant 

John "Jonah" Jones served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Kosovo
The widow of a British soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on Sunday has paid tribute to a loving husband and "fantastic dad".
Sergeant John Jones, 31, died and four others were injured, one seriously, in the attack in Basra. They are being treated at the Shaiba field hospital.

Sgt "Jonah" Jones, a Birmingham father of one, served with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

His wife Nickie said family members were mourning their "terrible loss".

The death of Sgt Jones, from Castle Bromwich, brings to 98 the number of British military fatalities since the invasion in March 2003.

  He loved being a soldier and was very proud of his regiment

Nickie Jones

Mrs Jones described her husband as an "all round sportsman" who boxed, played football and was "passionate about Aston Villa".

"He loved being a soldier and was very proud of his regiment," she said.

Sgt Jones was "a fantastic dad" to their five-year-old son Jack, she added.

'Much loved'

Sgt Jones' commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Marr, said he would be remembered as an "outstanding" soldier.

"Jonah Jones was a much loved and highly popular member of our Battalion, the First Fusiliers," he said.

  Brimming with energy, a love of soldiering and an endearing sense of humour and compassion for his men, he will be sorely missed

Sgt Jones' commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Simon Marr 
Lt Col Marr described Sgt Jones as "brimming with energy, a love of soldiering and an endearing sense of humour and compassion for his men" and a man who would be "sorely missed".

Defence Secretary John Reid has also paid tribute to Sgt Jones.

"I was very saddened to hear that a British soldier had died whilst performing his duty in Iraq," he said.

"As always, my thoughts and prayers are with his family, and those of his fellow soldiers injured in this barbaric act of terrorism."

Sgt Jones joined the Army at 16 and had served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Kosovo.

New devices

Sunday's attack happened while the soldiers were on a routine patrol at about 1230 local time in the north of Basra.

British forces in Iraq spokesman Major Steve Melbourne said the attack had been carried out by terrorists and not local insurgents.

"These are very small groups that operate in the area," he added.

"They cause serious risk to both ourselves and the local population in Basra."

The BBC's Paul Wood said the device used in the attack was likely to be one of a new type of hi-tech explosive device which has been killing British soldiers since August.

They have sophisticated triggers and are capable of piercing through armour, which mean patrols in southern Iraq are "far more risky" for British soldiers.

The UK government claims the technology used in the attacks is coming over the Iranian border, a charge which Tehran strongly denies.

Photo 1) John "Jonah" Jones served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Kosovo