Army 'failed' IED blast soldier

The funeral of L/Cpl James Hill at Redhill, Surrey, in October 2009

The funeral of L/Cpl James Hill at Redhill, Surrey, in October 2009

First published in National News © by

The parents of a soldier who died in a bomb attack on an insecure training range have said their son was "utterly failed" by the Army after a coroner ruled that it failed to take action to prevent his death.

Lance Corporal James Hill, of the 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards, died on the firing range 2.5 miles outside Camp Bastion in central Helmand, Afghanistan, on October 8, 2009. He was due to get married on his return from the war zone.

Surrey Coroner Richard Travers said the chain of command had not listened to concerns raised about the potential of insurgents targeting the range and had not provided sufficiently trained units to clear the site of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The inquest heard that the firing range was "swamped" by local people scavenging for scrap metal after each session - providing insurgents with an opportunity to plant a bomb.

The vast number of shell casings made it harder to detect IEDs - though the coroner said that a metal detector operator would have to have been "blind and deaf" not to detect a device with the high metal content of the bomb that killed L/Cpl Hill.

Speaking outside the Woking inquest, L/Cpl Hill's parents, of Redhill, Surrey, said the Army failed in its duty of care for their son.

In a statement released jointly with their son's fiancee Anastasia Newman, they said: "James's death totally shattered our lives and now we have been deeply hurt all over again as we have discovered that his death was needless and entirely preventable.

"It was not just those responsible for planting the IED that caused his death, but a culture of complacency and a disregard for every soldier's safety that reached right up the chain of command.

"Those in charge of his safety owed him a duty of care - a duty, we feel, they totally and utterly failed.

"A proper system of communicating up and down the chain of command could possibly have prevented this tragedy. We can only hope that the enormity of what has happened is recognised and this is never allowed to happen again."

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