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Light Infantry

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The 179 British personnel who died during the Iraq war

The invasion of Iraq led to the deaths of 179 British personnel between March 2003 and February 2009. Tony Blair told the Chilcot Inquiry[1] into the conflict he had “deep and profound regret” about the loss of life suffered by British troops and the countless Iraqi civilians. Some of the Britons who died were just 18 years-old.

Here is a roll of honour of the British personnel who died on service during Operation Telic in Iraq:

References

  1. ^ Chilcot Inquiry (www.itv.com)

The Countess of Wessex Visits British Troops at Alanbrooke Barracks in Germany

The Countess Of Wessex Visits British Troops At Alanbrooke Barracks In Germany

BY STAFF SGT. DAVID CARBAJAL, U.S. AIR FORCE – HTTP://WWW.KDAB.AFCENT.AF.MIL/SHARED/MEDIA/PHOTODB/PHOTOS/111220-F-XH170-487.JPG (SEE HTTP://WWW.KDAB.AFCENT.AF.MIL/PHOTOS/MEDIAGALLERY.ASP??ID=-1&PAGE=4&COUNT=48 FOR CONTEXT AND METADATA)., PUBLIC DOMAIN, HTTPS://COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG/W/INDEX.PHP?CURID=19853616

On Friday, 1 July the Countess of Wessex was in Paderborn, Germany to attend the farewell parade of 5th Battalion The Rifles, of which she is the Royal Colonel. Formed in 2007 The Rifles consists of five regular and two territorial battalions and is an infantry regiment of the British Army. 5th Battalion The Rifles (formerly 1st Battalion The Light Infantry) are the army s most deployable heavy metal asset. The parade launched the battalion s departure and withdrawal from Paderborn which will take place over the summer with the final soldier leaving on 12 September. The 35 officers and 700 soldiers of 5th Battalion The Rifles have been stationed at Alanbrooke Barracks since 2002 and will be returning to the UK where they will move into their new home in Bulford, near Salisbury in Southern England. It is the first of five barracks in the area which the British will be leaving between now and 2020.

The parade included an address to the assembled soldiers and their families by the Armyrats © military chaplain, an inspection of the guard of honour by the Countess of Wessex and a presentation to the Rifles of the ribbon banner of the Federal Republic of Germany, the highest German award for an allied force. As Friday also marked 100 years since the Battle of the Somme there was also a moment of silence to commemorate the bloodiest battle of World War One. Following the ceremony, the Countess spent time with the soldiers and their families. She was particularly interested in hearing about how they were all feeling about the imminent move back to the UK as the Rifles departure is the end of an era for the town of Paderborn.

Before departing she signed Paderborn s Golden Book, writing With sadness in our hearts, but eternal gratitude to the people of Paderborn.

The countess of Wessex was dressed in a bespoke sky blue midi dress by Emilia Wickstead for the event with a matching Jane Taylor hat which she first debuted at Ascot in 2013. She also wore a Regimental brooch.

SOMME CENTENARY: How soldiers from the Ox and Bucks fought and died in the Battle of the Somme

WHILE July 1, 1916 marked the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, troops from the county first stepped foot on the now-infamous land nearly a year earlier. On July, 20, 1915, the British Army took over part of the line on the Somme, and this included the 1/4th Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the county s territorial battalion. Two days later, on July 22, 1915, Pte Edward Whitlock from Banbury was the first British soldier to die on the Somme front, when killed in early morning shelling.

He was the first of some 2,000 from the regiment to fall on the Somme over the next 17 months. They are recorded in the Regimental Books of Remembrance in Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, and their names figure on many war memorials across the county. On June 24, 1916 there was an intense barrage of the German trenches before the main battle, which led to the word ‘Somme’ being embedded in the British psyche as a byword for sacrifice and waste.

The barrage included two days of gas attacks, driving many German soldiers mad, and as one stated: “The torture and the fatigue, not to mention the strain on our nerves was indescribable.”

The attack was then immediately preceded by the explosion of 11 large and eight small mines underneath the German trenches. At 7.30am on July 1, walking in straight lines as little resistance was expected, the first British troops were met with a hail of machine gun fire that mowed them down in their thousands. That day the British Army suffered 57,470 casualties with 19,240 killed, most of them from Kitchener s New Army battalions.

Extraordinarily none of the Ox & Bucks battalions were involved that day. However, by November 18, when the battle ended after 141 days of fighting, seven battalions had fought on the Somme, including the two which also took part in a disastrous diversionary attack to the north at Fromelles. Throughout that period, the battalions took part in some of the bitterest fighting, were withdrawn, received replacements, retrained and returned to the line several times, thus suffering a steady stream of casualties. Additionally, soldiers from the Oxfordshire Hussars were drafted into the infantry as reinforcements.

It is very difficult for anyone, 100 years after the Somme, to make sense of what occurred or understand those who made the decisions that led to such carnage. What we can do is remember those who suffered and died so terribly, marvel at their endurance and faith, and work as hard as we can to ensure that such horrors are never visited upon humankind again. That is a task for all of us and makes our promise on November 11 that ‘We will remember them,’ ever more relevant.

*Redcoats to Riflemen: A Short History of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire County Regiment by Robin Draper is available from the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum[1] in Woodstock.

References

  1. ^ Oxfordshire Museum (www.oxfordmail.co.uk)
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