Mum of 19 Year Old Soldier Speaks At Inquest
The mother of a 19 year old soldier killed in Afghanistan, has described how she waited for a phone call from her son, which never came.
Today (24th Aug 2010) an inquest heard how 19 year old Rifleman Jonathon Allott, was operating a metal detector when he was killed by an improvised explosive device. He’d been helping to clear a passage to post a sniper at a key location in Afghanistan.
Rifleman Allott, of Edinburgh-based 3rd Battalion The Rifles, died from blast wounds after the explosion, which happened during the operation near Sangin, Helmand province, on March 5.
The inquest in Bournemouth heard that his platoon was working in three sections to secure vulnerable positions along a main road along which the sniper was to be positioned in an area known as ``Fishtank''.
The hearing was told that Rifleman Allott, who operated a Vallon metal detector, had spotted a wire leading into an alleyway near to a mosque, believed to be a command wire for an IED.
Section commander Corporal Liam Raine said that as he was in the process of ordering the section to withdraw, the IED went off:
“I saw 6in of wire dug into the ground and a dark patch in the alleyway.
“I told Rifleman Allott we were going to withdraw, as I was going to get on the radio and as I turned round to see what was going to happen, that was when the IED initiated.
“He (Rifleman Allott) had stood up and fell back down on to his front.”
Rifleman George Milner said: “It looked to me like he was stood right on the device because he was blown off his feet.
“There was smoke and dust for only a couple of seconds and I ran across to him.
“I saw him try to stand up and take his day sack off, he fell to the ground again and began to crawl about.”
The inquest heard that Rifleman Allott was badly wounded and taken by quad bike to a patrol base where he was evacuated by helicopter to Camp Bastion, where unsuccessful efforts were made to save his life.
Platoon commander Lieutenant Daniel Brown said that IEDs operated at a distance by a command-pull wire or command-switch wire were more commonly used than devices with pressure pad triggers.
He said: “It's the weapon of choice so they can target us rather than the local population.”
He explained that the person controlling the device would be out of sight about 100m away and would use lookouts to signal when to set the explosive off: “They use kids to stand up and signal to the initiator when there are troops in the area.”
Sheriff Payne, coroner for Bournemouth, recorded a verdict that Rifleman Allott was unlawfully killed while on active service.
He added: “He is sadly another soldier who has died trying to protect the interests of the majority of Afghanistan.
“It's a source of great sadness, not only to his family but to everybody, that another life has been lost in this manner.”
Jonny was born in North Shields but grew up in Bournemouth, where he attended Kings High School before becoming an apprentice bricklayer.
He enlisted to join the Army in November 2008 and was sent for training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, completing this at the end of May 2009.
He joined 3rd Battalion The Rifles in Edinburgh in June 2009 and joined B Company for their pre-deployment training.
He leaves behind his divorced parents, Michael Allott and Andrea Johnson, his sister Nikki, and his two brothers Daniel and Marc.
His mother Ms Johnson told the hearing that he loved life in the Army: “I was supposed to be getting a phone call (from him) that day but it didn't come.”
His family said in a statement released after his death:
Jonathon Michael Allott (Jonny) died a hero doing the job he loved - he will be sorely missed by the whole family and all who knew him.
He had a wish that his brothers could have shared his experiences with him.
Jonathon couldn't wait to get home and wear his medal with pride.