Essex soldiers' inquest records narrative

The inquest into the deaths of three British soldiers - including 2 from Essex - killed by a 500lb bomb dropped by a US aircraft, has recorded a narrative verdict.

Privates Aaron McClure, 19, Robert Foster, 19, and John Thrumble, 21, were under intense fire in Helmand when a US F15 aircraft, called to help, dropped the bomb on them instead of a Taliban position one kilometre further north.

The inquest, which was resumed and adjourned in December 2009, previously heard grid co-ordinates communicated between an air controller and an American weapons officer "did not marry up'' before the devastating bomb was dropped on the men.

Pte McClure, from Ipswich, Suffolk, Pte Foster, from Harlow, Essex, and Pte Thrumble, from Maldon, Essex, of B-Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, died in the blast on August 23 2007.

The inquest was re-opened last week at Wiltshire Coroner's Court, sitting at Trowbridge Town Hall.

Privates McClure and Thrumble were on the roof of a compound and Private Foster was in the house firing from a window when the order to strike was given by their platoon commander Major Antony Borgnis.

Sgt Mark Perren, a forward air controller, passed on the order to the Weapons Support Officer (WSO2) aboard the US aircraft.

Sgt Perren was investigated but no charges were brought against him, the inquest heard.

Pte McClure and Pte Thrumble were killed instantly in the blast and they were evacuated under mortar fire along with injured Lance Corporal Stuart Parker and Private Joshua Lee.

A post-mortem examination showed Pte Foster died of asphyxia caused by entrapment following the explosion.

Pte McClure and Pte Thrumble died as a result of blast wounds caused by an explosion, the inquest previously heard.

The coroner, David Masters says he'll now be making a total of 6 recommendations to the Ministry of Defence to
help prevent such incidents occurring again.

The coroner said he would recommend reviews of several procedures, including the back-up checks conducted when giving grid references, headcounts following multiple deaths and the use of GPS locators.

Mr Masters said he would recommend a review of the steps taken to assess the continuing competency of soldiers following incidents where multiple deaths have occurred.

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