Service honours tragic red caps

FAMILY and colleagues of the six Colchester-based Royal Military Police officers killed in the recent conflict in Iraq joined together for a special memorial service yesterday.

By Roddy Ashworth

FAMILY and colleagues of the six Colchester-based Royal Military Police officers killed in the recent conflict in Iraq joined together for a special memorial service yesterday.

More than 30 veteran red-capped soldiers held banners outside the Garrison Church in Military Road, Colchester, as guests assembled for the private ceremony.

Inside the church, as the congregation entered, an Army band played music including Danny Boy and Bread of Heaven.


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The service was held to commemorate the lives of Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell, Corporal Russell Aston, Corporal Paul Graham Long, Corporal Simon Miller, Lance-Corporal Benjamin John McGowan Hyde and Lance-Corporal Thomas Richard Keys.

The six members of 156 Provost Company, Royal Military Police, based at Goojerat Barracks in Colchester, were gunned down in the southern town of Al Majar al-Kabir in Iraq in June.

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Corporal Long, 24, lived in Colchester and was married with a son. Serving in Iraq was his first operational deployment with the military police.

British Army commanders suggested at the time that a series of misunderstandings might have led to the six soldiers' deaths.

Orders had been given for a controversial weapons search to be halted, but a "routine patrol" of paratroopers and military police entered the town the day after.

These appear to have triggered scenes of fury among Iraqis who believed they were going to continue the house-to-house searches.

The Paras escaped after coming under fire in which one of their patrol was injured. Seven medics and other personnel were called to the scene in an RAF Chinook helicopter.

But the military police officers were hemmed in by a crowd of angry Iraqis, who surrounded a police station where they had gone to meet local policeman.

They called for help about 30 minutes before they died, but it is believed their call may have been confused with that of the Paras.

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