Tributes paid to fallen RAF gunners

MEMBERS of an historic RAF squadron yesterday paid tribute to four fallen comrades who lost their lives in Iraq.

MEMBERS of an historic RAF squadron yesterday paid tribute to four fallen comrades who lost their lives in Iraq.

More than 80 gunners from 1 Squadron RAF Regiment joined family and friends of Leading Aircraftsman Martin Beard, 20, Cpl Matthew Caulwell, 22, and Senior Aircraftsmen Peter McFerran, 24, and Chris Dunsmore, 29, to honour the servicemen who were killed in battle last year.

The deaths of the four men, who died within the space of three weeks whilst defending Basra air base, marked one of the darkest days in the history of the regiment, based at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds.

But station commander Group Cpt Russ La Forte yesterday said that 1 Squadron and the RAF Regiment had emerged more united as a result of the tragedies last summer. Nine other members of the 86-year-old forces protection unit were also injured during the six month operation in Iraq.

“Time is a great healer, but these four individual tragedies were like having a death in the family. The long term effect has been to strengthen our common purpose. We will never forget them or their families,” he said.

Around 200 mourners gathered at St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmunds yesterday for a service of thanksgiving to the four gunners who would have been preparing for a six month deployment to Afghanistan later this year.

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