Royal Air Force Regiment


The Royal Air Force Regiment Association

Gunner Duncan Geoffrey Pritchard

It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence has to confirm that Gunner Duncan Geoffrey Pritchard of the Royal Air Force Regiment, died in hospital in the UK on 8 May from injuries sustained in a traffic accident whilst on duty in Iraq. Aged 22, he was serving with 16 Squadron RAF Regiment, home-based at RAF Honington in Suffolk.

Senior Aircraftsman Matthew Caulwell, Senior Aircraftsman Christopher Dunsmore, Senior Aircraftsman Peter McFerran killed in Iraq on Thursday 19 July 2007

As members of B Flight they were tasked on 19 July 2007 with protecting aircraft operating from Basrah Airport. Their job was to ensure that the ground over which the aircraft fly was clear from the threat of militia, who have tried to target the aircraft whilst they are at their most vulnerable, during take-off and landing. During the early afternoon there were no aircraft movements and the three men were resting, prior to going out to patrol again. The COB came under rocket attack and tragically all three were killed instantly by the attack.

[ Senior Aircraftsman Matthew Caulwell  ]

Officer Commanding No 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, Squadron Leader Jason Sutton, said: "The Squadron has been a close knit family throughout its 85-year history, and our ethos of mutual trust and dependence is never more important than when we are engaged on challenging operations such as now in Iraq. The loss of Senior Aircraftsman Caulwell, Senior Aircraftsman Dunsmore and Senior Aircraftsman McFerran has been felt very deeply by all the on the Squadron and by other members of 903 Expeditionary Air Wing.

"SAC Matthew Caulwell was 22 years old, from Birmingham and had served on 1 Squadron since 2002. Better known to the Squadron as ‘Lip’, he was a true character known for his outgoing, gregarious nature. Though he was able to find humour in even the most difficult situation, he was also a true professional and his skills as a leader had been recognized by his promotion to Acting Corporal. "He rose to this new challenge magnificently and the bearing and deportment of a junior non-commissioned officer came very naturally to him: his lads held him in the utmost respect and instinctively followed his example. Throughout all, his trademark good humour would keep up the spirits of his many friends, one of whom, SAC Greenwood said about him 'Lip was morale, morale did not exist'. Loyal and unfailingly dependable, Matthew had a very bright future in the Corps and he will be sorely missed by us all.

[ SAC Peter McFerran ]

"SAC Peter McFerran was 24, from Connahs Quay in Flintshire and the Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) operator for his unit, a position requiring great skill for which he had been carefully selected. He demonstrated during training a genuine and natural aptitude for the role and brought to it the professionalism and ingenuity that characterized all he did.  "He had followed his father into the RAF Regiment in 2004, a source of great pride to them both and he was every inch the epitome of a Regiment Gunner: robust, strong, dedicated and loyal. SAC Bell, who served in the same vehicle with Pete says simply 'he was a genuine friend that was capable of much more than he knew'. "He was utterly dependable and as his Squadron Commander I knew I could rely on him not only for the consummate skill he brought to the job but also for his honest, incisive opinion. His job was his life, his hobby, everything, and in Pete we have lost one of our finest.  "Intelligent, determined and a fine comrade and friend, he was as immensely proud to serve with 1 Squadron as we were to serve alongside him. He was one of us and his loss has been deeply felt by us all.  "To lose any member of our Squadron is a tragic blow to all who knew them, trained with them, laughed with them and fought alongside them. The loss of three such popular and professional men is simply devastating. Lip, Pete and Chris will be terribly missed by all of us on 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, and we will honour their memory by continuing to do our duty here in Iraq in the manner they embodied: with determination and pride. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this tragic time."

[ SAC Christopher Dunsmore ]

SAC Christopher Dunsmore was 29, from Leicester, and had been a member of 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment at RAF Cottesmore for four years. Engaged to Donna, he held a managerial position in a paint company and was a keen snow boarder, but since August 2006 he had been attached to 1 Squadron having committed a year of his life to the service of his country.  "Our Auxiliary colleagues fill vital roles on the Squadron, and none more so than Chris. He was a highly skilled individual, and from the very start of his time with us he put 100% into everything he did and was always ready for any challenge. His joie de vivre was infectious when times were hard and one of his friends, SAC Hammer captured him perfectly 'Chris had a passion for everything he did: life, hobbies and his friends'.

Commanding Officer 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment, Squadron Leader Jan Burton said: "Chris Dunsmore was a quiet, thoughtful individual who brought much to the Squadron. Fit, smart and very keen he participated in as many Sqn activities as possible skilfully balancing the demands of his long-term relationship to Donna, his civilian job with METOKOTE and his Sqn training obligation." "I was deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of RAF Regiment Gunners, Senior Aircraftsman Matthew Caulwell, Senior Aircraftsman Peter McFerran and Senior Aircraftsman Christopher Dunmore. They were all exceptional and talented young men whose professionalism and selfless commitment will not be forgotten. My heart felt condolences go out to their partners, families, friends and colleagues in Iraq at this most painful and difficult of times."

[ Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard ]

Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard of No 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment. Killed in Basra, southern Iraq on Tuesday 7 August 2007. Leading Aircraftman Beard, aged 20, was taking part in a routine foot patrol in the Al Waki district north of the British Base at Basra Air Station. The aim of the patrol was to deter indirect fire attacks on the base and reassure the local population.  Leading Aircraftman Beard sustained a gunshot wound when the patrol came under attack as it moved through Al Waki Market. He was evacuated by helicopter to the field hospital but sadly did not survive. Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard was from Rainworth, near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. He leaves behind his loving family and fiancée Nic. In a statement, the Officer Commanding No 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, Squadron Leader Jason Sutton, said: "Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard had just turned 20 and had been with the Squadron since September, when he graduated from basic training with flying colours; an extremely proud day for his whole family but particularly for his sisters Victoria and Rachael to whom he was especially close. Better known to the Squadron as 'Beardy', he was outwardly a quiet man but this concealed a wicked sense of humour which would emerge at the most unexpected moments, usually when morale on his Flight needed a lift.  "Strong, fit and an exceptionally gifted infantryman, he had such a bright future and had already set his sights on selection for special forces. I have no doubt whatsoever he would have succeeded in that as he did in all else. He was due to marry upon his return from Iraq and we all feel so deeply for his fiancée, Nic. "My words though, can never be as meaningful as those of his friends on his Flight. Leading Aircraftman Matthew Brown, who underwent basic training with Martin, told me: 'I first met Beardy on our basic training, where his confidence was obvious. We were busy but he always found time to talk to you and cheer you up. He was always up for going out with the lads and was a very happy person. After he passed out of training he planned to propose to his girlfriend of many years. He was so nervous, even though he pretended not to be, but when she accepted he couldn't wipe the smile off his face. A few weeks later he was proudly giving away his sister at her wedding, showing off his new uniform: but that was him, a poser on the sly. When I found out I was going to be on the same squadron, the same flight, the same fire team and even his battle buddy, I told him that try as I might I would obviously never get rid of him! He was a great soldier with potential to go far and had a future planned in the Regiment. He will never be forgotten and remembered for the good things and times. Per Ardua.' "As we grieve for him, we here in Iraq can draw some comfort that he fell, weapon in hand, fighting for and alongside his comrades, doing the job he loved so much." "Leading Aircraftman Craig Richardson added: 'I sat next to Beardy in basic training and we were all told by the instructor that the person sitting next to you would probably not make it through the tough training. That got me worried because he stood out so much and I thought there's no way it's going to be him, but probably me. He was my battle buddy and the first night in our shared room I noticed how loudly and weirdly he snored, and thought it would give our position away in the field. He wasn't the easiest person to get up for sentry duty, either! Whenever we went out to a club or even just the pub, he was always posing and pouting in his skin-tight t-shirts. When I found out we were joining the same Squadron and Flight I was so happy that we could remain mates. He was a true friend and we will all miss him.' Sqn Ldr Sutton continued: "I could have asked almost anyone on the Squadron and I know that every man would have a good word to say about Martin. Though he was with us for less than a year, he had made his mark and on this most demanding of operations his were the qualities - loyalty, courage, dependability - that make success in our mission possible. In Martin the RAF Regiment has lost one of its most promising young men who will be terribly missed by us all. As we grieve for him, we here in Iraq can draw some comfort that he fell, weapon in hand, fighting for and alongside his comrades, doing the job he loved so much. For all of us, there can be no greater inspiration to continue to do our duty with renewed determination and fighting spirit, to live up to his legacy and our Regimental motto: Per Ardua – Through Adversity. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Victoria, Rachael, Nic and all his family at this tragic time."