Royal Air Force


Nimrod MR 2

 

 

The loss of a British aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006. The crash led to fourteen fatalities, twelve from the Royal Air Force, one Royal Marine and one from the British Army. The aircraft involved in the accident was a Royal Air Force Nimrod MR2 based at RAF Kinloss in Scotland. It was lost supporting an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission.

Shortly after the incident RAF Kinloss Station Commander Group Captain Chris Birks said:  "I am very deeply saddened about the deaths of twelve air crew from Royal Air Force Kinloss in a Nimrod accident over Afghanistan. All twelve were from Number 120 Squadron based here at Kinloss. All were long serving and experienced air crew and were known to me personally.  "As well as first class personnel these were colleagues and friends of myself and my other personnel. The station is in mourning. The main priority now is to provide support for the families of those lost, their friends and colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers are with them."  Officer Commanding 120 Squadron, based at RAF Kinloss, Wing Commander Martin Cannard added: "120 Squadron has suffered a profound loss. We have lost good friends and colleagues, many known personally to us over many years. I have been humbled by the commitment and determination of all of my people to do all that they can for those that have lost loved ones and friends and this will be our sole focus in the coming days."


The coffins are unloaded one at a time from the C17, each borne on the shoulders of comrades and greeted by a Chaplain from their respective Armed Service.

Musical accompaniment to the ceremony was provided by  The Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

Nimrod Crew on their last flight Home


The order of repatriation was by Service Seniority, then rank: Marine Joseph David Windall, aged 22, Royal Marines Corporal Oliver Simon Dicketts, 27, Parachute Regiment Flight Lieutenant Allan James Squires, 39, from Clatterbridge (Pilot and Captain) Flight Lieutenant Steven Johnson, 38, from Collingham, Notts. (Weapon System Officer (Navigator)) Flight Lieutenant Gareth Rodney Nicholas, 40, from Redruth, Cornwall (Weapons Systems Officer (Air Electronics Officer)) Flight Lieutenant Steven Swarbrick, 28, from Liverpool (Pilot) Flight Lieutenant Leigh Anthony Mitchelmore, 28, from Bournemouth (Weapon System Officer (Navigator)) Flight Sergeant Adrian Davies, 49, from Amersham, Bucks. (Air Engineer) Flight Sergeant Gary Wayne Andrews, 48, from Tankerton, Kent (Weapon System Operator) Flight Sergeant Gerard Martin Bell, 48, from Ely, Cambs. (Weapon System Operator) Flight Sergeant Stephen Beattie, 42, from Dundee (Weapons Systems Operator) Sergeant Gary Paul Quilliam, 42, from Manchester (Weapons Systems Operator) Sergeant Benjamin James Knight, 25, from Bridgewater (Weapons Systems Operator) Sergeant John Joseph Langton, 29, from Liverpool (Weapons Systems Operator)


The death of Flight Lieutenant Steven Johnson, who was killed following the crash of a Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Flight Lieutenant Steve Johnson, Weapon System Officer (Navigator)  Flt Lt Steve Johnson, 38, from Collingham, Notts, was a highly intelligent individual and a very capable navigator. His focus was always to ensure that he carried out his duties in the most professional manner possible. Having served on all the Kinloss squadrons, Steve's professional ability, coupled with his dry sense of humour and positive attitude, was well known to everyone. On his return from operations in the Middle East, he was to be awarded the ultimate accolade of appointment to crew captaincy.  Away from work, Steve lived in an idyllic cottage in the Scottish countryside where he was a dedicated father to Victoria and Charlotte and a loving husband to Jan. Steve will be sadly missed by all who knew him.


The death of Flight Lieutenant Leigh Anthony Mitchelmore, who was killed following the crash of a Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2006

Flt Lt Leigh Mitchelmore, Weapon System Officer (Navigator)  Flt Lt Leigh Mitchelmore, 28 and from Bournemouth, was a young and highly enthusiastic Nimrod Weapon System Operator with a very bright future. He had a natural ability and personality that perfectly suited him to the Nimrod role. His tall and striking presence, mixed with his affable manner, ensured he was well received wherever he was. This was particularly of value during his deployment to New Zealand as a junior navigator on the crew who were successful in the 2005 Fincastle international maritime patrol competition.  An exceptional golfer and devoted family man, he will be sorely missed by his young family.


The death of Flight Lieutenant Gareth Rodney Nicholas, who was killed following the crash of a Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Flt Lt Gareth Nicholas, Weapons Systems Officer (Air Electronics Officer)  Flt Lt Gareth Nicholas, 40, from Redruth, Cornwall, was a seasoned maritime aviator, an experienced professional Weapons Systems Officer ( responsible for the management of the 6 Weapons Systems Operators on board) and a former acoustics operator.  Over the years, Gareth's cheerful and easy-going nature made him many friends in the maritime fleet and in the wider community. As an adventurous water-sports enthusiast, he was the RAF Waveski Champion several times and enjoyed canoeing and windsurfing.  A devoted husband and loving father, he leaves behind his wife Helen and daughter Athena.


The death of Flight Lieutenant Allan James Squires, killed following the crash of a Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

[ Flight Lieutenant Allan James Squires ]

Flight Lieutenant Allan Squires, pilot and Captain

Flt Lt Allan Squires, 39, from Clatterbridge, was a universally loved and respected member of the Kinloss family. He was an exceptional pilot, aircraft captain and flying instructor whose experience and professionalism has touched a whole generation of Air Force pilots. Always willing to work hard, he loved his flying, along with the camaraderie and team spirit which he found as part of a Nimrod crew and the Royal Air Force.

Although outwardly quiet, Al had a real thirst for life. In sport, he was a gifted runner who trained hard and raced hard. However, Al's greatest passion was his family. He was a devoted husband to Adele and a doting father to Abigail and Graeme. He will be truly missed.


The death of Flight Lieutenant Steven Swarbrick, who was killed following the crash of a RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Flight Lieutenant Steve Swarbrick, Pilot Flt Lt Steve Swarbrick, or 'Swarbs' as he was universally known, 28, from Liverpool, was a loyal, dependable and fully committed young pilot with the world at his feet. His great sense of fun and compassion made him an exceptional crew member. A sports 'nut', he could always be relied upon for comment on the England cricket team and his dedication to his much-loved Liverpool FC. A keen outdoor enthusiast and talented rock climber, Swarbs will leave a huge gap on No.120 Sqn and with those who loved him dearly.


The death of Flight Sergeant Gary Wayne Andrews, who was killed following the crash of a RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Flight Sergeant Gary Wayne Andrews, Weapons System Operator  Flight Sergeant Gary Andrews, aged 48, was from Tankerton in Kent. His professional ability and ever-youthful appearance were the envy of his friends and colleagues. One of the most experienced aviators on the maritime fleet, he was always quick and willing to impart his knowledge and understanding to the benefit of his crew-mates and the Squadron as a whole.  Throughout his lengthy career with the maritime fleet, Gary constantly offered unstinting support to all his colleagues and his impressive contribution to the Station will be impossible to replace. A devoted husband and loving father, he leaves behind his wife Kristina and daughters Sophia and Lauren.


The death of Flight Sergeant Stephen Beattie, who was killed following the crash of a Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Flight Sergeant Stephen Beattie, Weapons System Operator  Flight Sergeant Stephen Beattie, a Weapons Systems Operator, was aged 42 and from Dundee. Steve was fiercely committed to No. 120 Squadron and to the Royal Air Force and served with distinction throughout numerous Operational Tours around the world.  A thoroughly courageous and completely professional Nimrod MR2 aviator, he was highly-respected and liked by all who flew and served with him; he had a true heart of gold. With a strong sense of humour, he could always raise the spirits and morale of his colleagues. A dedicated husband and family man, he leaves behind his beloved wife Shona and children Bethany and Cameron.


The death of Flight Sergeant Gerard Martin Bell, who was killed following the crash of a RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Flight Sergeant Gerard "Gez" Bell, Weapons System Operator  Flight Sergeant Gerard Bell, better known to his colleagues as "Gez", aged 48, was from Ely, Cambridgeshire. He was a consummate professional whose sharp sense of humour and great sense of occasion could make any moment special.  Gez was a devoted family man to Fiona and loving father to Ann Marie and Charlene.  An avid supporter of the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess and stalwart member of the Committee, he brought the same infectious enthusiasm and drive to the Mess as he did to all his duties. His considerable contribution will be sorely missed across the maritime fleet where his friends will hold him affectionately in their memory.


The death of Flight Sergeant Adrian Davies, who was killed following the crash of a RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Flight Sergeant Ady Davies, Air Engineer Flight Sergeant Adrian "Ady" Davies, 49 and from Amersham, Bucks, was a dedicated family man, a loving husband and a father of four children. In his time in the RAF he had served on both the Nimrod R1 and MR2, amassing some 7,000 hours in the air, including various appointments in an instructional role.  Ady was the epitome of the professional aviator and excelled in everything he did; a quiet person but always there with a smile, a handshake and a tip for a colleague.  His home and its ongoing renovation was always his dream and absorbed his time when he was not pursuing his flying career.  As the match secretary for the Forres Blue Fins, Ady coached many a young swimmer, including two of his daughters. Driving the length of the country to watch his daughters compete was never a problem for him. Ady will be sadly missed by all those that knew him.


The death of Sergeant Benjamin James Knight RAF, who was killed following the crash of a RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Sergeant Benjamin "Tapper" Knight, Weapons Systems Operator Sergeant Benjamin "Tapper" Knight, 25, from Bridgewater, was a completely professional and incredibly enthusiastic Nimrod MR2 sensor operator who, despite his short tenure in the role, had richly deserved his rapid promotion within his crew.  Always smiling, he brought laughter and joy to all his colleagues and friends. Steadfast in his role on No.120 Squadron he was a truly outstanding Royal Air Force aviator. He leaves behind his treasured fiancť Tania and his dearly-loved parents Trish and Graham and brothers Andy and Matt.


The death of Sergeant John Joseph Langton RAF, who was killed following the crash of a RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Sergeant John Langton, Weapons Systems Operator Sergeant John Langton, 29, from Liverpool was a highly professional member of the Royal Air Force who had an illustrious career as a RAF Regiment Gunner before joining No. 120 Squadron early in 2005.  He approached his role as a Front Line Aviator with the same passion, enthusiasm and skill as he approached his efforts on the football field.  "Langy" had an enthusiastic passion for fast cars and motorbikes and was extremely proud of his Yamaha R1.  An effervescent character who lived life to the full, his dream was to become a Pilot in the Royal Air Force. He was a friend to all who knew him and will be sorely missed on and off the field.  A terrible loss to all, but particularly to his long time partner Kate, his parents Margaret and Joe, his brother Steve and sister Christine.


The death of Sergeant Gary Paul Quilliam RAF, who was killed following the crash of a RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.

Sergeant Gary Quilliam, Weapons Systems Operator Sergeant Gary Quilliam, 42, was originally from Manchester. Gary, or "Q" as we all knew him, was in the best sense of the word a Ďcharacterí. His dry wit, sense of humour and smile were his trademark, and all went towards making him an undoubtedly warm and lovely person. Gary was an experienced SNCO who had recently returned to the job he loved - on the Front Line, in his third tour of duty on the Nimrod MR2.  Gary was an extremely popular individual not just on the Squadron, but especially amongst his many friends in the RAF sub-aqua fraternity. This was the sport in which he excelled, sharing his experience with countless people over his years as a Kinloss club instructor.  A devoted and committed family man, he leaves behind his wife, Rayna, and daughter, Angela.

This poem was written in tribute to Sgt Gary Quilliam from a friend of his daughter's. A Good Friend.

A Good Friend It wasnít your time, it was an accident, The plane just had to go down, I believe there was a technical fault, That threw your plane to the ground. If only you had got on another plane, You could still be with us today, The last words I ever said to you, Was Iíll see you another day. But thatís not going to happen, Cause Iíll never see you again, Youíve definitely gone to a better place, Youíre a truly grateful friend. Iím really going to miss you, An awful, awful lot, The smell of your cooking tickled my nose, While bubbling to pot. What is the world coming to? Why did this have to happen? Iím going to miss your revolting burps, And your hideous way of laughing. You meant a really big deal to me, You were like a second dad, Like I said, youíve gone to a better place, And thatís what makes me glad. But at least you didnít die alone, There were quite a few others, They must have been pretty good friends Maybe as good as brothers. You were special guys to all of us, You did everything together, You brave men put your lives at risk We will remember you forever By Kirsten Dunford age 14 A friend of Amanda Quilliam age 15 daughter of Sgt Quilliam.