More than 2,000 people packed into York Minster, Wednesday 11 July 2007, for a memorial and thanksgiving service to honour the 26 soldiers from 19 Light Brigade killed in action while serving in Iraq between October 2006 and May 2007.

Soldiers from 19 Light Brigade, based at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, and relatives of those who died in action, packed the cathedral to pay their respects. During their seven month tour on Operation Telic 9, the Brigade succeeded in handing over responsibility for security to the Governor of Maysaan province and four bases to the Iraqi Army.

[Picture: Corporal Ian Forsyth RLC]

Tears as soldiers pay their respects to fallen colleagues at York Minster


Soldiers from 19 Light Brigade, based at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, and relatives of those who died in action, packed the cathedral to pay their respects. During their seven month tour on Operation Telic 9, the Brigade succeeded in handing over responsibility for security to the Governor of Maysaan province and four bases to the Iraqi Army. But the Brigade's success came at a great cost, with 26 soldiers killed in action and more than 130 wounded. The head of 3 (UK) Division, Major General Richard Shirreff, and the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Tim Evans, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with officers and soldiers throughout yesterday's hour-long ceremony. The Reverend Timothy Cole, senior chaplain for the Brigade, spoke for all present when he said of the dead:  "Even if we did not know them personally, they were, each one of them, part of us." During the service the names of the 26 dead were read out as a bell was rung 26 times. Nine buglers from 2nd Battalion The Rifles were silhouetted high above the nave on the parapet of the Great West Window as the Brigade’s Chief of Staff, Military Cross-holder Major Ben Hollister, slowly went through the roll of honour. Commander 19 Light Brigade, Brigadier Tim Evans said the sacrifices had not been in vain and paid tribute to the professionalism and courage of his soldiers: "We have come here today to pay our respects to those that have been killed or injured during 19 Light Brigade's tour of duty in Iraq on Op TELIC 9. The enemy were determined to make their mark but we were never going to be beaten. We all recognise it came at a great cost. To those who died or were injured – your efforts will not be forgotten. "The Brigade had a very challenging and dynamic tour but maintained an impressive momentum. We had to fight hard to retain the initiative and keep on the front foot against a professional and well motivated enemy who were determined to inflict casualties.  "The fact that the officers and soldiers never lost their direction or motivation is testament to the standard of our people today. The officers and soldiers could not have performed better."


Brigadier Evans was also encouraged by the success which 19 Brigade had while deployed in Iraq: "We conducted over nine Brigade level strike operations and over 110 Battlegroup or Company Group strikes. The Brigade succeeded in setting the conditions for Transition but it came at great cost with 26 killed in action and over 130 wounded.  "The Brigade tour was dominated by Transition. The Maysaan Battlegroup remained in the desert for the tour, conducting border operations and mentoring the Department of Border Enforcement. They assisted with the handover of responsibility for security to the Governor of Maysaan, with the declaration of Provincial Iraqi Control; the third out of the four southern provinces. "Within Basra, the Brigade conducted Operation SINBAD, a comprehensive operation, which intertwined $70m worth of reconstruction with the development of the Iraqi Security Forces within 22 districts of the City over a period of six months. This helped set the conditions for the handover of greater security responsibility to the Security Forces as they gained in capability.


The Reverend Timothy Cole gave a moving memorial and thanksgiving service to honour the 26 soldiers from 19 Light Brigade killed in action while serving in Iraq between October 2006 and May 2007

"Throughout the tour, 19 Light Brigade worked closely with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), providing specialist training and equipment, mentoring them as their capability developed and supporting them on operations. The Brigade handed over four bases to 10th Division of the Iraqi Army within a six week period without any difficulties.  "This period in April 2007, however, coincided with the month of our greatest losses with ten killed in action. This demonstrated the roller-coaster nature of the tour with highs and lows coming in very quick succession. "Overall, the Brigade achieved all that was asked of it, having taken its lead from the successes of 20 Armoured Brigade and set the conditions for 1 Mechanised Brigade to achieve Provincial Iraqi Control in Al Basrah Province in the next few months."