The Black Watch


Lance Corporal Barry Stephen

Lance Corporal Barry Stephen

Lance Corporal Baz Stephen; who was 31 and from Perth. He was a member of 1st Battalion, The Black Watch, and was serving with his regiment in Southern Iraq when he was killed in action on Monday 24 March while on operation near Al Zubayr. Lance Corporal Stephen joined 1st Battalion, The Black Watch in January 1997 and served in Northern Ireland, Germany and the UK.  Between 2000 and 2002, he was a member of The Black Watch's Regimental Recruiting Team, based in Perth. He was then called back to his Regiment in Fallingbostel, Germany, to rejoin the mortar platoon. Lance Corporal Stephen's family has asked Sergeant Mark Hudson of The Black Watch, a close family friend, to issue the following statement on their behalf: "I know I speak for Barry's family and all of his many friends when I say that we are absolutely devastated to learn of his death. He was a wonderful husband and son as well as a great friend. I know he was very proud to be a soldier and to wear the Red Hackle. He loved the army, and both his family and I take some comfort from knowing that he died a hero, doing the job he loved. We will miss him dreadfully."

Proud To Wear The Red Hackle © A tribute to Lance Corporal Barry Stephen, aged 31, the first Scottish soldier to be killed in combat,  while serving with the Black Watch at Al Zubayr in the war in Iraq.  by H Marshall  Scotland  2003  Proud waved the 'red' on this soldier brave,  For he wore it with pride and distinction.  Now drains his blood in the land of the grave,  Spilled by war's cruel affliction.  Cold is the sand where they laid Barry's head,  In the growl of the fierce desert storm.  Loyal to the cause and devotion lead,  Honoured by comrades forlorn.  Lost are you now to family and friends,  The Regiment hurting at your sad death.  Your colleagues' calm anger knows no ends,  Raged by those who stifled your breath.  Proud were you of the "Gallant Forty Two"  And to wear the "Red Hackle" you loved.  The Battalion is so proud of you,  Scotland, by your honour, is moved!  Grief-stricken parents and wife must go on  Through the desolate deserts of sorrow.  Hearts devastated at losing a son,  And facing their lonely tomorrow.  Wet are the cheeks with flowing widow's tears,  For her husband and patriot she cried.  Without your support to face future fears,  But your memory swells her with pride.  You served with courage and sacrifice,  In the fury of war's thundering blast.  Fearless and steadfast you paid a high price,  In our hearts you will forever last.  In war you fell, but shall not be unsung,  Aged thirty one, came that deathly blow.  Scottish voices will praise with ev'ry tongue,  For Scotland knows, you died a hero! 


Pte Marc Ferns

Private Marc Ferns was killed in an improvised explosive device attack in Basrah on 12 August 2004. Aged 21. He was single and serving with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch, based at Warminster. He came from Glenrothes in Fife, and had previously served in Iraq with the Black Watch during the initial period of major combat operations in the spring of 2003.

Lieutenant Colonel James Cowan, the Commanding Officer of the Black Watch, said: "Marc Ferns died earlier this day as a result of enemy action. His tragic death has saddened and shocked the Battalion. Private Ferns had loyally served the Black Watch for three years and had a bright future ahead of him. He was an experienced, committed, professional and very popular soldier who will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family at this time."


Private Kevin Thomas McHale

Private Kevin Thomas McHale

Pte McHale

Private Kevin Thomas McHale of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch died in a road traffic accident in North Babil province on 29 October 2004. Aged 27, he was single and came from Lochgelly in Fife. He had served five years with the Battalion as a Warrior armoured vehicle driver. This was his second operational tour with The Black Watch, having served in Iraq during the period of active combat operations in the spring of 2003.


Sergeant Stuart Gray, Private Paul Lowe, and 

Private Scott McArdle

Lieutenant-Colonel James Cowan, commanding the 1st Battalion The Black Watch, said at Camp Dogwood on 5 November 2004: "It is my sad duty to report the death of three of my soldiers. At 1300 on 4 November, a patrol from D Company, the 1st Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) was conducting a Vehicle Check Point in an area east of the Euphrates. At this time, a suicide bomber drove his vehicle at the soldiers, detonating the device. The troops then came under sustained mortar fire. Three soldiers and one civilian interpreter were killed, and eight soldiers wounded. Sergeant Stuart Gray, Private Paul Lowe, and

Private Scott McArdle were all killed instantly, as was the patrol's interpreter, whose name cannot be released for security reasons. "For a close-knit family such as the Black Watch, this is indeed a painful blow. All three of the soldiers were our friends, but as we mourn their deaths, so we remember their lives and give thanks to their contribution to the life of our Regiment. The interpreter had been with the Black Watch since our arrival in Iraq, and had become a friend to the soldiers. He had volunteered to come north with us, and had delayed his wedding, which was to have taken place on the day of his death. Stuart Gray was a Sergeant of great experience in the Mortar Platoon; Paul Lowe was a talented drummer in the Pipes and Drums; and Scott McArdle was a rifleman in the elite Reconnaissance Platoon. We will miss them as brothers-in-arms, and extend our sympathy and love to their families. The whole of the Black Watch is saddened by this loss. But while we fell this blow most keenly, we will not be deterred from seeing our task through to a successful conclusion."  Major Lindsay MacDuff, the Officer Commanding the Battalion's Rear Party at Warminster, said on 5 November 2004: "The Black Watch has always been a close-knit family, and the news that three of our soldiers were tragically killed while serving in Iraq is keenly felt by all ranks and their families. All are left saddened by the news that we have lost three friends. "The men of the Black Watch are determined to continue with their operational tasks in Iraq. In the words from a key passage of the Regimental Collect, "We of the Black Watch will stand fast in the faith and be strong" at this time, both here with the families, and with the men on operations. "The Army and the Black Watch have a robust and coordinated welfare structure that is designed to meet the needs of those affected by the incident yesterday. We would ask the media to keep their distance and give us a chance to grieve and come to terms with our loss at what is a difficult time."

Sgt Gray coming home

Sergeant Gray

Sergeant Stuart Robert Tennant Gray

Sergeant Stuart Robert Tennant Gray of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch was killed by a suicide car-bomb attack on a vehicle check-point in Iraq on 4 November 2004. Aged 31.

He was married with two children, and came from Dunfermline, Fife. Sergeant Gray had served twelve years in the Army. He was educated at Pitcorthie Primary School and Woodmill High School. The following statement was issued by the family on behalf of Mrs Mary Gray, Sergeant Gray's mother: "She is obviously deeply shocked by the news of the death of her son, yet that sadness is tinged with her pride in a much loved son who was a member of his local Regiment. He was an experienced and professional soldier, a loving husband, father, son and brother, and a proud member of the Black Watch. Her thoughts are also with the families of Privates Lowe and McArdle, and the other Black Watch soldiers injured in the same incident; as well as her daughter-in-law, Wendy, her family, and two gorgeous grand-children: Kirstin aged twelve, and Darren, ten."

Flowers and a farewell note left by 12-year-old Kirstin Gray whose father, Sergeant Stuart Gray of the Black Watch was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq.

SHE stood there, sobbing uncontrollably, the ten red roses she had brought with her to the gates of the Black Watch barracks lying at her feet, a 12-year-old girl who had lost her father in a far away war, consumed with grief. "To Dad," the card on the flowers said. "Love you and miss you, love Kirstin.íí

Kirstin Grayís father, Sergeant Stuart Gray, was dead, and she was inconsolable. She tried to read the other tributes that were already starting to arrive, but it was too much for her. Friends put their arms around her, and led her gently back to the car in which she had arrived.  She and her mother Wendy and her ten-year-old brother Darren had learned the news only a few hours earlier; the worst fears of two other families were confirmed at about the same time.  Together, apart, they grieved for the men who had gone.  Private Paul Lowe, aged 19. Private Scott McArdle, 22. Sergeant Stuart Gray, 31. They died instantly, the army said, cut down by the suicide bomb that also claimed the life of their interpreter. The man had been due to marry a few hours later and had put off the wedding to move up to Baghdad with the regiment. His name was not released, to save his family further trouble.  In Iraq, at the regimentís temporary new base south of Baghdad, their commanding officer, Lt Col James Cowan, extended his sympathies to the families of the men who had died. "We will miss them all, as brothers in arms," he said. For a close-knit family such as the Black Watch, it was a painful blow. "These soldiers were our friends."  But there was steel in his words. "While we feel this blow most keenly we are the Black Watch," he said, "and we will not be deterred from seeing our task through to a successful conclusion."  Outside the barracks in Wiltshire, and at the regimental headquarters in Perth, more people came to lay their tributes and to pay their respects. They laid flowers, thistles, and even a Rangersí scarf.  Like many of their friends in the regiment, the three dead soldiers came from Fife. Paul Lowe was from Kelty: a drummer in the regimentís pipe band, he was single, and had been in the army three years.  Scott McArdle, a member of the elite reconnaissance team, from Glenrothes, had four yearsí service.  Last night, it emerged the soldierís fiancťe, Sarah McLaren, is expecting the coupleís baby in two monthsí time.  Stuart Gray was from Dunfermline. The eldest of the three, he attended Pitcorthie Primary School and Woodmill High School before joining the army 12 years ago and rising to the rank of sergeant in the mortar platoon.  His mother, Mary Gray, was too upset to talk in public about his death, but she allowed the army to put out a statement on her behalf.  "She is obviously deeply shocked by the news of the death of her son," it said, "yet that sadness is tinged with her pride in a much-loved son who was a member of his local regiment.  "He was an experienced and professional soldier, a loving husband, father, son and brother, and a proud member of the Black Watch."  Her thoughts, it said, were with his young family and with the families of the other soldiers who were killed and injured in the attack.  Craig Lowe, the 18-year-old brother of Paul Lowe, said they had last spoken only on Sunday. His brother had promised to be careful, he said.  "When he found out he was being moved, he just phoned us up and said: ĎI know Iím going to a dangerous place, Iíll just have to take more care. Thatís my job - Iíve just got to get on with ití," he said.  "He was just saying he was missing us all, that he couldnít wait to come home to see us and hoped he would be home for Christmas," he said. Craig is also a soldier in the Black Watch: it was his brother who had inspired him to join up, though he was no fan of this war.  "What he lived for was his job in the army," he said.  "But he said he didnít think he should be there because the regiment has already done their time over there, the first time, so he didnít think they should be back.  "But he just took it on the chin and went back and got on with his job."  The McArdles were, in the main, too upset to talk. "The whole family is in pieces," said his cousin Michelle McArdle. "He liked going out with his friends, he was a popular guy. I think he always wanted to go into the army."  At the Black Watch headquarters, Captain Bob Reid summed up how all who knew them felt: "We are left saddened by the news that we have lost three friends," he said.

Pte Paul Lowe

Private Paul Aitken Lowe

Private Paul Aitken Lowe

Private Paul Aitken Lowe of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch was killed by a suicide car-bomb attack on a vehicle check-point in Iraq on 4 November 2004. Aged 19, he was single and came from Fife. He had been in the Army three years.

Pte Paul Lowe coming home

Paul Lowe, right, with cousin Barry, left, and brother Craig

Paul Lowe, right, with cousin Barry, left, and brother Craig.


Private McArdle

Private Scott William McArdle

Private Scott William McArdle of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch was killed by a suicide car-bomb attack on a vehicle check-point in Iraq on 4 November 2004. Aged 22, he was single and came from Glenrothes. Scott McArdle had served in the Army six years.


 

Private Pita Tukutukawaqa

 

Adi Litia Qionibaravi, Maopa Saumi and Private Tukutukuwaqa's Dad Baleilevuka Ratu at the church service at his village home in Verata, Ucunivanua. Fiji

Private Pita Tukutukawaqa of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch died on 8 November 2004 when his Warrior armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside improvised explosive device. Aged 27, he was married and came from Fiji. Private Tukutukawaqa was driving his Warrior armoured vehicle when the device exploded, killing him instantly. Private Tukutukawaqa was 27 and joined the Black Watch in March 2001. He served with the Battalion in Kosovo and in Iraq last year. He was a trained sniper and an outstanding sportsman. "He will be dearly missed by his regiment and his friends "Private Tukutukawaqa was married and his wife has been notified of the incident.

Pitawas finally put to rest on Tuesday 23rd of November in Fiji. The funeral gathering was at his home village in Verata Tailevu. The coffin of the fallen soldier was draped in a Union Jack and accompanied home by nine British Army soldiers ó including one who was dressed in the full formal Black Watch regiment uniform. A letter written by Private Tukutukuwaqa's Fijian colleagues in the Black Watch regiment is expected to be read during the funeral. Through the letter, the Fijian boys asked Private Tukutukuwaqa for his forgiveness that none of them would be present at his funeral but that they would remember him always as they continue to fight and shed blood for peace in Iraq.

Moapa Tukutukuwaqa the wife of Private Pita Tukutukuwaqa Black Watch lay's her wreath on his grave --- In Fiji...

Private Pita Tukutukuwaqa was a Battalion Sniper... pictured right

Private Pita Tukutukuwaqa


Private Scott Kennedy

The Black Watch .. 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland

Corporal Paul Joszko, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales), aged 28 from Mountain Ash, Wales, together with Privates Scott Kennedy, aged 20 from Oakley, Dunfermline and James (Jamie) Kerr, aged 20 from Cowdenbeath of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device attack. The device detonated at approximately 0100hrs local time against the soldiers, who were dismounted from a Warrior patrol in the Al Amtahiya district in the southeast of Basra City.  The soldiers were serving as part of the British contingent of Multi-National Forces in southeast Iraq. A further British soldier was very seriously injured and is currently receiving treatment at the military field hospital in Basra.


Lieutenant Colonel James Swift MBE, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh paid the following tribute: Early yesterday morning a roadside bomb tragically killed 3 soldiers serving the 4th Battalion the RIFLES Battle Group in Basra, southern Iraq. They were all part of B (Rorke's Drift) Company from the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh, and they were helping to protect an important logistic convoy. The unexpected death of anyone is tragic, but the death of three soldiers as a result of the same bomb whilst serving their country and trying to improve the conditions in Iraq is awful. Private Scott Kennedy, known to all as Casper, was one of these courageous men. As he bravely dismounted from his Warrior armoured fighting vehicle to check that the area was safe, the improvised explosive device was detonated and killed him instantly. He was a young, enthusiastic soldier. He had volunteered to leave the peace in Northern Ireland where his regiment is based, to reinforce the Royal Welsh for their operational tour in Iraq. He gave his life for his friends and his country. Scott, aged 20 from Oakley, Dunfermline had not been in the Army long, but was already a very competent soldier. He worked hard, was a strong team player and loved his job. He had a great sense of humour and was a real pleasure to serve with. He could appear shy but he was not, he was his own man. He had a fantastic sense of humour and was always at the centre of events. He would do anything for anyone and the blokes loved him. At this terrible time all our thoughts are with Scott's family, especially his mother and father Carol and Kenneth. We will miss Scott very much, we will learn from his example, and we will honour his memory. Private Kennedy's Company Commander, Major Steven Webb, said: "Private Scott Kennedy, or 'Casper' as he was known to all, volunteered to be attached to 2 Royal Welsh from January in order to train for, and deploy on, Operation TELIC as part of B (Rorke's Drift) Company from May to December 2007. He was a valued member of the platoon and he played his part to the full: hard-working, conscientious and very aware of the team around him and his role in it. In addition he was the sort of character that was always willing to contribute to solutions in a positive and constructive way.  "Scott could appear quiet and perhaps a little shy, particularly to those that did not know him better. However, those who took the time to get to know him quickly realised that there was so much more beneath the surface. He was quick-witted, intelligent and possessed a razor-sharp sense of humour and steely resolve. He was also his own man: more than prepared to play his part in the team, but definitely not one to follow the crowd for the sake of it. In addition to his mischievous humour he was well-known for his love of Kung-Fu films and South Park. It was this combination of team-spirit and individuality that made his platoon and the Company much stronger for his presence. He will be greatly, greatly missed.  "Scott was also looking forward to the birth of his first child with his girlfriend, Vicky. He often talked about how much he was looking forward to being a father. Our thoughts go out to her at this most difficult time."  Captain Richard Moger, his Platoon Commander, said: "He contributed to the Platoon as a highly competent soldier and a hard-worker. But more than that he was a great bloke, always ready with a joke or sharp riposte. It was fantastic to have him around." Private Barrie Green said: "Casper always had the cheeky smile when he was up to no good and he had that look in the corner of his eye to see if anyone was watching. He will be sadly missed as one of the great lads in the Platoon."  Private Kris Fotheringham said: "Scott Kennedy, aka Casper van Dien, will always be remembered. He was a 'straight' stand-up comedian and full of laughter. He had a new baby on the way and loved telling us that he couldn't wait to be a dad."


[ Private James (Jamie) Kerr ]

Private James (Jamie) Kerr

The Black Watch .. 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland

Lieutenant Colonel James Swift MBE, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh paid the following tribute On Thursday 28 June 2007, Private Jamie Kerr, aged 20 from Cowdenbeath, was killed by a roadside bomb in southeast Basra. He was a good soldier, with a very promising future who gave up his life whilst serving his country. There can be no higher testament to a man. Jamie joined The Black Watch in 2005 and was serving with them in Northern Ireland until earlier this year when he volunteered to reinforce the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh for our operational tour in Iraq. He quickly settled in to his platoon in B (Rorke's Drift) Company and learnt fast on our pre-deployment training. In Iraq, he was deployed as a dismount in the back of the Platoon Commander's Warrior armoured fighting vehicle. He had successfully conducted strike operations, protected convoys, and helped to defend his base. He had previously been involved in a contact with the insurgents and had displayed courage and professionalism under fire. Jamie was a popular, happy young man who enjoyed soldiering and was good at it. He applied himself, worked hard and was very much a team player. He was dependable, professional and enthusiastic. He was already displaying potential for promotion to Lance Corporal and was expected to attend a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer's course on completion of his tour. Last night Jamie's company was clearing the route and providing protection for an important sustainment convoy. Jamie's vehicle stopped so that the soldiers in the back could dismount a check that the area was safe. A large improvised explosive device was detonated and all four of them were hit. Sadly Jamie died from his injuries. At this terrible time all our thoughts are with Jamie's family especially his parents and grandmother. Our loss is their tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with them all. His Company Commander, Major Stephen Webb, said: "Private Jamie Kerr had been attached to B (Rorke's Drift) Company since the end of January having volunteered to come with us on Operation TELIC 10. He was a very good soldier; skilled and intelligent. In Iraq, his Platoon Commander was able to trust him with many difficult roles knowing that Jamie would succeed, which is exactly what is required on operations. On occasion these roles required great personal bravery; Jamie never flinched. He was also a team player, again vital on operations where the lives of his comrades depended on each man doing their job. Jamie took this further and he was always willing to learn new skills and intelligent enough to apply them in differing situations.  "In the short time that Jamie had been with us there was not much time away from operations, but Jamie had already stood out as a bit of a legend. He was known throughout the Company as having a fantastic sense of humour and being a natural entertainer, whether it was jokes or dancing (at which he was actually very good). Whenever there was a group of soldiers from the Company laughing and joking it was odds on that Jamie Kerr would be at the centre of the group, entertaining everyone. When I talked to him for the first time, I was immediately struck by his easy-going nature and willing smile. He was naturally charismatic and great fun to be around. "Jamie was a very strong and positive influence on his platoon. He was a skilled soldier, keen to play his part and to learn new skills. He was also charismatic and great fun to be around with the ability to lift the morale of whole groups, at very difficult times. By the time of his death Jamie's platoon had become an extremely effective and tight-knit group, due in no small part to the contributions made by him and his friends. Our thoughts go out to his family at this very difficult time; he will be missed enormously by his many colleagues and friends."

Captain Richard Moger, his Platoon Commander, said: "Whenever I chatted to him I couldn't help but smile, his humour was infectious. But he knew exactly where to draw the line and when it came to work he was professional and highly competent. We have lost a good friend and valued colleague."

Private Rhys Thomas said: "He always cheered me up and made me laugh when I was feeling down with his crazy personality and antics. Always good for morale no matter what time of day or circumstances." Private Alasdair Lavery said: "The spontaneous and infectious character of Jamie Kerr, a morale boost 24/7. He will always be remembered."