Skip to comments.British troops 'were executed'
Posted on 06/25/2003 12:03:49 PM PDT by scotslad
Three of the six British soldiers killed in Iraq were executed after surrendering their weapons, it was claimed today.
The Royal Military Police officers, a sergeant and five corporals, were shot dead after trying to quell a demonstration of Shi'ite Muslims in the town of Majar al Kabir yesterday.
The account of a local man, who tried to save the life of the sergeant in charge of the patrol, backs up Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie McCourt who said today: "This attack was unprovoked. It was murder."
Two of the men died when shooting broke out as the military policemen faced a large crowd of Iraqis angry at the way searches were being conducted by British troops.
The other four were pursued to the local police station where a third soldier was killed in the doorway. The remaining three battled it out with Iraqi gunmen for two hours before giving up their weapons. Then, according to Salam Al Wahele, the men were shot at least twice each in the head. Mr Al Wahele, 30, said: "They had surrendered and had given their weapons to the militiamen. I led a sergeant to a side room and said he could escape by a window but he said he did not want to go and leave the other men behind.
"He left me there and went back to the room where all the men were shot. They may have been killed by their own weapons I think, or AK-47s."
Iraqis claimed the "Red Caps" were attacked after firing into crowds at Majar al Kabir, 90 miles north of Basra.
But British forces today denied they had provoked the attack and gave local leaders 48 hours to hand over the Iraqi men responsible.
The troops, who were part of 156 Provost Company, attached to 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester, were named as:
Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell, from Chessington. He was 41 and single.
Corporal Russell Aston, 30, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, married with a daughter. Corporal Paul Graham Long, 24, from Colchester, married. Corporal Simon Miller, 21, Tyne and Wear, single.
Lance Corporal Benjamin John McGowan Hyde, 23, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, single. Lance Corporal Thomas Richard Keys, 20, from Bala, North Wales.
The wife of Corporal Aston was being comforted by relatives. Anna Aston said of the dead soldiers: "They were there to do a job."
The men were faced with thousands of angry demonstrators at Majar al Kabir.
Witnesses said the violence came after days of tension because of methods used to search civilians for weapons, including the use of sniffer dogs.
"These British soldiers came with their dogs and pointed weapons at women and children," said one Iraqi. "As Muslims, we can't accept dogs at our homes."
The first two of the military policemen were killed on the spot outside the mayor's office in the market place.
The mob then chased the four other members of the patrol to the nearby police station.
There were reports that two dozen Iraqi policemen at the station asked the military policemen to flee with them but the British insisted on staying.
The bodies of the men were recovered at noon today. At least
four Iraqis were reported to have been killed and 18 injured. Senior British officers were today meeting members of Majar al Kabir's council in the nearby city of Amarah to demand the surrender of the Iraqi gunmen responsible.
The soldiers were in the area to train a local Iraqi police force.
Major Bryn Parry-Jones, commanding officer of 156 Provost Company, said: "The loss of six soldiers from such a small, tight-knit unit clearly comes as a dreadful shock.
"We ask our men and women to risk the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country, and it is the sad truth that sometimes that sacrifice comes to pass." Tony Blair, in a hushed and sombre Commons, voiced sympathy for the families and praised the military policemen who had been "doing an extraordinary and heroic job in trying to bring normal and decent life to people in Iraq".
Downing Street declined to be drawn into the claims and counter claims about the tragedy at Majar al Kabir.
Downing Street said, however, that it "did not recognise the picture of events" being painted by those claiming that aggressive house-to-house searches had set off the violence. Security measures to protect troops in Iraq were being stepped up this afternoon.
Up until now British troops had discarded helmets and flak jackets in an attempt to win the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqis.
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon hinted that up to 5,000 more troops might be sent in. Mr Hoon insisted that the peace-keeping operation in Iraq had not got out of control.
He said: "We have had remarkable success across southern Iraq. We have not had this kind of incident before."
At the Royal Military Police headquarters in Chichester, West Sussex, flags flew at half-mast this afternoon. Soldiers formed a queue to sign a book of condolence.
Two officers emerged from the barracks to lay three wreaths of flowers next to a flower bed near the entrance of the base.
One wreath bore the regiment's motto "Exemplo Ducemus" which means "By Example We Lead."
Colonel John Baber, regimental secretary of the Royal Military Police Association, said: "This is without doubt the blackest day in the history of our long and distinguished regiment.
"The RMP is only a very small regiment of 2,000 soldiers scattered throughout the world so these deaths have hit us very hard indeed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the dead and with our brothers in arms overseas.
"The families of our brave colleagues will have every support we can give them at this terrible time."
The Iraqi National Congress also condemned the attacks on the British troops.
Dr Ahmad Chalabi insisted that the "overwhelming" majority of Iraqi people remained grateful to the coalition for removing Saddam Hussein and the Ba'athist regime.
He said: "We denounce the horrific attacks on British forces and give our deepest sympathies to the families of those soldiers who have died giving hope to a nation that has suffered for so long.
"We strongly urge the occupation authorities to move quickly to empower an Iraqi provisional government in order to fill the political vacuum."
Yeah, the dinosaurs are extinct too, no loss...
"As Muslims, we can't accept dogs at our homes."
Jeez, I swear they just make this crap up as they go along!
Put your hands up!
Allah forbids it!
Then lay on the ground!
A sin in Allahs eyes!
Then stand perfectly still!
Allah commands me to jump up and down!
I feel sorry for themand their Family. I never met a Brit I didn't like.
Wonder if they will be happier about the way the searches are handled after this?
Oh, I see: therefore, they deserved to be executed. These people are curs themselves, and should be dealt with as such.
Or what? I'm assuming that they are threatening the leaders with something if they don't comply.
I might be Muslim: I can't accept dogs at my home; Shredder the Dobie is too intolerant of other dogs.
Perhaps???? It's way past time. What really torques me about the whole deal is that we have the ability to fix all of the problems over there. But we won't do it. I've been hearing about the middle east problems all my life (44) years.... and I'm sure that those who come after me will be hearing the same.
April 19, 1775; Lexington, the Massachusetts Government troops suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of citizen militia today. Hundreds of casualties are reported.
Lt. Colonel Francis Smith, leading 900 troops made up of grenadiers and light infantry marched onto the Green in Lexington shortly after dawn. They had been dispatched from the King's Army in Boston with the intent of capturing anti government fugitives and militia armaments in Lexington and Concord. They were not alone in the morning mist. A detachment of Patriot militia stood at the other end of the Green.
Ringleaders Evade Arrest; Courier alerts fugitives to Government dragnet
Despite heavy security, word of the approaching Government task force had reached the parsonage of the Rev. Jonas Clarke, where notorious anti government rebels Samuel Adams and John Hancock had been hiding. The fugitives fled in the predawn hours. The Reverend Clarke then mustered the militia that had for months been drilling and training under his command each Sunday after services.
Radicals Defy Authorities
After being issued powder and ball from the magazine hidden in the upper story of the meetinghouse, Rev. Clarke's men assembled with other local militia under the command of Captain John Parker who is quoted as issuing the following orders at the arrival of the Government troops -"Stand your ground; don't fire unless fired upon; but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!"
An unidentified British officer is reported to have cursed the Patriot militia in the coarsest of language, calling them "traitors and rebels" as he ordered them to surrender their arms and disburse. Before the resolute militiamen had time to either comply or disobey, a pistol shot was heard - followed by a volley from the line of Regulars. Eight Patriot militiamen were killed on the spot, and the Government troops charged across the Green and through the village on their course to Concord.
The citizen militia of all the surrounding area had by this time received the call, and two to three hundred men assembled under the command of Colonel Barret who issued orders not to fire unless the Government troops provoked.
Rev. William Emerson, the minister in Concord who had assembled (musket in hand) with the rebels, is quoted as saying "Let us stand our ground. If we die, let us die here!"
Confrontation at the North Bridge
Lt. Colonel Smith had ordered a detachment of his Government troops to take down the North Bridge at Concord to prevent Patriot militia from coming to the aid of the town. As Barret's militia approached the bridge, Government forces arrayed in the "street firing" formation, a tightly grouped series of ranks designed to concentrate firepower.
Witnesses report that the anti-government militia marched in good order to the bridge. Discipline broke down among the Regulars and first one shot, and then an entire volley, were fired towards the militia without any order from commanders. Most of the volley flew high, though a few rebels were hit.
Crack Unit Panics Under Fire
Barret's militia continued to approach, under high discipline, to within 50 yards of the bridge, where Maj. Buttrick finally gave the militia the order to return fire. The many hours of marksmanship training required of anti government militiamen by their leaders produced deadly results. Half the officers in the Regular corps were hit in the first volley. Government forces at the North Bridge were quickly reduced to an undisciplined churning mass, only the first rank able to fire.
All order in the Government ranks disintegrated within a few moments. As one Ensign Lister, who survived the debacle, admitted - "The weight of their fire was such that we was oblidged to give way, then run with the greatest precipitance."
The North Bridge fallen, rebels advancing toward the main force, and still more anti government forces assembling round the town, Government commanders struggled to regain control of, and inspire confidence in their men.
Retreat Turns to Rout
Lt. Col. Smith and his contingent were forced into an orderly retreat towards Boston without capturing the militia provisions in either Concord or Lexington. Capt. Parker regrouped his men and began to move to engage the Regulars as they retreated from Concord. Militia continued to muster from all the countryside and harassed the Government task force with rifle fire from every wall, rock, and tree along the road. Orderly retreat soon turned to rout with Government troops suffering withering fire. Government dead and wounded are reported to be in the several of hundreds.
Governor Gage dispatched Lord Percy and a battalion in response to Colonel Smith's call for relief. Percy rescued Smith's corps at Lexington and continued the retreat through Menotomy, which the discredited Government forces proceeded to plunder and burn. Patriot militia pursued Government troops clear to Charlestown where cannon on British ships offered cover to the Redcoats.
Unnamed sources are quoted as saying that if the militia of Salem and Marblehead under command of Colonel Pickering had not been tardy to the call, the entire Government force under Smith and Percy would have perished under the muskets of the radical anti Government militias.
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