Thursday, September 17, 2009
It is with deep sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of Acting Serjeant* Stuart McGrath of 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES), and Trooper Brett Hall of 2nd Battalion The Royal Tank Regiment (2 RTR), following separate incidents in Afghanistan.
Acting Sjt Hall was killed as a result of an explosion in Gereshk District, Helmand province, on the afternoon of 16 September 2009, dying from his wounds before he could be extracted to hospital. Tpr Hall died, also on 16 September, at the Royal College of Defence Medicine Selly Oak, following injuries sustained when an explosion hit his Combat Logistic Patrol in rural north-west Helmand province.
Acting Serjeant Stuart McGrath, 2nd Battalion The Rifles
Serjeant Stuart McGrath, aged 28, was born in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, on 5 December 1980. He began his Army training in October 1999 and joined 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets in June the following year (The Royal Green Jackets was one of five infantry regiments which merged to form The Rifles in 2007).
He made an early start to junior leadership, completing a Junior Non Commissioned Officer (JNCO) Cadre in November 2001. From an early stage he specialised in mortaring, completing both standard and advanced mortar courses with excellent results in 2004 and 2005.
From the beginning he stood out as a fiercely bright and determined individual. Not being satisfied with the standard career path for a Mortarman, he put himself forward to attend the Platoon Serjeants' Battle Course following his tour in Afghanistan; he wanted to push himself into the most demanding roles the Army had to offer.
An intensely energetic and fit Rifleman, Serjeant McGrath led a team from the Battalion to complete the Dublin Marathon in November 2008. Younger than all the others in his role, he had endless potential.
He died in an IED explosion on 16 September 2009 near Forward Operating Base Keenan.
Serjeant McGrath leaves his wife, Emma, three sons, Ryan, Daniel, and Dylan, and his daughter, Niamh, born in June whilst he was already deployed to Afghanistan.
His wife, Mrs Emma McGrath, said:
"Stuart was a loving husband, amazing father, son, brother cousin and a friend to many. We are all so very proud of him and what he achieved. He died doing a job he loved. He is our Hero and we will never forget him."
Trooper Brett Hall, 2nd Battalion The Royal Tank Regiment
Trooper Brett Hall, aged 21, was brought up in Dartmouth, Devon. He joined the Army in November 2006, aged 18. He leaves behind parents Susan and Peter.
Lt Col Marcus Simson, Brett's Commanding Officer, said:
"Trooper Brett Hall joined the Army in November 2006, undergoing training at the Army Training Regiment at Winchester and then at the Armour School in Bovington where he qualified as a Challenger 2 tank driver. In October 2007, aged just 19-and-a-half he joined the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment in Tidworth.
"At the Regiment, Trooper Hall quickly made a name for himself. He loved vehicles and he loved making them work. His talent and enthusiasm was quickly spotted and he was soon driving for the Squadron Headquarters – a rare promotion for someone of his experience. In November 2008, Trooper Hall began preparations and training to deploy to Afghanistan with his Squadron. He converted his driving skills to the Viking vehicle that he would be driving and once more his thirst for knowledge was all too apparent.
"Trooper Hall deployed to Helmand province with his Squadron in early June 2009, the week of his 21st birthday.
"As with everything he did, Trooper Hall proved a tower of strength amongst his Squadron in theatre. Quietly getting on with business, and not one to shout or seek attention, he would be found on the tank park making sure that his vehicle was ready to go, and when it was, helping someone else with theirs.
"His endless cheerfulness and his happy smile, alongside his talent and enthusiasm, promised much for the future. Tragically, it is not to be. Trooper Hall was critically injured on the 12th September 2009 whilst taking part in a major operation to the south of Musa Quala when his vehicle was attacked by an insurgent Improvised Explosive Device.
"Although given life saving treatment at the scene of the attack, and evacuated by helicopter to the hospital at Camp Bastion, Trooper Hall died of his wounds in hospital in the UK on 16th September 2009.
"Known Regimentally as Albert, Trooper Hall's death leaves an indescribable hole in our hearts and it is only some consolation that he died whilst surrounded by his family. He was loved by all who knew him as a happy, hardworking young man who was full of fun, was desperately proud of his Squadron and their achievements in Afghanistan, and who cared deeply about his mates. We are proud to have known him and to have served alongside him."
Major Charlie Burbrige, Egypt Squadron Leader, said:
"Trooper 'Albert' Hall died as a result of injuries incurred from an explosion south of Musa Quala in Helmand province. He received fatal wounds at the controls of the Viking which he drove. Albert had a rare talent for engines, even amongst Tankies. He was happiest when he was covered from head to toe in the grease and oil that are the mark of a true Tankie.
"His vehicles never broke down. It was a matter of personal pride for him and the abiding image of Albert that will remain with us is of his shaggy haircut, cigar and filthy coveralls. His ever present smile appeared to shine through the grime. He was fit and enjoyed the esoteric pleasure of fell running and it was typical of him to pursue this sport without fanfare but to the high standards that he set himself.
"Albert never sought the limelight but when something was happening he would be amongst the group or on the very edge, smiling at what he was watching. He was quiet and extremely popular, loved by all in the squadron for simply being a good bloke and a very hard worker. He was a Tankie through and through and he will be desperately missed by us all."