Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lance Corporal Matty Hull 25 years old.

In This post we have

1. The time line of events from March 28th 2003 until February 2006- detailing the events after the death of Lance Corporal Matty Hull a British officer killed by Americans in friendly fire.

2. His wife's moving response

3. The leaked actual cockpit video of the incident.


February 06, 2007
Four years of waiting: timeline of the case of Lance Corporal Matty Hull
Sequence of events leading from the death of Lance Corporal Matty Hull in March 2003 until the leaking of a classified cockpit video of "friendly fire" incident

March 28, 2003:

Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, 25, of The Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry Regiment, from Windsor, is killed after two American A-10 tankbuster planes attacked his tank convoy twice while they were on a reconnaissance mission near Basra. He was married to Susan and died three days before his 26th birthday. Four colleagues from the Household Cavalry Regiment are also injured.

March 30:

General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the most senior US military official, apologises on behalf of his troops for the killing of three British soldiers in friendly fire incidents, including Lance Corporal Hull, saying there was "simply no excuse" for his forces to make such fatal mistakes.

April 16:

Lance Corporal Hull is buried at a service attended by more than 300 soldiers.

October 31:

Trooper Christopher Finney, 18, is awarded the George Cross, the highest British honour for gallantry, for coming to the rescue of his comrades during the friendly fire incident and saving the life of one colleague – Lance Corporal Andy Tudball - who was trapped and wounded in his tank. Although Trooper Finney tried to also rescue Lance Corporal Hull, he was beaten back by the intense heat and smoke from the vehicle.

Tuesday January 30, 2007:

Inquest opens into the death of Lance Corporal Hull at the Oxford Old Assizes. It is revealed before the inquest begins that Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker requested the attendance of American witnesses, but the request was refused.

The inquest hears evidence from Lance Corporal Finney, now 19, of the terrifying moments when the US planes struck.

Corporal Ashley Bell tells the inquest that frantic attempts were made to call off the US planes with smoke identifying the tanks as friendly forces sent up, and tank commanders radioing air controllers to tell them to call the attack off. But they were told the planes were being flown by “rogue” pilots that were working on their own.

Wednesday January 31:

A secret videotape purporting to show the US planes opening fire on the convoy arrives unexpectedly at the Oxford Coroner’s Court. It is played to Mr Walker, who spends most of the day discussing the issue in private with Ministry of Defence officials.

The tape is understood to be a flight data recording taken from one of the two A-10 tankbuster planes that twice opened fire on the troops.

Thursday February 1:

Interviews by American military investigators with the US pilots who opened fire on the tank convoy are played at the inquest. The pilots claim there was confusion over their intended targets, frustration at conflicting orders and poor communications with air controllers on the ground. All references to the pilots’ names are blacked out to protect their identities, but they are described as a lieutenant colonel and his flight commander, a major, of the 190th Air Fighter Squadron.

Mr Walker throws out an application by the MoD to adjourn the inquest for a week. He launches an outspoken attack on the MoD for failing to provide the grieving family of Lance Corporal Hull with answers about his death.

MoD lawyer Leigh-Ann Mulcahy says that “high-level diplomacy between US and UK governments” was needed over the release of the classified cockpit recording, asking the coroner for a further week to seek authorization for the tape to be played publicly in court.

Making no attempt to conceal his fury, Mr Walker says: “This is a simple matter and I simply fail to understand why it is proving so difficult to resolve. At the heart of this matter is a grieving family who have already had to wait far too long for this inquest.”

Lance Corporal Hull’s widow Susan tells the coroner that she had been told “categorically” by the MoD that the recording did not exist, adding: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting.”

A source says the dialogue on the video is “incriminating” and included the line: “Someone’s going to jail for this.” It is understood that the MoD knew about the tape for several years but the first the coroner knew about it was the day after the inquest began.

The coroner tells the MoD they have until 10.30am the next day to seek a resolution.

Friday February 2:

Mr Walker says he has “no choice” but to delay his verdict until a recording of the incident is produced by the Government. He says the failure of the MoD to get authorisation to show the recording is a “matter of profound regret”.

The MoD say the recording is an American classified document and they cannot override the classification.

Tuesday February 6:

The cockpit recording is published by The Sun newspaper.

'Friendly fire' widow's grief

The widow of the latest UK soldier to die in the Iraq conflict has spoken of her devastation at his death.

Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, 25, of The Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry Regiment, which is based in Berkshire, was killed during a suspected "friendly fire" incident on Friday.

In a moving tribute, his widow Susan described him as an "exceptional" man who was doing the job he believed in when he died.

Lance Corporal Hull was travelling in a column of light armoured vehicles near the southern city of Basra when it was reportedly attacked by a US A-10 "tankbuster" aircraft.

His death brings the total number of UK soldiers killed in the war to 23, and is possibly the fifth as a result of what the military calls "blue on blue" incidents.

But Mrs Hull said she decided to issue a statement because she felt strongly that she should make clear "Matty wasn't just another number added to a casualty list".

"He is, without doubt, the most exceptional man I have ever met; a loving and supportive husband and son, a dedicated soldier and a great friend to so many," she said.

"He had rightly earned the utmost respect from everyone he worked with, and this makes it that much harder to accept this accidental death.

"Matty was fully committed to his role, in the army as a whole, and both his regiment and squadron. I know that he was where he wanted to be, doing the job he believed in when he died."

A challenge

She said that her husband's strength would help her find the courage to come to terms with his death just three days before his 26th birthday.

"It is not easy to come to terms with the fact that someone who was so full of life has had his so cruelly cut short, just three days before his 26th birthday, but come to terms with it we must," she said.

His aim in life was to be the best he could be
Susan Hull
"Matty's personal strength instilled in me the ability to 'dig deep' and 'be strong', and that is what I, and everyone who loved him so greatly, must now do.

"It is what he would want."

Mrs Hull also expressed her gratitude to the regiment for its support and added: "I pray that this war will be over swiftly with no more such tragic deaths.

"Matty always strived for a challenge and Iraq has proved his ultimate test.

"His aim in life was to be the best he could be, and there was certainly no better husband, son or brother on this earth."


The Ministry of Defence has confirmed Lance Corporal Hull's death and said the incident was being investigated.

If confirmed as friendly fire, the incident bears uncomfortable similarities to an incident in the 1991 Gulf war when nine British soldiers died after their vehicles were attacked by US tankbusters.

The Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Mark van der Lande OBE, said it was with deep regret that they learnt of the incident on Friday.

"An investigation is taking place in theatre but, because of the operational situation, the full facts of the incident have yet to emerge," he said from the regiment's base in Windsor, Berkshire.

"The squadron was in action at the time but it is suspected this may have been a 'friendly fire' incident.

"This is a particularly difficult time for the Regiment and its families. I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and courage of these soldiers and to that of the rest of the squadron."

He added that as professional soldiers their job carried risks, but any loss was "a bitter blow".

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