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  • Christina Drummond

Signaller Paul William Didsbury, 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support)

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2005, Signaller Paul William Didsbury, 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support), died in Iraq. He had been on a hand-over tour with the joint helicopter force serving the Army, Navy and RAF. After investigation it was found that he had accidentally discharged his own weapon, and suicide was ruled out. He was being driven to catch a mission flight when the gun went off, his injuries proving fatal. The inquest showed that he had loaded a round into the gun's chamber but failed to secure the safety catch, it was not clear how the trigger was pulled, but it was surmised that speedbumps in the road could have caused the gun to go off. Although Signaller Didsbury had passed weapon-handling skills tests, he had failed a marksmanship test and soldiers are not normally deployed until such tests have been completed. The MoD called his death a tragic accident. He had joined the army in 2002, and was noted for his enthusiasm and cheerfulness. His C.O. remembers him: "Signaller Didsbury was an outgoing and irrepressibly cheerful soldier who was very well known and hugely popular throughout the Regiment. Always keen to try new things, he seized every opportunity to broaden his horizons and relished the challenges that operations in Iraq offered. Fit, bright and a capable operator, what set him apart was his enthusiasm and zest for life. Signaller Didsbury’s death is a tragic blow to everyone." At his funeral he was remembered as being a "bundle of energy and enthusiasm" and always having a smile on his face - the two songs played at the funeral ceremony were "Tears in Heaven" and "I Believe I Can Fly." Paul, from Blackpool, was 18 years old.

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