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  • Christina Drummond

Lance Corporal Ian Malone and Piper Christopher Muzvuru, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2003, Lance Corporal Ian Malone and Piper Christopher Muzvuru, 1st Battalion, the Irish Guards, were killed in Iraq. They were part of an advance group inside Basra when two men approached from the rear and shot them several times. Both had deployed to Iraq with Number 1 Company in an armoured infantry section, as part of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Battle Group (within the Seventh Armoured Brigade, famous for being known as the Desert Rats in the second world war).

Lance Corporal Malone enlisted in the army in 1997, was promoted to Lance Corporal in the year 2000, and served in Kosovo and Oman. He had thought of joining the French Foreign Legion but decided the British army would be "less uncomfortable". Friends called him "a very honourable and intelligent guy," “a rounded guy with an electric personality and an impish side.” They remembered his wit and love of life, his dedication to his family and regiment alike, and for being "a fine soldier and a brave one," a man thoroughly liked and respected. He was a talented chess player, a child prodigy who was the only player in an exhibition event to force Boris Spassky to a draw. Once he had been challenged by Guards officers to a chess tournament, in which he beat them all. Afterwards the commanding officer congratulated him saying "That's very good, Malone. But don't do it again. It's bad for discipline."

In the True Lives documentary for the Irish Film Board in 2002 he was interviewed about mixed loyalties when it came to the Irish serving in the British Army. He said the oath of allegiance involved swearing loyalty “to Her Majesty the Queen, the officers and NCOs she sets over you, so at the end of the day if you think that when it comes to the crunch you can just sort of walk away from that, I don't think that is an option at all. That would be disloyal - I've signed a contract and while I'm serving that contract I'll stick by it. At the end of the day I am just abroad doing a job. People go on about Irishmen dying for freedom and all that. That's a fair one. They did. But they died to give men like me the freedom to choose what to do."

Ian, from Dublin, was 28 years old.

Piper Muzvuru enlisted in the army in 2001. The following year he completed the Piper’s course at the Piping School in Edinburgh, and was a valued member of the Battalion’s Pipe Band. Martin Walker of United Press International interviewed him the day before his death, when he spoke of always wanting to learn to play the bagpipes. On the morning of his death he was up at dawn playing two tunes before heading out for what would be the last time. He was considered a gifted musician, and had said that it was his ambition to play for the Queen. In his honour a special set of bagpipes (inlaid with ivory and silver) was presented to the Irish Guards at a ceremony in Edinburgh, the funds having been raised by regulars at two pubs – the intention being that those pipes be played in front of Her Majesty during the Trooping of the Colour. As well as being a gifted musician, Piper Muzvuru was a popular member of the regiment that he loved, and he is remembered as a brave and courageous soldier. Although given a military funeral service in the U.K., his body was sent home to his native Zimbabwe, where he was buried in an unmarked grave as it was feared that his final resting-place would be desecrated otherwise. He was considered a traitor by Robert Mugabe’s regime, referred to as such by the state-controlled media, which called for him to be buried in the United Kingdom and not returned to his homeland. A member of Robert Mugabe's cabinet was quoted in a local newspaper as stating that Piper Muzvuru's body “must be buried in Britain, the country that he chose to die for."

Christopher, originally from Gweru in Zimbabwe, was 21 years old.

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