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  • Christina Drummond

Senior Aircraftman Christopher Dunsmore, Senior Aircraftman Peter McFerran, Senior Aircraftman Matth

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2007, Senior Aircraftman Christopher Dunsmore, Senior Aircraftman Peter McFerran, Senior Aircraftman Matthew Caulwell, Royal Air Force Regiment, died in southern Iraq. They were ensuring that Basra Airport was clear of insurgents who had tried to target the aircraft while they are at their most vulnerable, during take-off and landing. In the early afternoon there were no aircraft movements and they were resting prior to going out to patrol again. The COB came under rocket attack and tragically all three were killed instantly in the attack.

SAC Dunsmore was employed as a manager with a paint company, and had been a member of 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment (RAuxAF) based at R.A.F. Cottesmore since 2003. It had been a childhood dream of his to serve with the R.A.F.. On the day of his death he was scheduled to fly home on leave that evening.

Squadron Leader Jason Sutton said: “Our Auxiliary colleagues fill vital roles on the Squadron, and none more so than Chris. He was a highly skilled individual, and from the very start of his time with us he put 100% into everything he did and was always ready for any challenge. His joie de vivre was infectious when times were hard and one of his friends captured him perfectly ‘Chris had a passion for everything he did: life, hobbies and his friends’. Intelligent, determined and a fine comrade and friend, he was as immensely proud to serve with 1 Squadron as we were to serve alongside him. He was one of us and his loss has been deeply felt by us all.”

Christopher, from Leicester, was 29 years old and engaged to be married.

SAC McFerran had joined the R.A.F. in 2004, following his father into the Regiment. This was his second tour of Iraq. After his death his parents became involved in an appeal in his memory to raise funds to purchase an incubator and various other necessary expensive pieces of lifesaving equipment for the Special Care Baby Unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital – SAC McFerran had been born eight weeks premature and given three days to live, so the appeal was close to their hearts.

Squadron Leader Jason Sutton said: “SAC Peter McFerran was the Heavy Machine Gun operator for his unit, a position requiring great skill for which he had been carefully selected. He demonstrated during training a genuine and natural aptitude for the role and brought to it the professionalism and ingenuity that characterized all he did. He was every inch the epitome of a Regiment Gunner: robust, strong, dedicated and loyal. SAC Bell, who served with Pete says simply ‘he was a genuine friend that was capable of much more than he knew’. He was utterly dependable and as his Squadron Commander I knew I could rely on him not only for the consummate skill he brought to the job but also for his honest, incisive opinion. In Pete we have lost one of our finest.”

Peter, from Connahs Quay in Flintshire, was 24 years old.

SAC Caulwell had served on 1 Squadron since 2002, and was on his fourth tour of Iraq. He is remembered as someone who could find humour in even the most difficult of situations, and refused to let anything get him down.

Squadron Leader Jason Sutton said: “Better known to the Squadron as ‘Lip’, he was a true character known for his outgoing, gregarious nature. He was a true professional and his skills as a leader had been recognized by his promotion to Acting Corporal. He rose to this new challenge magnificently and the bearing and deportment of a JNCO came very naturally to him: his lads held him in the utmost respect and instinctively followed his example. Throughout all, his trademark good humour would keep up the spirits of his many friends, one of whom said about him ‘Lip was morale, when morale did not exist’. Loyal and unfailingly dependable, Matthew had a very bright future in the Corps and he will be sorely missed by us all.”

Matthew, from Birmingham, was 22 years old.

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