Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2006, Sergeant Graham Hesketh, 2nd Battalion, the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, died from injuries sustained in a roadside bomb attack in Basra, Iraq. He had been on a routine security patrol at the time. Although evacuated to the Military Field Hospital at Shaiba Logistics Base, he could not be saved.
Sergeant Hesketh had joined the army in 1989 at the age of seventeen, and served for three years in Germany with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment. In 1992 he left the army, re-joining in 1995 to serve with 1st Battalion, The King’s Regiment. He was promoted to Lance Corporal the following year, and to Corporal in 2002, after which he spent three years training infantry recruits at Catterick. In 2006 his regiment merged into the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, and in November of that year he deployed to Iraq, just a few weeks before his death. He had also served in Northern Ireland and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia.
An MoD spokesperson said: “Throughout his varied career Sergeant Hesketh always embraced, and was enthused by, new challenges - no matter how difficult or diverse. He was an extremely motivated and compassionate soldier who was fiercely determined. He was committed to those under his command, was completely selfless and a very effective leader.
Professionally, Sergeant Hesketh was held in high regard by all those who knew and served with him. He was an enthusiastic and highly competent Platoon Sergeant who had a keen sense of humour and was always optimistic no matter what the circumstance. He will be remembered as being a great asset to the Battalion as a whole.”
Sergeant Hesketh was engaged to be married to another soldier who was also serving in Iraq; after his death she spoke to a reporter, referring to having shook hands with then-Prime Minister Tony Blair during his visit to Iraq: "I wish to God I hadn't, it's a disgrace. He's lying about what's going on out there…It makes me sick. The conditions are terrible. They never have a day off, not even at Christmas. They don't have any sleep. I just want our boys back. All of our friends out there feel the same. We're sitting targets. There are even local Iraqis in our camp. They listen to us while we're talking about our plans or saying we just want to go home."
Graham, from Runcorn in Cheshire, was 35 years old, with two children aged 7 and 3 from a previous marriage.