Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2002, Ranger Stuart McMaster, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, was killed in a parachuting accident in Canada.
He had been a corporal in the Boys’ Brigade as well as the Air Training Corps, and had enlisted into the Royal Irish Regiment in the year 2000. He completed the Combat Infantryman’s Course, and was a member of the team that won the much-coveted Commandant’s Medal in the March and Shoot Competition. He served with C Company in Northern Ireland, after which he joined the Bugles, Pipes & Drums as a drummer.
The band was to have performed at the Calgary Stampede and other high profile events, but as a mark of respect they withdrew, not feeling able to go on in the face of his loss. Ranger McMaster was repatriated, and received a funeral with Full Military Honours. The Bugles, Pipes & Drums returned home to the U.K. to play at his funeral – each member thought so highly of him that before his funeral had been arranged they offered to pay their own way home so they could attend. One of Ranger McMaster’s colleagues, Piper Lance Corporal Trevor Bradley composed a Lament in his honour: “Wee Mac’s Lament – in memory of a friend.”
His parents said of him: “Stuart was such a loving boy, so kind and caring. His sense of fun knew no end and his smile could light up the darkest of rooms. He had a wonderful (mostly wicked) sense of humour and his laugh was so infectious. We just can’t get used to the fact that he is not coming home again, or that we will never hear his voice again. We can only take some comfort from the fact that he was doing something he really loved.”
Stuart, from Ballymena in Northern Ireland, was 19 years old.