Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2003, Sapper Luke Allsopp and Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth, 33 Engineer Regiment, were killed in Iraq.
They were on patrol in Al Zubayr, near Basra, and travelling in a Land Rover when they were fired upon and forced to stop, becoming separated from the rest of the convoy. Members of the Iraqi militia charged towards them, continually firing. Another soldier who was driving behind them managed to swerve but crashed, after which he and his colleagues took cover in a compound. They could hear Staff Sergeant Cullingworth calling for them to “come back and get me”, which they were unable to do because of the level of fire.
Staff Sergeant Cullingworth and Sapper Allsopp were dragged from their vehicle and taken to a compound, where they received no medical help, although both were injured and bleeding heavily, having been shot several times each. People gathered in mob and took photographs, some of which were shown on Al-Jazeera television. Meanwhile, Colonel William Hay and his men conducted a search, coming under fire also and unable to locate their captured comrades.
It was a month before Staff Sergeant Cullingworth and Sapper Allsopp’s bodies were discovered, buried in a shallow and unmarked grave in the grounds of a government building in Al Zubayr. There was an eighteen-month investigation into their deaths; at the inquest the coroner concluded: “It would seem from the evidence the men were murdered by Iraqi intelligence. They were shot and killed in that compound.” Two suspects - Faisal Al-Saadoon and Khalaf Mufdhi - were arrested, but the firm Public Interest Lawyers argued that they could not be handed over to the Iraqi authorities as they would face the death penalty, and that detention without trial breached their human rights. They were granted legal aid to argue for their release through the British courts, and the Court of Appeal ruled that they be handed over to the Iraqi authorities. Public Interest Lawyers took the case to the European Court of Human rights and won – the suspects were awarded €40,000 (£36,000) in costs, on the grounds of the “mental suffering caused by the fear of execution amounting to inhuman treatment”. The charges against them were later dropped.
Sapper Allsopp had served with bomb disposal in Cyprus and Kenya; he is remembered as being well-liked and valued within the squadron. From North London, he was 24 years old.
Staff Sergeant Cullingworth had served as a Bomb Disposal Officer in the Balkans and Afghanistan; he is remembered for his professionalism and dedication to duty. From Essex, he was 36 years old and married with two sons, aged eight and three.