Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2004, Fusilier Gordon Campbell Gentle, 1st Battalion, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, was killed in Iraq.
He had only completed training a month earlier and had volunteered for a dangerous top cover sentry role on a Snatch armoured Land Rover while out on patrol. As the convoy passed through Basra, in what was nicknamed “IED Alley” by British soldiers, an IED was triggered and exploded, killing Fusilier Gentle. His mother held Tony Blair responsible and said that her son died because of government lies; she stated that it appeared that the IED was triggered remotely and that the vehicle Fusilier Gentle was travelling in had not been fitted with a piece of equipment which could have saved his life.
The electronic counter measure device, known as Element B, could detect the radio-controlled bombs used at the time. Fusilier Gentle’s commanding officer told the inquest that he had requested the devices and in the meantime had asked for patrols to be varied so as not to be predictable, and also for some to be cancelled. The devices were considered a high priority, but had not yet been fitted to the vehicles of Fusilier Gentle’s unit.
Mrs. Gentle campaigned for better vehicles for British troops as well as for their return from Iraq. She and Reg Keys were founder members of Military Families Against the War. The inquest determined that Fusilier Gentle’s death was unlawful – the Element B device was to have been fitted to the Royal Highland Fusiliers' Land Rovers hours before his death, but this did not happen due to what was deemed to be a breakdown in communications and logistics.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Cartwright said of Fusilier Gentle: “His name says it all. As a new member of the battalion, he settled in with ease, happy in the team environment and always willing to help others. His enthusiasm for his job immediately caught the eye of his peers and superiors alike.”
Gordon, from Pollok, Glasgow, was 19 years old.