Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2003, Fusilier Russell Beeston, 52nd Lowland Regiment (Volunteers), attached to 1st Battalion, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, was killed in Ali al-Sharqi, Iraq.
After leaving school, Fusilier Beeston had attended the Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, sponsored as a trainee engineer officer for the merchant navy. He began a cadetship with a shipping line but decided that sea life was not for him, so went on to join the Territorial Army in the year 2000. In June of 2003 he was called up to serve in Iraq, under the terms of the Reserve Forces Act 1996, the summons therefore being mandatory. He reported for duty at the Army's dedicated Reserve Training and Call-Up Centre at Chilwell in Nottinghamshire, passed the combat fitness test, and underwent a fortnight of intensive training in weapons use and protection against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. He had also completed the combat infantryman’s course, and was described as “a rifleman in an infantry battalion” – he and his Territorial Army comrades were then flown to Basra, to fill gaps in regiments where needed.
On the day of his death he was part of a convoy returning from an operation in which two Saddam loyalists had been arrested near the Iranian border. The road was blocked by Iraqis demanding the men’s release, so the convoy changed route towards the village of Ali al-Sharqi, only to be met by an angry crowd. Fusilier Beeston was one of a group of soldiers given an order to leave their vehicles and act as armed escorts to enable the convoy to drive through the crowd. Immediately, armed Iraqis blocked the road behind them. Fusilier Beeston and his colleagues fired two volleys into the air as a warning, but the Iraqis responded with grenades and rifle-fire. Fusilier Beeston was shot in the chest, and although he received immediate medical attention he died as his colleagues continued the fight against the Iraqis.
His commanding officer describes him as "a well-liked and popular man who was utterly dedicated and had a good TA career ahead of him".
Russell, from Govan, was 26 years old.