Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2004, Fusilier Stephen Jones, 1st Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, died in Iraq.
Fusilier Jones had joined the army in 1999 straight from school, at the age of seventeen. His hope was to become a physical training instructor. He served in Northern Ireland as well as Iraq, and had married a month before arriving in Iraq in April of 2004.
On the day of his death, he was driving a Land Rover ten miles south of Al Amarah, after what had been a lengthy mission to intercept a bomb-maker responsible for a number of coalition forces’ deaths. He had begun to rub his eyes and had taken off his helmet to wipe the perspiration and insect-repellent from his face. The colleague travelling with him described how the Land Rover veered, travelled up a sandbank and then flipped over. Fusilier Jones died at the scene of head injuries.
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, and made the following comments: “My greatest area of concern is the hours of work drivers are expected to work. I say, 'drivers' - it is probably all troops. Our soldiers are not notorious clockwatchers and there is always the temptation to carry on a task but I do believe that in this instance fatigue may well have played a major part in Fusilier Jones leaving the road." He recommended that more soldiers be made eligible to share the driving. He had heard how Fusilier Jones had only had a few minutes of sleep within the previous twenty-four hours, and that the operation had unfortunately not been successful.
Stephen, from Denbigh, was 22 years old.