Remembering the Fallen: on New Year’s Day in 1980, Private Gerald Hardy (pictured) and Lieutenant Simon Gregory Bates, 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, were killed in Northern Ireland.
Both soldiers had been on patrol near Tullydonnell in County Armagh in the early hours of the morning. They were part of a platoon of eight which had set up an ambush. However, Private Hardy and Lieutenant Bates became detached from the main patrol. A fellow soldier wrote: “Apparently the Pl Comd (Lt Simon Bates) was trying to warm one of his lads (Pte Hardy) up by going for a walk, and walked back through his own ambush.” In the book Soldiers Talking by Max Arthur, another soldier is quoted as saying: “Two blokes walked into the ambush. We identified weapons and we had to open fire. Unfortunately it was our young Lieutenant and his signaller.” At the inquest the following year their deaths were described as “a tragic accident” with an officer pointing out that they had broken a fundamental rule, as any movement once an ambush had been set up was considered to be hostile. Both had only arrived in Northern Ireland during the week before their deaths.
Gerald, from Southampton, had joined the regiment the previous month and had turned 18 years old two days before his death.
Simon, from Christchurch, Dorset, was 23 years old and married with two children. He lies buried in the Aldershot Military Cemetery.