Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2011, Private Robert Wood and Private Dean Hutchinson, the Royal Logistic Corps, died in Afghanistan.
They had been sleeping in the tented Transport Troop Office at Camp Bastion in order to respond quickly when vital supplies arrived. Another soldier was woken by the smoke and left the tent to raise the alarm, but those at the scene did not know the emergency number. When the firefighters arrived the tent was ablaze. That soldier admitted he should not have gone to bed but had told another soldier to stay, something the latter denied.
The coroner stated he would make a “preventing further deaths” report and recorded a narrative conclusion; there were eight areas where there was either a failure or a systemic failure that led to the deaths of Private Wood and Private Hutchinson. A fire risk assessment had not been carried out when the extension had been built. The fire began where electrical appliances were located, igniting combustible material close by; there had been power cuts at the camp and problems with the lights and air conditioning, as well as confusion as to who should have checked the smoke detectors. These were given only a visual check instead of the fire diary being followed, electrical items had not been tested, and the boiler, television and fridge were plugged into a four-way extension lead. A number of safety changes were made after the tragedy.
Private Wood had joined the Royal Logistics Corps as a Driver Port Operator in 2001. He is remembered for his strong work ethic, professionalism and his sense of humour.
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Hutchings said of him: “Private Wood was part of a little-known, but highly specialist, trade within the Army. As a proud and professional Port Operator he had a key role in supporting operations worldwide. He was one of our up and coming Stevedores. Experienced and committed, he had recently be selected for promotion. Volunteering for operations, again, he was keen to do his bit and demonstrate his wider skills. He had that innate ability to make friends easily, hugely popular and fiercely proud of being a Port Operator, he was making a difference on a daily basis. My regiment has lost a unique and special person.”
Robert, from Marchwood, Hampshire, was 28 years old and had just become a first-time father.
Private Hutchinson joined The Royal Logistic Corps as a Driver in 2004. He is remembered as a hard-working energetic young man with an infectious sense of humour.
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Hutchings said of him: “Private Hutchinson was a soldier with a real zest for life and a razor-like sense of humour. As a Geordie he was an immensely fun-loving person, fast-talking and an avid Newcastle United football fan. He was hugely proud of his job and the fact that he was one of only a handful of soldiers qualified to operate the Rough Terrain Container Handler, a vital piece of equipment in the logistic support chain. Although he is now no longer with us, his presence will be keenly felt by all that knew him.”
Dean, from Spennymoor, County Durham, was 23 years old