Friday, 13 February 2009

Chris Gray inquest raises concerns over body armour

Private Chris Gray from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment was killed , aged 19, fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan on April 13th 2007.
At his inquest his mother, Helen, has raised concerns about the protection that body armour offers troops. Although Chris was wearing tabbard-style armour at the time, a sniper's bullet passed through his side where there were no armour plates. Whilst recognising that body armour is heavy for the lads to wear, Helen Gray thought that better armour would have saved her son and that other soldiers' lives could be lost if body armour is not improved.

The MoD expert informed the inquest that plates at the side would make body armour too cumbersome and restrict soldiers' movement. He said research was under way to improve body armour.

The inquest heard that Pte Gray was leading his platoon - in point position - when it stumbled across Taliban fighters in the dense foliage of an orchard. Captain Ian Robinson, of the Royal Anglian Regiment said: "Chris died in close combat with the enemy, protecting his friends quite heroically…..He showed we can, in this country, still produce young men of quality."

Private Gray was posthumously awarded the Command of British Force Afghanistan Commendation for bravery.

Another concern raised by Chris's inquest: why has it taken almost two years for the inquest itself to take place?

BBC: Mother questions soldier's armour The Mirror: Young hero soldier died helping comrades in AfghanistanThe Sun: Teen hero killed in first battle