August 10, 2020
Audrey Gillan was embedded with coalition forces in Iraq 17 years ago when a British patrol was attacked by US aircraft. She talks to the remaining crew about their struggle to come to terms with what happened
They were waving a white flag: Iraqi civilians desperately trying to signal to the British army patrol approaching their village. The five-vehicle convoy slowed down, cautiously closing the hatches of their small Scimitar and Spartan tanks. But as they nudged forward, the two front vehicles were strafed with 30mm cannon, piercing their armoured walls and setting off dozens of boxes of ammunition. Within seconds, they were ablaze.
Believing they were being attacked by the approaching Iraqis, the first Scimitar, driven by an 18-year-old trooper, Chris Finney, reversed, throwing the vehicle’s commander Steven Gerrard from the turret. In the wagon behind, the troop leader, Alex MacEwen, and driver Joe Woodgate escaped. They made it to a drainage ditch, but their gunner, Matty Hull, was still trapped inside.