Corporal Stephen John Allbutt of the Queen's Royal Lancers died On Tuesday 25 March 2003, when their Challenger 2 tank was accidentally hit by another Challenger 2 during a period of multiple engagements with Iraqi enemy forces.. Aged 35, Corporal Allbutt came from Stoke-on-Trent and was married with two children.
Corporal Allbutt joined the 16th/5th The Queen's Royal Lancers in 1989, and saw action on Operation Desert Storm in early 1991. After the Regiment was amalgamated into the present Queen's Royal Lancers, he deployed on operations in Bosnia on three separate occasions, while developing his career as a Non Commissioned Officer in an armoured regiment.
Stephen's wife, Debbi, said:
"The Army was Steve's life. He had wanted to join since he was a little boy. Although he was a quiet and reserved man he had a brilliant sense of humour and was a loyal and devoted friend and colleague. He was also very romantic - if we were going out anywhere he would often buy me flowers. I sometimes would find them in different rooms in the house. Just before he left for the Gulf he planted some daffodil bulbs in our garden as a surprise, so they'd come up while he was away. We loved each other deeply and words cannot express how much I'll miss him."
His mother, Mavis Allbutt, said:
"Steve was immensely proud to belong to the Army, it was something he thought was so good and believed in. He doted on Debbi and their two boys, Connor who is eight and Joshua aged 14. He was also a devoted only son to me and his father Colin, brother to his sister Lisa and her fiance Jason and will be missed forever by us all."
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Fattorini, the QRL commanding officer, said:
"Stephen Allbutt will be remembered as an immensely dedicated and competent NCO who was accordingly respected by his peers. Nothing was too difficult, displaying a "can do" attitude and a reassuringly dry sense of humour. He was a passionate Stoke City FC supporter, and a keen all-round sportsman. He had a very promising career, having been identified as a strong candidate for promotion to Sergeant next year. He will be sorely missed by all ranks of the Queen's Royal Lancers."
Colonel Chris Vernon, spokesman for British Land Forces in the Gulf, said:
"It is with deep regret that I have to announce the death of two soldiers from the Queen's Royal Lancers operating a Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank. The soldiers were killed last night in a friendly fire incident with another British Challenger during a period of multiple engagements with Iraqi enemy forces on the outskirts of Basrah. Regardless of thorough training, careful planning, excellent night vision equipment and combat identification measures, in the type of operation in which we were engaged, and in the heat of battle, there is always a risk that incidents such as this may occur. The land forces in the Middle East extend their sincerest condolences to the families of the soldiers, and the members of the Regiment. Two other soldiers were seriously injured, and have undergone surgery."