On Tuesday 25 March 2003, two soldiers from the Queen's Royal Lancers were killed when their Challenger 2 tank was accidentally hit by another Challenger 2 during a period of multiple engagements with Iraqi enemy forces.
Trooper David Jeffrey Clarke of the Queen's Royal Lancers. Aged 19, Trooper Clarke was single and came from Littleworth in Staffordshire. He joined D Squadron of The Queen's Royal Lancers in February 2002, and immediately deployed to Kosovo on peace support operations. Having had a thoroughly rewarding tour, he volunteered to augment C Squadron for their deployment to the Gulf.
His father, Jeffrey Clarke, said:
"David started his career at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in 2000 and his passing out parade was one of his proudest moments. In his short time as a soldier he served in many places including Germany and Kosovo and was awarded his medal for service in Kosovo. He loved the Army, he loved his family and was proud to be in the Queen's Royal Lancers. He was a keen sportsman who played for Stafford Rugby Club when he was on leave. He was looking forward to becoming engaged to long-standing girlfriend Rachel on his return to the UK. David was serving in Kosovo when his Nan passed away last year and he was not in a position to return home for the funeral. He was hoping to pay his respects by spreading her ashes in Wales. We now wish to spread their ashes together. He was greatly loved and will be sadly missed by all his family."
His commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Fattorini, said:
"In the short time he served with the Queen's Royal Lancers, Trooper Clarke proved himself to be a diligent and popular soldier. He was a keen athlete with a zest for life. A man with evident potential, he was quickly noticed for his proactive approach to soldiering. This has been a tragic loss of a young man who had a promising career ahead of him. He will be greatly missed by all members of the Regiment."
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."