On Thursday 19th April 2007 Ben Leaning was commanding a Scimitar Armoured Reconnaissance vehicle which was providing protection for a convoy in Maysan Province, Southern Iraq. At about 11.20am the vehicle was struck and badly damaged by an improvised explosive device attack, which killed both Ben and Kristen Turton who was driving the vehicle. The Scimitar's gunner and two other members of the troop were injured.
Ben Leaning’s family said:
"We are devastated by the loss of Ben, who was a loving son and great friend. We are most proud of the fact that Ben was prepared to do his duty with the utmost professionalism. He will be very sadly missed by all who knew him."
Corporal Ben Leaning, or "Bill" as he was affectionately known, was from Scunthorpe. He was 24 when he died. He joined the Army in January 1999. He was posted to his local armoured regiment, The Queen's Royal Lancers, where he served on Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks.
He saw service in Oman, Kosovo and on the first Operation TELIC in Iraq during 2003. Throughout his service Corporal Leaning showed himself to be a fine soldier and a natural leader who progressed rapidly through the ranks.
He was promoted to Corporal in October 2005 and became a crew commander and a signals instructor shortly before deploying on to Iraq last autumn. He was a very fit individual and a qualified physical training instructor.
Corporal Leaning loved the regiment and was very much one of its personalities. Life was fun with him around. He knew how to make the best of things and was ever ready with an amusing story or comment to keep his troop and squadron motivated.
Major Charlie Ball of The Queen's Royal Lancers said:
"I met Corporal Leaning when he first joined the regiment as an eager young soldier. I was immediately struck by the huge sense of fun that he brought to the Regiment. I have had the privilege to watch him mature and gain in rank and respect, with both pride and pleasure.
"He loved his job and enjoyed the challenge of leading soldiers. His mischievous smile shone through even under the most trying circumstances and he was an inspiration to his crew and the squadron as a whole. We have lost a fine NCO, an honourable soldier and a loyal friend."
His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Nixon-Eckersall, said:
"Corporal Leaning was the model of a modern Formation Reconnaissance soldier. He was tough, fit, intelligent and compassionate. He truly cared for those he worked with and was never found to be wanting in any task.
"He had already made a name for himself at the Regiment as one to watch for the future. He was the first to volunteer for any course or task, and I have no doubt he would have volunteered to lead the patrol that so tragically saw him killed. His death is a huge loss to the Regiment."
Corporal "Perry" Mason, one of Corporal Leaning's oldest friends recalled fondly:
"Bill was quite a particular man, very neat and he always liked to dress in the latest gear, including some notorious Ibiza clubbing outfits. He was often referred to in the block as "Cleaning Leaning" due to his obsession with tidiness. He was always up for a laugh.
"In typical Bill style, when we were wet and miserable after yet another desert thunderstorm he suddenly stripped off and plunged into a vast muddy puddle, just to prove that being filthy was really no bother and to make us smile. We will all miss Bill, he was a truly unique friend and brother."