Stories Behind the War's First Victims; AS SECOND BRITON IS KILLED IN ACTION, 19-YEAR-OLD MISSING AFTER AMBUSH COULD BE FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN TO DIE

By Muir, Hugh | The Evening Standard (London, England), March 25, 2003 | Go to article overview
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Stories Behind the War's First Victims; AS SECOND BRITON IS KILLED IN ACTION, 19-YEAR-OLD MISSING AFTER AMBUSH COULD BE FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN TO DIE


Muir, Hugh, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: HUGH MUIR

THE FIRST British soldier killed in combat in Iraq died trying to calm rioting by Iraqis civilians, it emerged today. Sergeant Steven Roberts of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment was shot on Sunday near Al Zubayr, south-west of Basra. He died yesterday.

The 33-year-old, from Bradford in West Yorkshire, was married and had a child from a previous marriage. His identity was released as soon as his family had been informed.

The 2nd Royal Tank Regiment is serving as part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats. Normally it is based in Fallingbostel, between Hanover and Hamburg, in Germany.

As the strategic battle to topple Saddam Hussein intensifies, and a second Briton dies in combat, human stories are emerging about the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sgt Roberts' death brought the British death toll so far to 17. Captain Philip Guy, of Yelverton in Dorset, was among them. He was one of eight commandos killed when a US helicopter crashed on Friday.

A veteran of the conflicts in Bosnia and Afghanistan, he joined the Marines in 1995 and was hailed by his peers. During training his colleagues awarded him the Marine Medal for bravery and selflessness.

Today his wife, Helen, who is due to give birth to their second child in a fortnight's time, described him as the perfect husband. "My world has fallen apart," she said. "Philip was the most perfect, loving, special husband that I could have wished for. He loved me and our son Henry so very, very much.

All he wanted was to provide for us, to be a good husband to me and father to Henry and our unborn child."

She said he was a true hero. "Philip was the most courageous man you could imagine - tough and steadfast, honest and true. He died for his Queen and country and to make this world a safer, better place to live in, for his children to grow up in."

Philip Green also gave his life for the Allied cause. A Royal Navy pilot, he died when two Sea King helicopters flying from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal collided and crashed into the sea.

Mr Green, of Prestwick, Ayrshire, was based at Culdrose in Cornwall.

His family knew he was coping with tough conditions. In the few communications that had with him in the days before the accident, he spoke of the difficult flying conditions, with dust storms reducing visibility and making it difficult to see the deck of the Ark Royal.

The US forces live with similar conditions, and as the war progresses many have paid a similar price.

Today in Texas, and throughout America there are growing fears for Jessica Lynch, 19, who is feared to be the first woman to die in combat in Iraq.

Jessica was reported missing in action after the ambush of a support unit near Nasiriyah on Sunday that saw four other American soldiers taken as Iraqi prisoners of war.

It is not known if her body was among those shown on Iraqi TV on Monday, but her family say she was not among those prisoners interviewed in captivity.

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