Pair Call For More Support To Improve Equipment Maintenance And Servicing
Two soldiers injured after a Warrior vehicle they were using in a training exercise caught fire and exploded are calling on more to be done to boost funding for the armed forces to improve the maintenance of equipment.
Private Curtis Gosling, 24, and another soldier were taking part in the exercise at the British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada in June 2016 when communications in their vehicle went down and a fire, caused by a fuel leak due to poor maintenance, began to engulf the vehicle.
The three men within the Warrior, including Pte Gosling, struggled to escape the burning vehicle which was loaded with live ammunition for the entire exercise and was at risk of exploding. Due to the breakdown in communications and the fire, Pte Gosling had to shout and hammer on the driver’s hatch to alert his colleague to the issue. The pair managed to get clear of the Warrior before the fire worsened and the vehicle exploded.
The incident led both men to develop serious symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and they instructed specialist military injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate their experience. The legal experts have vast experience in dealing with military injuries. In 2006, Head of Military Claims and Partner at Irwin Mitchell, Geraldine McCool represented the widow of Sergeant Steven Roberts, who was the first British soldier killed during the Iraq conflict due to delays in providing appropriate body armour.
Now, after the legal team secured an admission of liability from the Ministry of Defence for Pte Gosling and his colleague, the pair have issued a plea for more to be done to ensure the armed forces have the resources required to properly maintain and service all vehicles.
Expert Opinion“Both clients had to endure an incredibly distressing incident and it is one which puts a spotlight on how equipment is maintained within the military.
We believe the breakdown of equipment beforehand and failure to appropriately deal with the fuel leak leading to the fire highlights how maintenance and servicing needs to be improved, but there are also concerns more widely about defence funding and whether it is currently adequate.
Worryingly, we are also involved in a multitude of other cases where the failure to maintain equipment or purchase equipment has been an issue and led to other service personnel, suffering injuries. This is a historic problem and is something which has tragically led to the deaths of others in the past.
It's essential that our armed forces have the resources to carry out their duties in the most effective manner and access to appropriate, well-maintained and properly functioning equipment is vital.
While it is welcoming that the main political parties are discussing more funding for the military, more needs to be done.” Alexander Davenport - Associate Solicitor
Pte Gosling, from Eastbourne, was stationed in Germany but deployed to Canada in order to take part in the training exercise where he was acting as the gunner.
He recalls: “Before we started the exercise, all the Warrior vehicles were checked over and some broke down with various issues including oil leaks.
“It was worrying that there seemed to be so many issues with the equipment and this ultimately led to us losing our vehicle and me losing my service career.”
He added: “Three years on it still feels like I’m coming to terms with everything that happened. No one checked on me after the incident and it was only when my symptoms continued to deteriorate that action was taken.
“I feared for my life whilst I attempted to escape the Warrior and I thought I was going to die at that moment. It seems like common sense that the armed forces should have the funding they need to keep equipment functioning to the expected standard to prevent these sorts of things occurring.
“In many ways we are lucky to be alive, but it feels like the issues we faced should never have happened.”
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling military injury cases