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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 March, 2003, 00:48 GMT
'Friendly fire' widow's grief
Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull
Matty Hull died three days short of his 26th birthday
The widow of the latest UK soldier to die in the Iraq conflict has spoken of her devastation at his death.

Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, 25, of The Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry Regiment, which is based in Berkshire, was killed during a suspected "friendly fire" incident on Friday.

In a moving tribute, his widow Susan described him as an "exceptional" man who was doing the job he believed in when he died.

Lance Corporal Hull was travelling in a column of light armoured vehicles near the southern city of Basra when it was reportedly attacked by a US A-10 "tankbuster" aircraft.

His death brings the total number of UK soldiers killed in the war to 23, and is possibly the fifth as a result of what the military calls "blue on blue" incidents.

But Mrs Hull said she decided to issue a statement because she felt strongly that she should make clear "Matty wasn't just another number added to a casualty list".

"He is, without doubt, the most exceptional man I have ever met; a loving and supportive husband and son, a dedicated soldier and a great friend to so many," she said.

"He had rightly earned the utmost respect from everyone he worked with, and this makes it that much harder to accept this accidental death.

"Matty was fully committed to his role, in the army as a whole, and both his regiment and squadron. I know that he was where he wanted to be, doing the job he believed in when he died."

A challenge

She said that her husband's strength would help her find the courage to come to terms with his death just three days before his 26th birthday.

"It is not easy to come to terms with the fact that someone who was so full of life has had his so cruelly cut short, just three days before his 26th birthday, but come to terms with it we must," she said.

His aim in life was to be the best he could be
Susan Hull
"Matty's personal strength instilled in me the ability to 'dig deep' and 'be strong', and that is what I, and everyone who loved him so greatly, must now do.

"It is what he would want."

Mrs Hull also expressed her gratitude to the regiment for its support and added: "I pray that this war will be over swiftly with no more such tragic deaths.

"Matty always strived for a challenge and Iraq has proved his ultimate test.

"His aim in life was to be the best he could be, and there was certainly no better husband, son or brother on this earth."

Bravery

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed Lance Corporal Hull's death and said the incident was being investigated.

THE BATTLE FOR BASRA

If confirmed as friendly fire, the incident bears uncomfortable similarities to an incident in the 1991 Gulf war when nine British soldiers died after their vehicles were attacked by US tankbusters.

The Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Mark van der Lande OBE, said it was with deep regret that they learnt of the incident on Friday.

"An investigation is taking place in theatre but, because of the operational situation, the full facts of the incident have yet to emerge," he said from the regiment's base in Windsor, Berkshire.

"The squadron was in action at the time but it is suspected this may have been a 'friendly fire' incident.

"This is a particularly difficult time for the Regiment and its families. I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and courage of these soldiers and to that of the rest of the squadron."

He added that as professional soldiers their job carried risks, but any loss was "a bitter blow".




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