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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Soldier's death 'waste of life'
More than 50 British troops have been killed in Iraq
More than 50 British troops have been killed in Iraq
The death of a British soldier in a firearms accident in Iraq was a tragic "waste of life", according to his former rugby club team-mate.

Sergeant John Nightingale, 32, from Leeds, died following the incident at Shaibah, near the southern city of Basra on 23 September.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the Royal Military Police are investigating the circumstances of the "tragic accident" and stressed that it did not involve enemy fire.

His former team mates at Otley Rugby Club greeted news of the Harrogate-born soldier's death with a mixture of sadness and regret.

Club member Micky Peel told BBC Radio Leeds: "You know, it was an accident but to me they should not even be there.

"I think there have been more people killed after the war and it's very sad for everybody concerned - from the UK and Iraq - because it just seems like a real big waste of life."

Regiment shocked

Sergeant Nightingale was a Territorial Army soldier with 217 Transport Squadron, part of 150 Regiment (Volunteers) of the Royal Logistic Corps, based at Churchill Barracks in Leeds.

The MoD said he was serving in Iraq with 27 Regiment RLC at Shaibah Logistic Base and helped manage the distribution of supplies throughout Iraq.

On Thursday, Sergeant Nightingale's death was described as a "terrible shock" by his commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel John Bevan.

He said: "Sergeant John Nightingale was a good man, a strong character and excellent senior Non-Commissioned Officer who had an impact on the working and social lives of many in the unit during our tour here in Iraq.

"He will be missed by all of us."

His family did not wish to comment on Friday but the MoD said Sergeant Nightingale was a passionate rugby player who played prop for Otley Rugby Club.

He also loved cars and motorbikes and was engaged to Lucy, a Non-Commissioned Officer in the Royal Air Force.


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