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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 16:25 GMT
Iraq bomb jamming device delayed
Gordon Gentle
A jamming device was fitted hours after Gordon Gentle's death
The delivery of a device which could have stopped a roadside bomb in Iraq was delayed because of a breakdown in the supply chain, an inquest has heard.

Fusilier Gordon Gentle, 19, from Glasgow, was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra on 28 June, 2004.

A hearing heard a jamming device was delivered on 12 June but only issued to the 1st Battalion Royal Highland Fusiliers hours after the blast.

Rose Gentle claims her son would be alive if the device had been fitted.

Fusilier Gentle, from Pollok, was killed while on "top cover" sentry duty on a Land Rover escorting three lorries when a roadside bomb was detonated.

The inquest into his death, at Oxford Coroner's Court, was read the transcript of the evidence the company's second in command gave to the Army Board of Inquiry.

Major Phil Whitehead told how soldiers from the battalion had been doing escorts for three weeks prior to Fusilier Gentle's death.

He said they had requested the new form of Electronic Counter Measure (ECM), referred to in court as Element B, earlier in June, 2004, but it was not mentioned again until the explosion.

He said: "The next time I heard it mentioned was on the day of the incident when we were told we would receive it that night.

"It caused huge undertones in the battalion because people felt it was too late."

Greater urgency

When asked if he knew why there had been the delay in issuing the equipment, he said: "None whatsoever. I have no idea.

"I can only assume the invoice never found its way to the correct department."

He told the board of inquiry that he was "not sure where the paper trail started or finished".

Rose Gentle
Rose Gentle has campaigned against the war in Iraq

Major Whitehead also said he was "infuriated" about the lack of awareness about the equipment.

He said if he had known its capabilities there would have been more urgency to get it issued.

The inquest heard that in the priority system for issuing such kit, the Royal Highland Fusiliers were categorised four out of five - at the lower end of the scale.

Major Robert Moorhouse, who was responsible for organisation and priority issues, told the court that because Element B was a new piece of equipment they tried to get it in as quickly as possible.

He said this led to it "trickling in rather than arriving in bulk".

He said he was not involved in the supply chain and couldn't say whose responsibility it was for ensuring it was delivered.

Major Peter Hale, an expert on ECMs who worked alongside Major Moorhouse, said that there was a "complex supply chain" from the manufacturers in the UK through to the delivery and fitting in Iraq.

He said he was told on 12 June by the Brigade Support Squadron that the Element B equipment for the Royal Highland Fusiliers had arrived.

He said he was first made aware in an e-mail that the Element B equipment had not been picked up on 27 June - the day before Fusilier Gentle was killed.

He said he instructed one of his officers to check with supplies and arrange for it to be collected.

He told the inquest that up that point distribution of supplies had gone "very smoothly".

The inquest had earlier heard from Sergeant Stephen Fox, who was in the weapons intelligence section, who said that the bomb that killed Fusilier Gentle was a radio controlled device.

He said in his experience of using Element B equipment he was "100% confident" it worked against such devices.

SEE ALSO
Fusilier's final patrol described
29 Oct 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Army 'blood-stained tags' denial
23 Mar 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Mothers lose Iraq inquiry battle
12 Dec 06 |  England
Armour review after soldier death
14 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Soldier's mother in No 10 protest
18 Oct 05 |  Scotland

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