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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 17:46 GMT
Families 'sent soldiers supplies'
Soldier with rifle
Supplies were sent to Iraq from families in the UK the inquest heard
Soldiers serving in Iraq were forced to get dehydration powders sent from families in the UK after supplies ran out, an inquest has been told.

Oxford Coroners' Court heard the claims during the inquest into the death of TA Private Jason Smith, from Hawick.

One of his senior officers said that soldiers were working in heat that "even the locals couldn't bear".

Pte Smith died of a heart attack brought on by heat stroke while serving in Iraq in August 2003.

Temperatures at the time regularly topped 49C, the inquest was told.

Captain Marshall was getting electrolytes sent by his mother to dish out to the soldiers
Sgt Maj Ewan Stuart

Sgt Maj Ewan Stuart said it was essential to keep sugar and salt levels topped up with the electrolyte powders - readily available in UK chemists.

Supplies of the powder solution had run out in the first two weeks of August, he added.

"Captain Marshall was getting electrolytes sent by his mother to dish out to the soldiers," he said.

He said that the general feeling amongst the troops was that they were being overworked in temperatures that "even the locals couldn't bear".

Sgt Maj Stuart added that so many soldiers were suffering in the heat that, had every one of them been sent to hospital, "it would have been myself and the company commander left".

Soldiers suffering dehydration were put on a drip in an air-conditioned ambulance until ready to return to their regular duties, he said.

Six litres

The court also heard evidence from medical officer Maj Jonathan Hayman.

He said an easy reference card issued to soldiers detailing the dangers of dehydration and how to avoid it was "misleading and inaccurate".

The card advised soldiers to drink five to six litres of water a day but the court has heard that it was necessary to drink at least double that.

Maj Hayman agreed that the advice on the card conflicted with the reality of life on the ground during the height of the Iraqi summer.

"I imagine this was produced for exercise in hot conditions in Wiltshire rather than Iraq," he said.

"But it would not have been the only advice they were given."

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21 Aug 03 |  Lincolnshire

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