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MoD names Welsh Guards sergeant who died in live-fire exercise

Nadeem Badshah
·2-min read

The Ministry of Defence has named a soldier in the Welsh Guards who died after being injured in a live firing exercise as Sgt Gavin Hillier.

A spokesperson for the MoD said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm Sgt Gavin Hillier from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards died on 4 March, 2021. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“An investigation is under way and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

The incident occurred at the Castlemartin Range in Pembrokeshire at about 10.45pm on Thursday.

It is understood Hillier had previously been awarded a long service and good conduct medal by Prince Charles, the colonel of the regiment, in 2019.

In a statement on social media his father said he was “heartbroken” and that his son had died doing the job he loved.

Dyfed-Powys police said it was leading the investigation and officers were liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and the MoD.

It is the latest in a number of accidents at the Castlemartin range.

In 2017, corporals Matthew Hatfield and Darren Neilson of the Royal Tank Regiment died after an explosion in their tank during a training exercise on a firing range.

Mike Maguire, 21, died at Castlemartin in 2012 after being shot in the head while resting just outside the training range.

A 2013 inquest into his death heard he was hit in the temple by a single machine gun bullet fired by a fellow soldier during a training exercise.

The inquest jury ruled Ranger Maguire, who was a member of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment, had been unlawfully killed.

Dyfed-Powys police said: “An investigation has been launched into the death of a soldier at Castlemartin RAC Range following a military exercise.

“Dyfed-Powys police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on Thursday 4 March. Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after. Our thoughts are with his family, who have been informed of the incident and are being supported by specialist officers.

“An investigation is under way led by Dyfed-Powys police. Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MoD.”

According to the MoD, the Welsh Guards have a dual role as a “light role infantry” as well as “world-class ceremonial soldiers, guarding the royal family and royal palaces such as Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London and conducting state ceremonial duties”.