The Navy’s landing craft community paused in the waters off Plymouth to remember one of their own killed a decade ago in Iraq. Royal Marines and sailors from across the amphibious forces gathered on a landing craft to remember all 11 commandos lost on Operation Telic, in particular Mne Chris Maddison, fatally wounded when his craft was hit in March 2003.
A Bugler sounds the Last Post in the shadow of Jennycliff in Plymouth as Royal Marines and sailors honour the 11 commandos killed a decade ago in Iraq.
Three landing craft and one raiding craft linked up just outside Plymouth Sound to pay tribute in particular to one of their own, Mne Chris Maddison, who was fatally wounded ten days into Operation Telic.
On March 30 2003 a boat group of two landing craft and inshore raiding craft were scouring the marshes and reed beds southeast of Az Aubayr in southern Iraq in search of enemy activity.
As Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel November One edged cautiously into the main waterway to assess the situation, the craft was hit simultaneously by small arms fire and an anti-tank missile.
The three crew in the wheelhouse were all injured – two men were knocked unconscious while 24-year-old Mne Maddison suffered injuries from which he subsequently died in field hospital.
Two further crewmen in the well deck were blown into the water by the blast and a corporal suffered received extensive cuts to his face from shrapnel.
November One was subsequently renamed November Mike in Mne Maddison’s honour and each year both 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines and HMS Ocean, the green beret’s two parent units, hold a November Mike Memorial Day to not just remember Chris, but celebrate his life and achievements.
With Ocean undergoing a lengthy refit and 9 ASRM temporarily disbanded while she is, this year the tradition was upheld by the wider landing craft community, plus some of the Mighty O’s command staff – for however busy the programme, it will always remember its fallen.
So men and women from Ocean, Bulwark, 1 Assault Group Royal Marines, 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, 6 Ops Squafron, 10 Training Squadron, 11 (ATT) Squadron and 539 ASRM gathered around the lowered ramp of the large Landing Craft Utility in Jennycliff Bay.
The Rev Scott Shackleton, 3 Commando Brigade’s padre conducted the service, using the trusted Bible which he has carried from Iraq to Afghanistan and many places in between.
Rev Shackleton shared his experiences of Operational Telic with 539 ASRM and gave a moving service, culminating with a Royal Marines Bugler sounding the Last Post.
After the Reveille was called, 11 miniature roses – representing the 11 Royal Marines killed in action during the 2003 campaign – were cast into the sea over the ramp of the craft by friends of Mne Maddison.
As Rev Shackleton finished the service with a blessing, those gathered went back to their duties, some deep in the thoughts of operations ten years ago – whilst some of the younger generation had learned about November Mike for the first time.
The next element of ‘November Mike Day’ will be a rugby match: Devonport Services (Chris’s old team) against an LC Barbarians team at the Rectory in Plymouth; the date will be publicised in due course.
Press Release, May 9, 2013; Image: Royal Navy