It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Corporal Christopher Read, of 158 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment Royal Military Police, as a result of injuries that he sustained during a large scale operation in the early hours of the morning, Saturday 7 July 2007.
Corporal Read, aged 22 and originally from Poole in Dorset, was injured by small arms fire whilst he was returning from a major operation to detain insurgents in Basra City. He was given immediate first aid and taken to the Field Hospital at the British base at Basra Air Station, but sadly died of his injuries during the night of Saturday 7 July.
In separate incidents another soldier, Lance Corporal Ryan Francis, of 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, was killed, and two other soldiers were injured. The next of kin of all these soldiers have been informed.
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Miller, Commanding Officer 3rd Regiment Royal Military Police, remembered Corporal Read:
Corporal Chris Read was fatally injured on Saturday morning, 7th July, whilst extracting from an operation to detain insurgents in Basra City. Despite the valiant efforts of his team from 4th Battalion The Rifles who administered immediate first aid at the scene, and subsequently the doctors in the Field Hospital, Chris finally succumbed to his wounds on Saturday evening. The Regiment is heartbroken. Chris was just 22 years old. This was his second tour of Iraq; having joined 158 Provost Company direct from training in December 2004.
Chris was a rising star. He was a warm and modest young man with a wicked sense of fun. He was mature and level headed and all these qualities marked him out as a particularly effective policeman. Chris was also a brave soldier, always volunteering to be in the thick of it; he would never shrink from danger.
Chris was hugely popular and he leaves behind some very close friends, all of whom were able to comfort him during his last few hours. 158 Provost Company remains unbowed and determined but keenly feels the loss of this outstanding military policeman. Chris leaves a loving and supporting mother and father, and extended family, and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to them at this difficult time.
Major Jan Waring, Officer Commanding 158 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment Royal Military Police, paid the following tribute to Corporal Read:
Corporal Chris Read was a truly dedicated and professional soldier. He had enormous talent - bright, boundless energy and enthusiasm, sincerity and compassion - all of these outstanding qualities, but most importantly he always had time for a smile and chat for everyone he met. Chris truly loved the Army life and was a keen soldier and policeman. He loved to be out on the ground, participating in the more demanding tasks and in the more dangerous situations. Chris would be calm, reassuring and focused on his role; he thrived on challenges and was developing into a very good junior leader. Chris was a real gem to have around; he would always look after his mates and would certainly be at the centre of any fun. For Chris life was for the living and he lived life to the full.
Chris was a modest young man, immensely loyal and uncomplicated. He took every day in his stride and saw everything as an opportunity. He was engaging, thoughtful, and had such a cheerful disposition that he would instantly make people smile. Chris was also known for his love of cars and his sometimes poor taste in DVDs - he intended to buy a Ford Cosworth on his return home so he could impress any female friends, although his love of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ may well have put them off.
Chris was a much loved and deeply respected member of the Company. He had selfless commitment and was never happier than when he was helping his friends. He was a wonderful and inspiring young man who excelled in everything he did and lived by the Corps motto Exemplo Ducemus: ‘By Example We Lead’. Above all, he will always be remembered for having a constant smile on his face and a real love for life. His death has saddened the Company immensely but as we pull together we will remain strong as one, and our cherished thoughts and memories of Chris will comfort us during this difficult time. It has been a true privilege and honour for us all to have known and share part of our lives with Chris; his loss has left a pain in all our hearts but will be nothing to that of his family whose loss must be inconsolable. He will be fondly remembered and we will honour his example and his life.
Corporal Read’s former Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Paul Crane, remembered spending time on a regimental exercise with him:
With Chris’s passion for all things fast we took an hour out of the exercise to tear up Salisbury Plain in our Land Rover after it had just rained. His skill at the wheel was matched by his enthusiasm for vehicles and he managed the Platoon’s fleet with pride and professionalism.
On exercise working as the Platoon Commander’s driver Chris longed to be back in the section, it was working with his friends everyday that I believe gave him that infectious smile - on no occasion can I recall seeing him without a beaming smile.
His good humoured nature and sheer gentleness will be what I remember about Chris most, even when it hurts I hope to smile every time his name is mentioned.
Memories of Chris ‘Longtooth’ Read - by his current Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Dave Wilton:
As a Platoon Commander you could not wish for a better Junior Non-Commissioned Officer to be under your command; Corporal Read had the work hard/play hard ethic and showed this in everything he took part in. I had the privilege of deploying to Iraq on OP TELIC 10 with Chris, who was a member of the Platoon’s ‘strike’ section. He started his tour with a short stint based in Umm Qasr where he took part in an operation which recovered a large amount of Anti-Multi National Forces paraphernalia. On returning to Basra and being reunited with the platoon, it was obvious that this is where Chris wanted to be, amongst friends and colleagues. No matter what was asked of him, Chris would never complain, not only would he complete his task but he would do it to perfection. Very keen to get out on the ground Chris would volunteer for almost every operation. Losing a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer like Chris in these circumstances is devastating and the effect that it has had on the Company and the Platoon in particular, is overwhelming. Such a loved and trusted character; he will be truly missed.
Finding words to describe exactly how Chris has touched your life is difficult, whatever is said or put down in words could never do Chris justice. I can only pass on thoughts that I have experienced over the last 48 hours while sitting by Chris’s side. Times like this make you think, you can never fully appreciate something until it is taken from you. Every one has their own thoughts and ways of remembering Chris.
Just hours before getting on the coach to RAF Brize Norton, Chris and myself went to Pizza Hut together alone, chatted about life and what we were looking forward to when we returned home. He gave me a massive insight into his life. He was looking to extend his posting at Bulford to be close to his mother. His main love was motor cars and rallying and would always be found talking about the car he was buying when he returned to the UK. Chris was such an easy person to get on with, he seemed to hang on your every word, and loved to be part of the gang. He was at his best when amongst friends, and I have never heard a bad word said about him. Loved and respected by everyone, Chris has now gone to a better place. I know he leaves behind a large extended family and I can only guess that he has brought them even more happiness and fond memories than he has brought me and everyone he has worked with. Chris will not be forgotten and is truly missed and I send my love to all his family and friends back in the UK.
One of Corporal Read’s friends, Corporal Barry ‘Baz’ Key, wrote a poem in memory of him:
Chris Read - A Friend
Chris recently told me with his signature smile on his face that his civilian friends thought he was mad,
Who am I to disagree, as my opinion of him was the same they had.
An unhealthy fascination with all things mechanical defined Chris’s character - A young man obsessed with fast cars is what I will always remember.**
The last words I spoke to Chris were ‘You take care of yourself tonight’ - I remember saying them clearly as he was drawing his weapon appearing larger than life in the Basrah daylight.
My thoughts are now with his family and those close to him - For I am a religious man myself but can’t help feeling that God’s decision to take him so early - is a sin.
Corporal James McIntyre said of Corporal Read:
Chris, who I know as ‘Readie’, will always be remembered for his love of modified cars; he loved everything about them including the cruising culture. He was often seen driving around various locations in the Bulford area, in his not to everyone’s taste, in your face, modified cars, which he loved. However this was always to everyone’s enjoyment, whether it be for ‘Cool look at that car’ or ‘God what is Readie driving now?’.
He was planning on buying his ultimate dream car, a Sierra Cosworth, on return from this tour. Something he often talked about and always got really excited over. A dream unfortunately he will now never live out.
Readie was a gentle giant, who would never have hurt a fly and would always do anything for anyone. He was a well liked member of Strike section and a big part of our family. I often used to lie in my room watching TV, listening to Readie’s Frank Sinatra music being played from the room next door and him singing along at the top of his voice. Corporal Bruce Astell and I used to joke to each other that he was serenading his room mate. Nearly every day Corporal Bruce Astell and I used to joke with him to stop serenading Corporal Harris, as he is not falling for his charms; he used to just laugh at us and told us that he would keep trying. This was typical of Readie’s sense of humour.
Readie will be gratefully missed and will always be remembered.
Defence Secretary Des Browne said:
Corporal Chris Read was a very popular, professional and effective military policeman. His loss will be deeply felt by his colleagues in Iraq. My prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues at this painful and difficult time.