Operations in Iraq

Lance Corporal James Cartwright dies in Iraq

It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Lance Corporal James Cartwright of Badger Squadron, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, following a vehicle accident in Southern Iraq at around 0100hrs on the morning of 16 June 2007.

Ministry of Defence crest

Lance Corporal Cartwright was the driver of a Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle involved in securing a route for a re-supply convoy. Initial reports suggest that the vehicle slid off a bridge into a small canal and overturned.

In spite of his colleagues’ best efforts to get him out of the vehicle and revive him, James was later declared dead.

Lance Corporal James Cartwright, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment

James Cartwright was born on 1 October 1985 and lived in London. He enlisted in the British Army in August 2003 and joined the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment as a Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank gunner.

Lance Corporal James Cartwright (All rights reserved.)

Lance Corporal James Cartwright, Badger Squadron, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment (All rights reserved.)

In May 2007, he deployed to Iraq on Operation TELIC 10 as part of the Irish Guards Battle Group. Lance Corporal Cartwright was a keen sportsman, who played football for his Regiment.

He leaves behind his mother, Diana, father Gerald, and fiancee Natalie, and they were planning their future together after his operational tour.

Lieutenant Colonel David Catmur, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment (his parent unit in Germany), said of him:

Lance Corporal Cartwright was a professional soldier and a committed “Tankie”. Despite the fact that he had planned to leave the Army to become a Fireman in Lincolnshire, he still deployed to Iraq out of loyalty to his Squadron and Regiment.

“He was a renowned character and will be sorely missed by those who worked with him. Lance Corporal Cartwright died in the service of his country, in the line of duty and alongside his comrades. The thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences of the whole Regiment are with his family and his many close friends.”

Lieutenant Colonel Michael O’Dwyer MBE, Commanding Officer of the Irish Guards Battle Group in Iraq said:

Lance Corporal Cartwright had been attached to the Irish Guards Battle Group since the critical final stages of our pre-deployment training in March. Employed as the driver of a Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle, he was central to the operational effectiveness of the Battle Group. For one so young, his job was very challenging, yet his capacity for hard work and continued drive and determination even when tired, hot and in dangerous situations, suited his role.

“A calm, unflappable manner and determined nature were the hallmarks of this consummate professional. He was clearly, however, much more than just a driver. He was part of the hub of his Troop and a continual source of morale and inspiration for those above and below him. He was an integral member of the Battle Group and will be missed by all.

“Our thoughts go out to his parents and sisters, friends and Regiment. A sad loss of a proud man with such clear potential.”

Major Mike Longman, the Squadron Leader, Badger, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, said:

Lance Corporal James ‘Jay’ Cartwright was a professional and highly motivated soldier. He never did anything by halves, both in his personal life and at work.

“As my gunner for the majority of the time I knew him very well, relied upon him completely, and was never disappointed. It was a pleasure and a privilege to serve with him.

He was one of the most determined men I have known. Whenever there was a whiff of competition he could always be seen working his way to a favourable position from which he could emerge victorious. This was epitomised by his recent promotion to Lance Corporal where he only missed first place on his Cadre Course by the narrowest of margins.

He judged everyone else by his own standards, setting the bar high for those in his Troop and the Squadron who looked up to him.

“His quick wit and confident manner meant there were few who managed to better him in the cut and thrust of life on the tank park and on operations.

“He approached this tour in the way in which he looked at everything, as a challenge. There is no doubt in my mind that he rose to that challenge and beyond, on a daily basis.

Lance Corporal Cartwright was a fanatically keen footballer, an Arsenal supporter to the core, he competed for the Regiment and if one listened to his post match analysis you could have been misled into believing that his boots had wings.

“He loved a good gripe when things weren’t going well but ultimately he always managed to pull those around him onwards and upwards with his drive.

He was a bright prospect for the future. The Regiment has lost a good man; Badger has lost a good friend. His death will be deeply felt by all of us.

Lieutenant Jay Ferman, his Troop Leader, said of him:

Lance Corporal Cartwright was an essential part of the Troop. His quick wit and ability to improve morale at any juncture was amazing. He was a highly professional soldier with great natural aptitude and ability.

“However, what really characterised Lance Corporal Cartwright was the impact he had on everyone he came into contact with. No matter who it was, he would always affect their life in some way or another.

“He was extremely competitive, especially when it came to sports, and of course his new found passion, ‘Risk’, a game he claimed he couldn’t lose. This attitude was mirrored in his work; he very rarely admitted defeat and always led those around him, including his seniors, by example.

“He was a great colleague and friend. He will be sorely missed by the men of BADGER and in particular those who have had the privilege of serving with him. Godspeed, Jay.”

Sergeant Craig Jackson, his Troop Sergeant, said of him:

Jay was a real character, always there with a joke or a sharp retort to raise morale. He was truly professional in his own inimitable style. He was a great asset to both the Troop and the Squadron and he will be enormously missed by us all.

Lance Corporal Ryan Fawkes, a colleague from his Squadron said:

Jay was an outstanding soldier and an even better friend. You could always count on him at work, and out of work, which is a rare thing. He was looked up to by many in Badger and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts go out to his family, girlfriend and anyone else who knew Jay.

Trooper John Gregg, a member of his Squadron’s Headquarters said:

Jay was one of the best friends I’ve ever had; he was always there for me, no matter what. I will always remember him as he was like a big brother to me. He was definitely one-of-a-kind and I’m honoured to have been his friend.

Trooper Carl Williams, a friend from the same Troop said:

Jay was not only my best friend but he was like a brother to me. He had all the qualities of a good friend and there won’t be a day that I won’t think about him. Going to miss you mate.

Trooper Carl Baker, a friend from his Squadron said:

Jay was a good friend to me and everyone else in the Squadron. He was someone you could have a good laugh with and he could talk to everyone. We will miss him sorely, be safe mate.

Trooper Louis Miles, a fellow 2nd Royal Tank Regiment Soldier said:

Jay was one of the lads, a role model to me, I will always look up to him.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said:

The death of Lance Corporal Cartwright will be deeply felt by his family and friends as well as his colleagues in Iraq. He was clearly a very capable and popular soldier, whose loss will be felt deeply. My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.

Published 17 June 2007