Operations in Iraq

Private Craig Barber 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh killed in Iraq

It is with much sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Private Craig Barber of 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh in Basra City, southern Iraq on Monday 6 August 2007.

Ministry of Defence crest

Private Barber, aged 20, was taking part in a night operation to counter indirect fire attacks on Basra Palace in the Al Fursi district of Basra City. He was driving a Warrior vehicle when he was killed by small arms fire at around 2320 hrs local time.

Private Craig Barber

Private Barber was from Ogmore Vale and joined 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh in 2004. He leaves behind his loving family, including his wife Donna and son Bradley.

Private Craig Barber (All rights reserved.)

Private Craig Barber (All rights reserved.)

Lieutenant Colonel JFP Swift MBE, Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, paid the following tribute:

Craig joined the Battalion in 2004 and deployed to Iraq for the first time 12 months later; this was his second tour here. He was a dedicated soldier who was keen to deploy on operations in support of his mates, and earlier this year had qualified as a Team Medic in order that he was better able to do so.

He had also recently qualified as a Warrior driver and he had never been happier. It appeared that he had found his role. He loved his vehicle and looked after it diligently. He was fiercely protective of it and would never let anyone else drive it. Why? Because he understood how important a fully functioning vehicle is to operations in Basra, and that it was his responsibility. If it worked it would save lives; if it broke down he would be putting his mates’ lives at risk. He was justifiably proud of the part he played in the Platoon and wanted to do it to the very best of his ability. This was characteristic of a man who was very professional, courageous and who never wanted to let his comrades down.

Craig had taken part in the whole spectrum of operations on this tour. He had patrolled by day meeting the locals in rural areas, he had secured cordons on detention and search operations, and he had helped escort convoys to sustain other soldiers in the Brigade. Last night Craig’s company, C Company 2 Royal Welsh, was attached to the Basra City Battle Group for a detention operation. Their aim was to disrupt the insurgents who have been launching rockets and mortars at their base in Basra and thus increase the safety in the base. Craig died as he lived; working for others and helping to protect them.

Craig married Donna in August last year and was looking forward to their first anniversary; he had arranged his leave in order to be there. He was a caring, loving father to Bradley who turned three only last month. He has always been a physically imposing guy and had a larger than life personality. He was one of the characters in his platoon and was much liked by all his colleagues. We will miss him badly but our thoughts and prayers are with Donna, Bradley and Craig’s other family as they cope with this tragedy.

Private Barber’s Company Commander, Major Steve Mannings, said:

Craig Barber first came to C Company in 2006 after recovering from a long term injury. He was keen to get himself back into the swing of soldiering and soon found himself learning to be a Warrior armoured vehicle driver in 9 Platoon. Driving a Warrior suited him to a tee - both shared the same characteristics, large, powerful and occasionally loud; it was sometimes difficult to tell where Craig ended and his Warrior began. He was a huge physical presence in his platoon but was the epitome of the gentle giant, always ready for a chat, always eager to please - he was an extremely popular young man.

2nd Lieutenant Olly Pope, his Platoon Commander, said:

Private Craig Barber was a key member of 9 Platoon who had many friends. Always a gossip and joker, he tried hard to wind up those around him to keep his mates’ morale high. Craig had an eye for card games and chess, and loved to confuse people with his tricks and riddles. He was also a devoted family man, who decorated his bed space with pictures of his wife and young boy and talked about them constantly.

He was one of the best Warrior drivers in the Platoon. Fiercely proud of his vehicle, he worked hard to maintain it and would not let others drive it. He especially liked driving fast and putting the vehicles through their paces. Craig will be greatly missed by the Platoon as he was a man who could be trusted to do his best by others and always bring a smile to people’s faces.

Corporal Glen Watts, Private Barber’s room-mate, said:

Craig will be remembered to me as a gentle giant and someone who loved to put a smile on people’s faces. He will be missed in the Platoon and also greatly missed as a room-mate.

Private Luke Berni said:

One thing that Craig enjoyed doing was playing chess. He would always compete with someone and come back with a grin on his face knowing he had won.

Private Niall Warren said:

Craig was a happy lively lad who cheered us all up when the times were tough. He will be sorely missed.

Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence, said:

Private Barber’s death is terribly sad. He was a credit to The Royal Welsh and to our country. I would like to express my condolences to the family, the friends, and the colleagues of Private Barber. My thoughts are with them and as ever we will do everything we can to support them at this difficult time.

Published 8 August 2007