Hereford, England—Two SAS instructors face court-martial over the death of three trainees.
The deaths occurred during the summer selection course in 2013.
On that day, Cpl James Dunsby, L. Cpl Craig Roberts, and Trooper Edward Maher died of heat exhaustion during a 16-mile march, in the Brecon Beacons, Wales.
It was the hottest day of the year.
The three Army reservists were trying out for the SAS reserve units, 21 and 23 SAS.
The SAS hold biannual selections, one in summer and another during the winter.
Due to the secrecy that veils Britain’s Special Operation Forces, the two SAS instructors have only been named as Captain 1A, the risk assessment officer of the course, and Warrant Officer 1B.
They face charges of negligence. If found guilty, they could face up to two years behind bars and a dishonourable discharge from the Army.
Initially, prosecutors from the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) hadn’t charged anyone for the deaths based on limited evidence. But the deceased soldier’s families insisted on a review.
Yet they still believe that the two SAS troopers are used as scapegoats. “It’s simply wrong for the MoD [Ministry of Defence] to hide behind the officers in charge to escape prosecution,” said the Lawyer of Cpl Dunsby’s family.
They believe that accountability lies higher within the chain of command.
“These two men are going to have to face trial when clearly others should be standing in front and not them,” said David Dunsby, father of Cpl Dunsby.
The official investigation into the incident concluded that before and during the march a series of “very serious mistakes” happened. The Army reservists didn’t have enough water for the day’s rigours. Moreover, it revealed poor planning of the march and inadequate response once the three men were taken ill.
Cpl Dunsby had reached a temperature of 105 °F before he collapsed.
“He was boiling to touch but going pale. His body was shutting down,” said Paramedic Damon Jones during the official inquest.
He died two weeks later in hospital.
A separate MoD safety review of the SAS selection course revealed that the three reservists didn’t have the same levels of physical and navigational training as their regular Army counterparts.
Stay tuned for updates.
Featured image of SAS trainees at Brecon Beacons courtesy of Wikipedia