The Independent report on Fusliers Killed

Now i freely admit to bashing liberals at any opportunity, so this little article has me slightly confused. On the one hand, i am under no illusions that had two white boys from Aberdeen been killed, the Indy would quite happily ignored the incident (as they have with most things concerned with the military - upsets the Islingtonites over their latte's and muesli).

But it's well written (if a bit thick on the "immigrant" social agenda). or am i just a cynic!

The immigrant who died for Britain
By Terri Judd
Published: 08 September 2005
Amid the ash and devastation of volcanic eruptions on the Caribbean island of Montserrat a decade ago, a small boy stared wide-eyed as the giant Hercules flew in to land.
Donal Meade, then just 10 years old, watched as the RAF C-130 transport planes turned up with supplies, and British troops arrived to help deal with the chaos.
Months later, the schoolboy was among thousands of refugees forced to flee what was left of the island. Coaxed on to the plane by his mother, Jacinta, he arrived in Britain with his big sister, Keisha-Ann, and younger brother, Joseph.
He settled in London with remarkable ease and fulfilled his dream when he signed up to join the British forces at the age of 17.
Yesterday, his 54-year-old mother sat in his bedroom in their tiny flat on an unremarkable redbrick estate in Plumstead, inconsolable at the news her son had been killed serving his adopted land. On Monday morning, Fusilier Donal Meade, 20, and his friend Fusilier Stephen Manning, 22, from nearby Erith, died when their armoured Land Rover was hit by a roadside bomb in southern Iraq.
It was a devastating blow to a family which had overcome such difficulty to build a successful and happy life in London.
Like thousands of immigrants, the Meades had arrived in Britain with nothing but were to contribute much to the community they had made their own. This positive side of immigration was graphically demonstrated yesterday by a report that revealed the increasing diversity of "rainbow Britain".
Researchers from the Institute of Public Policy Research and Sheffield University showed that Britain is attracting immigrants from more parts of the world than ever before.
In a powerful riposte to the anti-immigration lobby, ministers said the report demonstrated how many of these families - like the Meades - are a valuable part of British society.
The family last heard from Fusilier Meade on Friday, when he called to ask whether they had sent extra memory for his laptop and they asked whether their parcel of DVDs, Doritos and Wotsits had arrived at his base at Basra Palace.
His sister Keisha Ann, 22, said: "He told Mum he would be back on 4 November. She asked him to be alert, to be careful and he just said 'Mum. I am a soldier and soldiers die. He was one in a million. He was quiet but a practical joker. He just made me laugh. I can't go back to crying because, if my brother was alive he would be angry with me. He would say 'Oh sis, shut up'."
A stream of Fusilier Meade's extended family - among the thousands who fled the British territory and were offered a home in England - arrived to offer comforting hugs and bouquets of flowers. The neat living room was peppered with smiling photographs of the young man, from proud uniformed schoolboy to proud uniformed soldier - a Star Wars light sabre, propped up in the corner, evidence of how recently he had been the former.
As a cricket-mad youngster he had grown up in a very different world in Montserrat, pumping the base pedals for his mother as she played the organ in St Patrick's Catholic church, and making model aeroplanes in his spare time. But, his sister insisted, he never looked back once he arrived in Britain - a country he had only visited once before as a toddler. "The first day at school he made friends immediately. Easygoing isn't the word to describe him."
He had only ever wanted to join the British forces, Ms Meade, who recently graduated with a degree in philosophy and sociology, said. "Mum was worried but she knew that was what he wanted to do. I said 'Why the Army? Go to college.' But he wanted to be a frontline man.
"He did not get the grades for the RAF and so he joined the Army, hoping he might later transfer over to become a pilot and then maybe later a commercial pilot. He was obsessed with planes."
On 20 January 2002, Fusilier Meade's sister accompanied him on the first leg of his journey to his training camp. A year later he joined the battalion in Northern Ireland. "He was proud of that uniform. Mum made him wear it so she could see it when he came home. He was going to give me away in that uniform."
Bored with the monotony of barracks life in Northern Ireland, he volunteered to go to Iraq. "I came out of the cinema with Joseph [now aged 12] and got a text saying 'I'm going to Iraq'," explained his sister. "I phoned him and said 'What do you mean you are going to Iraq?' and he said 'Oh sis, stop whingeing and crying. It's my job'."
After a few tough weeks, he settled in. He complained that the Army's new enhanced body armour was too heavy and constrictive and the country was too hot. But he also boasted jokingly that they were living in Saddam's palace. As part of the Coldstream Guards battle group in Basra, the Fusiliers helped to secure Basra Palace, escort the United Nations mission and support the Iraqi police during certain duties.
His sister said: "As far as he was concerned he was peacekeeping. That was what he was trained to do in Belfast. This was what he had volunteered to do.
"He was with his closest friends in the Army and he died doing the job he loved.
"I remember he once said to mum, he thought it was unfair that Iraqis were being killed all the time and yet there was such a hullaballoo when a British or American soldier died."
P.S. I also am an immigrant.


Book Reviewer
I read that too and thought that it was a great piece honouring a soldier who gave his life etc. The whole immigrant angle was as part of a series of articles in response to a recent report showing the contributions to the UK by immigrants. I thought that it was a good choice to lead with the story of Fusilier Meade especially given the strident anti-Iraq war stance adopted by the paper.
Fusilier Meade was clearly a fine young man who was a credit to his family and to the Armed Forces. I'm not sure that being an immigrant made him different to any of the other soldiers who have given their lives, though I applaud the Indie for having something positive to say for once.
A good example of an immigrant contributing to the country and not take take take. Good to see there was no political axe to grind. My sympathies to his family.
I am not sure , but I believe he was the same fine young man who laughed a lot, especially at me struggling manfully under 90lbs all up on the boggiest bits of Otterburn on an extended night tab. I had an uncanny ability that night to find every bloody deep waterfilled hole , and himself reduced to giggles hauling me out , and inviting me to keep finding the bad bits because it was keeping him dry. All my swearing and muttering didn't have any effect either, but his cheerful patter helped. In between the Reg. Corporals saying "Here you go PTP , there's a deep pool you missed" :(

If I am mistaken in my identity of the young black soldier with the soft caribbean accent I shared a mug of Tea with I apologise , but will say one thing. Those young Phase 2 soldiers of my Regiment who were out with us were all fine young men. As long as there are young men like Donal , Steve and the rest , the British Army will remain what it has always been. The finest, most professional Army in the world today.

RIP Donal and Stephen, the Regiment past and present, mourns your passing.
I was lucky enough to visit Monserrat years ago before the volcano erupted. It was a wacky place, most of the locals were the descendants of slaves who worked for Irish Catholic plantation owners who'd settled there to escape religious persecution in the late 1700's (it's also known as the Emerald Isle because of this association as well as the lush jungle foliage) So you'd meet lots of Afro-Caribbean people with names like Siobahn O'Neill and Colm Grady. Plymouth, the capital, was a tiny boozy place full of chatty locals and chilled out expats from (mainly) Canada and the UK.

I can honestly say the Monserratians were some of the nicest people you'll ever meet; friendly, laid-back and pretty happy (in a very discrete way)with their association with the UK. Until Claire Short put her foot in it with them, of course.

Without generalising too much, it doesn't surprise me whatsoever that a young Monserratian volunteered to serve. Sympathies to Fus. Meade and Fus. Manning and their families. RIP.

In my minds eye i see Donal smiling at me. I had the pleasure of working with him in Belfast in 2003. He was attached to our detachment as an escort and a damn fine job he did too. Whatever people think of any press related view, i can assure you that he was a selfless individual and a credit to his Regiment. Even though i knew him for a short time, i will now never forget him, as i will never forget the others who have given their lives in the sandpit.

RIP Donal.
Only a few weeks ago I lost one of my best friends when the 3 Staffordshire boys were killed. I shed a tear.
I didn't know these lads and yet I shed another tear.
Selfless committment, courage and honour.

The lads died doing a job that they loved and I am sure they would have had it no other way.

Again, my deepest sympathies.

Latest Threads