Fylde soldier hero ‘died in massive explosion’

Elaine Freeman (below), mother of Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33 of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
Elaine Freeman (below), mother of Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33 of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

A soldier from St Annes was among six British troops who died when their armoured vehicle was blown up in a huge explosion which sent flames shooting 100ft into the air, an inquest has heard.

The 25 ton Warrior armoured infantry vehicle was blasted onto its side, the turret was thrown 10 yards away and the engine was propelled on to the ground ahead.

As other soldiers bravely used their fire extinguishers to try to battle the ferocious flames, high-explosive rounds inside the devastated Warrior began to detonate.

Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, from St Annes, Corporal Jake Hartley, Private Anthony Frampton, Private Christopher Kershaw, Private Daniel Wade and Private Daniel Wilford all died in the incident, on March 6, 2012.

Pathologists said the men would most likely have been rendered unconscious immediately and unaware of the fire.

One soldier told the inquest of the moments before the explosion.

Private Luke Stones, who was the gunner in the second of the two Warriors on the ill-fated patrol, explained he was sitting in the turret when he heard a loud explosion and felt his vehicle shake.

He stood up immediately to see what had happened.

“There was a large fireball which had flames reaching about 100ft high,” he said.

“I stood staring at the fireball, not really understanding what I was looking at.

“The turret was on fire as well, burning independently. The flames were too intense to see which position the vehicle had come to rest in. I heard a series of explosions coming from the destroyed Warrior.”

The inquest into the deaths of Sgt Coupe, who Cpl Hartley, 20, from Dewsbury, West Yorks, Pte Frampton, 20, from Huddersfield, Pte Kershaw, 19, from Bradford, Pte Wade, 20, from Warrington, Cheshire, and Pte Wilford, 21, from Huddersfield, continues in Oxford.

For the full story, see Thursday’s Gazette