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More than one in 20 Armed Forces deaths happen during training

Published 12/01/2016

Gavin Williams died after undergoing a
Gavin Williams died after undergoing a "beasting"

More than one in 20 deaths in the British military happen during training, official figures have revealed.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said 131 military personnel had died while on training and exercise between the year 2000 and October 2015.

This amounted to 5.5% of all deaths among the UK armed forces during the same period.

The figures have been disclosed just days after the Army was heavily criticised by a coroner over the death of a young recruit who died from heatstroke.

Alan Large, the assistant coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said the Army failed to notice the "fundamental defects in the disciplinary and punishment system" following an inquest into the death of Private Gavin Williams, of the Second Battalion the Royal Welsh Regiment.

The 22-year-old had been a soldier for just a year when he was subjected to a beasting on July 3 2006 - one of the hottest days of the year.

The vast majority of deaths in training were in the Army, with 88 troops killed. Twenty-one deaths were in the Royal Air Force (RAF), while 14 were in the Royal Navy and eight were in the Royal Marines.

Thirteen victims were classed as "untrained" because they were in the early stages of training, including four soldiers and one Royal Marine who were under the age of 18.

Some 98 deaths were the result of injuries and 24 were because of disease-related conditions. The cause of nine deaths was either not yet known or a definitive cause of death had not been found following inquests.

The 131 deaths included 111 regular military personnel and 20 "on duty" reserve troops.

Since 2000, 11 military personnel were killed during live fire exercises and 28 died in aircraft training accidents, according to the MoD figures.

Nine deaths occurred during rock climbing, caving and mountaineering training, while six people were killed while diving or snorkelling.

Seven people died while parachuting and two deaths happened during paragliding or hand gliding exercises.

Six military personnel died during water transport training including kayaking, rafting, canoeing and yachting.

Five soldiers died from heat injuries, two troops drowned and 18 people were killed as a result of land transport accidents.

The figures for 2015 show six military personnel died in training last year, including four deaths in the Army, one in the RAF and one in the Navy.

A total of 2,387 military personnel died in the armed forces between 2000 and October last year.

Last year military chiefs were criticised over the deaths of three Territorial Army soldiers during an SAS test march in the Brecon Beacons in July 2013.

An inquest into the heat-related collapse of reservists James Dunsby, Edward Maher and Craig Roberts concluded they would have survived if commanders had followed Ministry of Defence guidelines.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "It will always be necessary to train and test our military personnel to the highest possible levels so that they can help keep us safe.

"This necessarily involves individuals pushing themselves and taking some risks but all training activity is conducted to ensure these are as low as reasonably practical."

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