Belfast Telegraph

RAF hero remembered in Tornado flypast of fallen pilot's Belfast school

By Luke Barnes

An RAF attack jet tipped its wing as a sign of respect to a fallen comrade during a flypast over Campbell College yesterday.

Squadron Leader Patrick Marshall, a former pupil at the school, was one of 10 personnel killed in Iraq on January 30, 2005, when the C-130 Hercules aircraft they were travelling in was shot down by enemy fire.

As it flew over the east Belfast school at 1,000ft at around 11am, the pilot tipped the plane's wing in tribute to Mr Marshall.

The supersonic Tornado is part of IX (Bomber) Squadron based at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Mr Marshall (39) was a staff officer at Headquarters Strike Command in High Wycombe, from where he helped co-ordinate RAF support operations.

He graduated from RAF College Cranwell in 1990 and served 11 operational tours as a Tornado pilot.

He was decorated for air operations in Iraq, as well as in the former Yugoslavia.

He had announced he was engaged to be married before his death in January 2005, during which time he was temporarily stationed in Iraq as a liaison officer.

At Campbell he showed a "keen talent" for rugby and athletics, and was noted for his strong leadership, becoming a prefect and head of the RAF section of the cadets.

His father was a wing commander in the RAF and also attended Campbell College.

Headmaster Robert Robinson said: "It was a great honour to watch an RAF Tornado fly over Campbell College this morning as tribute to Old Campbellian Patrick Marshall.

"Despite all the rain, all of our pupils stood out in front of the school to watch the tribute and it was a poignant reminder of the sacrifice that Patrick made.

"The mood was one of reflection as the Tornado respectfully tipped its wing."

The headmaster added that the school's cadet force, one of the largest in the UK, remained a strong part of Campbell's ethos and reflected the importance it placed on leadership and service.

He said: "It is important during this week that we remember those past pupils and staff who gave their lives for their country.

"Throughout our 120-year history, many of our pupils have served in the Army, Navy or Air Force and, as a memorial to those men, embedded in the walks of our Central Hall are the images of those who lost their lives in WWI, WWII and subsequent conflicts around the world.

"Patrick Marshall's photograph is part of this memorial and on November 11 we will remember each and every one."

The shooting down of the Hercules was the biggest single loss of life for British servicemen since operations began in Iraq in 2003.

It also occurred on the same day that Iraqis headed to the polls for historic elections. The then Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said at the time: "The deaths of these servicemen are especially poignant on a day when Iraqis were able to enjoy the freedom of democratic elections for the first time in many years.

"I only echo the sentiment of the Prime Minister in recognising the sacrifice of these servicemen."

In 2008 an inquest ruled that the servicemen had been unlawfully killed and that there had been "serious, systemic failures" in the RAF which had robbed Mr Marshall and nine others of "their opportunity for survival".

The coroner said lives might have been saved if the aircraft had been fitted with explosive suppressant foam inside the fuel tanks.

Belfast Telegraph


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