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Soldier who carried Princess Diana coffin was 'cast aside' after he lost leg

By Cate McCurry

A soldier who was on tour in Northern Ireland when he was called upon to carry Princess Diana's coffin has said the Ministry of Defence abandoned him after his leg was amputated.

Ex-Welsh Guardsman Phil Bartlett (41) says he attempted suicide after losing a leg and quitting the Army.

He was medically discharged following 20 years of service in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.

The ex-soldier now suffers from post-traumatic distress order, is unemployed, divorced and lives in a one-bed council house.

Mr Bartlett and eight colleagues were called away from duties in Northern Ireland to carry Diana's coffin to Westminster Abbey on September 6, 1997. He then went on to serve with the Welsh Guards and Royal Engineers.

He accused David Cameron and his successive governments of "tossing him aside like a toy" after his right leg was amputated due to an injury.

During his time as a regimental rugby player he broke his ankle but then went back to the Army.

In Iraq he again injured his ankle after falling off an observation tower while carrying a backpack, and during a tour of Afghanistan he suffered a third injury on the joint during a bomb strike.

This led to the amputation below his right leg and he has also suffered back and hearing problems, leading to his discharge in April 2012. Following this he struggled with life outside of the Army which soon led to the breakdown of his marriage.

He added: "Now I just feel rejected. I was useful to Cameron once but now that I'm not, he and his government have forgotten about me like a broken toy.

"They rely on charities to help people like me. It shouldn't be like that. They should look after the people they relied on for so many years.

"When you get injured and become useless to the Ministry of Defence and the Government it is like they look for the cheapest option to get rid of you. Once you leave that bubble you are left to fend for yourself. When I gave my oath to the Queen I thought 'No matter what, they will never desert me'. But this is what they have done."

Despite his qualifications in plumbing and gas engineering, he is unable to work due to his injuries. He now relies on £60 a month from a medical pension and £400 from his war pension.

After attempting suicide last year, he contacted war veterans' charity Skiing With Heroes for help. He has also been in touch with London's King Edward VII hospital to help manage treatment on his leg.

Belfast Telegraph


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