In June 2003, as The Red Caps from the 156 Provost Company were in a meeting in Majar al-Kabir, Southern Iraq, a mob of around 400 Iraqis attacked the police station.
As the masked insurgents attacked, armed with rocket propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, the local police officers the Red Caps (Royal Military Police) had been training fled, leaving the six Red Caps to take up defensive positions.
Our boys never made it out.
In February this year, eight Iraqis were arrested for the murder of our brave soldiers; some were found riddled with bullet holes, others dragged, tied up or beaten with rifles. Six walked free but there are still outstanding arrests.
The three judges have decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute the murders as there were no witnesses present. However, there will be prosecutions for the theft of military weapons.
The reason I am reporting this is I knew one of those brave men. He was Corporal Russell Aston and he was from Swadlincote. I met him through friends serving with him and he regularly came over for a beer or two during leave. I remember feeling total disbelief when told of his death.
The statement his wife Anna, and parents Glenice and Mike issued sums him up perfectly...
"Russ was a very handsome man who was loved by everyone who knew him. He was such a kind and special person with a smashing sense of humour, he could get on with anyone he met. He was a doting father who had lots and lots of friends. When he walked into a room he filled it with his height and presence.
He loved his life in the Army. He was very fit and sporty. He recently ran 31 miles to raise funds for Gresley Rovers, a local junior football team, to provide them with kit. When he was in the Grenadier Guards, he was a physical training instructor and in fact when he passed his Army Training Course, he was commended as the Best Physical Training Cadet.
He loved animals, was a caring person and although he looked tough, had a heart of gold and was loving and sensitive."
God bless you, Russ. One day, maybe justice will be served.
The five other officers murdered that day were: Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell, Corporal Paul Graham Long, Corporal Simon Miller, Lance-Corporal Benjamin John McGowan Hyde and Lance-Corporal Thomas Richard Keys