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Marine was killed by "friendly fire"
8:00am Friday 15th May 2009 in News
A NORTH Hampshire Royal Marine was killed by intense “friendly fire” in Afghanistan, an inquest heard.
Marine Jonathan Wig-ley, from Hook, died in December 2006 during a complex gun battle to dislodge Taliban fighters in Helmand Province.
The 21-year-old, of Zulu Company 45 Commando Royal Marines, was lying in a ditch awaiting orders when he came under fire from an American F18 jet, the inquest in Oxford heard.
Marine Wigley, who was born in Leicestershire and grew up in Lincoln-shire, received a fatal wound to his chest while he was involved in what was described as the biggest operation his company had taken part in up to that point.
Andrew Walker, assistant deputy coroner for Oxfordshire, told the inquest Marine Wigley (pictured above) would have died almost immediately after the blast.
“Marine Wigley would have been instantly unconscious from the severity of the injury he sustained and would, in my view, have not reg-ained consciousness and would have passed away very quickly indeed,” he said.
The F18 jet was supporting the British troops and had already bombed the target, a Taliban compound, before returning for a strafing run, shooting at the ground from a low height.
A joint terminal attack controller, who was liaising between the ground troops and air support, warned the jet was to fly overhead, but soon afterwards there was an impact with the trench where troops were waiting.
Marine Wigley’s sector commander Corporal James Cogan told the inquest: “I initially thought when we were strafed that we had been fully outflanked, and someone was stood over the ditch above our heads and firing down directly on to us, because of the physical force of the rounds and the way the dirt kicked up around us.
“My first reaction was to spin around, and I brought my weapon to bear where I thought the enemy was.”
He then realised shots had been fired and saw Marine Wigley lying on the ground. Efforts were made to resuscitate him but he died of his severe injuries.
Pathologist Nicholas Hunt told the inquest it is believed a 20mm non-exploded projectile struck his armour plate and then his back.
The inquest, which Marine Wigley’s parents Sharon and Clive are attending, is expected to conclude tomorrow.