Fatal bullet missed armour by centimetre

A SOLDIER died during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan when a bullet missed the protective plate of his body armour by just over a centimetre.

Private Matthew Haseldin, 21, from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, had only been in the Army for a few months when 
he was shot and killed in Helmand province on November 3 last
year.

Pte Haseldin, from Settle, North Yorkshire, was described by his colleagues as a confident, enthusiastic soldier who fitted in to the regiment.

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Members of his platoon were commended at an inquest into Pte Haseldin’s death for their brave efforts to recover the soldier and try to save his life while under fire themselves.

Coroner Rob Turnbull told the inquest, at Skipton Magistrates’ Court, he was satisfied the patrol were all wearing the proper equipment on the day of Pte Haseldin’s death.

He said he was also satisfied 
that Pte Haseldin, who completed his training in August last year 
and joined the regiment in Afghanistan around a month after his 
colleagues, had received and completed the necessary training.

On the day of Pte Haseldin’s death, he was one of eight men on patrol when the Taliban opened fire on the group.

Sergeant Mark Harris and Private Joe Blakey told the inquest how they went back to Pte Haseldin, while under heavy fire from guns and grenades, to carry his body to cover.

Pte Blakey said he applied a chest seal to Pte Haseldin’s chest before helping to carry him to a vehicle on a stretcher.

Dr Martin Pearce, a scientist at the Ministry of Defence, said the angle of the bullet meant it had missed the front plate of the armour by around 1.5cm and 
gone into the body behind the plate.

“Had it struck the front surface of the plate then that plate would have stopped it,” he told the inquest.

Mr Turnbull recorded a verdict that Pte Haseldin was unlawfully killed while on active service.