The father of a decorated soldier who fought alongside Prince Harry has criticised defence chiefs for excluding him from the nation’s Armed Forces Memorial after his death.
Derek Hunt’s son Nathan was ordered to locate Taliban mines when he served with Harry in a desert reconnaissance unit in 2008.
The job left him traumatised and a decade later Mr Hunt found his Royal Engineer son dead with a ligature around his neck aged only 39. Prince Harry wrote a private letter of condolence to the father-of-one’s family.
But Mr Hunt, 70, was shocked when his bid to have Nathan’s name included on the memorial in Staffordshire was rejected. It makes provision for troops who have taken their own lives to be remembered alongside those fallen in battle when there is proof their service led to their death.
Derek Hunt’s son Nathan (bottom right) was ordered to locate Taliban mines when he served with Prince Harry (back centre) in a desert reconnaissance unit in 2008. The job left him traumatised and a decade later Mr Hunt found his Royal Engineer son dead with a ligature around his neck aged only 39
But Mr Hunt, 70, was shocked when his bid to have Nathan’s name included on the memorial in Staffordshire was rejected
Last night he said: ‘My son suffered for years as a result of his frontline experiences, he was a wreck because of them. He also saved lives. There would be more named on that memorial of people blown up by the Taliban if it wasn’t for him. That’s why he received a Mention in Dispatches.
‘Prince Harry recognised Nathan’s sacrifices for others, himself included. But it took its toll. In the end he couldn’t cope any more.’
Nathan’s medical reports indicate he was suffering from a depressive disorder before he was sent to the war zone.
Doctors concluded this was ‘exacerbated by the stresses of recent tours in Afghanistan’. Nathan, from Lincoln, also demonstrated ‘elements of post-traumatic stress disorder’ on his return to UK and told psychiatrists he wanted to ‘self-harm’.
But Admiral Jim Macleod wrote to Mr Hunt last week, saying: ‘I know this will come as a great disappointment but the panel members were unanimous Nathan’s name should not be added to the memorial.
‘This was because the circumstances of his death were not judged to have met the strict criteria for those who are named on the memorial.
‘We were unable to establish sufficient linkage between Nathan’s service in the British Army and his untimely death.’
Nathan, who was survived by his wife Lainey and their daughter Megan, 13, was poorly trained for the bomb-finding role he filled in Prince Harry’s unit, according to colleagues. Apparently this lack of preparedness increased his stress.
Nathan, who was survived by his wife Lainey and their daughter Megan, 13, was poorly trained for the bomb-finding role he filled in Prince Harry’s unit, according to colleagues. Pictured: Lainey and Megan in 2019
Veterans say he described the treatment he was receiving for his PTSD symptoms from the Army as ‘useless’. He remained a serving soldier at the time of his death in January 2018.
An inquest that year found he died from hanging at his home but a coroner reached a narrative verdict after deciding there was insufficient evidence that Nathan took his own life.
Last night former head of the Army, Lord Dannatt, said: ‘The coroner’s verdict seems strange as how else did he die with a rope around his neck? This then comes down to the MoD’s naming panel who, I suspect, have a predisposition not to add suicide cases.’
The memorial records the sacrifice of 16,000 troops since the end of the Second World War including those who died in battle, of disease or who killed themselves.
Last night the MoD confirmed that the names of two individuals who had committed suicide have been added since 2015. A spokesman said: ‘There are strict criteria regarding the inclusion of names. Each case is carefully considered by a panel of senior military officers.’