'I won't be reading Chilcot report' says father of Leicester RAuxAF man killed in Iraq'
(6th July 2016)
The father of Chris Dunsmore, Geoff said on speaking to the Leicester Mercury that he hasn't read a single one of the 2.6 million words in Sir John Chilcot's report on the Iraq War. "And I don't intend too - It won't bring my son back," he said "and it won't help the people in Basra who are still struggling today."
Chris, 29, from Leicester, was serving as a RAF reservist (RAuxAF) senior aircraftsman (SAC) in the Basra in 2007 when he was killed by a rocket strike. Geoff said: "For me today is just another day. "For one thing, the Chilcot report has taken too long to come out and it's cost far too much money.
"£10 million? I do understand that other people who lost family in that war want answers but for me, I'd rather that money had been spent helping to rebuild the lives of young people in Iraq and Afghanistan which have been torn apart.
"It could have been used to provide care for our own servicemen who returned home with horrific injuries and psychological trauma. "Surely that would be better than having a 12 volume report I doubt we'll learn anything from. "They'll go into an archive for some historian to pick apart in 30 years time.
"100 years ago British soldiers were dying in Iraq in the First World War. We didn't learn from that, we didn't learn from the Second World War. I don't think we'll ever learn." Mr Dunsmore said he doesn't doesn't see the point of indicting former prime minister Tony Blair.
He said: "I don't want a witch hunt. That won't bring my son back either. "Tony Blair made decisions which had terrible consequences but where do stop? "Should you blame the electorate for putting him in a position to make them in the first place? "Should you prosecute soldiers for being soldiers? It would be endless. "I have met people in Basra who were so thankful we got rid of Saddam Hussein.
"What we didn't have was a plan for what we would do with Iraq once he was gone. "Some people think the terrible situation in Syria now has got so bad because politicians are too afraid to act after the mess in Iraq." He added "In the nine years since we lost Chris I have tried to look forward, not backwards and be positive.
"That doesn't mean that every day is easy and that I don't feel the pain of losing Chris but it is the way I have chosen and that won't change because of Chilcot."
Chris's mother Melinda said: "He didn't have to go. He gave up one year of his life to go because he thought it was the right thing to do." She said the report "isn't justice yet because it's just evidence" , before adding, "but it is evidence that might in the future result in some justice".
Asked what justice would look like she said: "I don't know, because it's going to take time to find out from the report what the hard evidence is and whether there is anybody who is potentially accountable. "If we go forward to a court case it would be interesting to see what the outcome is and I think it should be tested in the court but I don't know if that's possible." She added: "A lot of the families want to take Tony Blair to court." (Source Leicester Mercury)
Chris Dunsmore's family take part in National Arboretum memorial walk (24th August 2013)
The family of a fallen soldier have taken part in an annual walk at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to help raise funds. RAF Senior Aircraftsman Chris Dunsmore died in 2011.
His mother Min Ingram and nephew Ryan Yates told ITV Central why they decided to take part in the event.
The family of Senior Aircraftsman Chris Dunsmore, are taking part in Walk to the Wall this year in his honour and in support of the National Memorial Arboretum. (24th August 2013) Walk to the Wall (W.T.T.W.) is the popular annual sponsored walk hosted by the National Memorial Arboretum Friends took take place on Saturday 24 August 2013.
SAC Dunsmore's niece and nephew Morgan and Ryan, were very young when he died but have wanted to do something in his name for some time, and W.T.T.W. is the perfect opportunity for them to do so. They are looking forward to taking part in the sponsored walk, which ends at the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial, on which their uncles name is engraved
Now in its fourth year, W.T.T.W. is designed to be a fun, family oriented event to help raise essential funds that will allow the Arboretum, part of The Royal British Legion family of charities, to remain a free entry site all year round.
A proud father has travelled to Iraq to see the spot where his son was killed in a rocket attack.
Geoff Dunsmore made the personal pilgrimage to place a cross where his 29-year-old son Chris died on July 19, 2007. Mr Dunsmore made the simple but poignant gesture during a two-week stay near Basra, to film a documentary for the BBC to mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.
Senior Aircraftsman Chris Dunsmore, who lived in Leicester became the first RAF reservist to be killed in combat since the Second World War. Mr Dunsmore, of Powys, Wales, who lived in Desford for 20 years, said: "It was very special moment. I had bought a small wooden cross from an RAF stall for the Poppy Appeal.
"I wrote Chris' name on it and the names of his two colleagues who also lost their lives in the attack."The cross had a poppy in the middle of it. "Somehow it seemed to be the right thing to leave there. "I felt Chris with me there but then I have always felt him with me since the day he died."
The journey to Iraq had ended a six-year wait for Mr Dunsmore to visit the spot where his son met his death. Mr Dunsmore, former assistant head of student support services, said: "It was poignant but also quite strange. "The portable buildings that Chris was sheltering in have been removed, but we were able to locate the spot.
"There was not much to leave the cross on, so I had to place it on a bomb blast wall which was, in itself, quite significant."
Prior to the incident, Senior Aircraftsman Dunsmore, was resting up only hours before he was due to fly home for two weeks' leave.
Mr Dunsmore said: "I had spoken to Chris about his upcoming leave. He was very upbeat about it. "He said he wanted to get back to Leicester so he could just stand in the rain. It was 50 degrees out there and so, so hot and dry." Mr Dunsmore said that, in his phone calls home from Basra, Chris also spoke of the resilience and good nature of the Iraqi people and the positive steps being taken to rebuild the country. Mr Dunsmore said: "Chris was very positive about what was happening out there.
"He and members of his squadron had helped build a water pipeline for a village and renovated a school in their spare time. "He told me he had gone out there to help rebuild the country and help the people in a new life, a new country."
Mr Dunsmore flew to Iraq after being contacted by the BBC about the documentary. He said: "I got a call last year from the BBC who wanted to do something to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War. "I was thinking of marking the fifth anniversary of Chris' death and it was as if he was telling me this was the way to do it. "The program asks me the question if I think my son died in vain. "I do not think he died in vain.
"It was a privilege to meet the ordinary people of Iraq and feel their genuine warmth and thanks to our armed forces. "As we filmed, one man stopped and asked what we were doing. When I explained, he shook my hand and thanked me for the sacrifice my son had made. That tells me Chris did not die in vain. "The country has a long way to go, but it is heading in the right direction."
A BBC spokesman said: "For the most part, with the country still suffering from terrorist violence, the repercussions of the conflict have been devastating and long-lasting. "However, on the streets of Basra, Geoff meets a group of young people who have grown up knowing nothing but war but who believe that they can build a different future in Iraq today."
The documentary Iraq: Did My Son Die in Vain? was shown on BBC Two in March 2013. Source Leicester Mercury 15 March 2013
RAF reservists' bravery and sacrifices remembered - 12th March 2013
A Roll of Honour which lists all those members of the Auxiliary Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) who died in service has been dedicated at St Clement Danes, the Central Church of the RAF.
Serving members of the RAuxAF joined veterans and families to pay their respects to the 1,100 killed in action in the Second World War, Iraq and Afghanistan. Among those attending the service were former Whitley pilot 91-year-old Alex Lawrence and several members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.
During the service the Roll of Honour was carried forward by Squadron Leader Jeff Metcalfe, Officer Commanding 609 (West Riding) Squadron. A reading was given by Geoff Dunsmore, father of Senior Aircraftman Christopher Dunsmore who died in action in Iraq in July 2007.
Her Majesty The Queen attended a service of commemoration honouring British military and civilian personnel who served in Iraq. 9th October 2009
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh led the Royal Family at a service of commemoration honouring military and civilian personnel who served in Iraq.
Veterans and relatives of the 179 people killed took part in the service at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. About 120,000 members of the UK armed forces and civilians served in Iraq. Amongst the congregation was Geoff Dunsmore, father of Chris Dunsmore who was killed in Basrah on 19th July 2007. Geoff was there to represent Chris and to celebrate his life and the lives of other service personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving Queen and Country .
British combat operations in Iraq officially ended on 30 April 2009 with a flag-lowering ceremony in Basra.
Young serviceman killed in Iraq remembered on village war memorial.
Source: Leicester Mercury, 07/11/2009
A young serviceman who died in Iraq has had his name added to a village war memorial, almost sixty years after the last local hero was honoured. Senior Aircraftman Chris (Dunny) Dunsmore, from Leicester Forest East, died in a rocket attack in Basra in July 2007. The 29-year-old was scheduled to fly home for two weeks' leave to celebrate his 30th birthday on the day he died. SAC Dunsmore served as an RAF auxiliary an Air Force reservist and his family and friends have dedicated themselves to having his service commemorated.
His name is already listed on the National Memorial Wall, in Staffordshire, among more than 16,000 other members of the Armed Forces killed since the Second World War. Now it has also been etched on the war memorial in Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire in time for Remembrance Sunday. The project cost around £3,000, including the work on new memorial slates and gates.
Best friend Mark, of Leicester Forest East, came up with the idea and raised money towards it. He said: "Because Chris was cremated, we had nowhere local to go and I thought it would be a good way to remember him. "It's amazing how his death has affected everything. We used to go out as a group into town but now we tend to stay local.
"He was a very loyal person and always stood up for what he thought was right, even if it got him into trouble. "I miss him a lot."
Mark originally raised about £300 towards the scheme. When Kirby Muxloe parish council covered the project cost, this cash sum was donated to military charity Help for Heroes.
According to local history expert Sheila Mileham, the last name to be added to the memorial was Frederick Burn Millington, who was killed in action in Korea, aged 24, in 1951. There are nearly 40 names listed on the memorial, including many teenagers who lost their lives in both world wars.
SAC Dunsmore's father Geoff moved to Devon three years ago. His daughter Ellie will represent the family tomorrow during the village's Remembrance service. Mr Dunsmore said: "Obviously it's a fantastic honour and I'm glad it's in Kirby Muxloe because that's just up the road from Chris' old stomping ground. "I think Remembrance Day is a day where I feel for all the families. "I think it's a very unfortunate situation where we are still having to add new names to memorials."
Chair of Kirby Muxloe Parish Council, said: "I'm so pleased Chris's name is now on the memorial. "What we tried to do is add another name to the tablet on the memorial slate but there was no way we could fit it on. We are planning on putting the old tablets back into the community, probably in the cemetery."
Remembrance Garden Opening Ceremony, National Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire. 28/09/2009
A lasting tribute to all those who have served in the RAF has been unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.The garden was particularly poignant for the family members of several servicemen who were killed recently whilst on active service. They were at the garden for the unveiling and were introduced to the Princess Royal afterwards.
One such family member was Geoff Dunsmore, the father of SAC Chris Dunsmore (29), who was killed in Iraq on 19 July 2007. He was the first RAF reservist to be killed in combat since World War II. Chris was resting from his duties when an insurgent rocket hit the accommodation hut he was in.
Fifteen personnel were injured in the attack, three of them fatally.
It was the RAFs worst multiple losses in Iraq since 30 January, 2005, when nine RAF servicemen were killed following a helicopter crash in Baghdad. Chris had served four months in Basra. He was due to fly home for ten days leave on the evening of the day he was killed. During this period of leave, he would have celebrated his 30th birthday with family and friends.
Geoff said: "This garden helps to keep Chris' memory alive for me. It is an uplifting occasion where we can celebrate the lives of those we have lost. It is vitally important to remember our serving men and women and now I know they are remembered. The remembrance garden really is stunning and a fitting tribute to all who have served in the RAF. It makes me feel very happy.
The inspiration for the remembrance garden comes from the the RAF Association's Dedication - the end line of which is we will remember them. The RAF Association
Dad salutes 'heroes' returning from Iraq
Source Leicester Mercury 05/005/2009
A proud father who lost his only son in a rocket attack in Iraq today said he believed he had not died in vain and declared returning British troops "heroes". Geoff Dunsmore spoke out days after UK combat operations in Iraq came to an end. His son, Senior Aircraftsman Chris Dunsmore, became the first RAF reservist to be killed in combat since the Second World War, in Basra, on July 19, 2007.
Chris was 29 and lived off Hinckley Road, in the west end of Leicester, with his fiancee, he was scheduled to fly home for two weeks' leave to celebrate his 30th birthday the day he died.
To mark the start of the withdrawal of British troops, a memorial service was held in Basra on Thursday, honouring the 234 servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. Among the names read out was that of former paint company manager Chris "Dunny" Dunsmore.
"Those who will soon return from Iraq come back heroes. Whether we should or should not have been there, these people carried out their jobs with unstinting dedication. "The service had particular poignancy for Mr Dunsmore as it was held the same day as he marked his 55th birthday.
He said: "I am used to having Chris with me on my birthday. In some small way he was with me again this year." He said the work of the British forces in Iraq should not be downplayed and that he would be forever proud of his son's achievements. "Before Chris went we had a long talk and he explained to me his rational and I supported him 100 per cent," said Mr Dunsmore.
"When they first went the villagers would throw stones and shout at them. "By the time they left, they had built strong bonds with the local people, so much so that not long after Chris's death the elders of the village came to apologise to his squadron leader for what they had done.
"What Chris and his colleagues have done is bring another way of living to some Iraqi people. "I am not saying the whole of Iraq will be a different place yet, but we can wish that the seed has been sown. I am very proud that my son was a part of that."
The rocket attack that killed Snr Aircraftsman Dunsmore also claimed the lives of Snr Aircraftsman Matthew Caulwell, 22, from Birmingham, and Snr Aircraftsman Peter McFerran, from Connahs Quay, in Flintshire, Scotland. Their names are now inscribed on the memorial wall in Basra, which is soon be dismantled. A replica will be created at the National Memorial, near Lichfield, Staffordshire.
Members of the UK Armed Forces who lost their lives during 2007 have been honoured at a special service attended by HRH The Prince of Wales 28/06/2008.
North Devon Journal Thursday 25th October 2007. Article published with regard to Chris and the role of the auxiliary forces.
Now, as Remembrance Day nears, his devastated father Geoff has spoken out about the enormous pressure on Britain's armed forces - particularly the auxiliary personnel who he says are so frequently forgotten, and his "amazing" son.
Geoff, who lives with his wife Denise - Chris's step-mother - in North Devon, says he wants to honour his son and ensure his memory lives on. He said: "It is so important to me that people here, as well as the rest of the country, know - especially with Remembrance Day coming up.
He said: "It was strange to have that void when we came home, but the support I have received from the school where I work has been very touching." Geoff said: "I was very proud of him when he went. In general, people think of the auxiliary forces as a bit of a boy scout force. I want to get out the message that these people fight on the front line and they are well-trained personnel.
"I have immense admiration for the full-time members of the forces, but the auxiliaries have that little bit extra as they have a full-time life elsewhere. "Chris had three facets to his life - his life with Donna and his family, his work, and his RAF life - and he gave 110% to all of them."
Chris was given full military honours for his funeral and more than 500 people from all over the world attended, from high ranking military officers to his closest friends. Geoff said: "Chris's character, goodness, commitment and honour had touched all of these people and I felt humbled at his funeral.
"He was honoured by the RAF and although he was not a full timer, the minute he went into No.1 Squadron, he was respected. They are an elite group of men and he was totally committed to them. He did his job professionally and leaders said he was officer material. He was trusted implicitly."
Aside from the fighting, Chris and members of No.1 Squadron tried to help a village outside the airbase by rebuilding a school and medical centre, and creating a good relationship with the chief of the village.
Geoff said: "When Chris and his colleagues were killed, the chief and elders came to the airbase to apologise. They were ashamed that Iraqis could inflict this on people doing so much to help them." He added: "I really feel that the general public has been misinformed and that information about how bad Iraq has been has not been properly reported by the Government.
"I'm not angry or bitter, and it's not sour grapes. Chris was there doing something he wanted to do and said if he didn't go, he would regret it for the rest of his life. I just want people to know how dedicated these service personnel are. "They go out unquestioningly to serve Queen and country and I don't think our country or our Government are supporting them enough when they return. At Chris's funeral we saw battle-hardened men and women with such a depth of emotion in their eyes, who were demoralised and angry at the lack of interest in this country.
"There is no sense of feeling like with the Falklands, and I am so disappointed and angry for them, and that no-one knows what is going on out there. "The RAF men as a whole are so forgotten and they are risking everything on a daily basis."
Following Chris's death on July 19, Geoff received many letters, including one from Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others from members of the RAF. He said: "The letter from Gordon Brown was meaningless, but I have had many letters from people in the RAF echoing the squadron leader's comments about Chris's dedication, some even hand written. It was an immense privilege to be brought into Chris's other family - the RAF."
Chris was following in his grandfather, Alan's footsteps when he joined the RAF and was living a dream. His grandfather, who Geoff said was an immense influence on Chris, was a Second World War flight engineer in the RAF. Geoff said he believes the armed forces out there now are undermanned, under-funded, are not properly equipped, and many see the conflict as unwinnable.
He said: "They are fighting a campaign on a budget and it cannot be done. They need to pull out now. Gordon Brown didn't start it, but he should have the bottle to finish it. I want to see common sense and logic, not politics, as people are losing their lives because of politics."
Geoff added: "There are young men carrying scars and mental torment that we have met and I want to try and help these people.
"Chris asked me to make sure things were done properly if this happened. I never thought it would come to this as we were both optimists. But I want to try and help and we have decided to offer our home to his comrades who are struggling with their loss. We simply want to return the support and I want to use my loss in a positive way. "The tribute from his regiment gave me the impetus to do it as well. I tragically got an insight into something that I want other people to be aware of too."
Chris will be remembered at a special memorial next month in Lincolnshire, and again at another remembrance service in London, which his family will attend, where his name will be added to a new memorial statue.
Chris had been a member of 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment at RAF Cottesmore for four years. He was engaged and held a managerial position in a paint company. He was a keen snow boarder, and since August 2006, had been attached to No.1 Squadron having committed a year of his life to the service of his country.
The service to commemorate the 102 UK servicemen and women killed on duty during 2007 took place at the Armed Forces Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and was attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Veterans Minister Derek Twigg and Vice Admiral Wilkinson, along with the families and close friends of those honoured.
The Prince of Wales, Veterans Minister Derek Twigg and Service representatives salute the fallen at the National Armed Forces Memorial.
Senior Aircraftman Christopher Dunsmore, of 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment, was one of three Service personnel killed by a mortar attack at the Basra Contingency Operating Base on 19 July 2007. SAC Dunsmore had followed his grandfather, into the Royal Auxiliary Air Service, and was its first member to be killed in action since the Second World War.
Geoff Dunsmore, Chris' father attended the service at the weekend said, "There is no greater sacrifice than to give your life for something you believe in," he said. "Today Chris, who was an RAF Auxiliary, his full-time colleagues who died with him, and all the members of the Armed Forces who have lost their lives in 2007 have been recognised for this quality. "It is with honour and pride that Chris's fiancee, his family and his friends can see him honoured in such a way at the Memorial."
Speaking to the Leicester Mercury, dad Geoff, said the service had brought great comfort to him. He said: "It is coming up to two years and we are still travelling on a journey, but every event such as this helps me in knowing that he is being recognised and remembered, as are all those that were lost.