Lance Corporal Ben Hyde was one of six Royal Military Policemen who died on 24th June 2003, killed by a mob in a fire-fight at a police station in the town of Al Majarr Al Kabir Southern Iraq.
Benjamin John McGowan Hyde, “Ben” as he was known, was born in Northallerton on 27th November l979, the only child of John & Sandra Hyde. Ben attended Mill Hill Primary School, then the Allertonshire Middle School before moving on to Northallerton College. On leaving College Ben went to work at B&Q where he had worked part-time for several years. Applying to North Yorkshire Police, Ben was told that they preferred to take applicants of twenty three or four who had some experience of life.
He then decided his experience should be in the Military. In June 1999 Ben reported to Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) Lymstone near Exeter as a potential Royal Marine. Ben could cope with the physical strain, but not the emotional, when his girlfriend of almost a year phoned and said she wanted to end the relationship, Ben quit his training as that was the only way he could get home in a hurry.
After considering a future in the Police Force with the West Midlands Police and being accepted, but having his application differed in favour of a high number of local applicants, Ben decided join the Royal Military Police, which satisfied both of his career options, Military and police.
On March 8th 2002, proudly wearing the Red Beret of a Royal Military policeman and sporting the single stripe of a Lance Corporal, Ben was posted to 156 Provost Company at Colchester, the RMP presence in 16 Air Assault Brigade.
On 14th February 2003 Ben deployed to Kuwait, entering Iraq on 24th March. It was the task of the RMP to ensure the smooth advance of 16 Brigade, with checkpoints providing mechanical, medical and intelligence support. By mid April 2003 the Brigade reached Al Amarah, the furthest point of their advance. At this point the RMP began re-assembling and re-training the Iraqi Police Force.
On 24th June 2003 Ben was one of a six man section visiting a Police Station in the town of Al Majarr Al Kabir, south of Al Amarah. Unknown to Ben and his comrades, A “para” section which was also in the town, in the market area to the south of the Police Station was confronted by a mob which included a number of gunmen who opened fire, the “paras” returned fire and several gunmen were killed. The “paras” then mounted their vehicles and heading north. As the angry mob followed, the next British Troops they came into contact with were Ben and his comrades of the Royal Military Police.
For reasons we shall never know, except that they were trained peacekeepers, not assault infantry, although faced with an angry armed mob, approaching them down a narrow corridor, they did not, as far as we know, open fire, but tried to negotiate.
Certain armed elements of the crowd forced their way to the fore and opened fire on the RMP. In the ensuing fire-fight Ben and his five comrades were all killed. Ben was buried with full Military Honours in his hometown of Northallerton on 15th July 2003 – for several hours the town came to a standstill, all the shops closed and the streets were lined with townspeople paying their respects.
In March 2005 Northallerton Silver Band performed a Memorial Concert to Ben. The proceeds were used to establish the LANCE CORPORAL BEN HYDE MEMORIAL TRUST.
Since that date the ‘Trust’ has raised almost forty thousand pounds enabling us to help not only the Royal Military Police Central Benevolent Fund, but many local community services e.g. The Friarage Hospital, also many youth organisations, Scouts, several Junior Football Teams, Northallerton Swimming Club, Northallerton College and the Dales School for Handicapped Children at Morton-on-Swale near, Northallerton, to name a few.
Northallerton Silver Band dedicated a piece of music to Ben, “Ewcote”, which they play at almost every Concert they perform. They always announce that it is dedicated to LANCE CORPORAL BEN HYDE, A PEACEMAKER WHO LOST HIS LIFE SO OTHERS COULD LIVE IN PEACE.