coroner’s inquest opens into the deaths of two soldiers from the Royal Tank Regiment…

Cpl Neilson (left) and Cpl Hatfield were described as “exceptionally talented soldiers”.     Credit: Wales News Service

A coroner has been told that two British soldiers died after an explosion in their tank during an exercise at a firing range.


Corporal Matthew Hatfield and Darren Neilson of the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) died from injuries they suffered at the Castlemartin range in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, on 14 June.

Louise Hunt, senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, offered her condolences to the soldiers’ families, who were present at the hearing, and told them a pre-inquest review would take place in February 2018.

She said a full inquest lasting up to three weeks would be held in Solihull in July 2018.

Releasing the bodies for funerals, she said: “I do so, so arrangements can be made for you to have your funeral, because it’s important you are able to start that process.”

Cpl Hatfield’s mother said: “I’m glad now, I’ve got Matthew back.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said:

“The circumstances surrounding the incident at Castlemartin ranges on 14th June 17 is subject to an on-going investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police and the Health and Safety Executive. A separate Defence Safety Authority Service Inquiry has been convened which will run in parallel. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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