Soldiers kept diary of armour worries

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Indy Politics

A soldier killed in the Iraq war because of a shortage of body armour kept a diary detailing the unhappiness and fear he and his comrades felt about being sent into battle without adequate protection.

Sergeant Steven Roberts' widow, Samantha, yesterday called on Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, to resign over the failure to supply the necessary equipment.

In a letter to his wife in Shipley, West Yorkshire, Sgt Roberts, 33, of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, wrote: "It is disheartening because we are going to war without the right equipment.

"Things we have been told we are going to get, we are not. It is disheartening because we are going to war without the right equipment. They are running out of body armour. It will be interesting to see what armour I actually get."

In a subsequent note, he said: "As I have written in your letter, we have got absolutely nothing. It is disgraceful what we have got out here ... I can't sleep because I am too nervous that I may never wake up. We are in enemy territory now and anything could happen."

His revelations about disquiet in the forces will put further pressure on Tony Blair prior to the Hutton report.

Nicholas Soames, the Tories' defence spokesman, saidthat body armour and other equipment had not been ordered in time because the Prime Minister wanted to hide the decision to go to war from his backbenchers.

A report by the National Audit Office into the Iraq war concluded that insufficient numbers of body-armour kits were given to the soldiers, and, 20,000 sets appeared to have disappeared.