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Decorated sergeant ‘killed in live fire Welsh Guards training exercise’ 

Welsh Guards sergeant shot dead in firing range accident is named as decorated Iraq and Afghanistan veteran awarded medal by Prince Charles as British Army launch probe into circumstances surrounding his death

  • Sergeant Gavin Hillier died following accident at Castlemartin Training Area
  • He had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was in the motor transport platoon
  • Death is being investigated by military and civilian police, the MoD confirmed

A decorated soldier who was accidentally shot dead in a live fire training exercise in Wales has been named as Sergeant Gavin Hillier. 

The Welsh Guards sergeant, who was named on social media, died on Thursday night following the fatal mistake in the Castlemartin Training Area, Pembrokeshire.

He had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was in the motor transport platoon prior to his death – which is being investigated by military and civilian police.

The exercise using live ammunition came ahead of his planned deployment to Iraq later this year, reports suggest.

Sergeant Hillier was pictured receiving his Long Service Good Conduct medal from the Prince of Wales in 2019. 

The Welsh Guards at the time dubbed Sergeant Hillier a ‘stalwart’ who displayed ‘the highest standards of behaviour’ since joining the forces.

A decorated soldier who was accidentally shot dead in a live fire training exercise in Wales has been named as Sergeant Gavin Hillier. Sergeant Hillier was pictured receiving his Long Service Good Conduct medal from the Prince of Wales in 2019

Sergeant Hillier (pictured) had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was in the motor transport platoon prior to his death - which is being investigated by military and civilian police

The sergeant's heartbroken father said his son died doing the 'job he loved' . Pictured: Sergeant Hillier

Sergeant Hillier (pictured) had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was in the motor transport platoon prior to his death – which is being investigated by military and civilian police 

The Prince of Wales is the Colonel in Chief of the Welsh Guards. The regiment protects the Queen at Buckingham Palace and at Windsor. 

The sergeant’s heartbroken father said his son died doing the ‘job he loved’.

He wrote: ‘Absolutely devastated to be writing this post, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

‘At 3.45 this morning I received a phone call that will forever change my life.

‘My eldest son was in a fatal accident, in the army, the job he loved.

‘Sleep tight and rest in peace son. I’m so proud of you. Goodnight and God bless. Love your heartbroken dad, xxx.’ 

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the soldier died yesterday. 

The Welsh Guards sergeant died on Thursday night following the fatal mistake in the Castlemartin Training Area (pictured), Pembrokeshire

The Welsh Guards sergeant died on Thursday night following the fatal mistake in the Castlemartin Training Area (pictured), Pembrokeshire 

Prince Charles (pictured during a medal ceremony in 2019) awarded the sergeant a Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 2019 - with the Welsh Guards then dubbing him a 'stalwart' who displayed 'the highest standards of behaviour' since joining the forces

Prince Charles (pictured during a medal ceremony in 2019) awarded the sergeant a Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 2019 – with the Welsh Guards then dubbing him a ‘stalwart’ who displayed ‘the highest standards of behaviour’ since joining the forces

Both Welsh police and the Defence Accidents Investigation Branch are launching investigations. 

A British Army spokesperson said: ‘It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on the 4th of March.

‘Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

‘The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.’ 

According to the Ministry of Defence website, the Welsh Guards have a ‘dual role’ as a ‘light role infantry’ as well as ‘world class ceremonial soldiers, guarding the Royal Family and Royal palaces such as Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London and conducting State Ceremonial duties’.

The Prince of Wales is the Colonel in Chief of the Welsh Guards. The regiment (file image, pictured) protects the Queen at Buckingham Palace and at Windsor

The Prince of Wales is the Colonel in Chief of the Welsh Guards. The regiment (file image, pictured) protects the Queen at Buckingham Palace and at Windsor

Previous incidents at the Castlemartin ranges have claimed the lives of soldiers.

In 2017, Corporals Matthew Hatfield and Darren Neilson of the Royal Tank Regiment died from injuries they suffered after their tank exploded during a training exercise on a firing range.

A 21-year-old soldier, Michael ‘Mike’ Maguire, died at Castlemartin in 2012 after being shot in the head while relaxing at a safe location just outside the training range.

A 2013 inquest into his death heard he was hit in the temple by a single machine gun bullet fired by a fellow soldier during a training exercise.

The inquest jury ruled Ranger Maguire, who was a member of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, had been unlawfully killed. 

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