British soldier, 22, trampled to death by herd of elephants while on patrol

A British soldier was killed on his first operational deployment when he was trampled by a herd of rampaging elephants in Malawi, Africa.

Mathew Talbot, who was just 22, was on an anti-poaching patrol when the elephants bounded out of the thick bush at Liwonde National Park, an inquest heard.

The group only spotted the elephants when they were 10 metres from them, a coroner heard on Monday, as reported by The Mirror.

Mathew, a member of the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, battled for his life for four hours before succumbing to his injuries, the hearing at Oxfordshire Coroner's Court was told.

The Guardsman, from Great Barr, Birmingham, was transported for treatment in a "tin can" jeep and didn't see a paramedic for three hours after the incident, his parents said.

Steve and Michelle questioned why their son was not airlifted to hospital. His parents previously said those responsible for assessing the risks of the patrol should "hold their heads in shame", reports BirminghamLive.

He did not receive medical pain relief while being transported.

Former serviceman Prince Harry paid tribute to the soldier’s sacrifice at the time of his death.

He laid a wreath at the national park on behalf of the soldier’s family during a trip to Africa and said he was honoured to perform the ceremony.

The family spoke following the publication of a Ministry of Defence service inquiry into the tragedy in October 2020.

The report found the level of care Guardsman Talbot received "on the ground" was exemplary "under the circumstances".

"The patrol commander, two combat medical technicians and the paramedic should be commended for their valiant efforts," it added.

But the inquiry found that although medics battled valiantly for more than four hours to save the soldier during the evacuation, he was probably still more than three hours from a hospital.

Yet an army risk assessment states casualties should reach hospital within four hours.

Because that was considered achievable, the lack of an available medical helicopter was not considered an issue.

The supplies used by the medics treating Guardsman Talbot were "just adequate". Their efforts, however, gave him a fighting chance.

In a statement issued through specialist lawyers Irwin Mitchell, Steve and Michelle said: "Why did they not send the company paramedic to Matt as he had life-saving drugs and equipment and was vastly experienced in saving lives?

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"The combat medics who were with Matt did the best they could do with limited resources that were available to them, but Matt had been conscious throughout.

"He had to endure an awful journey in the back of what we consider to be a tin can of an Army Land Rover."

They added: "Those that are responsible for putting these risk assessments in place should hold their heads in shame if they think this is adequate for our brave serving soldiers who are prepared to put their lives on the line for Queen and Country."

A post-mortem examination found Mathew’s death was "not preventable".

And the MoD report concluded: "Given the extent of GDSM Talbot’s injuries, there is still no certainty he would have survived, even with a quicker transit to hospital."

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