Scottish soldier killed in training exercise described as ‘beautiful grandson’

Josh Hoole, 26, died during a military training exercise in the Brecon Beacons. Picture: contributed

Josh Hoole, 26, died during a military training exercise in the Brecon Beacons. Picture: contributed

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The soldier who died in Wales while on a training exercise has been described by his family as a “beautiful grandson”.

Josh Hoole, from Ecclefechan near Lockerbie, was a member of The Rifles regiment.

The 26-year-old, who died on Tuesday morning, was on pre-course training for the Platoon Sergeants’ Battle Course, which is described as “both mentally and physically demanding”.

His grandfather, John Craig, said: “He was a beautiful grandson. He was a dedicated soldier. He always wanted to be top dog. He was a superfit boy, he kept very fit.”

Tuesday was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures peaking just above 30C in Brecon. The Met Office said the temperature in the early hours was already climbing above 17C in that area.

Corporal Hoole, who was based at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire, had done two tours of Afghanistan and been to Iraq.

Paying tribute to his grandson, Mr Craig said: “He visited me regularly, every chance he got. I took a bottle of whisky to him on July 12 for his 26th birthday.”

Cpl Hoole’s death follows those of three soldiers who were taking part in an SAS training exercise in the Brecon Beacons on one of the hottest days of 2013.

The Ministry of Defence will carry out a full investigation into the latest death, Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said.

She told the House of Commons defence committee that she wanted to express her sorrow at the “very sad death” and to “make the commitment that the Ministry of Defence will, of course, be undertaking a full investigation and will share that with the committee”.

The Platoon Sergeants’ Battle Course is taken by infantry soldiers who want to progress to the rank of sergeant. It runs three times a year, with the next one set to take place in August.

Most soldiers take part in organised, and sometimes independent, pre-course training which can involve marching long distances carrying weight and digging trenches.

Captain Doug Beattie, who has taken the course and runs pre-courses, said it was tough.

He said: “It needs to be demanding and I don’t think there should be any call that it shouldn’t be demanding, I don’t think anybody would want that.

“But being a demanding exercise does not mean that you do not do your risk assessments and take all precautions so that people don’t get injured in doing that. We cannot speculate in this case and need to wait and see what the cause was.”

MP Johnny Mercer, a former army officer, said the defence committee would look into the incident, which comes three months after it published a report calling for the MoD to be liable for prosecution for the deaths of armed forces personnel during training.

“No death in training is acceptable,” he said. “The details of this incident are unclear, but given our recent inquiry into deaths in training, we will of course be looking closely at the circumstances surrounding this tragedy.”