In remembrance - journalists who gave their lives for their trade

ITN cameraman Frédéric Nérac was declared dead in 2005. He went missing after his vehicle was caught in cross-fire in Iraq in March 2003. Photo: ITN

First published on 12th November 2010.

Soon we'll throw away the poppies. We might even be relieved that the terrible pathos of the last post, the going down of the sun and all the rest, is over for another year.

This week a few dozen of us gathered at the Journalists' Chapel of St Bride's in London, to remember the reporters and cameramen who have died covering war and conflict in the first ten years of this century. 48 were named in a roll call read by Mark Austin and Samia Nakhoul of Reuters, who themselves have survived close calls in this decade and before. As they spoke, I was horrified to realise I knew, or had worked alongside, a third of those they named.

I hired Fred Nerac for ITN. We worked together in Kosovo and Afghanistan. He became a close friend. He died in Iraq, in the same incident that killed Terry Lloyd and Hussein Osman.

Unlike them,his body has never been found. His son Alex has become a news cameraman in Brussels. His daughter Camille is a student and struggling still with the loss of her father. There are too many ITN names on the list.

Gaby Rado died in northern Iraq within a few weeks of the others.

James Forlong, who I'd worked with as a young producer in Washington before he joined Sky, died after a story he reported proved to be inaccurate.

Richard Wild, a gifted producer on our foreign desk, went to Iraq to cut his teeth as a freelance and was shot dead.

Richard Wild was killed in Iraq whilst working as a freelance journalist. Credit: Family

Big Paul Douglas was a long serving cameraman at ITN before joining CBS. He was killed with a colleague in an explosion in Iraq.

Others on that roll call I knew less well but had worked alongside, like the American Kurt Schork who dashed around Kosovo in a beaten up old car and was hard to catch and beat in every respect.

As we were forced out of Pristina by balaclava'd Serbs, I looked up at the Grand Hotel to see the Spaniard Miguel Gil still taking photos, determined to stay. He did. They died together a few years later in Sierra Leone, in an ambush which almost claimed the lives of two other reporters.

Cameraman Harry Burton was killed in an ambush in Afghanistan in 2001. Credit: Reuters

Harry Burton was a young Australian who worked for Reuters. One night in the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar I viewed, and he copied, pictures he and his Afghan cameraman had just shot of the Taliban in the hills, armed to the teeth. They were both very proud of their scoop.The cameraman couldn't stop grinning as I praised his work. Harry was looking forward to the next day. We met at breakfast,along with a Spanish and Italian journalist; they were heading for Kabul, Fred and I were heading to Kandahar. Our paths separated and our fate too. They were ambushed on the road a few hours later and all four were killed.

The big Irishman Simon Cumbers, ambushed with the admirable Frank Gardner, I remember best from a bizarre trip to see Colonel Gaddafi in his tent in Libya.

At the service in St Bride's, Phil Coburn sat in his wheelchair in the front row. He says he feels lucky, although he has lost a leg. His spine almost snapped in the explosion that killed his colleague Rupert Hamar in Afghanistan. The last time we'd been together was on an embed; Phil, Rupert, me and Daniel Demoustier, the only survivor of the incident in which Fred Nerac, Terry Lloyd and Hussein Osman died.

And so the roll call of the dead goes on. And we who escaped and survived all the close shaves remember them and move on.

Marie Colvin, the brave and driven foreign correspondent of the Sunday Times who gave the Address at the service, said we had to keep our nerve and keep reporting war.

Emma Daly, foreign correspondent for the Independent in Bosnia, wrote that, in spite of the dangers, we have to report war "so that no-one...would have an excuse to say 'I did not know'."

But its hard. Hard to read the roll call and remember all those you've known, and then strap on the flak jacket and head out again. No matter how much you know its the right thing to do.