A Kent soldier killed in friendly fire in Afghanistan was hit by a 32-year-old shell, an inquest has heard. Sapper Mark Antony Smith, 26, from Swanley, Kent, died in the Sangin area of Helmand in Afghanistan on July 26, 2010 after a smoke screen shell fell 264 metres from its target.
The shell, manufactured in 1981, was two years older than Sapper Smith at the time and may have been stored at the army base for up to four years. Capt Alex Bidulph, who was present when the guns were fired, told the inquest in Gravesend, Kent that he was surprised the shell had been 32 years old.
– Captain Alex Bidulph
I don't think it is by any means ideal. I don't know how long you can keep ammunition. It seems a surprising amount of time, that's for sure."
Warrant Officer Class 2 Mike Brazier, who worked with Capt Bidulph, said the propellants, which are attached to the shells, could have degraded with age and made the shell fall short. The inquest is due to close on Thursday.