Father of British soldier killed in Ukraine retraces journey to Kyiv

In a special report, Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo was invited to travel with Jordan Gatley's dad, Dean, as he re-traced the final steps of his son, who was killed whilst fighting in Ukraine last summer

ITV News has seen the final moments of a young British soldier's life before he was killed in a violent clash with Russian soldiers during the war in Ukraine last year.

Motivated by a strong sense of duty, Jordan Gatley had just finished serving in the British Army when he decided to travel to the besieged country in March 2022.

The 24-year-old had joined the International Legion along with other troops from outside Ukraine who were determined to help Kyiv in its resistance.

But Jordan's service was cut short as he was killed in June amid fierce fighting near Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city key to Moscow’s aims of capturing the industrial Donbas region.

Dean made the sombre journey to the Ukrainian capital. Credit: ITV News

ITV News' Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo travelled with his father, Dean Gatley, as he made the emotional journey to the Ukrainian capital one year after his beloved first born had done the same.

"As we're getting about 10 miles from Kyiv I feel really quite anxious, I'm getting a bit emotional," he said on the train.

Dean gave permission to broadcast some of the last moments of Jordan's life, which saw him and a group of soldiers move to the top of a partially collapsed warehouse, exchanging fire with Russian troops in a building across the road.

Amid a hail of bullets, Jordan, clad in green military uniform and carrying a heavy weapon, is seen running down a flight of stairs, away from his fellow servicemen, who were told to "move down" in a command over the radio.

Around six minutes later, Jordan was dead.

"We are on the sixth floor, on the stairwell. We can't go down - every time we go down we are getting shot up the stairwell," one soldier is heard saying.

Another soldier calls Jordan's name but there is no answer. "Is Jordan down?" another one asks. "He is not responding," a voice responds.

Other soldiers coming up from the ground floor were the ones who found Jordan's body.

They saw it as they were rushing upstairs to avoid being hit by a barrage of Russian bullets, and quickly informed the soldiers a couple of floors above of his death.

"It is like getting punched by reality really quickly when that call came up through the radio," Anton, a Canadian solider who survived the gunfight, told ITV News.

"We have lost a member of the team just now. As I was carrying Jordan out of there that is when it hit the most."

"You lost your friend, you lost your brother. And that is a thing that never goes away."

Dean met Anton when he travelled to Kyiv one year after his beloved first born had done the same. Credit: ITV News

Dean was travelling to Kyiv to meet the friends - like Anton - Jordan fought with and to see the country in which his son died.

In the first week of last year's invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the creation of the International Legion, "Please come over. We'll give you weapons". Hundreds did, but many like Jordan would not return. "It's surreal. 12 months ago when this all started I never thought I'd be sat here, in the centre of Kyiv, talking about how our son's been killed", Dean said as he reflected on Jordan's decision to fight for Ukraine. Jordan's time in the British Army had just come to an end, but when news of Russia's invasion hit the screens, he knew what he wanted to do next.

"He didn't ask us, he told us. He was the sort of guy who when he you something, he was adamant he was doing it." "We questioned him about his decision and he had all the right answers. He'd definitely done his due diligence." Dean said.

"Most parents of young men who wanted to join the army knew these were the sorts of things we were going to have to face, that he was going to go off and do things that weren't too nice. I think the only thing that we did that I would recommend, was support him, cause what else can you do? If you can talk them out of it, talk them out of it. Because the result is, he's not coming home for us."

Dean was able to meet with Oleksii Resnikov, Ukraine's Defence Minister. Credit: ITV News

Dean's journey to Ukraine was not only so he could better understand why Jordan came, but his son's death had brought with it the inevitable administrational strains of arranging his affairs. Jordan was after all a professional soldier with a salary. During his visit Dean was able to meet with Oleksii Resnikov, Ukraine's Defence Minister.

It gave Dean the chance to vent some of his frustration over the long process of trying to transfer Jordan's assets to the UK. But the government officials also reminded him of their gratitude, "you raised a good son", they told him, "with a brave heart", added Mr Resnikov. Two weeks after Jordan was killed, Ukrainian forces withdrew from Severodonetsk.

The intense, close-quarters fighting he experienced there continues today in nearby Bakhmut.

Before Dean left Kyiv he was able to pay a tribute to Jordan at a memorial for the hundreds of foreign fighters who have been killed so far. "We are proud of what he's done. We'll probably never know to what extent he did make a difference. The guys said he made a tremendous difference, he saved countless lives.

"Of course we're proud of him, it helps a little bit. But it doesn't take away the fact he's not here anymore."

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