Battle of Danny Boy

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Battle of Danny Boy
Part of the Iraq War
Date 14 May 2004
Location Al Amara, Southern Iraq
Result British victory
United Kingdom United Kingdom Mahdi Army
Unknown ~100
Casualties and losses
Some wounded.[1] 28 killed.[1]

The Battle of Danny Boy took place close to the city of Amarah in southern Iraq on 14 May 2004, between British soldiers and about 100 Iraqi insurgents of the Mahdi Army. The battle is named after a local British checkpoint called Danny Boy.[2]


The insurgents ambushed a patrol of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders close to a checkpoint known as Danny Boy near Majar al-Kabir.[1] The Argylls called in reinforcements from the 1st Battalion of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, they were also ambushed and due to an electronic communications failure it was some time before further British relief arrived. While waiting for reinforcements the British were involved in one of the fiercest engagements they fought in Iraq. The fighting involving close-quarter rifle fire and bayonets.[3][2] The fighting lasted for about three hours during which 28 Iraqis were killed; the British suffered some wounded, but none were killed in the action.[1]


Sergeant Brian Wood, of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the battle.[2]

On 25 November 2009, Bob Ainsworth, then the British Minister of State for the Armed Forces, after high court judges found that the MoD had made "serious breaches" of its duty, announced that a retired High Court judge Sir Thayne Forbes would chair the Al-Sweady Inquiry into allegations that 20 Iraqis, taken prisoner during the battle, were murdered and that others were tortured. The British Ministry of Defence denies that the 20 were captured, but that 20 bodies were removed from the battlefield for identification and then returned to the families and that a further nine were taken prisoner and held for questioning but were not mistreated.[4][5] In March 2013, Christopher Stanley of the UK-based Rights Watch group said that MoD is trying to get away with grave human rights violations – including killing – without punishment or due process of law.[6]

On 4 March 2013 the hearings of the Al-Sweady Public Inquiry opened in London.[7] On 20 March 2014 Public Interest Lawyers, a British law firm acting for the families of the dead Iraqis, announced that they were withdrawing the allegations against British soldiers.[8] They accepted that there was no evidence that the dead Iraqis had been alive when taken into the British compound.[8]

On 17 December 2014 the Al-Sweady Public Inquiry, which had cost £31 million, returned its findings. The enquiry found that no prisoners had been murdered or that their bodies had been mutilated. However, the enquiry did find that British soldiers mistreated nine Iraqi prisoners, but it was not deliberate ill-treatment, and that the ill-treatment was much milder than the initial accusations of torture, mutilation and murder. The inquiry chairman Sir Thayne Forbes stated that the "most serious allegations" which "have been hanging over [the British] soldiers for the past 10 years" have been found to be "without foundation".[9] The inquiry found that the allegations made by the Iraqis and their lawyers were based on “deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility”. As a result of the inquiry's findings Public Interest Lawyers and another firm involved in cases against British troops were referred to the Solicitor's Regulatory Authority. In August 2016 Public Interest Lawyers went out of business, while the British government announced it would take steps to prevent further spurious claims against troops.[10]



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