Marine sues Ministry of Defence for £100,000 after he had to sleep in igloo
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Lawyers acting for Keelan Gartside claim he sustained persistent cold injuries which have damaged his job prospects years later. The 30-year-old claims he has suffered pain, numbness and tingling in his hands as a result of the exercise at remote Porsangermoen in Norway.
Legal papers say he spent three nights in the hollowed-out snow shelter and seven in unheated tents as windchill took the -20C cold down further to -40C.
They allege Keelan had to train for winter combat and survival despite not being given proper cold weather boots, socks, gloves and sleeping bag.
His statement of claim says he suffered “non-freezing cold injury” because he was not allowed to warm up or dry out for long periods.
It accuses the Ministry of Defence of negligence, alleging it failed to assess the operation’s risk.
The statement says: “Despite the injuries suffered by others on the course no attempt was made to inspect the claimant’s hands or feet.
“Complaining about the cold conditions was discouraged, and the claimant felt that his only option was to persevere in silence.”
The documents say Keelan, of Southsea, Hants, had been in the military for nine years when he joined the exercise in January 2016.
He was given brief tuition on cold injuries and was told on four separate visits to the stores that they did not have his cold weather boots. His duties included digging holes in the snow, most of his training was outdoors when it was snowing and often involved standing still.
The mittens he was given did not allow him to use his weapon or pick up his skis and he had to make do with thin combat gloves, his statement says. Even when three other Marines had to be medically evacuated because of the cold, the course supervisors allegedly failed to inspect Keelan’s hands.
Keelan’s claim says he slept in a quinzhee – a kind of igloo made by burrowing into hardened snow – and was unable to dry his kit overnight.
His lawyers Hugh James argue he suffered personal injury arising out of his exposure as a result of the MoD’s “negligence or breach of duty”.
He left the military in 2018 and finds jobs harder to get as his injuries stop him working in cold conditions.
The MoD said: “Health and wellbeing is always our priority. We provide personnel with the training and kit they need. We cannot comment on ongoing litigation.”
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