A soldier who was crushed by a gun after an extra person and weapon were put in his tank during a training exercise has sued the Army for £4 million.
Michael Milner, who was a Lance Corporal with the Yorkshire Regiment, sustained debilitating leg injuries while at a training camp in Canada in 2017, and says he can now perform only the most basic domestic tasks.
Mr Milner claims his leg became trapped in the mechanics of a Warrior tank when its gun cage had to be removed because it was carrying too many soldiers.
However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) insists that the war game was “appropriate and reasonable” because the same thing would have happened in real-life warzone conditions.
Mr Milner, 30, was taking part in a live firing exercise with his colleagues at the British Army Training Unit Suffield.
The unit is the Army’s second-largest training ground and has been used for battle simulations and operational drills for 50 years.
Mr Milner was one of six soldiers moving across the prairie in the top compartment of a Warrior tank. This formed part of a war game that used the Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon, which was designed to rapidly knock out any tank from above with just one shot.
When a seventh soldier had to be carried in the compartment of the vehicle due to another Warrior breaking down, the gun cage had to be taken out, according to court documents submitted by lawyers.
The gunner then automatically rotated the vehicle’s gun as soon as it reached its destination, trapping Mr Milner’s leg while the rest of his body was stuck because of the cramped conditions, according to Charlotte Law, his barrister.
“The claimant’s leg became trapped in the mechanics of the gun and was dragged with it as it rotated within the vehicle,” Ms Law wrote. “The claimant was unable to move with the gun or to free himself.
‘Grossly swollen and deformed’
“When the gun stopped moving, the claimant was freed by the other soldiers in the Warrior. Air ambulance attended and it was noted that there was concern regarding femoral shorting and rotation… The right leg was noted to be grossly swollen and deformed.”
The soldier had not been able to return to sport or other fitness activities, and his ability to lift his young children had also been affected, meaning that he was “unable to assist” with anything other than menial household jobs, Ms Law went on to claim.
MoD denies liability
Mr Milner was discharged from the Army last month after years of treatment and rehabilitation for his injuries, for which the MoD denies any liability.
In a written defence to the claim, Simon Hilton, an MoD barrister, said the incident in question took place during a “live simulation exercise” and was realistic in light of this.
A Warrior tracked armoured fighting vehicle, of the type in which Mr Milner was injured
Credit: Champion News
“The practice of redistributing the occupants and equipment of a broken down vehicle by accommodating them in remaining operational vehicles would be deployed in war,” he wrote.
“It was therefore appropriate and reasonable that the same practice should be used during an exercise designed and intended to replicate war conditions.”
Even if the vehicle was overloaded (a claim Mr Hilton noted that Mr Milner must prove) any risk of injury was “nevertheless reasonable in the context in which the exercise took place”.
Mr Milner’s case, which will be heard before a judge at the High Court, has now been delayed until next year.
Last year was the first on record in which no Army personnel were killed on training or during an exercise, according to figures published by the MoD.