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Ex-Royal Marine has tattoo of seven poppies

Rob French has seven poppies tattooed on his back to remember comrades The ink is tribute to Royal M..

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  • Rob French has seven poppies tattooed on his back to remember comrades
  • The ink is tribute to Royal Marines killed in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2009
  • Feels responsible for death of Ben Whatley after being injured and sent home
  • Father-of-two is now raising money to support the Royal British Legion appeal

By Claire Duffin For The Daily Mail and Joseph Curtis For Mailonline

Published: 09:57 EST, 9 November 2017 | Updated: 15:23 EST, 9 November 2017

Covering the former Marine’s upper back, this tattoo is a poignant tribute to Rob French’s fallen friends.

Each of the seven red poppies represents a colleague killed in Afghanistan and is a constant reminder of their sacrifice.

They died within weeks of each other in December 2008, during one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict.

Marine Damian Davies, Sergeant John Manuel and Corporal Marc Birch died when a 13-year-old suicide bomber approached them with a wheelbarrow packed with explosives. Lance Corporal Steven ‘Jamie’ Fellows was blown up in a separate incident the same day.

Former Royal Marine Rob French has had seven poppies tattooed on his back, pictured, to remember seven fallen comrades killed in Afghanistan

Former Royal Marine Rob French has had seven poppies tattooed on his back, pictured, to remember seven fallen comrades killed in Afghanistan

Georgie Sparks and Tony Evans were killed by insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades during a foot patrol in Helmand province.

Lance Corporal Benjamin Whatley, 20, was killed by enemy fire during a fierce battle on Christmas Eve. The seven were among 454 British forces personnel or MoD civilians who died in Afghanistan.

Mr French, 35, a former lance corporal who was discharged in 2015 after nine years in the Marines, said: ‘Two of them were very, very good friends of mine and the other five were people I met and fought with out there.

‘I am always remembering them, especially on Remembrance Sunday. I carry on with my life but with them on my back they are always with me.’

Mr French, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, was a special constable and trained as a tree surgeon before joining the Marines in 2006.

Now a swimming instructor, he revealed his tattoo as he urged people to support the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, which last year raised £146.9million.

THE FALLEN SEVEN, REMEMBERED FOREVER WITH MR FRENCH'S TATTOO

Marine Georgie Sparks, 19, from Epping, Essex. An expert sniper, his funeral took place on what would have been his 20th birthday. Had always wanted to be a Marine, despite his relatively small stature. ‘We have lost our best friend as well as our son,’ his family saidMarine Georgie Sparks, 19, from Epping, Essex. An expert sniper, his funeral took place on what would have been his 20th birthday. Had always wanted to be a Marine, despite his relatively small stature. ‘We have lost our best friend as well as our son,’ his family saidSGt John Manuel, 38, from Gateshead. Veteran of Iraq, Belize and Kosovo, he was near the end of his service and planned to be a police motorcycle instructor. His commanding officer called him ‘a larger than life character’ and the ‘backbone’ of his company.SGt John Manuel, 38, from Gateshead. Veteran of Iraq, Belize and Kosovo, he was near the end of his service and planned to be a police motorcycle instructor. His commanding officer called him ‘a larger than life character’ and the ‘backbone’ of his company.

Marine Georgie Sparks, 19, from Epping, Essex (left) and SGt John Manuel, 38, from Gateshead. Veteran of Iraq, Belize and Kosovo (right)

Marine Georgie Sparks, 19, from Epping, Essex. An expert sniper, his funeral took place on what would have been his 20th birthday. Had always wanted to be a Marine, despite his relatively small stature. ‘We have lost our best friend as well as our son,’ his family said.

SGt John Manuel, 38, from Gateshead. Veteran of Iraq, Belize and Kosovo, he was near the end of his service and planned to be a police motorcycle instructor. His commanding officer called him ‘a larger than life character’ and the ‘backbone’ of his company.

Pictured: Marine Damian Davies, 27, from Telford. His funeral took place on Christmas EvePictured: Marine Damian Davies, 27, from Telford. His funeral took place on Christmas Eve

Pictured: Marine Damian Davies, 27, from Telford. His funeral took place on Christmas Eve

Marine Damian Davies, 27, from Telford. His funeral took place on Christmas Eve. He left a young son, Matthew, and pregnant wife, Joanne, who said: ‘Damian was the most wonderful caring husband and daddy we could have ever wished for.’

CPl Marc Birch, 26, from Northampton. He was buried at the church where four months earlier he had wed his sweetheart CPl Marc Birch, 26, from Northampton. He was buried at the church where four months earlier he had wed his sweetheart 

CPl Marc Birch, 26, from Northampton. He was buried at the church where four months earlier he had wed his sweetheart

CPl Marc Birch, 26, from Northampton. He was buried at the church where four months earlier he had wed his sweetheart. His father Darryl said: ‘All he ever wanted was to become a Royal Marine commando.’ He was described as ‘courageous, warm-hearted, determined’.

Marine Tony Evans, 20, from Sunderland. The Royal Marines was his life since the age of 13 when he became a cadetMarine Tony Evans, 20, from Sunderland. The Royal Marines was his life since the age of 13 when he became a cadetL/Cpl Ben Whatley, 20, from Tittleshall, Norfolk. Had wanted to be a Marine since he was 12. His parents said the 6ft 5in soldier  was ‘a vibrant, happy person who had an unbridled enthusiasm for life’. His CO said he was ‘a fighter, a man’s man, a Royal Marine to the core’.L/Cpl Ben Whatley, 20, from Tittleshall, Norfolk. Had wanted to be a Marine since he was 12. His parents said the 6ft 5in soldier  was ‘a vibrant, happy person who had an unbridled enthusiasm for life’. His CO said he was ‘a fighter, a man’s man, a Royal Marine to the core’.

Marine Tony Evans (left), 20, from Sunderland. The Royal Marines was his life since the age of 13 when he became a cadet and L/Cpl Ben Whatley (right), 20, from Tittleshall, Norfolk

Marine Tony Evans, 20, from Sunderland. His parents said: ‘Tony was the type who would do anything to help friends and family. The Royal Marines was his life since the age of 13 when he became a cadet. We are very proud of what he achieved and will miss him dearly.'

L/Cpl Ben Whatley, 20, from Tittleshall, Norfolk. Had wanted to be a Marine since he was 12. His parents said the 6ft 5in soldier was ‘a vibrant, happy person who had an unbridled enthusiasm for life’. His CO said he was ‘a fighter, a man’s man, a Royal Marine to the core’.

L/CPl Steven ‘Jamie’ Fellows, 26, from SheffieldL/CPl Steven ‘Jamie’ Fellows, 26, from Sheffield

L/CPl Steven ‘Jamie’ Fellows, 26, from Sheffield

L/CPl Steven ‘Jamie’ Fellows, 26, from Sheffield. Married, he joined the Marines at 24 and was awarded the King’s Badge as best recruit in his troop. He was also a talented boxer. His commanding officer said: ‘We have lost a future leader of undoubted potential.’

He said: ‘Around this time of year, the public start wearing poppies to show that they remember the fallen, but for me and all the other servicemen and women who have been to war, every single day is Remembrance Day,’ he said. ‘That’s why I will always wear my poppies.’

Mr French, who is married, had his tattoo started in November 2015.

‘I decided to get the tattoo to place the reminder on my back so that they are with me and behind me pushing me on,’ he said.

‘I have always carried the weight of Ben Whatley’s death on my shoulders as he was killed on Christmas Eve two weeks after I was sent home.

'I have always felt that if I was there I may have been selected to take that position on the same rooftop, and therefore taken the round that hit Ben. I still live with that guilt.

‘I have used Ben’s name as my first-born son Joseph’s middle name and I will make sure he knows where the name came from and what price Ben paid so I could come home and become a dad.’

The father-of-two, 35, pictured, is raising money for the Royal British Legion and said the tattoo was a way for him to 'always wear poppies with pride'The father-of-two, 35, pictured, is raising money for the Royal British Legion and said the tattoo was a way for him to 'always wear poppies with pride'

The father-of-two, 35, pictured, is raising money for the Royal British Legion and said the tattoo was a way for him to 'always wear poppies with pride'

Mr French sustained a wrist injury that left his arm almost useless and suffers what he describes as a disorder similar to post-traumatic stress. ‘The Royal British Legion helped with treatment… and also with legal advice as I had to go through a tribunal because I was injured,’ he said.

He has released a poem in tribute to those who have fallen in conflicts. Part of it, addressed to L/Cpl Whatley, reads: ‘I owe you my life so I will make it a good one, full of love and happiness and a lot of good fun.

‘I owe you my life so I will make it a good one, full of love and happiness and a lot of good fun

‘I hope to live till I’m old and die peacefully in bed, with that soft pillow under my head.

‘I will see you again be it hot or it cold, until then I will make sure your story is told. I hope you will be waiting holding open the gates, all I want is a slap on my back and to see all of our mates.’

Mr French, whose grandfathers both served in the Second World War, hopes to compete as a swimmer at a future Invictus Games.

To donate to Mr French's fundraising efforts, click here.

Mr French, pictured, said he was close to some of the marines killed and added the tattoo 'was a reminder so they are always pushing him on'Mr French, pictured, said he was close to some of the marines killed and added the tattoo 'was a reminder so they are always pushing him on'

Mr French, pictured, said he was close to some of the marines killed and added the tattoo 'was a reminder so they are always pushing him on'

L/Cpl Ben WhatleyL/Cpl Ben WhatleyL/Cpl Steven 'Jamie' FellowsL/Cpl Steven 'Jamie' Fellows

Two of the poppies are dedicated to close friends L/Cpl Ben Whatley, left, and L/Cpl Steven 'Jamie' Fellows, right

Mr French has also written a poem, pictured, in tribute to his close friend L/Cpl Whatley, after admitting he feels 'responsible for his death' after being injured two weeks earlier and being sent homeMr French has also written a poem, pictured, in tribute to his close friend L/Cpl Whatley, after admitting he feels 'responsible for his death' after being injured two weeks earlier and being sent home

Mr French has also written a poem, pictured, in tribute to his close friend L/Cpl Whatley, after admitting he feels 'responsible for his death' after being injured two weeks earlier and being sent home

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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