“My son achieved what he wanted … I don’t understand why he was found dead in his army barracks”
A young soldier who died at a military base had always wanted to serve in the forces, says his heartbroken mother.
Rifleman Jake Llewellyn Plumb, of Pembrokeshire, was found dead on November 4 at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth Garrison, Wiltshire. He was only 23 years old.
Hanging was given as the preliminary cause of death during an investigation. There are no suspicious circumstances or other parties involved, a Wiltshire coroner officer said.
âAs far as I’m concerned he was enjoying life,â said Jake’s mother Amanda. âThe last time I spoke to him was on Facebook Messenger. I had no indication.
âIf Jake wanted something he would go 100 miles an hour to get it. He achieved what he wanted to accomplish from a young age – to be a soldier. That’s why I just don’t understand him. not.”
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Fifteen servicemen have died at military bases on Salisbury Plain since 2018, including seven suicides confirmed by the coroner. Five of the deaths occurred in Tidworth. An army spokeswoman said she was investigating Jake’s death “as with all service deaths.”
Speaking to WalesOnline, Amanda paid tribute to Jake, shared memories of him that she will always cherish and raised concerns about the military handling of his death.
Jake, who grew up in Monkton, was Amanda’s youngest son. He is survived by his father Robert and siblings Erica, 34, Naomi, 31, and Joshua, 26.
âHe was my baby, even though he was 23,â Amanda said. âHe was an outside person and he always wanted to be a soldier as young as I can remember him. He didn’t sit and play games when he was a kid. He was more adventurous, climbing trees. and was doing stupid things.
âWe were going for long walks and he was in the trees, in the bushes, down the rivers, wherever he could get muddy. He was a typical boy. He was playing football for Monkton Swifts Juniors, which was a big thing for him – that and supporting Liverpool.
“He was always brought up with respect for the armed forces. If something was on TV like Remembrance Sunday ceremonies, he would watch it with me, things like the Color Parade.”
Jake left school at age 16 to begin his military training at Haverfordwest. He lived with friends on a local farm and liked to ride horses.
âThey raised dogs and he helped sell them,â said Amanda, a hotel worker. âApparently he was a very good salesperson. He had a gift for chatter.
âOutside of the military, his car was his pride and joy. He cleaned it and always made it shine. He had a five-seater car and had to convert into a two-seater to put big speakers in it. back. He loved rap music – all the stuff where I think ‘turn that off’, âshe joked.
Jake joined the Royal Welsh at 18 and moved to a barracks in Tidworth. Amanda says he never had a back-up plan to live in the military. He didn’t often talk about his role with her, but she knew he had been stationed overseas a few times and enjoyed riding in tanks.
Amanda recalls that Jake was proud to support the thousands of truck drivers stranded in Dover last Christmas due to the Covid disruptions.
“They had to mass test the drivers to get them home for Christmas and he was one of them,” she added. âIt was Royal Welsh’s Christmas. I think he was proud enough of himself for doing something to improve the situation.
“As Jake got older we had less contact because it was a long way to get home. It was very difficult but we got used to it.”
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The last time Amanda spoke to Jake, it was a “normal conversation” on Facebook a few months before his death. She hadn’t seen him in person since before the pandemic.
âHe didn’t talk a lot about his feelings,â she said. “One minute he might speak nicely and the next minute he might have a moment of depression, but right ?!
Amanda remembers little of the call informing her of Jake’s death. When she first heard from her daughter that something was wrong, she had “a terrible feeling”, but the confirmation still came like “love at first sight”.
She added, “When I got my act together I was like, ‘Oh my God. He’s 23. He’ll never walk down the aisle, never have children.'”
Amanda started to worry about the military handling of the incident when she spoke to one of Jake’s close friends.
“She had known him for a few years and if he ever fell down she would say ‘come on’, and he would and they would talk about it. She didn’t enter into the conversation they had that night but she felt that he was down and she told him to come over and he said, “It’s going to be fine.”
“She called the barracks guard room at 11:10 p.m. on November 3 and said she had concerns and someone should check on Jake. They never checked in until 4:10 a.m. on November 4 when they did. found it.
âWhen I found out about this, I wanted answers. I called the barracks and I was not given an answer. I was moved from pillar to post. All I got was that. is an email address that I can contact for more information.
âI had to wait 10 days until I even learned that Jake hanged himself. We were given armed forces liaison officers and what they kept saying was, ‘Be careful. who you talk to, the press will try to get involved. “I don’t understand why they want to brush it under the carpet.”
Amanda says an Armed Forces liaison officer told her he would let her know when Jake’s coffin returned to Wales so she could see her son in his uniform.
She added: “When I got to the undertaker’s house, he said, ‘You know he’s not in uniform?’ I must have seen my boy with just a white sheet over him.
âWe didn’t receive the uniform that Jake was going to be buried in until the day before the funeral. The undertaker had to retrieve it. It added stress to the whole family.
âI asked the undertaker what would happen if he didn’t arrive on time. He said we just had to bring his clothes, but they were all in the barracks, so his brother brought his best clothes just in case. was just awful, the way it was handled. “
More than 100 mourners attended Jake’s military funeral on November 30 in Monkton. The loudspeakers were placed outside the church because not everyone could fit inside.
âI wasn’t able to see how many people were there, but there were a lot of people. Friends he grew up with came along, even the Monkton Swifts were pictured.
âThere was a large military presence and a guard of honor. The army boys who carried his coffin were themselves so young. They must have been barely 20 years old and they were doing such a good job.
Some of Amanda’s favorite memories of Jake are the walks through the Pembrokeshire countryside they took as a child and their trips to watch Llanelli Scarlets play rugby.
âWe used to go on the ferry to Rosslare in Ireland too. He liked it. We were going on vacation to Wexford but Jake’s favorite bit was the ferry. He ran everywhere, even when it was really a crossing. difficult and everyone was feeling a little sick. Even the truck drivers would say, “Why is he still running?”
The British military said five servicemen had died at Tidworth since 2018 and that “less than five” were suicides confirmed by the coroner.
“In all cases of deaths in service, the military attaches great importance to the follow-up of families,” said an army spokeswoman.
âNext of kin are appointed a visiting officer who will ensure that all possible help is given to them and act as an intermediary through which families can seek specific help or advice.
“It is the coroner’s role to determine the cause of death and it would be inappropriate to speculate. The military is investigating this death as it does for all deaths that occur while on duty. It is too early to determine whether an inquest of service or not- A statutory inquiry will be called. Our hearts are with the family and friends of Fusilier Plumb at this difficult time. “
An open inquest into Jake’s death took place on November 12 at Wiltshire Coroner’s Court. No date has been set for the investigation.
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