Cpl Hatfield (left) and Cpl Neilson (right)

Cpl Hatfield (left) and Cpl Neilson (right). Images via Facebook.

Two soldiers who died following an incident at a military firing range in Pembrokeshire have been named.

Corporal Matthew Hatfield and Corporal Darren Neilson both died as a result of the injuries they sustained on Wednesday.

Both victims were from the Royal Tank Regiment.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said:

"They were both exceptionally talented soldiers who loved what they did.

"The Regiment has lost two real characters and feels truly honoured to have served with them; they will both be sorely missed."

The MoD confirmed two other soldiers remain in a serious condition, and that a full investigation is underway.

The range is used for tanks and armoured units to carry out direct-fire live gunnery exercises.

Paramedics were called to the scene shortly after 3.30pm on Wednesday, taking two men to Morriston Hospital, Swansea, one to Heath Hospital in Cardiff and air-lifting a fourth to a Birmingham hospital.

A 48-hour worldwide ban was subsequently imposed on the ammunition which had been fired during the fatal training exercising.

The last Challenger 2 tank remaining on the ranges is today being inspected, with a tarpaulin covering its turret area.

Other tanks have been cleared from the area.

The MP for the area, Simon Hart, praised the MoD's work on looking into what has happened. He told Forces News:

"We love welcoming different units here to train, so it was terrible when we heard it - awful."

"One thing I've been adamant about - we can't eliminate risk.

"We can manage risk and reduce risk...but these are difficult training exercises."

"We can't eliminate risk" - Simon Hart MP, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

The regiment was formed at around the time of the First World War and had 25 battalions fighting across the globe during the Second World War.

Based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, it consists of three squadrons - Ajax, Badger and Cyclops - each equipped with 18 Challenger 2 battle tanks.

On June 7, the regiment posted on its Facebook page saying Badger squadron had arrived in Castlemartin for its annual firing period.

On June 11, an update showed a video of a tank firing on the range.

The deadly incident came five years after a 21-year-old soldier died when he was shot in the head while relaxing at a safe location outside Castlemartin.

A 2013 inquest into the death of Mike Maguire heard he was hit in the temple by a single bullet after live machine gun fire was wrongly directed inland towards the safe haven.

The inquest jury ruled Ranger Maguire, a member of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, was unlawfully killed.

Cover photo courtesy of N Chadwick.

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