This page is dedicated to the memory of:
Ian Raymond Farrell
Royal Army Medical Corps
Robert Dowdall, RAMC (Rtd)
The last time I met Ian was in November 1981, we had both completed basic training together at Keogh Barracks. Ian was my best mate and he had come to see me at MRS Pirbright, I was in ‘dock’ due to chicken pox.
I still remember this beaming smile every day, memories of his unquestionable desire to be an Airborne Medic and to serve the country as a first-class soldier, tough fit and unflappable, he badgered me to join the Parachute Field Ambulance, and serve all over the world together. I agreed, but due to confinement in MRS, I would not be able to join until 1982. I do not know whether to be grateful, for not going to the South Atlantic and serving on until I indeed made the dizzy height of Chief Clerk of the Parachute Field Ambulance, seeing my own difficulties as all of us service men do, or to be sad at having to wake up each day and carry the sadness of a missing mate for ever.
He was my best mate and I miss him every day. Proud to have known such a funny and loyal comrade. Rest in peace
Ian (Scouse) Farrell was a chuckle. I first met him in basic training in 1980. He and his father served at 208 (Liverpool) General Hospital (V) for some time and when I met Ian he had plummeted from TA Corporal to recruit. He took this with good grace and a sense of humour that became legendary. He was generous with his skills and experience; always willing to help out us true rookies with our kit or later on with our clinical training. He could run rings around some of the NCO’s appointed over him but always acted professionally.
Ian and I were posted to 6 Field Force Ambulance together in the Summer of 1980. His potential was quickly recognised and he soon made Medical Assistant Class 1 and Lance Corporal. My residual image of him is a small, curly haired, heavily moustached and dynamic fellow with bright eyes and a knowing grin. He had a scousers confidence and wit and was – at times – laughably image conscious but never vain. When asked why he spent so much time with the mirror his reply was; ‘Cos I ‘ave to!’ He had an aura; displayed by an enthusiasm for life and defined by his presence, life just felt better when he was around. It was something of an eternal quality, he seemed unquenchable; as if he would always be around, sadly that was an illusion. His life enriched those around him and his death was a shocking lesson in mortality for those who were privileged to know him.
He was killed on the RFA Sir Galahad and I understand from survivors I spoke to that he was close to the heart of the explosions and probably knew anything about it. Typically of Ian and poetic in a way; that in death as in life he was at the centre of action.