A soldier lay dead in an Army camp for three weeks before he was found late last month.
Bernard Mongan’s superiors failed to spot he was not on duty. His widow told a friend: “It’s outrageous no one went to check on him.”
His widow Beth blasted the Army over the mysterious death of her soldier husband whose body lay undiscovered in a military base.
Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan, 33, was found on January 23 in his bedroom in a barracks accommodation block.
The Army has refused to comment on the circumstances of his death. But police have told his widow they believe he died around New Year after investigating his phone records.
The Iraq War veteran, who had been working in military signals intelligence, was also due to transfer to another army base a week after he was last seen alive.
But his disappearance was astonishingly not noticed at BOTH camps – despite strict Army procedures.
And L Cpl Mongan’s body was so badly decomposed by the time of his discovery the cause of death may never be known.
Now Beth, who says he was bullied at work, has accused the Army of keeping her in the dark after getting no answers to questions about what happened to her husband.
And top Forces heroes have slammed the Royal Signals soldier’s superior officers for “failing to do their jobs” – and say “heads must roll”.
Beth, 30 – who was separated from L Cpl Mongan but still close to the father of her three daughters – told a friend: “I don’t know what happened to him or why. But I know his work was very secret and very sensitive.
“What happened to Bernie is outrageous. How can a soldier be dead in his room for three weeks and nobody notice? When he failed to report for duty, why wasn’t his room checked? I have not received any answers to these questions. The Army has kept me in the dark.”
L Cpl Mongan was in the Royal Signals attached to the Intelligence Corps as a member of the 1st Military Intelligence battalion.
His role would have involved helping to gather intelligence on Britain’s potential enemies such as China, Russia, Iran and terrorist groups including IS and al-Qaeda. He would have been vetted, and would have signed the Official Secrets Act.
Beth says North Yorkshire Police, who have since handed over the investigation to the Army, believe
L Cpl Mongan died at Catterick Garrison on either New Year’s Day – only hours after her last phone call with him – or January 2.
“They said his mobile phone activity stopped on the night of January 1 and early next morning,” she told her friend.
“Yet his body wasn’t discovered until January 23. It just defies belief.”
And to add to the mystery, a friend says he read a message from her on January 4. L Cpl Mongan had been due to start a short-term attachment to 77 Brigade Headquarters in Berkshire on January 8 but never arrived.
He should have been listed as Absent Without Leave (AWOL) there. Again, Beth has asked the Army why he wasn’t, but has not received an answer.
She is adamant her husband would not have committed suicide.
“I last spoke to him on January 1 and he was planning to take the children to Lapland later this year.
“He was also excited about his new posting but didn’t say much about it. He wasn’t behaving like someone who was about to take his own life.” But she said L Cpl Mongan had allegedly been a victim of racist bullying while in the Army.
He was born in Bristol but spent much of his childhood in the Republic of Ireland and had a soft southern Irish accent as a result.
Bernie told Beth he had been violently assaulted by two soldiers from Northern Ireland in November 2018 after being stationed at Catterick earlier that year. It is understood the incident was reported and a bullying investigation had continued until at least November 2019.
Beth told her friend: “He had been bullied quite a bit over the last couple of years. He was beaten up and as far as I am aware it is being treated as a racist incident.
"There were several other occasions when he felt he was being treated unfairly by senior members of his battalion.
"His leave was often cancelled at the last minute and he felt as if his career wasn’t progressing as quickly as it should have done.
Bernie was 6ft 4in tall but a real softy, a gentle giant – and I think he was a bit of a target for bullies. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, he was the most amazing dad and totally devoted to his daughters.
“He was the biggest Marvel comic geek you can imagine and he was really into computers. He was essentially a big kid, in the nicest possible way. He absolutely loved his job.”
Beth told her friend she tried to contact him several times between New Year and the day his body was found. “Sometimes I wouldn’t hear from him for a few weeks – so initially I wasn’t worried. I tried to call and text and Skype but I just assumed that he was busy in his new job.
“The fact that he didn’t answer wasn’t that surprising, but as time wore on I did start to get concerned and then just when I was going to contact the Army I was told that he was dead.”
Although the police believe he may have died around New Year, a close friend of L Cpl Mongan says she is mystified that a message she sent to him was opened on January 4.
Bella Innes, a veterans’ support worker who had known Bernie for more than 10 years, said: “We were in touch most days, but occasionally he’d just go off the radar, especially when he was on exercise or very busy with work. I sent him one message on the morning of January 4 which was opened and another in the afternoon which wasn’t opened.
“In the morning he was still opening texts but by 2pm he had stopped. I messaged him again a couple of days later and got no response.
“If he didn’t open the message then who did?”
She added: “I am disgusted by the way the Army has handled this. Bernie was missing and nobody bothered to check his room.”
Bella, 37, said Bernie also confided in her about his bullying.
She said: “Bernie was intensely bullied. He told me he was beaten up by two Irish Guardsmen because he had a southern Irish accent.
“He said they called him a terrorist, beat him to the ground and jumped on his head. His face was black and blue.
“I know he has been bullied a lot in the past.”
L Cpl Mongan joined the Irish Guards in 2004 and fought in the Iraq War but left the Army in 2012, taking redundancy as part of government cutbacks.
But in 2015 he joined the Royal Signals and was attached to the Intelligence Corps for the past five years.
Yesterday, Forces heroes expressed disgust at the Army handling of the tragic case.
Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, said: “This is the sort of tragic story we sometimes hear about a friendless pensioner who dies alone.
“I have never before heard or experienced anything remotely like it about a serving member of the Armed Forces on a military base.
“The Army is usually scrupulous about accounting for every individual, and there is a well-known military aphorism ‘no man left behind’. It seems like this man was left behind, and this very sad affair can only be due to a number of leaders failing to do their jobs.”
Trevor Coult, a former Army colour sergeant who won the Military Cross in Iraq, said: “This is the worst case of a failure of a duty of care I have ever come across.
“His room should have been one of the first places that they checked when it was clear he was missing.
“This is standard practice. Heads should roll for this. It’s unthinkable that a soldier could be dead for so long inside a barracks.”
North Yorkshire Police said they were “awaiting the results of tests to determine the cause of the man’s death”.
An Army spokesman said: “The circumstances surrounding the death of a soldier in Catterick are being investigated. It would be inappropriate to comment any further.”
An inquest has been opened and L Cpl Mongan’s funeral is due to take place at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Beth is left with her overwhelming grief.
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