Soldier lay dead in barracks for three weeks but 'Army
won't tell how he died'
EXCLUSIVE: We expose an Army scandal as the widow of Lance corporal
Bernard Mongan says it's 'beyond belief' no-one looked for her husband
and 'it feels like a cover up'
LCpl Bernard Mongan's death is a riddle
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.
Superiors failed to look for Bernie (Image: mirrorpix.com)
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
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”.
Bernard after bullying incident (Image: mirrorpix.com)
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
“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.
The doting dad with baby daughter (Image: mirrorpix.com)
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
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.
Bourlon Barracks in Catterick (Image: SWNS)
“There is no way he would have done that. As far as I am aware there was
no note and he was in very good spirits,” she told her friend.
“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.
Gentle giant Bernard was an easy target, says wife Beth (Image:
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.”
Friend Bella Innes
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 in 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.
Bernard in his bearskin (Image: mirrorpix.com)
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
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
LCpl Bernard Mongan (Image: mirrorpix.com)
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.
“I can’t help thinking he could have been seriously ill for several days
in his room unconscious but no one bothered to check, even though
someone must have known he was missing,” she told her friend.
“I have been thinking about that a lot and it is very upsetting.”
Petition from Mary Mongan
(Bernard's mother) and
Morning Star article