June 24, 2023 is a poignant and tragic date for John and Sandra Hyde. It marks 20 years since their only child was killed in an attack at a police station in Al Majar Al Kabir, in Iraq.

Twenty three-year-old Lance Corporal Ben Hyde and five fellow Royal Military Policemen were overwhelmed by a mob of up to 400.

Ben's hometown of Northallerton in North Yorkshire came to a halt for his funeral, as he was buried with full military honours. Shops closed and the streets were lined with townspeople paying their respects.

The devastated couple have lived day by day ever since, but because of their devotion, their son's name has been kept alive in the community he loved through the Ben Hyde Memorial Trust, which has raised about £200,000 for charities and good causes.

They are angry that Prime Minister Tony Blair was given a knighthood despite the major criticisms in the Chilcot inquiry, which found Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to Britain, intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, and the invasion took place before peaceful alternatives had been exhausted.

Speaking about his son, John, 75, said Ben worked originally at B&Q but joined the Royal Military Police in March 2001 because it took in both his career options of the military and police. He was deployed to Iraq at the start of the war in March 2003, tasked with re-assembling and re-training the Iraqi police force.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Ben on patrol with his colleagues

"On June 24, Ben was one of a six-man section visiting a police station in the town of Al Majar Al Kabir," says John. "Unknown to them a 'Para' section south of the police station, was confronted by a mob including gunmen who opened fire, the Paras returned fire and several gunmen were killed.

"The 'Paras' withdrew, heading north. As the angry mob followed, the next British troops they came into contact with were Ben and his Red Cap comrades of the Royal Military Police. For reasons we shall never know, except that they were trained peacekeepers, not assault infantry, although faced with an angry armed mob, approaching them down a narrow corridor, they did not, as far as we know, open fire, but tried to negotiate.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Lance Corporal Ben Hyde with his colleagues in Iraq

"Certain armed elements of the crowd forced their way to the fore and opened fire on the RMP. In the ensuing fire-fight Ben and his five comrades were all killed."

Ben died alongside Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, Corporal Russell Aston, Corporal Simon Miller, and Corporal Paul Long.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Ben Hyde died alongside Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, Corporal

What has haunted the couple ever since is the group's abysmal lack of equipment. They should have had a satellite phone and 150 rounds of ammunition each, but they had no phone and only 50 rounds. Challenges by the families, in principle the Army agreed somebody in the chain of command had got it wrong, but it never went any further.

READ MORE: Ben Hyde - 'a peacemaker who lost his life so others could live in peace'

John says: "What bothered us was they had witnesses, they arrested 11 people, but the case was thrown out by a judge because witnesses had changed their statements."

Darlington and Stockton Times: Ben's parents John and Sandra Hyde

He adds: "It is appalling that in the inquiry it was found Tony Blair had lied to the country and the government and taken actions he didn't have the authority to take. I agreed with the removal of Saddam Hussein but it was the way they were sent there without the proper equipment.

"Ben didn't have proper desert boots, he borrowed jungle boots and most didn't have desert combats, the Government and the Army were totally unprepared."

Sandra, 77, adds: "I am disappointed that nothing ever came of the Chilcot inquiry – millions of pounds were spent over a number of years, the findings were damning and yet nothing was ever done about it, and they gave Tony Blair a knighthood. How can that be? A man who entered an illegal war being given a knighthood after all those soldiers were killed."