British soldier claims the Estonian cold gave him a stutter; demands compensation

A British soldier who was deployed in Estonia in 2017 claims the Estonian cold temperatures gave him a severe stutter; he’s now suing the British defence ministry and wants a whopping £860,000 (€1 million; US$1.1 million) in compensation.

According to the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, armoured vehicle engineer Chileshe Mwamba claims his deployment saw him subjected to extreme cold temperatures and that left him with a “non-freezing cold injury”, lasting post-traumatic stress disorder and a stutter. The newspaper said the solder claims he was left “almost unintelligible”.

The 31-year-old says, according to the newspaper, that he was nearly frozen on duty in Estonia in the winter of 2017 – his deployment lasted from 10 November to 3 December, ie less than a month and before the winter actually started – and that left him with a “non-freezing cold injury”, lasting PTSD and a stutter.

Part of the compensation he’s seeking – namely £400,000 – is for the loss of future earnings “due to the effect his speech impediment has on his employability”, the Daily Mail reported.

The British ministry of defence has admitted liability for Mwamba’s non-freezing injury, but does not accept the extent of his disabilities, the newspaper said. Namely, the ministry is disputing whether a “non-freezing cold injury” can cause the disabilities the former soldier is claiming he has.

Not extremely cold in November 2017

According to historical weather data, provided by the Weather Underground website, the lowest temperature between 10 November and 3 December 2017 in Central Estonia was -6° Celsius – or 21° Fahrenheit.

The British armed forces transporting their military Land Rovers in Estonia in 2017. Photo by the Estonian Defence Forces.

The UK has deployed its troops to Estonia since April 2017 as part of a NATO’s multinational battlegroup. About 900 British personnel rotate on a continuous basis alongside Danish, French and host nation Estonian forces.

Cover: A tank, belonging to the British armed forces, and its crew on an exercise in Estonia in 2019. Photo by the Estonian Defence Forces.

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