Our staff and those who work with us undertake difficult and sometimes dangerous assignments. The Breathing sculpture on the new wing of Broadcasting House marks the invaluable contribution of those men and women who were murdered or lost their lives in acts of war while working on behalf of the BBC and its audiences. Click on the names on the right to find out more.
Death waved them through the checkpoint.
They were lost.
All have their story here.
We are sorry to report that our colleague Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, who had been working as a stringer for the Pashto Service, has been killed. Ahmed was working in Tarin Kowt, the capital of Oruzgan province, Afghanistan, where he died. The city had been under attack by suicide bombers for some hours. Ahmed also worked for the Pajwak Afghan news agency and was a presenter of local radio in Uruzgan. Ahmed was killed on 28 July 2011. He was 25 and joined the BBC in 2008.
We offer support to his family at this very sad time and our thoughts go out to them.
It is a reminder once again of the extraordinary commitment made by all who report for the BBC around the world.
Nasteh Dahir Faraah, a reporter for the Somali Service, was shot dead by gunmen in June 2008 near his home in Kismayo, southern Somalia. Nasteh was at an early stage of his career. He was trained under a BBC World Service Trust scheme and had a passion to become a journalist in a region where he knew the dangers he would face. He filed his last report just an hour before he was killed. He was 24 and his wife was expecting their second child.
One of his trainers said of Nasteh: "He was a promising journalist who had become a well known BBC voice... a young broadcaster with great energy and considerable courage".
Pashto Service reporter Abdul Samad Rohani was abducted and murdered in Helmand province, Afghanistan in June 2008. He was 25 and married with one daughter. He also worked with the network team shooting pictures that no one else could get, had invaluable contacts with insurgents and had interviewed senior Taleban commanders.
A colleague on the Pashto Service said: "Rohani wrote poems in Pashto - mostly about love - love for his wife, his daughter, his people and his country. In his poems, he also longs for peace and abhors violence. He was a gentleman."
BBC producer Kate Peyton was shot dead in Somalia on 9 February, 2005. She had gone to Mogadishu with reporter Peter Greste to cover talks on the return of the Somali government from exile in Kenya. As they were getting into their car after visiting the Sahafi Hotel to speak to officials, a shot rang out from a vehicle on the other side of the road. Kate was hit in the back. She was rushed to hospital for surgery but died later the same day.
Kate, 39, had worked for the BBC as a producer since 1993 and was based in Johannesburg at the time of her death. Former Africa Correspondent Jane Standley described her as a 'ray of sunshine' who had loved Africa with all her heart.
Cameraman and journalist Simon Cumbers, 36, was killed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on 6 June, 2004. The BBC's Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner, was seriously injured in the same attack.
The two men had gone with a Saudi government minder to the al-Suwaydi district of Riyadh – near to the home of an al-Qaida militant killed the previous year. As they were filming, three vehicles drew up and a number of gunmen got out and opened fire.
The BBC's Correspondent, Orla Guerin, said that in a demanding industry, with the pressure of deadlines and danger, Simon had endless reservoirs of patience and good humour. 'It was Hemingway who said the definition of courage was grace under pressure; Simon was courage personified'.
Manik Saha was killed in a bomb attack outside the Press Club in the south-western port city of Khulna on 15 January, 2004. The home-made bomb struck him in the head as he headed home in a rickshaw. The bomb was thrown at him by a member of an outlawed Communist group active in the south-western region of Bangladesh for decades. The bomb caused severe head injuries and Saha died on the spot. At the time of his death Saha was a nationally-renowned journalist – rare for a journalist who’d never worked in the capital Dhaka. Saha contributed regularly to BBC Bengali output for nearly a decade, covering some highly sensitive areas like the Communist violence, disputes over shrimp cultivation and violation of human rights.
Cameraman Kaveh Golestan, 53, was killed in a landmine blast in Northern Iraq on 2 April, 2003. BBC producer Stuart Hughes was badly injured in the same incident.
Kaveh had worked for the BBC in a freelance capacity before becoming the BBC's bureau cameraman in Tehran, Iran in 1999. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who had worked for many Western news organisations. He won particular acclaim for his work during the Iranian revolution and the Iraqi gas attacks on Kurdish villages.
BBC correspondent Jim Muir, who was with Kaveh in Northern Iraq, said: 'His energy, artistry, enthusiasm, sensitivity, courage and mischievous humour were only part of a complex, charming and gentle character who engaged all he met'.
Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed, 25, was fatally wounded on 6 April, 2003 in Northern Iraq. A US F-15 warplane mistakenly dropped a bomb on a convoy of US special forces and Kurdish civilians. BBC correspondent John Simpson, cameraman Fred Scott and other members of the BBC team accompanying the convoy were also injured.
Kamaran had been taken on by the BBC as a translator at the beginning of the Iraq conflict. John Simpson said the killing was 'an absolute tragedy'. He described Kamaran as a 'charming, brave, resourceful character'.
Abed Takoush, 53, was killed on 24 May, 2000 while covering the Israeli pullout from Southern Lebanon. An Israeli tank shell was fired at his parked car on the Lebanese side of the border. He had worked as a driver and producer with BBC teams for 25 years.
Jeremy Bowen, who was then Middle East Correspondent, had just left the car and witnessed the attack from a short distance away. He described Abed as a tower of strength to the crews working in the region. 'He knew where to go, who to talk to, where we could cover the war without getting swept up in it. Abed loved his work, he loved the scent of a story, he loved news and in the end he died for it'.
Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan, 38, the BBC's Sinhala Service stringer in Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka, was killed on 19 October, 2000 in a grenade and gun attack on his home. The attack was witnessed by his parents and family. He was the only independent journalist reporting from war-torn Jaffna,and was well-known for his coverage of the separatist war in Sri Lanka and the bitter in-fighting between Tamil political parties in government-controlled areas of the peninsula.
Priyath Liyanage, Head of the BBC's Sinhala Service, said: 'I once asked Nimal to be careful because he had many threats from the warring parties. His reply was,"Who would tell the story of what is happening to my people if I didn't?". True enough; since he died we are still trying to find a journalist who is brave enough to replace him.'
Shamsur Rahman was shot dead outside his home in Jessore in the extreme south-west of Bangladesh on 16 July, 2000. Rahman, a regular contributor to the BBC Bengali service, reported extensively on violence by outlawed Communist groups and local Islamist forces, and many believed he had been marked for death by both groups. But no one has been brought to justice after nearly a decade.
Mustaq Ali, a 27-year-old freelance cameraman in Kashmir, was fatally wounded when a parcel bomb exploded in the BBC office in Srinagar. He took the full force of the explosion, which also injured the BBC correspondent, Yusef Jameel, and a photographer. The parcel had been delivered a short time earlier by a woman wearing a burqua. The attack, on 7 September, 1995 was seen as evidence of the intense pressures on journalists covering the Muslim uprising in Kashmir - from rival separatist groups, the Indian government and security forces. Fellow journalists in the Kashmir Valley went on strike for three days in protest at the killing.
BBC reporter John Schofield, 29, was shot dead by Croatian soldiers on 9 August, 1995. He had been travelling with colleagues from Karlovac to Bihac in Bosnia. They had left their armoured vehicle to film burning villages when Croatian soldiers opened fire. John died instantly when he was hit by a single bullet. He had gone to the region to report for the BBC radio programme The World Tonight. Presenter Robin Lustig described him as the kind of man who gave journalism a good name. ‘He had immense energy, coupled with a scrupulous regard for the facts and an unshakeable belief in fair dealing.'
Mohyeddin Alempour, the BBC's chief stringer in the central Asian republic of Tajikistan, was found dead on December 12, 1995. His death had all the hallmarks of a political murder. None of his belongings had been stolen but he had been killed with a single shot to the head.
Mohyeddin, 50, was one of a number of journalists killed during the country's five-year civil war, most by paramilitary forces. He was a writer, photographer and broadcaster who had reported for the Persian Service for five years. David Morton, the BBC's Head of Region for the former Soviet Union, described Mohyeddin as a well-loved and respected national figure, who had made an outstanding contribution to the Persian Service.
Mirwais Jalil, a stringer in Afghanistan for the BBC's Pashto and Persian services, was murdered on 29 July, 1994. He had gone with an Italian journalist to interview the then prime minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, at his base south of Kabul. On their return journey, five masked men stopped the taxi in which they were travelling and Mirwais, 25, was abducted at gunpoint. His body was found the following morning. He had been shot and stabbed at least 20 times in the chest and head.
BBC correspondent William Reeve said that as an Afghan, Mirwais had been under extra pressure because almost everybody in the country listened to the Pashto and Persian services. He had been threatened many times but had bravely continued his work as a journalist, fixer and tireless translator for the BBC.
Croatian freelance cameraman Tihomir 'Tuna' Tunukovic was killed on 1 November, 1992 when a mortar bomb exploded in front of the BBC armoured vehicle he was driving in central Bosnia. The explosion, north of Travnik, occurred at a time when there was a reported ceasefire in the region. It caused the vehicle – the first of two in a convoy – to swerve off the road and down a ravine.
The second vehicle, carrying a Sky News team, came under fire and was forced to continue without stopping. The team later returned to the scene on foot to discover that Tihomir, 25, was dead. The vehicle had been holed by shrapnel.
BBC correspondent Allan Little, said 'Tuna came to the BBC when his own country was being torn apart by war. Many of the most striking and most powerful images of the conflict came from his camera. He hated the war, and wanted it to be over, but threw himself into documenting it, believing in the need to bear witness. In jest, we called him, Mr Valiant-For-Truth: he was brave, creative, generous. He was also gregarious, charming and funny, bursting with ideas and ambition, on the very brink of what would have been a brilliant career as a documentary film-maker'.
In 1991, freelance cameraman Nick Della Casa, his wife, Rosanna, and his brother-in-law, Charles Maxwell, were killed in a remote area of Northern Iraq. They had set off from Turkey in late March to cover Kurdish resistance to Saddam Hussein at the end of the first Gulf War.
Nick Della Casa, a freelancer for the Frontline News Television Agency, had earlier stayed in Baghdad during the bombing of the Iraqi capital and had provided dramatic pictures of the Allied attacks.
It appears that while trying to cross the mountains into Kurdistan, the group were murdered by a Turkish guide in a dispute over his fee. A detachment of Royal Marines found the bodies of the two men on 23 May. Rosanna Della Casa's body was never recovered.
Georgi Ivanov Markov, a Bulgarian dissident who worked for the BBC World Service as a journalist and broadcaster, was murdered in London in 1978. While waiting at a bus stop on 7 September, Markov, 49, was jabbed in the leg by a man holding an umbrella. That evening he developed a high fever and he died in agony three days later. A post-mortem revealed that a tiny platinum pellet containing traces of the poison ricin had been embedded in his calf.
The Bulgarian secret service carried out the attack, with assistance from the KGB, in retaliation for Markov's broadcasts criticising the Communist regime of Zhivkov Todor.
Ted Stoddart, 34, a BBC TV sound recordist, was killed by a landmine in Cyprus on 8 August, 1974. A convoy of media cars ran into a minefield on a road leading to Lapithos near Kyrenia. The BBC TV team, who were at the front of the convoy, remained in their car but when others started to leave their vehicles, Ted Stoddart got out and shouted at them to go back. He stepped on a mine and was killed. BBC reporters Simon Dring and Christopher Morris were also injured.
Paying tribute to Ted Stoddart's bravery, BBC Director General Charles Curran said: 'When a tragedy like this happens, everybody realizes the risks journalists have to take in covering the news, whether they are reporters known to the public or backroom boys like Ted Stoddart.'
Bill Thomas, 35, was killed on 9 February, 1971 by an IRA landmine. He was in charge of the Transmitter Maintenance Team at Divis in Northern Ireland but was working on the Brougher Mountain transmitter at the time of the attack. He and a colleague, Malcolm Henson (see below), were targeted while travelling over the mountain in a civilian Land Rover; it was apparently mistaken for a British Army vehicle.
Malcolm David Henson, 23, also died in the Brougher Mountain landmine incident. He had joined the BBC two years earlier and had only recently been transferred from Crystal Palace to the Transmitter Maintenance Team. Three other men, all construction workers, were killed.
John Reginald Nixon, the BBC's Middle East Correspondent, died when a civilian airliner en route from Beirut to Amman was shot down by an Israeli fighter near the Transjordan border on 23 September, 1948.
Nixon, 39, was a distinguished war correspondent and had risked death many times. On one occasion he was doing a live broadcast from Athens when there was a sharp crack and his voice disappeared. He came back a moment later to say a sniper on the roof opposite had just missed him.
He narrowly escaped being killed when a bomb exploded at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in July, 1946, because he was late for an appointment and was still crossing the road outside. In a letter home, Nixon said he believed his luck could not hold out much longer. 'I have been in the firing line on sea, on land, and in the air for too many years now,' he wrote. 'I feel someone will get me in the end.'
On 3 February, 1945, BBC war reporter Guy Byam was killed when a US bomber crashed after a daylight raid on Berlin. Byam, 26, was on board 'The Rose of York' (named after Princess Margaret), a US 8th Air Force Flying Fortress. The plane was damaged by anti-aircraft fire over Berlin and disappeared over the North Sea.
In the early years of the war Byam saw action with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and Combined Operations but was wounded and invalided out. He joined the BBC's War Reporting Unit in April, 1944. Two months later he parachuted into Normandy with British paratroopers on D-Day and his reports made him a household name. A listener wrote after his death: 'All looked forward to hearing his enthusiastic and youthful voice in the 9 o'clock news.'
BBC War Correspondent Kent Stevenson died while reporting on a raid over northwest Germany on 22 June, 1944. He was on board an RAF 49 Squadron Lancaster which was shot down by a German night-fighter.
Kent Stevenson had joined the BBC in March, 1941 and transferred to the War Reporting Unit when it was established in 1943. Like his fellow correspondents, he underwent rigorous training in military survival techniques and how to work in battle conditions. The war correspondents were issued with revolutionary new lightweight recording devices known as 'midget disc recorders', which had been specially developed by BBC engineers. Because the correspondents recorded their despatches straight onto disc, they had to learn the art of 'instant censorship'.
Lola Almudevar died in a road accident in Bolivia in 2007. She was travelling from La Paz to cover political unrest in the city of Sucre.
Lola had been an award-winning Video Journalist for the BBC in Birmingham. She took a career break to travel in South America and, once in Bolivia, began writing for the Guardian and the San Francisco Chronicle and broadcasting for the BBC. Those who worked with Lola spoke of her huge energy and enthusiasm. She had a great love for story telling and a great love for Bolivia. Her insightful and lively journalism was coupled with a deep sense of humanity. She brought an under-reported region to the attention of thousands of radio listeners with her pieces for From Our own Correspondent in which she told the big stories through the lives of ordinary people.
Lola was just 29 when she died. A friend paid this simple tribute:
"The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long... and you have burned so very, very brightly."
BBC News producer Peter Martini, 31, died in a road accident in Russia on 10 July, 1996. He was travelling in a lorry carrying BBC equipment back to the UK from Moscow following the Russian presidential elections. The collision happened on the main road between Novgorod and St Petersburg .
Peter had worked for the BBC for just over a year. He had studied Russian and worked as a travel representative in Russia before becoming a journalist. Foreign Editor Vin Ray said "Peter was a tireless and tirelessly cheerful personality, with a passion for Russia. He was a skilled and dedicated producer, especially in difficult situations, someone everyone enjoyed working with. His death left a huge gap among his colleagues".
The BBC's Southern Africa Correspondent, John Harrison, was killed in a car crash on 9 March, 1994 while working in Boputhatswana. He was on his way to a TV feed point when his car overturned at a local accident black-spot outside the capital, Mmabatho. John, 48, died from head injuries.
He had joined the BBC in 1983 as a Westminster correspondent, having previously worked in newspapers. The former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, who was a friend of John's, said: ‘His exuberance was unforgettable. He was a magnet for friendship, a communicable cure for gloom.' Fergal Keane, a fellow BBC correspondent in South Africa, described him in a poem written after John's death, as 'a ship of life, bound for the shores of promise'.
Mohamed Massoum died in a plane crash in Afghanistan on 27 April, 1993 whilst travelling to the northern town of Mazar I Sharif. He was on his way to report on celebrations to mark the one-year anniversary of the overthrow of the former Soviet-backed regime. Heavy rain was assumed to be the cause of the crash.
Mohamed was employed as a translator and producer in the BBC bureau in Kabul. He also reported for the BBC Persian Service.
John Mathai, a Kenyan video technician for Visnews, was killed whilst working with the BBC in Addis Ababa in 1991, covering the overthrow of Ethiopia's Marxist regime. On 28 May he and his cameraman, Mohamed Amin, went with BBC correspondent Michael Buerk to film a fire at an ammunition dump. When the dump exploded, John was killed and Mohamed was badly injured. Michael Buerk later wrote: 'John Mathai was a graceful and gentle man, the last person who should have met such an ugly death.'
Chester Wilmot, an eminent war correspondent, was killed when a BOAC Comet jetliner crashed over the Mediterranean on 10 January, 1954. He was returning from Sydney after taking part in the BBC’s 1953 round-the-world Christmas broadcast.
Wilmot, 42, was an Australian journalist who had joined the ABC at the start of WW2. He reported from North Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific, before moving to the BBC in May, 1944. On D-Day he landed in France with the British 6th Airborne Division and covered many other major military operations in the final months of the war. He was present at the German surrender in May, 1945 and reported on the Nuremberg trials.
The glass sculpture is etched with a spiral of continuous text by the sculptor Jaume Plensa, reflecting the voices we hear even in the silence:
life turns and turns on the crystal glass
breathing in our body
silence is a voice, our voice
silence is a body, our body
life turns and turns on the crystal glass
breathing in our body
I invite you to breathe
I invite you to listen to the silence
In addition, Breathing has a specific memorial poetry commission from the writer and ex-war correspondent, James Fenton.
We spoke, we chose to speak of war and strife –
a task a fine ambition sought –
and some might say, who shared our work, our life:
that praise was dearly bought.
Drivers, interpreters, these were our friends.
These we loved. These we were trusted by.
The shocked hand wipes the blood across the lens.
The lens looks to the sky.
Most died by mischance. Some seemed honour-bound
to take the lonely, peerless track
conceiving danger as a testing ground
to which they must go back
till the tongue fell silent and they crossed
beyond the realm of time and fear.
Death waved them through the checkpoint. They were lost.
All have their story here.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.