Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME)

 


[ Corporal Darryl Gardiner ]


Corporal Darryl Gardiner

Corporal Darryl Gardiner, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), Killed in southern Afghanistan on Sunday 20th January 2008. He was serving attached to 5th Regiment Royal Artillery and 52 Brigade's Reconnaissance Force. Corporal Gardiner was taking part in an operation to disrupt enemy forces and reassure local Afghans three kilometres north of Musa Qala district centre in Helmand Province. Shortly after 1530 hours local time the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a roadside mine strike. Corporal Gardiner was evacuated by helicopter to the field hospital at Camp Bastion for medical treatment but sadly he did not survive. Five other soldiers were injured in the explosion and they are now receiving medical care. There were no enemy forces involved. Corporal Darryl Gardiner, aged 25, was born in Germany on 25 January 1982. He was from Salisbury in Wiltshire and was known to his friends as 'Daz'. He deployed to Afghanistan on 19 October 2007 with 52 Brigade. He was attached to 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, which works with the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment as part of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force; providing information for Task Force Helmand, based in Lashkar Gar. As an armourer, Corporal Gardiner provided essential support to the Brigade Reconnaissance Force both on and off patrol. Corporal Gardiner was a keen skydiver and member of the Army Parachute Association. He represented the Army in parachute competitions and was also an accomplished parachute instructor. He leaves behind a girlfriend, Lucy. A family statement read: "The family are deeply proud that Darryl served his country. Major Tony Phillips, Officer Commanding of Task Force Helmand's Brigade Reconnaissance Force, said: "Corporal 'Daz' Gardiner was an exceptional young man and a man that the Brigade Recce Force will miss so much. His death has been a bitter blow to us all. "We in the Brigade Reconnaissance Force have lost a good friend, a courageous soldier and a remarkably skilled tradesman but we are only too aware that his family has lost so much more, it is they who are at the forefront of our minds. "Corporal Gardiner occupied a position at the very hub of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force. As the armourer he was key to maintaining our battle-worthiness. Prior to deploying on each operation the force would undertake a weapons check on the ranges and there would always be the odd problem for Corporal Gardiner to deal with. "He would hurry up and down the line of vehicles with his toolbox, or as he joked his 'collection of different sized hammers', fixing and tweaking the problem weapons. He faced a real professional challenge, due to the nature of our deployments his "workshop" was the desert floor, yet he persevered and, despite the battering the weapons took, he would work miracles to keep things up and running. "Corporal Gardiner had proved himself under fire on a number of occasions during this tour, he epitomised the cool, calm and courageous modern soldier. He even enjoyed momentary fame when he was part of a small team that defeated a vehicle-borne suicide bomber in Gereshk in October 2007. "Corporal Gardiner was a very accomplished parachutist. Just prior to deploying to Afghanistan he ran a parachuting expedition in California. He discussed the possibility of running another expedition in summer 2008 for personnel from 4/73 Battery. I agreed to this, in principle, only to discover that he had virtually organised and planned the whole thing already. How could I fault such enthusiasm? "Corporal Gardiner drove the Battery Sergeant Major's vehicle and this brought additional responsibilities. Some were less glamorous than others; for example running the 'tuck shop'. He was reliant upon the Brigade Reconnaissance Force team in Camp Bastion for his stock and I recall his dismay when they dispatched 'Yorkie Bars' for him to sell. Yorkie bars, of course, are freely available in the ration packs. Only 'Daz' could get away with selling a bar on the basis that 'these ones taste different to the issue bars'! "Corporal Gardiner had spent 3 months living and operating in the harshest of environments, yet despite such constant adversity he always soldiered on in the most pleasant and good natured manner. Corporal Gardiner was good to be around, he was a gentleman, we will all cherish the time we had with him." Captain James Ashworth, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, and Operations Officer of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, said: "It is with enormous sadness that we have lost Corporal 'Daz' Gardiner. Professionally we have lost a bright and talented soldier who was first class at his job, a man who prided himself on getting things done and who took great pleasure in his work.  "On a personal level we have lost far more. He showed a rare sensitivity and compassion for others and his warmth of character has been of comfort to many. He has demonstrated an enduring courage and loyalty to his friends and colleagues. Underpinning his quality was desire not to let others down; he never did. It is testament to his character that his last actions were helping others. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts and prayers are especially with his family and girlfriend, Lucy." Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Mike Smith, Former Commandant of the Joint Services Parachute Centre and Chairman of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Parachuting, said: "'Daz' Gardiner started parachuting with the REME Parachute Team in 2001. He was a most enthusiastic and capable student parachutist who in a very short space of time developed into an outstanding parachute instructor. His love of the sport knew no bounds. He made a huge contribution to the Army Parachute Association and his Corps as a tandem instructor, accelerated free fall instructor, static line instructor and display parachutist.  "He was looking forward to his return to UK where he was to instruct on an adventurous training expedition, taking soldiers off to California to teach them to skydive. With his helpful and friendly nature he was always able to put his students at ease and encourage them to make their first jump.  "He represented his Corps and the Army in parachute competition and was one of the leading competitors in the Armed Forces.  "'Daz' was a very popular and likeable soldier. He leaves behind many military and civilian friends in the world of skydiving who will miss him dearly."


[ Corporal Jason Stuart Barnes ]

Corporal Jason Stuart Barnes from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), attached to 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, killed on Tuesday 22 July 2008 in Afghanistan. Cpl Barnes was driving a Vector ambulance vehicle when it hit a suspected Improvised Explosive Device. He was returning to base after he had successfully aided in the evacuation of a casualty who had been injured earlier near Kajaki in northern Helmand. Despite the very best medical efforts at the scene, Cpl Barnes sadly died a few minutes later. Following his death the Commanding Officer of 2 PARA, Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan, paid the following tribute: "Late in the evening of 22nd July, Kajaki Company deployed forward from their base to counter the Taliban's attempts to influence the local population in nearby villages, and prevent them from firing mortars and rockets at the base and the Kajaki Dam. "Cpl Barnes was an armourer and part of 2 PARA's REME Light Aid Detachment. His job was to maintain the company's weapons in the base, but often took a turn driving the Vector ambulance vehicle in support of the company's operations. "When another member of the company was seriously injured in an explosion the ambulance was needed, and after a successful evacuation of the seriously injured soldier by helicopter Cpl Barnes was driving the ambulance back towards the base when it was struck by an explosive device. "Cpl Barnes had been with 2 PARA only a short time, but he had already spent three months at Kajaki and had also served in Iraq; he knew how dangerous the company's operations were but wanted to do as much as he could. He died helping others when he could have taken an easier path, and in doing so demonstrated the commitment and bloody-minded determination that runs so deeply through the battalion. "Cpl Barnes was a promising NCO with a bright future. 2 PARA will again mourn the loss of a brave young man, and the grief it brings to his wife and family; then we will continue to show what can be achieved by men like Cpl Barnes in northern Helmand." "Cpl Barnes, 25, from Exeter, was born on 27 May 1983. He joined the Army in December 1999 and chose to follow a career in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as an Armourer, maintaining the Army's weapon systems. Following initial training at the Army Apprentice College in Arborfield, he learnt his specialist trade at the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering in Bordon. "He completed his training in October 2001 and took up his first posting with the 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, with whom he deployed on his first operational tour to the Balkans in 2002. In November 2003 Cpl Barnes was posted to the 1st Battalion The Scots Guards, with whom he deployed to Iraq in late 2004. In May 2005 he was posted to 657 Squadron Army Air Corps at RAF Odiham. "He arrived at 2 PARA in February 2008 and within weeks had deployed to northern Helmand in Afghanistan. Cpl Barnes had been promoted for the tour and very quickly impressed his colleagues. He had spent his whole career supporting the fighting units of the Army, which he relished. He was married to Diana, and they had recently moved to Colchester, the home of 2 PARA."

Company Commander, Major Grant Haywood, said: Cpl Jason Barnes was one of the true 'all rounder' and epitomised the 'fighter first' spirit of X Company. His boundless energy and selfless commitment meant he was the first to volunteer for the most difficult tasks and relished the opportunity to deploy on the ground in whatever the role. "He was not one to be left behind when there was an operation to be conducted. In his primary role as an armourer, he was first class, never one to call time when there was a job to be done. "He will be remembered here as an individual with natural charm, dry wit and a real zest for life. He died as he lived, placing others first and doing what he wanted to do, so well, without fear or complaint. "Nothing exemplifies this more than the last moments before his passing where he helped to save the life of a colleague who was critically injured. He will be truly missed by all here and our thoughts are with his wife, family and friends." Warrant Officer Class 2 Martin Black, Artificer Quarter Master Sergeant, said: "Cpl Barnes was an excellent tradesman with an endless knowledge of heavy weapon systems. He had not been with us for long but fitted in immediately – he was a gregarious man who we couldn't fail to like. "He had a fantastic work ethic, no matter what the task – he would keep going until it was completed so that the company's weapons were always up to the job. A measure of his skill and determination was when, in the middle of a firefight with the Taliban, he stripped down a .50 calibre machine gun that was failing to fire, fixed it and got it working again for his colleagues.  "His death is a very, very sad loss, not just to us in 2 PARA but to the whole of REME. He was looking forward to his R & R, to spend time with his wife Diana. My thoughts are with her and all his family at this tragic time." Warrant Officer Class Two, Sergeant Major Robin Holliman, said: "Cpl Barnes was a very likeable character and was extremely keen and professional in everything he undertook. He was always using his initiative to the full, not always to my pleasure! He was willing to help others and never shy to assist with any other tasks above and beyond his normal role of a REME armourer. "He will be sadly missed by those at the Forward Operating Base as well as across the Battle Group. It was a pleasure to have served with him in X Company. Our thoughts are with his wife and family." Platoon Sergeant Fire Support Group, Sergeant Mark Sutton, said: "Jay was a first class armourer who excelled in his field and prided himself on working all hours, not just to support the Fire Support Group but helping others when required. He always had a smile on his face and the humour to go with it. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him." Section Commander Fire Support Group, Lance Corporal Martin Scott, said: "Jay was always there when one of the weapon systems had broken and after a quick tampering it would be as good as new. Jay loved his job and was forever cutting about with a smile on his face. You will be missed by all." Friend and colleague Private Carl Ward said: "When I first met Jay he was a cheerful outgoing person who always had a smile on his face. He loved his job and was always ready to give a helping hand no matter what the task. He will be sadly missed within the Fire Support Group and all those in Kajaki. Our thoughts go out to his wife, family and his friends. You will be missed Ginge." Friend and colleague Private Rowan Brown said: "Jay was a man who loved his life and enjoyed his job and the challenges it presented. He prided himself on finding a solution to any problem and if he couldn't he would compensate with his unique sense of humour. He would always go out of his way to help people and never seemed to stop working. "His sense of humour and his ability to talk about all and any subject for hours always seemed to make guard duty last five minutes instead of an hour. His bright personality and smile matched the red tinge his skin would adopt after the shortest period in the sun. He will be missed by all who got to know and work with him." Cpl Barnes's wife, Diana, said: "He was a loving husband and will be sadly missed."


[ Corporal Dean Thomas John (left) and Corporal Graeme Stiff (right)  ]

Corporal Graeme Stiff and Corporal Dean John of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers killed in Helmand province on Sunday 15 March 2009. Corporal Dean Thomas John (left) and Corporal Graeme Stiff (right) Both soldiers were members of the Light Aid Detachment of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (QDG). The men had been conducting a vehicle move to the west of Garmsir in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. Corporals John and Stiff had been travelling in a Jackal patrol vehicle when, at about 1630 hours local time, it was struck by an explosive device and they were both killed.

[ Corporal Dean Thomas John ]

Corporal Dean Thomas John Corporal Dean John, aged 25, was born and bred in Neath, South Wales. His hometown is Port Talbot in Wales. He joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in August 2000 and after passing out of basic training was posted to 12th Regiment Royal Artillery in Germany. His subsequent postings were also to Germany based units: 1st Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.  He had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and was on his second tour of Afghanistan as a Vehicle Mechanic in the Fitter Section of A Squadron, QDG. He was married to Wendy and father to three sons - Ethan, Harvey, and Dylan. Corporal John was the epitome of a REME soldier: enthusiastic, determined, selfless, hardworking and loyal. He was a happy and loveable rogue who could always be found up to his elbows in the engine compartment of any vehicle that even looked like it needed some work. He had an enormous appetite for hard work and a tenacity that drove him to extraordinary lengths to fix problems. His inquisitive and active mind would analyse why some component had failed and seek a solution to avoid a reoccurrence. His consummate professionalism and wonderfully fun character made him a universally popular and respected member of the Fitter Section, Squadron and Regiment. He had a very bright future, having won an award for being the joint best Non-Commissioned Officer in the Light Aid Detachment of the Queen's Dragoon Guards and receiving a recommendation for Artificer training. He was an avid motocross fan and had an addiction to anything mechanical. He loved his job and his mates and was never one to miss a party, but he was also a devoted husband and father. In the quieter moments of the tour he would speak lovingly of Wendy and with immense pride of his three boys. He leaves behind a gap in the Regiment, Squadron and Fitter Section that is irreplaceable and an even greater hole in a young family. Dean's wife, Wendy, paid the following tribute: "Dean was a much loved husband and father and treasured by all his family. He will be fondly remembered. Dean died doing the job he loved, fighting for his queen and country. He was our hero and will live on in our hearts. Dean lived life to the full and was always happy and smiling. He will be greatly missed." Lieutenant Colonel Alan Richmond, Commanding Officer QDG, said: "The loss of Dean John has cast a dark shadow over the Regiment. He had been part of our Regimental family for almost three years. He was a huge character who had a reputation for hard work and professionalism, capped with a wonderful sense of humour and love of practical jokes. He was a proud Welshman who loved his job, his friends and his family. He was one of the most incredible mechanics with whom I have had the privilege of serving alongside; so utterly dependable that people fought to secure his services. "He was universally popular and so widely respected because of his incredible capacity for hard work and tenacious determination to fix everything mechanical. He was also so clearly happy in his work and had such a  bright future ahead of him. Dean's death is a great loss to all of us in the Queen's Dragoon Guards. We will remember him and our thoughts are with Wendy and his family at this most painful times."

Major Charlie Waggett, Squadron Leader, A Sqn, QDG, said: "At a time like this it is hard to put into words the sense of the loss felt by so many people for such a lovely bloke, for such a top man. Cpl Dean John was the best of so many things – always so bright and cheery, I cannot remember a moment when he did not seem to be at the top of his game. "He was incredibly dedicated to his role, and he was immensely good at it. The amount of hours that he dug out to ensure that the Squadron's vehicles were task-worthy cannot even be fathomed. In recently writing a proposal for a commendation for his efforts on this tour, I commented on his 'unwavering professionalism', his 'determination to succeed', and his 'remarkable trade ability'. "But Corporal John was so much more than just an excellent soldier. We, his friends, in the Fitter Section, in the Squadron, in the Regiment and in the REME, have lost someone who truly was a little bit special: someone who would always smile even when the chips were down. Someone who had a mischievous glint in his eye and an enormous sense of fun in his character; and someone who was there for other people. "But our sense of loss is nothing compared to that of his wife and three young sons that he leaves behind, and to whom our thoughts and support must now turn, and to whom we can only offer our deepest and most sincere condolences at this tragic time." Captain David Toland, Officer Commanding QDG Light Aid Detachment, said: "Corporal Dean John could not have been a funnier, more hard-working soldier and engineer who would do anything for anyone. He was a hugely knowledgeable REME mechanic that demanded the best of his soldiers and accepted nothing less from himself. He was often found at his happiest when deprived of sleep, cursing away and completely covered in oil having fixed a vehicle; I don't think there was anything he could not fix. "Throughout his time in the Light Aid Detachment it has always been obvious he was one of the best of his generation with the world at his feet. This is a complete blow for all of his friends and colleagues who could not fail to love this larger than life personality; he was at the heart of his Fitter Section and the Detachment. Our thoughts are with his wife and young family for whom words cannot describe how sorry we are that they have lost such a great man from their lives. He was an inspiration to us all and will never be forgotten." Staff Sergeant Marcus Waugh, Troop Leader of Fitter Section, A Sqn, QDG, said: "One of the remarkable things apparent by the contribution Dean made, both personally and professionally; was the amount of praise he received from the chain of command. Dean was never happier than when he was 'balls deep', his words; and by that he meant contributing at the top of his game. This was the environment where Dean performed to the highest of his abilities and showed all too clearly his true potential. "Under pressure, and in the face of adverse conditions, he was a man who could be relied upon. On those occasions when a job absolutely must be done, he was always the first choice." "When trouble struck his tenacious efforts, enthusiasm and clinical detail were a driving force, revitalizing initiative on the ground and regaining the momentum in favour of his commander's intent, which he understood impeccably. His resolve was tireless and he worked endlessly to ensure that the Squadron had the level of support it required to sustain operations. "The Troop Leaders of the Squadron were particular fans of Dean's attributes, and would competitively lace their bids for his support of their patrols, requesting whether 'Corporal John available for this one?' He was a man of selfless commitment who took it upon himself to ensure that all the junior and more senior members of the Squadron received the guidance and mentoring they needed to improve their abilities." "In his private life, Dean was a devoted family man. He treasured his wife and was fiercely proud of his three boys. He would regularly recite the accomplishments and escapades of his sons, often openly displaying his unwavering love for his family. Our thoughts and support go to Dean's family and loved ones throughout this unimaginably difficult time." Sergeant Jamie Scott, Troop Sergeant of Fitter Section, A Sqn, QDG, said: "Dean had a love of life and for his job that was unmatched by anyone else in the Squadron. He was always ready to volunteer for any task, and would carry it out in an utterly professional manner. His moods were easy to read. If happy, he would bounce around using the word 'mint' a lot; and if a bit hacked off he would make it clear, yet still with that cheeky smile on his face. "All knew that he was never happier than when covered head to toe in oil, no matter what the weather conditions, or how long he had been on the go. His love of the job earned him the respect of all the members of the Squadron and the Regiment. He would offer advice and guidance whenever a problem was encountered, which combined with his personal bearing and uncanny ability to be correct in his thoughts, made him a special role model to those around him. "Out of work Dean was a very friendly and sociable person, always the first to help others to relax. A main character in the 'Salisbury Shapes' club where he would take younger members of the Fitter Section on cultural visits to the "Cathedral" of the city, which as it turns out was the name of the main nightclub! "Dean would often talk of his wife, Wendy, and it was clear to all that he loved her and his children dearly. Wherever he is now, he will be missing them as much as they will be missing him. As he would say, "at the end of the day", Deano was a central figure in the Fitter Section and the Squadron, both in and out of work. The knowledge and experiences he passed onto all of us, and the memories we have of him will stay with us forever."


[ Corporal Graeme Stiff ]

Corporal Graeme Stiff, aged 24, was born in Münster, Germany and came from a military background. Having accompanied his father across the world on various military postings, he enlisted into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 2004. After passing out of training, he was posted to 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, where he served as an Electronics Technician in A Squadron's Fitter Section. He was on his first operational tour when his life was so tragically cut short.  Graeme 'Stiffy' Stiff excelled in his field. He greatly looked forward to deploying to Afghanistan and quickly proved to be a most reliable driver and craftsman in the demanding environment of southern Helmand. He was a hardworking and happy individual who loved his job and the friendships and camaraderie of his team. He revelled in his Corps' motto of 'Arte et Marte' ('By Skill and by Fighting') and was always found tinkering with his Jackal and ensuring that it was ready for action. 

He was a shining example of a REME craftsman, working hard and playing hard, and adding every minute to the morale and happiness of the Squadron. He was exceptionally adaptable and in great demand for his expertise, often volunteering to go out on patrol even when exhausted; yet he was still able to improve the morale of those around him. 'Stiffy' was a keen sportsman and a particularly skilful footballer who represented both the REME and QDG at Football. He also enjoyed his time in the gym – either training by himself or 'spotting' for his friends. He leaves behind his girlfriend Lauren, with whom he was looking forward to spending more time, a loving family, and a host of friends. Graeme's family paid the following tribute: "Graeme was a loving and loved brother, son and grandson whose life was cruelly brought to an end. Like so may on operations he gave his life so that others may live better ones. His mother and father and brother will always remember him for the joy that he brought to everyone's life. "We miss you so much already and you will live in our hearts and minds forever. Love Mum, Dad, mike and Bailey ......... galaxeee." Lieutenant Colonel Alan Richmond, Commanding Officer QDG, said: "The loss of 'Stiffy' is a great burden for the Regiment and will impact significantly upon the close-knit Fitter Section within which he was such a pivotal character. He was an incredibly genuine individual; mild, quiet, caring and selfless with a sharp sense of humour and lust for life. He enjoyed his job and loved the challenges that it brought, but above all loved the people with whom he lived and worked. "He was a mainstay of morale and a hugely professional craftsman. He had a confidence and assuredness that belied his young age and lack of experience. Always cheerful and positive he was always able to raise the spirits of those around him. He will be sorely missed by us all and we all send our heartfelt condolences to his girlfriend,  Lauren, and to his family." Major Charlie Waggett, Squadron Leader, A Sqn, QDG, said: "I was lucky enough to spend some time with Corporal Graeme Stiff and to get to know him well when he acted as my driver during parts of the current operational tour. 'Stiffy' was a lovely character; a mild man at heart, with a fun and caring manner. As a soldier, he was the consummate professional; incredibly capable in his specialised role in the Squadron's Fitter Section and bright – quickly able to assimilate new skills. He also fitted the adage 'soldier first, specialist thereafter', as he could turn his hand and his talent to any number of areas. "'Stiffy' was a great member of the Squadron and he fitted in so well with all the blokes, always being ready to raise morale with a cheeky gag. However, it will be his enduringly happy nature, his ever-present smile, and his compassion for others that will be his abiding memory. His love for his girlfriend was so very evident, and he  would always place a picture of her on his driver's dashboard, so she would never be too far from his thoughts. "We will miss 'Stiffy' so much. He was a friend to so many, and our loss must now be tempered, as our thoughts and support turn to his family and his girlfriend Lauren, to whom we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences at this tragic time."  Captain David Toland, Officer Commanding, QDG Light Aid Detachment, said: "Ask anyone in the unit who Corporal Graeme Stiff was and the reply would always be about how great and fun a man he was. On tour he has proven that when it counted he was steadfast, reliable and flexible enough to soldier on throughout the day and keep equipment fit at any time. "Every spare moment he would spend keeping himself very fit and he obviously loved sports. We had often spoken about his desire to return back to the UK so he could settle down for a period of stability. This was due to happen shortly after we returned and he was really looking forward to buying property and spending as much time as possible with his girlfriend after a couple of hectic years with a front line regiment. This makes it all the harder to bear that such a young man with so much to offer was taken, but we will always remember him as one of the pivotal figures within our unit. We send our deepest condolences to his family and girlfriend at this time."

Staff Sergeant Marcus Waugh, Troop Leader of Fitter Section, A Sqn QDG, said: "Throughout Op HERRICK 9 Graeme fulfilled his role, both as a soldier and a tradesman to an outstanding standard. The challenges that he faced were beyond that of the conventionally employed REME soldier; however, far from being out of his comfort zone it was a position in which Graeme excelled. This highlighted the depth and experience he had gained within his role, and meant that he became a sought after asset within the Squadron, applying his knowledge and trade, while deployed at the forefront of many operations. "Graeme had a potential that is rarely seen amongst others. Although new in rank he displayed a confidence and enthusiasm that saw him compete amongst the best of his peer group. Intelligent and articulate, Graeme had only just embarked upon what undoubtedly would have been a long and rewarding career in the Armed Forces. "Keen to exploit opportunities and his own potential, Graeme had developed an ambition to attend Army helicopter pilot training; and clearly possessing the attributes of intelligence, diligence and enthusiasm, he would have undoubtedly excelled. "In his trade, Graeme was always keen to extend himself outside of his career scope. This saw him contributing on a regular basis for the greater good of the Squadron. Even when there was no requirement for his particular skill set, he would often stay with colleagues, working late into the night to ensure that tasks were completed, and that a hot beverage or food could be sourced if the guys needed it. It was through such fine displays of teamwork and camaraderie that Graeme was able to demonstrate his true sense of selflessness.  "An excellent sportsman, Graeme represented both the REME and QDG at Football. Whilst deployed on Op Herrick 9, Graeme used much of his spare time conducting his own busy schedule of operations, which he referred to as 'Op Massive' (going to the gym) and 'Op Bronze' (sun bathing). Such was his own development and notable motivation in both these fields that he had soon recruited an influx of others from within the Fitter Section, all  eager to emulate his impressive results! It is in this difficult time that our thoughts and feelings of support go to Graeme's Family" and loved ones."  Sergeant Jamie Scott, Troop Sergeant of Fitter Section, A Sqn, QDG, said: "When Graeme first came to the Fitter Section he was a typical REME technician, very intelligent but at times a bit clumsy! Thankfully it did not take him long to overcome this and develop into an excellent tradesman, which was a mark of his character. "He was willing to attempt every new challenge presented to him and was quick to adapt to new situations. So much so, that his vehicle commanders were extremely unwilling to release him due to his excellent driving skills and all round contribution within a crew. "Graeme may have had a quiet nature about him, but he was the friendliest of people and quick with funny remarks and comments. If during the tour you wanted to find Graeme, then the first port of call would be the gym. He was always dragging his colleagues along so that he could 'beast' them and try to get that ultimate 'beach body'. Principally, this was because he wanted to look good for his girlfriend, Lauren. "Those that knew him understood that she was central to his life, and he would always have a photo of her near him. They may not have been married, but it was clear to all that he wanted her to remain a part of his life forever. Graeme will be sorely missed by the Fitter Section and Squadron members alike." Craftsman John McAvoy, Fitter Section, A Sqn, QDG, recalled the following anonymous poem: The soldier stood and faced his God Which must always come to pass He hoped his shoes were shining  Just as brightly as his brass Step forward now you soldier How shall I deal with you? Have you always turned the other cheek? To my church have you been true? The soldier squared his shoulders and said, 'No, Lord, I guess I ain't But those of us who carry guns Cannot be a saint. 'I've had to work most Sundays, And at times my talk is tough And sometimes I've been violent Because the world is awfully rough 'But I never took a penny That wasn't mine to keep Though I worked a lot of overtime When bills got just too steep. 'And I never passed a cry for help Though at times I shook with fear And sometimes God forgive me I've wept unmanly tears. 'I know I don't deserve a place Among these people here They never wanted me around Except to calm their fears. 'If you've a place here, Lord It needn't be so grand I never expected or had too much But if you don't I'll understand.' There was a silence all around the throne Where saints had often trod As the soldier waited quietly For the judgement of his God. 'Step forward now you soldier You've borne your burdens well Walk peacefully in heaven's streets You've done your time in Hell.' "This reminds me of him," added Cfn McAvoy. "It says it better than I can." Craftsman Lee 'Smudger' Smith, Fitter Section, A Sqn, QDG, said: "'Stiffy' was loved by us all and was my best mate. He had a cracking personality and the crafty bugger always got the good jobs. That is what I loved about him. "He was always there when I needed him and his solution for everything was going out for a few beers. Considering he was a tech, he was a good drinker. He was always up for a laugh and was heading for great things in life. "Graeme was liked by everyone. Not just by those in the LAD (Light Aid Detachment) but the whole Regiment in which he proudly served. I don't have a bad word to say about him. "Graeme loved to wind me up but I could always count on him. I'm proud to have known him and to be able to call him my friend. He will be dearly missed not only by me but by many more I'm sure."


[ Craftsman Anthony Lombardi ]

Craftsman Anthony Lombardi of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), attached to The Light Dragoons, Killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 4 August 2009. Craftsman (Cfn) Lombardi was killed in Babaji, in the Lashkar Gar district of Helmand province. He was attached as a vehicle mechanic to Emsdorf Troop, a CVR(T) [Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)] group from The Light Dragoons serving with A Company, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters) (2 MERCIAN). Cfn Lombardi was driving a CVR(T) Spartan as part of an escort for a Viking supply convoy, moving between the company's two locations when the vehicle was hit by an explosion. The force of the explosion breached the hull, killing him instantly. 

Cfn Lombardi was born on 8 October 1987 and grew up in Scunthorpe, South Humberside. He joined the Army in September 2004 and finished training at the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering in Bordon in February 2006. He was then posted to 15 Equipment Support Company, 19 Light Brigade Combat Service Support Battalion, as a Vehicle Mechanic where he furthered his knowledge of the trade. After qualifying as a Class 2 mechanic, he was posted to The Light Dragoons Light Aid Detachment (LAD) in July 2008. Known as "Lombo" to his friends, Cfn Lombardi was a talented sportsman and represented the Army Youth Team and the REME at football. He is survived by his parents, Helen and Walter, and his fiancée, Ellie, with whom he had a one-year-old son, Harvey. 

Anthony's family paid the following tribute: "Anthony was a loving son, brother, father, uncle and fiancé. Everyone who loved Anthony is proud of him for who he was and for what he was doing in the Army. "Everyone is gutted that such a talented, wonderful and popular person is now missing from their lives and his son will never grow up and understand what an amazing star Anthony was. He will be sadly missed by his family, friends and colleagues."  Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair, Commanding Officer of The Light Dragoons, said: "Cfn Lombardi had all the qualities one would expect of a REME soldier – intelligent, driven and a brilliant mechanic. More than that, though, he was the life and soul of his peer group. Always at the centre of any social event, he applied the same vigour and enthusiasm for life to his work. No matter how little sleep he had, or how complicated and lengthy his repair was, Cfn Lombardi would have a smile on his face and an infectious enthusiasm that carried his section forward. He was hugely popular and undoubtedly had the potential to go far. "We have been privileged to have a soldier of this singular quality attached to the Regiment and we, along with his many close friends in the REME, will feel his loss deeply. All of our thoughts remain with his family; His parents, Helen and Walter, and his fiancée and their young son, Harvey. We are desperately sorry for this terrible loss." Captain Dave Bunker, Officer Commanding The Light Dragoons' LAD, said. "Cfn Lombardi, or Lombo to his many friends, was an inspiration. I first met him on Salisbury Plain in June 2008 where he was attached to the LAD from 15 Equipment Support Company. It was there that I first saw the quality of this young and talented man. He was the perfect tradesman; fit, bold, cheerful and incredibly bright. He was desperate to come to The Light Dragoons and with his ability and character he was welcomed with open arms. "He touched so many people during his life. His beaming smile and sense of fun lit up the lives of all who he encountered. His very presence motivated everyone to give their best. His prowess with a spanner was only matched by his skills on the dance floor where he truly astounded us all. He was an avid footballer who played for the Army Youth Team and at every other opportunity. "Cfn Lombardi was an expert on CVR(T) and he kept his Troop moving through thick and thin. I was utterly confident in knowing that when he was with the Troop, that the job would be done to the highest of standards and in record time. Cfn Lombardi died [while serving] with his friends, while doing a tough job with determination and considerable style. "He was truly marked for greatness and had an abundance of Artificer qualities. He was a true credit to the REME and the gift of his presence amongst us can never be replaced. "The loss of Cfn Lombardi has been felt deeply by his many friends and he will always be in our hearts. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and, in particular, his much loved fiancée, Ellie, and their son, Harvey." Major Paddy Ginn, Officer Commanding A (Grenadier Company), 2 MERCIAN, said: "Cfn Lombardi was in Emsdorf Troop, attached to A (Grenadier) Company for Op HERRICK. As his Company Commander I was amazed by his abilities both as soldier and a skilled craftsman. He had the rarely seen ability to be the master of both trades. Truly selfless, he would think nothing of working through the night to repair the CVR(T) vehicles that the Company relied on for support. That the vehicles never failed is a direct result of his awesome capacity for hard work. "Always cheerful, he was never fazed by the engineering problems that the lads of Emsdorf Troop presented him. But he could also soldier with the best of the infantry, and would volunteer for the toughest patrols and operations. His cheerful character and good humour were a source of comfort in the tough times that the company has faced on this tour. "However bad the lads feel at his loss, it is nothing compared to the feelings of his family and fiancée. Our thoughts are with them in this most difficult of times. He was a top lad who will be sorely missed by all that had the privilege of serving with him. God rest, Lombo; you made a mark on all of us that will never be forgotten."  Lieutenant Tresham Gregg, Emsdorf Troop Leader, said: "Cfn Lombardi, 'Lombo' for short, had an infinite amount of enthusiasm for life. He was a devoted partner to his fiancée, Ellie, and a loving father to his son, Harvey, whom Lombo was always keen and proud to talk about. He was also the most extremely talented soldier with an exceptional knowledge of his trade. I know this first hand having tested his ability to fix my vehicles on numerous occasions during these last four months in Afghanistan. He never failed to come up trumps no matter how hard I tried! "Lombo was a soldier who never complained no matter what was asked of him. He seemed to excel when put under pressure and offer advice and help as and when it was needed. I could not have asked for a better individual to have had in my troop. He had an incredibly caring character that was able to enthuse morale back into the whole troop in all situations.  "It was a distinct pleasure to have known and worked with Cfn Lombardi and a real privilege to have had such a professional soldier under my command. "Whilst in Afghanistan I had a number of conversations with Lombo during which he told me that he had plans of buying a house with his fiancée and that he could not wait to see his son Harvey on his return from theatre. I had so much admiration for his dedication and love towards his friends and family. For this reason my heart goes out to all his loved ones during this terribly sad time. "This disastrous loss of Cfn Lombardi will always be in my mind. He was an individual with so much to offer in everything he did and thus was destined to be a success both in the army and at home. "Speaking for the whole of Emsdorf Troop, we will always cherish the short time we knew this remarkable individual. Lombo, our friend, you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace." Warrant Officer Class Two, Willy Willcoxson, Light Dragoons' LAD Artificer Quartermaster Sergeant, said. "I first met Cfn Anthony Lombardi (Lombo) when he was part of a Forward Repair Team from 19 ../css [Combat Service Support] Battalion and was attached to the Light Dragoons during Regimental Training in 2008. He was one of those irrepressible vehicle mechanics who were never really happy unless he was tired, dirty and elbow deep in an engine. He impressed the LAD so much that when he suggested that he wanted a posting to us, we simply had to have him. "On arrival he was immediately within his element, deploying all over the UK training and supporting the Regiment's training. His cheerful and exuberant character immediately bonded him into a close-knit Squadron Fitter Section and LAD. "Lombo was an Army Youth Team Footballer and also represented the REME. He was 'Mr Entertainment' at social functions and never declined the challenge of a dance off. He was fiercely proud of his fiancée, Ellie, and his son, Harvey, who was his pride and joy. "His passing is felt tremendously within the Light Dragoons family and especially the LAD who recognised a soldier and friend who was always in the thick of the action." Staff Sergeant Baz Hall, C Squadron Artificer, said. "Cfn 'Lombo' Lombardi was a young man with a very promising future ahead of him. His 'work hard/play hard' attitude made him very popular both in and out of work. I am very proud to have known him, to have worked with him and to have called him a friend. Words can not describe the loss that we all feel because such an outstanding friend, soldier and tradesman has been taken from us. "Our thoughts go out to his family, especially his fiancée, Ellie, and baby son, Harvey, who will now never experience the love that he had for him. Rest in peace Lombo." Sgt Shaun Stockley, C Squadron Sergeant and Cfn Lombardi's vehicle commander for three months in Afghanistan, said: "He was the top Craftsman Vehicle Mechanic in the Light Dragoons LAD. Fact. He was a great sportsman, a great tradesman and a great friend. He lived life with the passion that it deserved. The little that I do know about CVR(T) was all thanks to him. He would take great pleasure in reversing my repair decisions knowing full well that he was right. He never glorified or revelled in war, he knew that it was serious business. He was there to support the Troop and his mates, always cracking on with the job regardless of the circumstances. He was always first to offer a hand, 'your problem' would soon become 'our problem' and he would stay until the last nut and bolt was tightened. He will be greatly missed by his work colleagues and the Light Dragoons whom he supported. "He loved his young family so much, I realised this long before the hundredth time that he had shown me his family pictures, and always with such great pride. It may be little consolation to his parents at this sad time, but he was a son that any man would have been proud of." Staff Sergeant Michael Ogilvie, friend from Light Dragoons' LAD, said: "Mischievous smile, life and soul of the party, hard working, professional, dedicated and socially awesome. All of these things describe Lombo and a million other flattering words as well. What is easier said is that we are all lucky people as we met this inspiring young man and are all richer for it. Lombo. Loved by all, missed by all." Cpl James Short, a vehicle commander in Emsdorf Troop, The Light Dragoons, said: "Cfn Lombardi, or Lombo as he was known, was a key part of Emsdorf Troop. Without his skill and commitment to his trade Emsdorf Troop wouldn't have been able to function. I know how committed he was when he worked flat out all through the night on my vehicle after I submerged it, not letting us work on it so we could get some rest. This was a real testament to his character. We always turned to him when we needed any advice on the vehicles. "Not only a truly gifted mechanic but he was also a keen soldier who never ticked or whinged but just got on with it. "Lombo was a keen and gifted footballer who represented the REME Corps side and was keen to get stuck into the Light Dragoons side when he got back from tour. He was a proud father to his son Harvey and was looking forward to getting a house with his fiancée. "He was a credit to the REME, The Light Dragoons and the Army. Lombo you were a top lad, a true grafter and a friend to everyone. We'll never forget you mate." Lance Corporal John Cartwright, a friend from Light Dragoons' LAD, said: "I first met Lombo while at The Light Dragoons' LAD. I instantly knew that we were going to become friends, as he was one of the easiest going people that I have ever met. Lombo always had a little something about him that could see the good in any task, no matter how meaningless it may have seemed. Yet he always carried it out with a smile on his face, even when everybody else couldn't. "To have worked with Lombo is an absolute honour but to be able to call him a friend, words cannot describe. He will be missed dearly by everybody who knew him and I am sure that he will never be forgotten. My thoughts go out to his family and friends at this very difficult time." Cfn Stefan Rossi, a friend, said: "Lombo was so easy to get along with and always having a laugh! I remember one time out on the ground at around three in the morning and we had a job on a CVR(T) to do. I was absolutely knackered and had no enthusiasm for the job, but Lombo was well up for it. He kept smiling and making me laugh. He boosted my morale and we were able to complete the job in no time. Cfn Lombardi was an awesome soldier and an awesome Vehicle Mechanic. I would work with him anytime in any conditions." LCpl Damo Crick, a friend from Light Dragoons' LAD, said: "I first met Lombo on my arrival at the Light Dragoons where he was the first person to welcome me into the workshop. As soon as I met him I knew we would get on well. He had an awesome sense of humour and loved playing pranks on people as well as looking after his friends, as he did with me one night after I had a few too many. He was a joy to work with and his enthusiasm never dropped no matter what task given to him, the time of day or whether he was tired. He would just get on with it with the same unforgettable smile that he always had. "It has been an absolute honour to have worked with Lombo and also to have had him as a friend. Everyone in the LAD will miss him dearly and he will always be in our thoughts, as will be his family and friends. I am very sorry for your loss." Cpl Derek Meffen, a friend, said: "Cfn Lombardi was one of the finest craftsmen I have ever worked alongside. It was obvious to me at an early stage that he had what it takes to go a long way within the REME. He would never complain even when it was 0530 in the morning and he was stuck upside down in the hull of a CVR(T) on Salisbury Plain. He had such a great sense of humour and was always smiling. "I remember when he told me he was going to be a dad and he was so proud, I think he was smiling for a full month. It is such a shame that his life was taken from him so early as he was one of the best. My heart goes out to his fiancée and young child as well as his family. Goodbye Lombo; you were a great friend. Gone for now but never forgotten." Craftsman Luke Keenan, a friend, said: "Cfn Lombardi and I started basic training together and became very good friends. From the first time I met Cfn Lombardi he was a great source of morale. He had an awesome sense of humour, and coming from "Sunny Scunny" as he called it I guess he needed it. We nicknamed him 'Balboa', but for the life of me I cannot remember why. He was never one to let the lads down and he was always there to help anyone out if they needed it. "I last saw Craftsman Lombardi at his new posting in Swanton Morley with the Light Dragoons. He hadn't changed a bit and, as always, was surrounded by good friends having a laugh and a joke. Cfn Lombardi was proud to announce to me that he recently had a child with his loving fiancée. My thoughts and prayers go out to them both and his whole family in this time of need.  "Goodbye Balboa, you will be sorely missed."


[ Lance Corporal Richard James Brandon ]

Lance Corporal Richard James Brandon of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) was killed in Afghanistan on 2 September 2009. LCpl Brandon was killed south of Gereshk in Helmand province. He was the driver of a Samson repair and recovery vehicle within the A Squadron Fitter Section of The Light Dragoons. LCpl Brandon's vehicle was carrying out an essential re-supply task when it hit an improvised explosive device. The force of the explosion killed LCpl Brandon instantly. LCpl Brandon was born on 28 November 1984 and was from Kidderminster. He enlisted into the Army on 18 December 2001. After completing his training at the Army Technical Foundation College, he was posted to 215 Signal Squadron where he spent two years as a vehicle mechanic. From there, he was posted to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment. During this posting, he deployed on his first operational tour to Iraq. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2006. He went on to complete his Class 1 qualification before being posted to The Light Dragoons in September 2008. LCpl Brandon leaves behind his parents Anna and Geoff, fiancée Emma-Jayne Webster, his beloved daughter Kaitlin and stepsons Liam and Martyn. Emma-Jayne, his fiancée, paid the following tribute: "Richie was a wonderful fiancée and father/stepfather to Martyn, Liam and our daughter Kaitlin. We couldn't have asked for more. He will be very sadly missed by all that knew him. He loved his job. I feel privileged to have spent four-and-a-half years of my life with him. He was one-in-a-million." 

Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair, Commanding Officer of The Light Dragoons, said: "LCpl Brandon was deployed as a vehicle mechanic supporting a Reconnaissance Troop. Through a very tough and demanding period of fighting, he worked relentlessly to keep the troop's vehicles fully operational and battle-worthy. He had proved his worth as a professional and dedicated soldier and craftsman in the true spirit of his Corps. "A quiet and intelligent individual, LCpl Brandon could always be relied upon when given a task to complete it without fuss or complaint; he also had an uncanny ability to always be covered in dust and oil which epitomised his work ethic. He was a devoted individual, always steadfast in the face of adversity, and whose modesty and decorum earned him the respect of the troop which he supported. "LCpl Brandon had already shown potential as an Artificer in the making with his knowledge, skill, determination and drive. I have no doubt he would have succeeded, such was the quality of the man. His tragic and untimely death will have a profound effect on all who had the privilege to know and work alongside him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time and we share deeply in their grief." Major James Campbell-Barnard, Officer Commanding A Squadron of The Light Dragoons, said: "LCpl Brandon was one of the most tenacious and conscientious young soldiers one could hope to have under their command. His dedication and thoroughness to any REME task set to him was legendary and he was often to be found working well into the small hours - entirely of his own volition - in order to get one of his troop's vehicles ready for the next day. Indeed, he is the only soldier I have known who has had to be ordered to depart on his Rest and Recuperation flight, thus leaving a task unfinished which, despite his protestations, could easily have awaited his return. "Relatively new to the Samson platform on his deployment, it is a testament to his professionalism and ability that he developed expertise so quickly thus proving himself to be absolutely pivotal to his troop over the past four months in Afghanistan. "He will be sadly missed by both 1st Troop and A Squadron as a whole and all our thoughts are with Emma-Jayne, Kaitlin, Liam, Martyn and his family at this extremely sad time." Captain Dave Bunker, Officer Commanding the REME Light Aid Detachment of The Light Dragoons, said: "LCpl Richie Brandon was a great vehicle mechanic, a great soldier and an even greater friend to all of us in The Light Dragoons' Light Aid Detachment. "He was a superb vehicle mechanic who loved being out on the ground with his squadron and Fitter Section. At the time of his death he was deployed independently with his troop, doing what he did best. He excelled at keeping his vehicles moving; what made him special was that he always did it with a huge smile on his face. "He was the most incredibly driven man. On one of many late evenings he was working on a Samson gearbox in FOB [Forward Operating Base] Price and, despite telling him to go to bed and allow less fatigued tradesmen to complete the job, he flatly refused and worked until three in the morning despite an early start. It was one of his vehicles and there was nothing that would stop him from fixing it. "LCpl Brandon was perpetually scruffy, wearing his oil-stained coveralls like a badge of honour and he successfully contrived to lose every clean set that he was ever given. He was a quiet man, with a cheeky sense of fun that never failed to lift our spirits. He had a heart of gold and never had a bad word to say about anything or anyone. We will always remember him as a friend that was always willing to lend a hand, totally committed to his fellow  soldiers and deeply proud of his family. "We have been privileged to have such a talented and dedicated man in the Light Aid Detachment; his loss has been felt keenly by his many friends in  theatre. Our hearts go out to his family at this tragic time; his parents Anne and Geoff, brother Kevin and sisters Denise and Kathy. Our thoughts are especially with his much loved fiancée Emma-Jayne, their daughter Kaitlin and her children Liam and Martyn. God rest Richie, you will never be forgotten." Second Lieutenant Harry Amos, 1st Troop Leader, A Squadron, The Light Dragoons, said: "LCpl Brandon was an outstanding individual with an extremely likeable character. Very much one of the 1st Troop lads he was knowledgeable, conscientious, utterly professional and always keen to muscle in on any job that needed doing. He had great banter and I never saw him complain about anything. He was most definitely a glass half-full man. Richie would always give everything his full attention and wouldn't do a job because he had necessarily been told to do it but because he just knew it needed to be done. He was a pleasure to work with and a pleasure to have known. "He'll be sorely missed by both myself and the whole troop." Warrant Officer Class 1 McLennan, Artificer Sergeant Major of The Light Dragoons, said: "LCpl Brandon was the kind of man that you would want in your Fitter Section. He was a talented vehicle mechanic who pushed himself to the absolute limits to keep his squadron moving. He did all of this with a grin on his face. No matter what time of day or night, he was up to his elbows in oil and grease. You knew when you approached a vehicle with the decks off that his would be the face to pop up to answer your questions, knowing he would soon have it motoring on. "LCpl Brandon epitomises all that is good about our Corps. He was a grafter, a true artisan and a good friend to those who had the pleasure and good fortune to work alongside him. He will be sorely missed by all members of The Light Dragoons family and especially those of the Light Aid Detachment. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this tragic time. Arte et Marte." Corporal Rob Lord, a close friend from The Light Dragoons' Light Aid Detachment, said: "LCpl Richie Brandon, where do I start? First and foremost he was a devoted family man and everything he did was to make a better life for his family. Every penny he earned was spent on his new family home and he was excited by every bit of work he did on it. Richie was a quiet and reserved character but would always be there to help if anyone needed it. He was a quality vehicle mechanic who would just work and work until the job was done. "Richie was my driver of the Samson CVR(T) [Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)] recovery vehicle and, to be honest, he wasn't the best driver in the world, bless him. When I said 'turn left' he would turn right and when I said 'stop' he tried throwing me out the turret with his club foot. He would  rev the nuts off the engine so much that he could hardly ever hear me! I would always say to him 'Richie, I swear there are more than three gears on this wagon', knowing full well that it had seven! "There was one time at FOB Price when we pulled in for refurbishment and I was reversing him back, I told him to stop and he kept going. I ended up shouting through the headset and over the sound of the engine 'just stop!'. He eventually stopped and everyone on the tank park just looked and laughed! "He had his own unique scruffy look. He would always be wearing stained T-shirts and combat trousers with a fag hanging out of his mouth! When I went on R and R [Rest and Recuperation] he gave me a list of things to do for him: I had to send him 1,000 fags, forward his mail out to him, go into his comfy box and send his collection of books out. Definitely not forgetting his flip-flops! I found a new pair of combats in there so sent them as well and, I’m telling you now, they are still nice and clean in the bottom of his Bergen. "Richie would always have a massive smile on his face; every picture I have looked through he is constantly smiling! He never ever moaned; he said to me 'Lordy, if I could, I would stay out here until 23 December and then be back for Christmas with my family'. He was even going to volunteer to come out here next year and do a winter tour! What a loon! I also want to thank him for being a great pal, he was the best listener ever. I bored the hell out of him every day about my girlfriend, but he would just listen and advise me on what to write in blueys to her. "One of the funniest moments I remember of Richie was when we were on our CVR(T) conversion course in Catterick. He had a flat tyre and he was quoted £44 for a new one! Then bang, he kicked right off about it. I even offered to pay £4 towards it. I'm sure he is a secret millionaire! And, by the way,  you still owe me for the fags! "I knew his life story, he would bore me about his family, and he showed me all the pictures of his kids and told me about how he was getting married next year for under a grand! Richie was engaged to Emma-Jayne and had a beautiful daughter called Kaitlin; he also had two stepsons, Liam and Martyn, who he was so proud of. Our thoughts also go out to them and his mum and dad, Anne and Geoff, at this devastating time. "Richie you were an amazing friend. You will be greatly missed by all and you will never ever be forgotten!  Rest in peace mate! Love ya pal!"


[ Corporal Matthew Thomas, ]

Corporal Matthew Thomas, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was killed in the Garmsir district of Helmand province on Saturday 25 September 2010. Corporal Thomas was killed when the vehicle he was driving was struck by an improvised explosive device. His family has been informed.

A spokesperson for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers said:

"Corporal Matthew Thomas was an intelligent, dedicated and courageous man whose all-round professionalism as a soldier, excellence as a sportsman, and deep, deep competence as a mechanical engineer were widely respected and admired. "Though still a young man he was a natural leader, setting the highest standards, showing enormous moral strength, and nurturing those under his command at every turn. His ready smile, natural exuberance and 'can do' attitude were much prized by all with whom he worked, and were testament to how he loved his profession. "He revelled in the responsibility, challenges and opportunities presented to him as a vehicle mechanic on operations in Afghanistan. And for their part the troops whom he supported so ably wholeheartedly embraced 'Tommo', as he was fondly called. "He died alongside these comrades, with whom such a bond had been built and who meant so much to him. His passing is a sad day for us but we must count ourselves privileged to have served with such a talented, rounded and inspirational man. "Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. We hope that in the midst of their terrible loss they can draw strength, as we do, from fond memories of a remarkable sportsman, soldier, mechanic and leader.