Royal Marine Commando

Afghanistan


 Marine Joseph David Windall

The Regimental Colour (RM)

The death of Marine Joseph David Windall, who was killed following the crash of a  RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on Saturday 2 September 2006.


Marine Joseph "Joe" David Windall was born on 18th April 1984. He joined the Royal Marines in November 2002, completing Recruit Training in June 2003. After a short period of time working at RM Stonehouse, Plymouth, he successfully completed a Signaller Class 3 course enabling him to be employed as a communicator in all parts of the Corps. Since completing this course Marine Windall had been busy deploying all around the world for training exercises and operational tours.  An intelligent individual with a mature attitude, Marine Windall was often employed on tasks requiring the ability to work unsupervised and with a great deal of initiative.  Enthusiastic and with an amicable attitude to life, Joe was an immensely popular member of the Royal Marines, and will be sorely missed.


Marine Gary Wright

Marine Gary Wright died as a result of injuries sustained when a suicide-borne improvised explosive device detonated next to the vehicle in which he was patrolling in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 19th October 2006. Gary Wright, from Glasgow, was born on 30 September 1984. He joined the Royal Marines on 21 October 2002, and after completing his basic training at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, he passed out in July 2003 as a member of 843 Troop.  He was an enthusiastic and physically fit Marine who possessed a cheerful and optimistic outlook on life. After training he joined 2 Troop, Whiskey Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines in Arbroath and deployed almost immediately for an operational tour of Northern Ireland where he excelled as a ‘Snatch’ Land Rover driver. During this period his determined and ambitious nature led him to undertake the Recce Troop Selection Course, which he passed with flying colours. He attended the physically and mentally demanding Recce Leaders’ Course in June 2004. This led to a two-year period with Recce Troop where he attended training exercises in the jungles of Ghana, the deserts and mountains of California and the savannahs of Senegal.  In 2004 he also attended the Joint Services Parachute Course at Brize Norton and proudly wore his parachutists’ wings on his uniform. He spent the first three months of this year in Norway where he and the Troop honed their skills in long range Recce in a cold weather environment, including ice climbing on frozen waterfalls and the use of skidoos, before beginning pre-deployment training for Op HERRICK 5. Marine Wright was extremely proud of his Scottish roots and ensured that wherever he was in the world he received a copy of the Daily Record. He was a keen football fan and a passionate supporter of his club Rangers. As a boy he had played in their youth teams and he made every effort to catch as many matches as he could at Ibrox. "He was an excellent Marine who died doing the job he loved."

He loved cars and motorbikes and had a beautiful red MG Midget. He was going to take his motorbike test and was already deciding which bike he was going to buy. Gary was a popular and hard-working member of Recce Troop where his positive attitude and soldiering ability set a fine example to those around him. He was a consistently high performer who found he had a natural affinity to the harsh conditions encountered on demanding exercises and operations in a variety of environments. Above all Marine Wright was a friend to all, a great character and was full of life. He was an extremely popular member of 45 Commando and he will be sorely missed by all who were privileged to serve alongside him. Marine Wright’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Dewar RM, said of him: "Marine Wright was an outstanding young Royal Marine whose determination and professional ability led to his selection as a member of our highly specialised Recce Troop. Extremely popular with a good sense of humour, he was very highly thought of by everyone who worked with him. "He was an excellent Marine who died doing the job he loved and will be missed by all his friends in 45 Commando. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this difficult time."


[ Marine Jonathan Wigley ]

Marine Jonathan Wigley of Zulu Company 45 Commando Royal Marines, Killed as a result of injuries sustained on Tuesday 5 December 2006, in southern Helmand, Afghanistan.

Marine Wigley died as a result of injuries sustained while on an Afghan and UK Task Force operation on the outskirts of the village of Garmsir, to dislodge Taliban forces who had been responsible for attacks on the town in recent days. He was airlifted to a UK hospital in Camp Bastion, where he sadly later died from his wounds. Another Marine who was also injured in the operation underwent surgery at Camp Bastion and is now in a stable condition.

Jonathan Wigley was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on 5 July 1985, and joined the Royal Marines in 2002, aged 17. After passing out of training in early 2004, he went direct to 45 Commando Royal Marines. Before deploying to Afghanistan, Marine Wigley had served in Northern Ireland and with the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines before attempting selection for 45 Commando’s Reconnaissance Troop. He excelled in this, showing immense determination and tenacity to pass the course despite sustaining a broken foot during the selection process. Throughout his service, Marine Wigley’s soldiering skills were of the highest standard. "Jonathan was an outstanding young Royal Marine whose tenacity, determination and professionalism shone through in everything he did."


Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Dewar RM, said ... "A keen outdoor enthusiast, Marine Wigley particularly enjoyed hill walking and climbing. Prior to joining the Royal Marines he had been a competitive gymnast, already well-used to the frequent and hard training that he so evidently enjoyed in the Royal Marines. He approached everything he did with impressive dedication, not least his motorcycle test earlier this year. His bike was his pride and joy as he commuted to and from Arbroath with his friends.  He was a fantastic character to be around and extremely popular among those with whom he served. Above all, Marine Wigley was full of life and a friend to all of the many members of 45 Commando who knew him well. He will be sorely missed by all those who were privileged to serve alongside him. Jonathan was an outstanding young Royal Marine whose tenacity, determination and professionalism shone through in everything he did. Extremely popular, with a lively sense of humour, he was very highly thought of by everyone who worked with him." "He was an excellent Marine who died doing the job he loved and will be missed by all his friends in 45 Commando. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this difficult time."


Marine Jonathan Wigley "The British commando" killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 5 December died when hit by "friendly fire" from an American plane, Royal Marines who fought beside him claimed on Thursday. In chilling detail that provides a stark insight into the dangers faced by British troops, they told how Jonathan Wigley was killed as a result of support fire from a US A-10 Tankbuster called in to help the Marines during a ferocious 10-hour battle with Tailban gunmen on Monday. One British soldier who was five feet from the 21-year-old Wigley specifically identified the fatal fire as coming from an A-10. Other British soldiers backed his claims. "I saw it," said the soldier, who cannot be named because he is not officially allowed to speak about the death while it is still under investigation. "It was the A-10. I was five feet away," he said. "We called in a strike on the next trench. Then I saw it swooping toward us. I will never forget that noise. It was horrible." He told how Marines had launched a desperate battle to save their comrade. "We kept going for 20 minutes, but he had stopped breathing," said the soldier, his hands making gestures as if still pounding on his fallen comrade's chest to keep him alive. He also tended to another Marine hit in the same strike, wrapping a tourniquet around his arm to stop it bleeding. All the while, they continued to take enemy fire. "I threw myself on top of him to stop him getting hit," said the soldier.  A British armoured ambulance from C Squadron, the Light Dragoons, drove through mortar fire to reach the fallen men and ferry them to a helicopter. Medical crew described a harrowing ride under fire over ditches as they fought to revive him while the other wounded marine writhed in pain from his shattered arm. The remaining troops finally withdrew, forced to blast their way through walls to escape from mud-brick housing compounds as Taliban tried to encircle them, the soldier said. The soldier, a demolitions expert, said he used up nearly an entire rucksack of explosives to create an escape route. "We blew down one wall, the blast knocked us back five feet," he said.  Eventually they succeeded in withdrawing before nightfall, hiding behind armoured vehicles which they used as cover.  Last night as an investigation probed the death of the 41st British soldier to die in Afghanistan since the 2001 operation to topple the Taliban, Lieutenant-Colonel Andy Price said : "It is possible, but not confirmed, that Marine Wigley's death may have been the result of fire from ISAF aircraft operating in support. "This had been a protracted engagement, and the fatal injuries were received at a time when ISAF aircraft were engaging Taliban forces in very close proximity to Marine Wigley's position." The dead soldier was part of a Marine commando force that swept into wheat fields south of a bridgehead in the village of Garmser, provoking the biggest battle in the southern part of Helmand since British troops arrived in the province earlier this year.  Marine Wigley from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, was hit about midday as the Islamist militants launched an unexpectedly fierce counter-attack and the British forces called in air strikes from helicopters, and F-18 and A-10 fixed-wing planes. Giant B1 bombers also dropped 500lb bombs. Apache attack helicopters flown by British pilots took part in the support operation pounding Taliban position in addition to the A-10 and F-18 fixed-wing planes with American pilots. The operation was aimed at driving Taliban from the village they had been using to launch attacks on British and NATO forces but it was the Marines who withdrew after fighters launched their counter-attack from underground bunkers. Friendly-fire deaths are not unusual in Afghanistan. Such incidents have become a problem for NATO forces since guerrillas often move close into NATO positions, making it difficult for aircraft to engage them without hitting allied troops.  Canadian, U.S. and Afghan forces have previously lost men because of misguided fire. But this is believed to be the first such British death in Afghanistan. During the 2003 war to topple Saddam Hussein in Iraq, British forces suffered at least three "friendly fire" tragedies with the deaths of two British soldiers resulting from A-10 attacks which hit armoured vehicles. It was fire from two American A-10 pilots that killed nine British soldiers from the Royal Fusiliers in the worst "blue-on-blue" tragedy in the 1991 Gulf War that drove Saddam's forces from Kuwait. The British spokesman Lieut-Col. Price said that, even if friendly strikes were found to have killed Wigley, "there is no question that close air support also saved the lives of many of our men that day". Marine Wigley, who joined the British Forces as a 17-year-old, was the 515th member of the NATO and Coalition forces to die in Afghanistan since 2001. The village of Garmser has frequently been the scene of intense and heroic fighting which is said to have been the fiercest since the Korean War. In one episode, British soldiers defended a strategic town in a heroic action compared to the battle of Rorke's Drift, when 150 British soldiers held off 4,000 Zulu warriors for two days in January 1879.  British, American and Dutch aircraft have dropped hundreds of bombs on enemy positions around the village, often in the middle of frantic fire-fights with friendly forces in grave danger of being overrun.  The Taliban fighters have no protection against the coalition's devastating airpower but often adopt the deliberate tactic of fighting British forces from as close range as possible, making it extremely difficult for pilots circling overhead to pick out enemy positions and fire rockets or drop bombs safely without risk of hitting their own side.  A 1,000lb bomb has a killing radius of up to 800 yards, but in Helmand British and U.S. pilots have frequently had to drop such weapons little more than 100 yards from their own desperate troops - while flying at 20,000ft or more to avoid ground fire.  Commanders believe successful actions over the summer by British soldiers defending towns in northern Helmand, and recent ceasefire deals struck by tribal elders, have pushed Taliban forces further south.


Marine Richard J Watson of 42 Commando Royal Marines, Killed on Tuesday 12 December 2006.

Elements from the UK Task Force were patrolling to the north of Now Zad, a district in the North of Helmand, when they came under attack from Taliban forces. During the contact Marine Watson was hit by small arms fire and fatally wounded. An emergency quick reaction helicopter along with a full medical team was immediately dispatched to Now Zad. Marine Watson was then evacuated to the UK hospital at Camp Bastion.

Commander of the UK Task Force, Brigadier Jerry Thomas RM, said: "It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death today of a Royal Marine. Our thoughts, sympathy and prayers are very much with the family, friends and colleagues. "The Royal Marines Company involved in today's attack remains in Now Zad providing support to the Afghan Government and remains fully committed to the task." Royal Marine Richard Watson, from Caterham, Surrey, joined the Royal Marines on 13 June 2005. Richard, 23, was known by his friends as 'Richie' and joined 4 Troop K Company directly from training in April 2006. Following a period of intense training he deployed with the rest of the unit to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  The aura surrounding Marine Watson was 'once touched, never forgotten'. He radiated an infectious sense of humour that established him as a widely held friend to all in Kilo Company. Never without a smile, even in the harsh conditions presented on operations, he strove to encourage all with his enthusiasm for a job he openly loved. It was this infectious fervour by which he led his Fire Team. His decision-making displayed a calm, level-headedness much beyond his years, which quickly identified him early as a candidate for promotion. He radiated confidence to those in his charge thus ensuring any task given to his Fire Team was diligently completed, with a reliability all came to trust. Marine Watson was a passionate man who loved life. He strove to excel and see a task through, be it his doggedness in the field on operations, or physical training with his Troop. There was a natural edge to his character that underlined a competitive streak. He was always the front man on a run and the first to lead his Fire Team into the assault, his character inspiring those around him.  His passion for life was much in evidence to all that knew him. Marine Watson often talked frankly and honestly about his love for his family and girlfriend, and was an avid letter writer. "Richie radiated enthusiasm for his work and was inspirational, leading his young team from the front into hostile territory."  Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Holmes RM  Marine Watson loved to play the joker, which made him popular with all his colleagues. He was always quick to play a prank on others but always first to laugh at a joke at his own expense. To lose a colleague like Richie is a heavy blow to all. He will be missed for his friendly approachable manner, his selfless diligent work ethic and above all his irrepressible sense of good fun.

"Marine Watson will be sorely missed, all the more because of the man he was. A strong and highly motivated Marine, Richie radiated enthusiasm for his work and was inspirational, leading his young team from the front into hostile territory.  "He had already made his mark within his fighting Company as a natural leader and candidate for promotion, but he will also be remembered as a warm and passionate man who was ever cheerful, and who smiled through the hardships that he encountered, not least here on operations.  "He was fun to have around and will be remembered for his lively sense of humour. Our thoughts and heart-felt condolences are with his family and friends at this difficult time." Marine Watson's Mother, Mrs Tania Watson made the following statement: "Richard was devoted to both his family and his military service. He lived for each moment and was fanatically enthusiastic throughout every single day of his short life. He died doing his duty, he died amongst his beloved comrades. He died fighting as a Royal Marine, he died with the love of his family within him.  "In or out of his uniform Richard was and remains our hero; a loving son, dedicated brother and devoted boyfriend. He brought so much joy and happiness to our home, a home that now feels cold and empty without the warmth and love of a mother's son.  "Just now it is impossible to come to terms with the fact that such a wonderful human being is no longer here with us. He was the epicentre of our family existence and nothing will ever take his place; our lives can never be the same again.  "I know he would want me to tell his colleagues still fighting in Afghanistan that he was proud to serve with them and to take good care of themselves. This I do with great pride for my son Richard."


[ Marine Thomas Curry ]

Marine Thomas Curry killed in Afghanistan on Saturday 13 January 2007. Marine Curry died when elements of 42 Commando Royal Marines were engaged in a deliberate offensive operation near Kajaki, in Northern Helmand, Afghanistan

The Royal Marines Commandos were engaged in close-quarter fighting with the Taleban, and it was during this action that Marine Curry was killed. He died instantly as a result of enemy small arms fire.  In typical fashion, Marine Curry was leading his comrades courageously from the front when he came under enemy fire, whilst in the process of clearing an enemy compound. His section had already come under fire from a depth position, so the Marines had moved forward to close with the enemy.

The Commander of the UK Task Force, Brigadier Jerry Thomas, said: "I send my sincere and heartfelt condolences to his family and to his friends. They have lost a much loved member of their family and a good friend and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time." Marine Curry from East London, aged 21, was born on 1 Jan 1986. He joined the Royal Marines on 16 May 2005. It was during his initial commando training that Marine Curry was awarded the Commando Medal, having been voted by his peers as the man whose character best reflected the Commando qualities of unselfishness, leadership, determination, and cheerfulness in the face of adversity. On passing out from training, Tom, known as ‘Vinders’ (Vindaloo) to his troop, joined 11 Troop M Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines in February 2006.  He held true to the Commando values and quickly earned himself a reputation for looking after his colleagues and lending a helping hand whenever he could. After an intense period of operational training with his Unit, he deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan.  A tower of physical and mental strength, Marine Curry stood out as a man who could be relied on to see a task through, most recently demonstrating this dogged determination under the most challenging conditions of the battlefield, where his selfless disposition made him a cornerstone of the team in which he served.

Although he was only a year out of training, Marine Curry had already demonstrated his potential to excel in his career in the Royal Marines through both his professional competence and rich personal attributes. Renowned in his Company for his enormous appetite, Marine Curry was the first to laugh at jokes at his own expense and never missed an opportunity to cheer the lads up and raise morale. He was very close to his family and to his girlfriend, and often told his friends about how much he loved and missed them. On operations he wrote and received many letters from friends and family – he was obviously loved very much.

[ Marine Tom Curry ]

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Holmes Royal Marines, said: "The tragic loss of Marine Curry is felt deeply by all, a reflection of what he brought to life and all those who knew him. Tom died displaying the qualities so typical of him, that had rapidly earned him the respect of his colleagues.  "He was at the front, courageously closing with the enemy, with no thought for his own safety, just that of his colleagues who were close by. He was a glowing example of what a Royal Marine represents: courageous, robust and highly professional. That he carried these qualities as a young man into the dangers of battle speaks volumes, and we are all immensely proud of him.  "Tom was also a self-effacing, utterly unselfish and cheerful individual, never slow to have a laugh at his own expense. His country has lost a brave, selfless servant who contributed much in his short time. In the close-knit community that is his Company and Commando unit, we feel his loss deeply, but our thoughts and prayers right now are with Tom's family and girlfriend at this difficult time."


[ L/Cpl Mathew-Ford ]

Lance Corporal Mathew Ford, 45 Commando Royal Marines, Killed in Action in Afghanistan on Monday 15 January 2007. Lance Corporal Ford died when elements of 45 Commando Royal Marines were engaged in a deliberate offensive operation to the south of Garmsir in southern Helmand, Afghanistan.

The Royal Marine Commandos were attacking a major Taliban fort. This entailed them crossing a river, assaulting a walled compound and engaging in close quarter fighting. It was during the initial breach of the compound that Lance Corporal Ford was shot and killed instantly. His section came under fire as soon as they disembarked from their Viking Armoured Vehicles having crossed the river. Lance Corporal Ford then led his section with complete disregard for his own safety and was closing with the enemy when he was shot. The Commander of UK Task Force, Brigadier Jerry Thomas, said: "I know that this is a very difficult time for his family and his friends, but I do want to convey my sincere condolences and let them know that our thoughts are very much with them." Lance Corporal Ford was born on 1 August 1976 and joined the Royal Marines aged 24, on 23 April 2001 after going to college and working locally. After passing out from the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon where he earned the coveted Green Beret, he joined 1 Assault Group Royal Marines in Poole.  He went on to complete military driver training at Leconfield before joining the Commando Logistic Regiment near Barnstaple in Devon. From there, he then returned to Lympstone to be trained as a heavy weapons specialist before joining 45 Commando in Arbroath, Scotland in October 2004. During his time in 45 Commando, he deployed to Norway where he completed the arduous Cold Weather Warfare Course at the beginning of 2006. Later on, in October 2006, he deployed to Afghanistan with Zulu Company for Operation Herrick 5.  Lance Corporal Ford was a fine example of a Royal Marine. He was popular and well respected by all in his Troop, largely because of his dry sense of humour and ability to see the lighter side of life. Nonetheless, in all he did he was very professional and diligent, and could be relied upon in every way. He was someone who looked out for those around him and was generous and unselfish, always prepared to help his colleagues. In his Troop he could be relied upon to lift morale regardless of the situation or mood. Outside of work, he took great pride in his tattoos and found regular solace in his wide-ranging film collection. Above all Lance Corporal Ford lifted the spirits of all the many members of 45 Commando who knew him well.

Lance Corporal Ford’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Dewar RM, said: "Lance Corporal Ford was a popular and gregarious young Royal Marine whose professionalism, reliability, and selflessness as well as his sharp wit marked him out from the crowd. His intellect and initiative resulted in his being promoted to Lance Corporal and put in command of his peers. "He was an excellent Royal Marine and promising Junior Commander who died doing the job he loved and will be sorely missed by all his friends in 45 Commando. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this difficult time." Mathew, aged 30, was a "gentle giant". The oldest of three brothers, he was brought up in Immingham, Lincolnshire where his mother Joan and stepfather 'Bootsie' still live. He was engaged to Ina and they shared a flat in Dundee where she is a student. He was thinking about leaving the service to settle down and have a family. His mother Joan, said:  "We are all devastated by the news of Mathew's death. He was a larger than life character who lived his life to the full. He was a wonderful son to me and brother to Thomas and Scott and was looking forward to his future with Ina. His love for life and his ability to make everyone laugh will always be with us."


Dramatic pictures and video footage can now be seen of the daring rescue attempt of Lance Corporal Mathew Ford, carried out by Royal Marines on Apache helicopters in Afghanistan on Monday 15 January 2007.

Daring Apache rescue attempt (WATCH VIDEO)

It was with great sadness that the Marines discovered Lance Corporal Mathew Ford, from 45 Commando Royal Marines, had been killed in action. His UK Task Force had attacked a major Taliban stronghold, Jugroom Fort, south of Garmsir in southern Helmand Province and met ferocious Taliban fire from all sides. Having fought for a period, the Marines regrouped. Discovering Lance Corporal Ford was missing, four marines flew back strapped to Apaches, to find their fallen comrade, in a unique rescue mission attempt. Marine Gary Robinson, one of the four, explained: "All that was going through my head was basically what to do when we got on the ground and just make sure I knew exactly where I was going so I could reach Lance Corporal Ford as soon as possible and get out myself. "As far as I'm concerned any of my colleagues would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. I don't think it was heroic or dangerous in any way. " It was one of the Apache pilots, known as Tom, from the Army Air Corps, who made the suggestion that four personnel could be strapped onto the Apaches and that they could be in and out in five minutes. They flew in at low level and at 50mph (80kph) to protect the passengers. After landing in the Taliban fort Tom said: "I thought that we'd probably got about two to three minutes at most with the element of surprise before they would realise what was happening, and it was after we'd been on the ground for about three minutes that we were engaged". Tom then came under fire from a building to his right. He radioed to a supporting Apache above who fired at the Taliban as the Marines now started running back to the helicopter. They had been on the ground for five minutes. WO1 Colin Hearn, a Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) with the Royal Marines, also volunteered for the rescue: "It had never been done before on that particular aircraft," he said. "I just wanted to get on. We knew what we were going to do. We had a rough plan of how it was going to run. "I'm just grateful that we found Lance Corporal Ford and got him back on the helo and back with us. I'm a Royal Marine, I'm RSM of the unit, he's a Royal Marine the same as me - there was no way we were ever going to leave him, or anyone else on that battlefield".

The Apache flies to the Taliban stronghold with Marines strapped to the side 'wings'

For a Larger photo click here

The other two volunteers were Marine Chris Fraser-Perry and Captain Dave Rigg, Royal Engineer, with 28 Engineer Regiment, who was acting as Battlegroup engineer. Captain Rigg, who is Commando trained, said: "In these circumstances everyone is drawn together – Royal Marines, Army, Air Force, everyone is in it together. You just pull together and do it. It wouldn't have mattered who he was, he was one of us.  "There were a lot of very brave guys that day, from the pilots to the young lads who went into the fort initially and were pinned down by the enemy fire, to the Brigade Reconnaissance Force and Light Dragoons who had been out there all night supporting and all those guys in the HQ that volunteered." Brigadier Jerry Thomas, Commander of British Forces, Afghanistan, said:  "This was an extremely hostile situation where our men were exposed to fire from 360 degrees. A range of options was considered by the commanders on the ground, including the use of an available Chinook transport helicopter, but it was the Apaches that were judged the best platform for performing the rescue. They are smaller and therefore less vulnerable to incoming fire, faster and carry a formidable array of weapons. " A memorial service was held in the field for Lance Corporal Ford the next day.


[ Royal Marine Jonathan "Dutchy" Holland ]

Royal Marine Jonathan "Dutchy" Holland was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 21 February 2007.

Marine Holland died as a result of injuries sustained from a mine strike, while on a routine patrol in the Sangin Valley, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Jonathan Holland was born on 15 December 1983. He joined the Royal Marines in 2002. 

After passing out of Commando Training, Royal Marine Holland joined 45 Commando Royal Marines and at the time of his death he was the longest serving member of Whiskey Company, a fact of which he was extremely proud.  In 2003 he deployed on Operation FRESCO, fighting fires during the firemen's strike, before deploying on peace-keeping duties to Northern Ireland on Operation BANNER later that year. Following an injury, he became the Company Clerk for a period, during which he took part in exercises in the USA. He worked tremendously hard to regain full fitness and set his heart on deploying with his friends and colleagues to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK in October 2006.  Marine Holland was an exceptional soldier, dedicated to his comrades and entirely at ease in the harsh environments in which he worked and trained. He was superb company; a gregarious, outgoing character, and extremely popular among those with whom he served. Above all, his ability to see the funny side of almost anything was legendary within his Company. Tough but compassionate, in Afghanistan he would often be found up late at night listening to the cares and concerns of the men with whom he lived so closely. Brought up in Chorley, he was extremely close to his loving family. He adored his fiancée, Hayley, and was giving serious thought to leaving the Marines to spend more time with her and perhaps buying a house together. Prior to joining the Royal Marines, Jonathan had been very keen on martial arts, and still retained his love of the sport within the Corps. He enjoyed reading books on mixed martial arts in his spare time, and would often practice new moves or holds on his mates and brother.  "His death leaves a huge hole in our lives; his memory will live on with us and all who knew him. Our thoughts are with all his friends in 45 Commando who continue to serve in Afghanistan."  Jonathan's mother, Bernadette Most of all, Marine Holland was a kind, unselfish man who was always there for those that needed him. He was immensely popular and well respected by all who were fortunate enough to be part of his life. "The family is devastated by the news of Jonathan's death. He was a kind and caring lad who would do anything for anyone. He had a healthy appetite for all that life offered, he had a 'big heart', and a wonderful sense of humour He loved his life in the Royal Marines and we were all so proud of him when he joined. He was planning to settle down with his fiancée and go into business with his younger brother. "His death leaves a huge hole in our lives; his memory will live on with us and all who knew him. Our thoughts are with all his friends in 45 Commando who continue to serve in Afghanistan." Royal Marine Holland's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Dewar RM, said of him;  "Marine Holland epitomised the exacting standards of professionalism that we aspire to within the Royal Marines. "He set the very best of examples and was a truly loyal friend to many of the Marines within the Unit. His death has been deeply shocking and we are profoundly saddened by his loss. "Our thoughts are very much with his family and friends at this extremely difficult time." The Acting Commander of the UK Task Force, Colonel Ian Huntley said: "It is with deep regret that I must confirm the death of a Royal Marine during operations in Helmand. "Whilst the loss of a valued colleague is a severe blow, our immediate thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, whose anguish must be immense. Our heartfelt condolences go out to them. "Despite the demanding circumstances and their sense of loss, our Marines continue to display their professionalism, determination and dedication in carrying out their duties in our area of operations in an exemplary fashion. This loss, though tragic, will not deflect us from our mission, rather it hardens our resolve."


[ Royal Marine Scott Summers ]

Royal Marine Scott Summers, aged 23, of 42 Commando Royal Marines, died on 21 February 2007 as a result of injuries sustained in a road traffic accident earlier this month in Afghanistan.

The accident occurred when the Marine Summers was driving a Pinzgauer vehicle as part of a routine convoy in Helmand province on 4 February 2007. After initial treatment in Afghanistan, Marine Summers was transported back to a specialist unit in the UK. Scott Summers, from Crawley, East Sussex was born on 3 September 1983 and joined the Royal Marines on 24 January 2005. He deployed with J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in October last year. Marine Summers stood out as a real character within his Company, with a sharp sense of humour, he always had a one-liner ready to lift morale and reassure his colleagues during tense moments. He was also the life and soul of any night out. He was very much the team player, approaching his profession and personal life with extreme enthusiasm and determination. Keen to help out his fellow marines, Scott would always volunteer even for the most mundane tasks. This was the mark of such a selfless and generous, warm-hearted man. He was passionate about his profession, and enjoyed every minute of his life in the Royal Marines. He was also very proud of his South African heritage, which he often talked about. Marine Summers was regularly employed as a driver, where he was engaged in the most demanding circumstances in difficult weather, terrain and, not least, when under enemy fire. He had fought courageously in over 20 fire-fights with the Taleban. Throughout, his professionalism and application were outstanding. Marine Summers brave actions against the Taleban make his loss in a road accident all the more tragic. It was typical of him, however, that he had volunteered for the re-supply run for his Company when the accident occurred. "Brave, determined and professional in battle, to which he had courageously returned time and time again, he had proven his mettle on operations in Helmand." His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Holmes Royal Marines, said: "The loss of such a fine young man as Scott Summers is felt across the whole Commando, and shows the high regard in which he was held. It was typical of the man that he had volunteered for the task when the accident occurred. Marine Summers had a great sense of humour and fun, which he used to boost the morale of his friends and colleagues, even at the most difficult moments including when under enemy fire". "He was selfless to the end, always willing to take on extra tasks for the good of his friends and colleagues. Brave, determined and professional in battle, to which he had courageously returned time and time again, he had proven his mettle on operations in Helmand.  "I know Marine Summers’ loss is deeply felt amongst his Company and the whole of 42 Commando. His loss is also a loss to the Afghan people whom we are here to help, but right now our thoughts and prayers are very much with his family and friends." Acting Commander of the UK Task Force, Colonel Ian Huntley said: "The loss of Marine Summers comes as another blow to all his Royal Marine colleagues, but our immediate thoughts go out to his family and friends who are coming to terms with their grief at this very difficult time. "Following the accident his colleagues have continued to display their courage and resolve during their exemplary work in our area of operations in Helmand."


[ Marine Benjamin Reddy ]

Marine Benjamin Reddy from K Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 6 March 2007. Marine Reddy, aged 22, was killed when his unit came under fire during a deliberate clearance operation in the Kajaki area of Helmand Province.

Ben Reddy from Ascot, Berkshire, joined the Royal Marines on 18 April 2005. He deployed with K Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in September 2006. Marine Reddy lived for every single day as a Royal Marine. Not only was he entirely professionally adept, he always displayed the manner and characteristics expected of a Royal Marine – the Commando Spirit. It was obvious to all that Marine Reddy treasured his Commando Green Beret and all that it stands for. He lived up to its reputation. Never one to shirk his duties, Marine Reddy was often the first to volunteer for any task despite discomfort or danger, displaying typical unselfishness and courage that earned him great respect from his colleagues and peers. He would always work himself hard, always wanting to pull his weight for the team. His honesty and openness gained him many friends within his Troop and Company. His tenacity, determination and professionalism shone through even in the toughest and most testing of conditions on operations. He would get on with the job, always wanting to produce the best results that he could. Marine Reddy's humour and sense of duty to his friends never faltered. He was happiest when standing shoulder to shoulder with his fellow marines and, with the rush of adrenaline that combat brings, those marines felt all the better for standing alongside him.

Marine Reddy's parents have issued the following statement: "This is the saddest day in our lives. Our son Ben's death has left us feeling totally empty. He was and always will be our hero, not only as a son but as a brother to Jamie. We want to wish all the personnel serving in action abroad a safe return to their families." His Company released the following: "Ben's absence will be profoundly felt by all ranks within K Company. We have lost a vibrant, unique character with an irrepressible sense of loyalty to his comrades. But most of all we have lost a true friend." His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Holmes Royal Marines, added: "Ben Reddy was a dedicated Royal Marine. He will be remembered as an honest and unselfish man who was conscientious in his approach to his duties and always worked hard for his friends and colleagues. He was always the first to offer assistance or to volunteer no matter what the associated danger. "He was rightly very proud of his Green Beret, the outward mark of the Commando soldier. However, the real display of his Commando qualities were in his daily actions with K Company, and he had acquitted himself well fighting alongside his colleagues on numerous occasions. Courageous and proficient when in contact with the enemy, his fighting spirit was indomitable.

"Ben had close friends in the Company, and was amongst them when he fell. His loss will be greatly felt by his colleagues in K Company and across the whole Commando Unit, close as we are. We know he was particularly close to his family, whom he treasured and often spoke about, and our thoughts and prayers are with them and his friends at this difficult time."


[ Cpl Damian Mulvihill ]

Corporal Damian Mulvihill 40 Commando Royal Marines killed Tuesday 19th February 2008, in Helmand Province.

Shortly before 1215 hrs local time Corporal Mulvihill was taking part in a joint ISAF – ANA patrol engaged in operations near Sangin. The marines of Alpha Company were conducting a clearance patrol to deter Taliban intimidation of local Afghans. It was during this action that an Improvised Explosive Device was detonated, which sadly killed Corporal Mulvihill instantly. He died leading his section and the Company from the front.

Corporal Damian 'Dee' Mulvihill was born on 5 June 1975 and was from Plymouth. He joined the Royal Marines on 20 September 1998 and completed commando training despite contracting septicaemia towards the end. After passing out of recruit training, 'Dee' joined 42 Commando Royal Marines where he took part in numerous deployments around the world as well as taking part in OP PALLISER and OP SILKMAN in Sierra Leone and OP BANNER in Northern Ireland.  During his time at 42 Commando he was promoted to Lance Corporal. He then joined Air Defence Troop in 2002 and completed his specialist training before being promoted to Corporal in December 2003. On completion of his service with the United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group, based at  Stonehouse Barracks in his home town of Plymouth, he joined Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines in April 2006.  'Dee' was a giant of a man who impressed all who met him. Ever cheerful, he would never allow problems to get him down. He always had a friendly word for anyone he met and his fantastic personality filled any room he walked into. He was an excellent listener and would always make time for others. 'Dee' loved his boxing and rugby and represented the Royal Marines at rugby union. He was also a keen water polo player and represented the Royal Navy and the Combined Services team at the sport. 'Dee' was a true character who will be fondly remembered by all who had the privilege to serve with him.  Humorous, caring and a true friend, he will be sadly missed by all his comrades in 40 Commando Royal Marines and the wider Corps family.  'Dee' leaves behind a loving fiancée and family of whom he talked about to anybody and everybody. He and his fiancée Lisa were planning to get married in the near future, and our deepest sympathies are extended to Lisa, his parents and all family and friends.  Damian's family and fiancée have asked for the following statement to be released on their behalf: "He was so loved by the whole family, he never had a bad word to say about anyone and always looked for the good in people. He was a son, a brother and uncle in a million, and a soul-mate to Lisa, and we will all miss him forever. From Mum, Dad, Claire, Sam, and Lisa."  "The loss of Corporal Mulvihill is a devastating blow for his family, his friends and his unit. An outstanding junior leader, he was immensely popular in both his company and the wider Commando unit. A charismatic man, he possessed an irrepressible sense of humour and would always be found with a broad smile on his  face, regardless of the challenges or difficulties that he was facing.  "As a marine, he epitomised the Commando spirit. A courageous and selfless comrade, his cheerfulness in adversity could be guaranteed, and he always demonstrated the very highest standards of professional competence in everything that he undertook.  "Corporal Mulvihill played a full and distinguished part in all operations conducted by his company, leading his section of men fearlessly on countless patrols and engagements. He knew and accepted the risks associated with working in Afghanistan but he understood completely the value of his work and took  tremendous pride in the achievements of the men he commanded.  "He was a larger-than-life individual, with a personality to match, and his fellow marines took great comfort from his mere presence. As a friend he was loyal and trusted, as a comrade he was admired and emulated; a man of considerable ability, he will be sadly missed. Corporal Mulvihill has been cruelly taken  from us in the prime of life but he shall not be forgotten. Our thoughts and most sincere condolences go out to his family and fiancée Lisa at this most difficult and sad time." Captain Ian Preece, Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, second-in-command of Alpha Company, said: "Corporal Damian 'Dee' Mulvihill deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan with A Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines on 10 October 2007 as a section commander in 1 Troop. During his time in Helmand he led his section through many contacts with the Taliban; showing a determination and  professionalism that was an example for others. "Often placed in dangerous situations, 'Dee' always reacted with a casual bravery that was inspiration both up and down the chain of command in A Company. Completely unflappable under pressure, 'Dee' always showed a concern for those under his command and was respected by all. "Corporal Mulvihill was tragically and instantly killed by an improvised explosive device whilst leading his section on a patrol that was delivering humanitarian assistance to local nationals. He will be remembered as an excellent soldier who always upheld the finest traditions of the Royal Marines. "More, he will be remembered as a good friend to all in A Company. He will be sorely missed." "'Dee' Mulvihill was a unique individual who brought inspiration to all that knew him. He was admired by his peers and respected by his superiors, an outstanding leader of men. His never-ceasing smile and 'bear like' handshake will always be remembered, as will his passion on the Rugby Pitch.  "Professional and exemplary to the end, it is an honour to call him a comrade and even more so a friend. "The Royal Marines have lost a truly exceptional individual, who will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with Lisa and his family at this most difficult time." 2nd Lieutenant Edward Middleton - Officer Commanding 1 Troop, Alpha Company said: 'Dee' was a tremendous character whose friendly and relaxed nature helped me settle into the troop when I arrived at the Company during OP HERRICK 7. His giant beard and huge frame gave him a fearsome look, but it was his warm heart that I will remember most. He was always on hand to offer a friendly word of encouragement and put a positive spin on bad times. "He loved the Royal Marines and was looking to move to Commando Training Centre on completion of the tour so he could pass on his wealth of experience and knowledge to recruits. His troop and I will endeavour to follow his example and carry on the high traditions of the Royal Marines that he was so proud of. Our hearts and thoughts are with his loved ones at this difficult time." "Corporal 'Dee' Mulvihill was the most patient man I've ever had the pleasure to meet. The 'Bear' as he was affectionately known aptly described him. He never had a bad word to say to anyone and nobody ever had a bad word to say about him. As "Dee's" Company Sergeant Major my lasting memory of him will be of his cheerfulness and his ability to put a smile on people's faces. His absence has left a big void within the company. "My thoughts are with his family at this sad and tragic time." Corporal Malcolm Bell said: "Big 'Dee', the gentle giant. Even though his time keeping was horrendous, with his calm, laid back character, 'Dee' always managed to get things sorted, big or small. 'Dee' was never angry or down, a man who was always tranquil with himself and everyone around him. I'll remember 'Dee' for being cheerful  regardless of the situation. He was always extremely appreciative of any helping hand and was always there to return the favour."


[ Lieutenant John Thornton ]

[ Lieutenant John Thornton ]

Lieutenant John Thornton and Marine David Marsh, both of 40 Commando Royal Marines were killed in southern  Afghanistan on Sunday 30 March 2008. Just after 1653 hours local time, the Marines were conducting a patrol in the vicinity of Kajaki, Helmand province, when the vehicle they were travelling in was caught in an explosion. Medical treatment was provided prior to both being evacuated to the field hospital at Camp Bastion. Despite the best efforts of the medical team, both sadly died as a result of their wounds. Lieutenant John 'JT' Thornton, aged 22, was from Ferndown in Dorset and joined the Royal Marines on 31 August 2004. He had previously served in Iraq and leaves behind his loving parents and brothers.  His family issued the following statement: "Since the age of 13 John has always wanted to become a Royal Marines Commando. He said on many occasions 'I have the best job in the world'. He died a hero following his dream and doing the job he loved. He was proud to be making a difference to both the people of Afghanistan, and to all of us back home who value our freedom. A much loved and always caring son, brother and friend to all those who were fortunate enough to have met him, his death will leave a massive gap in all of our lives. We will not forget him." Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Birrell RM, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Lieutenant John Thornton Royal Marines was in command of the Fire Support Group from Charlie Company, 40 Commando, when he was killed in action at Kajaki, northern Helmand, conducting a patrol to disrupt enemy activity in that area. His death has come as a tremendous shock to his friends and colleagues, and he will be dearly missed by his comrades in 40 Commando Royal Marines.  "John, known universally as 'JT', joined the Royal Marines on 31 August 2004 and made an immediate impact. A conscientious and highly motivated man, he loved the life of a Royal Marine and he very quickly proved himself to be a talented and highly capable Commando officer. Upon completion of Commando training his first appointment was an attachment as a Platoon Commander with the 1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, with whom he deployed to Iraq, serving with distinction during Op TELIC 8.  "He was subsequently appointed to serve with 40 Commando in January 2007 and was thrilled at the prospect of leading Marines on operations. His enthusiasm was infectious and his men responded magnificently to his leadership. An immensely professional officer, throughout his service he was greatly respected by the men under his command.  "During the various operations conducted by Charlie Company, 'JT' was always to be found in the thick of the action; a courageous and brave commander he never asked his men to do anything that he would not do himself. He led from the front and provided an outstanding example to his peers and his men alike; he was a resolute and formidable soldier in battle, a larger than life character who impressed all who met him.  "Lieutenant John Thornton's untimely death is a tragedy; a gregarious, fun-loving man, his passing has caused great sadness across the Royal Marines, and our thoughts are with his parents Linda and Peter, and his brothers Ian and Graham, at this very difficult time." Major Duncan Manning RM, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "'JT' was a central character within the Company. His relaxed and amiable personality made everyone he met immediately warm to him. His good humour and ability to laugh at himself was balanced with high professional skills and a devotion to the men under his command. Never shy of additional workload or responsibility, his laid back style drew the very best from his Marines and he was highly respected as a result of his willingness to listen to, and take advice from, his men. "Their well-being and interests were always at the forefront of his mind and he would endeavour to do the best for them. 'JT' became a sounding board and confidante for the new Troop Commanders who arrived mid-tour, listening to their concerns and providing advice when he deemed it appropriate. "His loyalty, both to his men and to the chain of command, was never in question and this trait when combined with his devotion to his career and constant energy made him a highly effective Royal Marines officer. When in contact with the enemy he remained cool, and his calm voice on the radio would regularly suppress any urge to panic or allow a situation to spiral out of control. "He was killed as he lived his life, leading from the front and sharing the risks and dangers which his men were required to endure. He was very much looking forward to attending his older brother Ian's Passing Out Parade at the end of his Royal Marines Officer training, and having the opportunity to call him a sprog! JT's loss will be felt by the whole Company and he leaves a gap that will be impossible to fill. He was a true friend in every sense of the word. The thoughts of the whole Company are with his family at this particularly difficult time." Captain Leon Marshall RM and Lieutenant Alex Nixon RM, 40 Commando Royal Marines, added: "We will always remember 'JT' for his positive outlook on life. From Day 1 Week 1 of Young Officer Training through until the last time I saw him everything was always 'hoofing'. His enthusiasm was unbreakable, even when the Dartmoor weather was doing its worst. He was immensely proud of his older brother who is currently in Officer Training at the Commando Training Centre, and 'JT' was chuffed to bits at the thought of one day serving alongside him. "Describing 'JT' as an 'awesome bloke' is a gross understatement. If he could help in any way, he would, no matter the request. I remember during training he worked out that our Survival Exercise was going to be near his house and using true Commando initiative he and a select few managed a shower and BBQ at his house. "'JT' was an incredible young man who was an exceptional Royal Marine Officer and an unforgettable friend. He will be sorely missed." Sergeant Darren 'Daz' Joyce, Fire Support Group Troop Sergeant of Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Lieutenant John 'JT' Thornton: A true leader and officer for his men. He led from the front, and in doing so quickly gained the utmost respect from all under his command. Always ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in both work and when ashore, be it in DPM or in Spartan Rig. It was an honour to serve alongside him and to call him a friend. He will be sorely missed our Spartan leader and Comrade." Corporal Dominic 'Cash' Cashman, Fire Support Group Section Commander of Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Lieutenant Thornton: A highly regarded and respected Troop Commander. 'JT' to his friends, he always had time for his charges, making their life easier anyway he could. Never one to shirk his duties he led from the front to inspire young and old members of the Troop alike. Wisdom beyond his years he truly was a leader of men and no words can convey the loss that his passing has brought." Corporal Aaron 'Tiny' Winter, Section Commander of Charlie Company, said: "Regarded by the lads as a proper 'Bootneck' Officer, he was liked and respected by the men of his troop and the company throughout. As a section commander in a rifle troop it often instilled confidence in me when his 'Whisky 1' callsign would report over the radio net that they had 'overwatch' as we the ground troops pushed forward. As we pushed forward and often took incoming fire it again was a massive relief and reassurance to hear that 'Whiskey 1' was suppressing enemy positions with Dave Marsh on the Grenade Machine Gun and JT's voice on the radio saying 'That's us suppressing now'."


[ Marine David Marsh ]

Known as 'Dave' to his friends, Marine David Marsh, aged 23, was originally from Sheffield, but had recently moved to Taunton in Somerset with his wife Claire.

[ Marine David Marsh ]

She said of Marine Marsh: "David was a loving and dedicated family man. He went though life with a smile on his face, which will continue through our beautiful daughter. The Royal Marines was his passion and love, he will always be our hero."

Marine David Marsh ... Left

Lieutenant John Thornton and Marine David Marsh, both of 40 Commando Royal Marines were killed in southern  Afghanistan on Sunday 30 March 2008. Just after 1653 hours local time, the Marines were conducting a patrol in the vicinity of Kajaki, Helmand province, when the vehicle they were travelling in was caught in an explosion. Medical treatment was provided prior to both being evacuated to the field hospital at Camp Bastion. Despite the best efforts of the medical team, both sadly died as a result of their wounds.

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Birrell RM, Commanding Officer of 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Dave Marsh was killed in action at Kajaki, Northern Helmand Province in Afghanistan whilst serving with Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines. Dave joined the Royal Marines on 9 September 2002 and after successfully completing Commando Training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, where he was awarded the Commando Medal for displaying most consistently the attributes expected of a Royal Marines Commando, he was posted to 45 Commando in Scotland where he served with distinction during an operational deployment to Northern Ireland.  "From 45 Commando there followed a period with the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, helping to protect the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent, before he chose to become an Anti-Tank specialist in 2006. Dave joined 40 Commando Royal Marines in December 2006 and immediately impressed with his enthusiastic approach and diligent manner. "Throughout pre-deployment training and the exceptionally difficult challenges he faced during his company's tour of duty in Afghanistan, his resolve and determination to succeed in all he undertook was truly breathtaking. A consummate professional he was deeply respected in his company; in battle he was steadfast and utterly dependable, in barracks he was a true friend and comrade whose presence was a comfort in difficult times.  "Marine Dave Marsh has been cruelly taken from us and he will be sadly missed by all who had the privilege to know him. A loving, compassionate husband and father, he will be dearly missed by his wife Claire and his young daughter Molly, along with his parents Gary and Maxine, and his sister Katie; our thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult and distressing time." Major Duncan Manning RM, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Dave Marsh was an inspiration to the whole Company. A larger than life character, he was known by all, and respected by both peers and commanders alike. For him the glass was always half full and regardless of conditions he remained positive. The one thing that always struck you when you saw Marine Marsh, regardless of the time of day, was his smile that appeared to be ever-present, lifting the morale for those around.  "When times were hard or conditions difficult Dave Marsh would invariably make a comment or tell an amusing anecdote, which invariably made you laugh. His ready wit and good humour were balanced however with high professional skills and a devotion to his chosen profession. He could regularly be seen behind the aiming sight of his Javelin missile system maintaining his focus for hours on end.  "It was due to his experience and proven proficiency that he was regularly chosen to assume the position of a vehicle commander, directing his WMIK vehicle with confidence and authority. If any member of his Troop were to find themselves in a difficult and dangerous situation it was Dave Marsh they wanted by their side. It is for this reason that his Troop commander selected Dave to be his driver. Warrant Officer First Class Neil 'Brum' Warrington, Assistant Adjutant of 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Dave was the epitome of a Royal Marine who upheld all the qualities of a true Commando, in particular 'Cheerfulness in Adversity'. He always had a smile on his face that lifted the spirits of everyone around him, in any situation. You never knew what was coming next with Dave. This uncertainty earned him the nickname 'Crazy Dave' whilst serving in Zulu Company, 45 Commando, and a nickname he loved to live up to. "He had a streak of devilment in him that kept everyone on their toes, as he loved to play pranks on anyone who let their guard down. He was the character that every Royal Marine Company needed and every Sergeant Major loved to have around, for so many different reasons. This man loved life and everyone who knew him will always smile at that thought. On behalf of the men you served with in Zulu Company and all the other Royal Marines that were blessed with your friendship, you will be missed, but never forgotten." Sergeant Darren 'Daz' Joyce, Fire Support Group Troop Sergeant, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Dave Marsh or 'Comedy Dave' was an outstanding character and a true 'Bootneck'. Committed to his family and work, socially he was always there to lift spirits when times were hard. An all round hoofing Bootneck it has been an honour to work with him and call him a friend. His tragic death is a huge loss to everyone who had the pleasure to know him." Corporal Dominic 'Cash' Cashman, Fire Support Group Section Commander, Charlie Company, said: "Larger than life Dave 'Billy the Kid' will be remembered for his boundless energy and manic character. A permanent source of morale for his fellow marines, his professionalism was without question and doing his job so well made my job so much easier. A better example of a Bootneck could not be found. Working with Dave he continually demonstrated his love for his family and balance for both work and home alike. Dave was the brightest light and a light that affected anyone around him. He will be sorely missed." Corporal Aaron 'Tiny' Winter, Rifle Troop Section Commander, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "'Crazy' Dave Marsh: A man who was always smiling in contact with the enemy or whilst firing the Grenade Machine Gun, playing poker or smoking his pipe. The only time that his smile changed was when he spoke of his daughter Molly whereupon his smile would double in size and his face would beam with pride. Despite the nickname of 'Crazy' Dave he astounded many in the company by fixing the lads' laptops with his leatherman tool and a can lid, when many a qualified technician had failed; there was much, much more to this man than met the eye. He will be sorely missed by the Kajaki Pipe Smokers whose daily after dinner smoking sessions were improved with his attendance and humour." Marine Andrew 'Charlie' Charlesworth, Storeman for Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Dave Marsh, what I can say about him. I have only known him about eight months but what I can say is that he had the ability to make you laugh even when you did not want to. His infectious laugh, character and zest for life were memorable and only Dave could have that got away with that 'Billy the Kid tattoo'. I am pretty sure that God will be laughing with Dave right now."


[ Marine Dale Gostick ]

Marine Dale Gostick, of 3 Troop Armoured Support Company, Royal Marines, Killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 25 May 2008.

Marine Dale Gostick of the Royal Marines was serving as a Viking operator in 3rd Troop of the Armoured Support Company, Royal Marines, when he was killed in action at the Sangin crossing of the Helmand River, southern Helmand province, Afghanistan. His troop were returning to their Forward Operating Base, after providing essential support to 2 PARA Battle Group, when the Viking he was driving struck a suspected mine. Sadly, despite the best efforts of the medical team on site, Marine Gostick was pronounced dead at the scene. His death has come as an incredible shock to his friends and colleagues, and he will be deeply missed by his comrades in the Armoured Support Company and the wider Royal Marines. Another two Royal Marines were also injured in the blast and are still receiving medical treatment.

Marine Dale Gostick was known by his friends as "master chief general of the universe", which reflected his humorous and relaxed approach to life. He was 22 years old and from Oxford. He joined the Royal Marines in late 2004, and after successfully completing 32 weeks at the Commando Training Centre, he was passed for duty as a Royal Marines Commando. After training, he joined Lima Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines, based in Plymouth. In 2006, after initially serving as a General Duties Marine, he successfully completed the Viking Operators Course based in Bovington and deployed to Afghanistan with the Armoured Support Company for Op HERRICK 5 with 3 Commando Brigade. During his two operational deployments to Afghanistan, Mne Gostick's support to the ground troops of 12 Mechanised Brigade, 52 Infantry Brigade and finally 16 Air Assault Brigade has been invaluable. Throughout his training and on each operational tour, Marine Gostick had demonstrated himself as a shining example of a Marine and he took great pride in being a diligent and dedicated Viking Operator. He was clearly a man to watch, a man who had much potential to progress swiftly through the rank system.

[ Marine Dale Gostick ]

Dale's family paid him this tribute:  "Dale was much loved and respected by his family and all who knew him. Dale had a huge character, making time for all who needed him. His passing has left an irreplaceable hole in so many people's lives. He is dearly loved and deeply missed by Beccy." 

Major Jez Stemp Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Armoured Support Company, said:

"We have lost a great Marine today. Marine Gostick was a huge part of his Troop and the Company alike – he was a highly professional Marine and a good friend to all who knew him. A confident and outgoing Marine, he seemed to thrive on the challenges which life presented him and took great pride in his ability both as a rifleman and as a Viking Operator. His experience and courage as a Viking operator in Afghanistan was a comfort to those around him, and his advice was often sought by both peers and commanders. "He arrived in Afghanistan in December 2007 and quickly settled into a role he knew well. He was an integral part of the Armoured Support Company, extremely popular with his peers, and despite only a short time within the Corps, an already extremely experienced Marine with huge operational experience. A physically strong man with a great sense of humour, he was everything you would expect a Marine to be. "During the extensive operations conducted by the Armoured Support Company, Marine Gostick was always to be found at the heart of any activity, standing shoulder to shoulder with his friends and colleagues, whatever the task asked of them. He was a courageous and gentle man who would not flinch at a challenge or a dangerous task. He was a selfless and generous member of the company who would offer his strength and broad shoulders to anyone in need. Marine Gostick epitomised the Commando spirit – cheerful in the face of adversity, selfless, and above all, a good friend. "The Royal Marines have lost a brave man, a strong and gentle man, a friend. But our loss, whilst great, is nothing compared to that felt by his family. Our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his girlfriend, Beccy."

Cpl Simon Whitby RM said:

"Dale was a good friend but an even better 'oppo'. His laid back approach to life and the way he took everything in his stride meant that the majority of the troop had at some point, sat with him to have a good 'drip' or moan. They would know full well that it would be Dale doing most of the 'dripping' and you doing the listening. It's a sad day in the Corps. My thoughts are with his family, especially his girlfriend."

Lance Corporal Dan Andrew RM said: "Dale was a top bloke, there's no question about it; if I was ever down or annoyed about something I knew going to Dale would be the thing to do, knowing he would be on my level. Everyone got on with him and everyone will miss him. He was a 'Bootneck' through and through. The Company has lost a great bloke; he was morale and would find time for anyone. He's sorely missed."

Mne Tommy Aylett said:

"Dale was a good friend of mine, he had such a great character always joking and smiling. He was a great listener and if you wanted to be cheered up he was perfect to make you smile. Miss you dearly mate, love Tom."

Mne Neil Hipkins said:

"Dale was one of my best mates in the Corps. We'd worked and lived side by side for the last two years. He was a great friend and I'm going to miss him. Though I'll never forget him my thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Captain Caldwell RM, Officer Commanding 1 Troop, said

"I met Dale in January when he joined my troop as we deployed up to Northern Kandahar. I found him to be a bright, brave and popular lad. He was always at the front of the queue when helping out the other blokes and enjoyed life with his friends. Over the past 24 hours the words that keep being mentioned describing Dale are gentle, strong, understanding with a sharp wit. I will remember him for those characteristics and how having someone like that around you makes everyone better."

Mne "Baz" Markham said: 

"A truly unique person and a great friend, we will miss him.

"Mne 'Bomber' Harris said: 

"I worked with Dale for the first two months of the tour. Those months were the easiest of the tour because of his professionalism and his hard work. I will miss Dale hugely and he will be a great loss to the Royal Marines."


Information Exploitation (IX) Group

A unique unit of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. Members of the UKLF CSG Brigade Reconnaissance Force patrol in Jackal vehicles during a counter-IED operation in southern Helmand province. Read more here

[ Marine Neil Dunstan

Marine Neil Dunstan and Marine Robert McKibben, both from the UK Landing Force Command Support Group, Killed on Wednesday 12 November 2008. Both men were killed by an explosion in the Garmsir District of southern Helmand, at 1647 hrs local time, while operating as part of Task Force Helmand's Information Exploitation Group. They were taking part in a routine joint patrol with soldiers from the Afghan National Security Forces when their Jackal vehicle was struck by an explosive device.  Despite the best efforts of medics, both men were pronounced dead at the scene. A member of the Afghan National Security Forces also lost his life and a third Royal Marine was seriously injured. Marine Neil David Dunstan was serving on Operation Herrick 9, with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group (UKLFCSG), as a Reconnaissance Operator. Marine Dunstan, aged 32, successfully completed Royal Marine Commando training with 854 Troop in 2003 at the age of 27 - quite an achievement in itself! He joined J Company 42 Commando in Plymouth and, in recognition of his innate skills as a soldier, was selected to work in the unit's Reconnaissance Troop. He travelled the world, visiting the USA, Ghana, Egypt and Bavaria. He also worked in close defence of the UK's independent nuclear deterrent, serving with the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines. He developed a keen taste for mountaineering when working for the Mountain Leader & Reconnaissance Company. After a winter deployment to Norway and a number of mountaineering trips to Switzerland he succeeded in selection for the Brigade Patrol Troop where he fulfilled his goals of becoming a reconnaissance soldier and a trained military parachutist. A confident soldier, he deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick looking forward to proving himself on the battlefield; an aspiration which he rapidly and convincingly fulfilled. He had great ambition and huge potential; he passed the Royal Marines Mountain Leader selection course with flying colours and would have made an outstanding Mountain Leader.  With an honours degree in French and Tourism he was fluent in spoken French. Marine Dunstan came from a small loving family in Bournemouth where, until meeting his fiancée Kate, he lived with his mother and brother. He was due to be married to Kate in the summer of 2010. He also leaves behind his father and grandmother who, like all his family, have supported him throughout his life and career.  Kate Miller, Neil's fiancée, paid this tribute: "Neil was so proud to be a Marine and lived each day to the full. He was my soul mate and the love of my life. Neil was very much loved by all the family." Neil's family made the following statement: "From Sue (Mum), Keith (Dad) and Andrew (Brother): Neil Dunstan BSc. Neil lived life to the full, he loved his time in the Marines. He had recently got engaged to Kate and they had bought a house together. He was a happy individual and a dutiful son, brother and partner. He was a keen supporter of Arsenal, even having the results sent to Afghanistan. He will be very much missed by his family and friends."  Keith Dunstan, Neil's Dad, said: "Neil was a fine, upstanding, happy, healthy young man, with most of his life still to be enjoyed. He was a thinking soldier who always tried to do the right thing. Any man would be proud of a son like Neil and I consider myself privileged to be his father. He will be much loved and missed by all who knew him." Lieutenant Colonel Andrew J McInerney Royal Marines, Commanding Officer United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group, said: "Marine Neil David Dunstan possessed Commando qualities in abundance; his quiet confidence and humility was an inspiration to all those who worked with him. A quiet but natural leader, his maturity and intellect made him a valued role model and mentor to the men with whom he served. He excelled as a reconnaissance operator, a role he was passionate about and which demanded initiative and guile, qualities for which he was never left wanting. Tough and committed he was always prepared to go the extra mile for his comrades. He eagerly anticipated the challenges of demanding reconnaissance work on Op Herrick, and prepared himself fully. He died serving his country, unit and comrades with courage, humility and dedication. He was dearly loved within our tight knit organisation, his sharp sense of humour making him a friend to all. We will remember him and continue the vital work that he died conducting. It is with deep sorrow that we mourn his passing, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this most painful time." Major Chris Haw MC Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Brigade Reconnaissance Force, said: "The BRF has lost a good friend and brother today. Marine Neil Dunstan was a very bright and capable man whose positive but laid back attitude to life was an example to us all. He was hugely popular amongst what is a very close knit organisation and he was a father figure amongst the Marines. His humour and modesty was reflected in all that he did and these qualities made him an outstanding character within the squadron. He loved his work and relished every opportunity to be in the field as a soldier where he was in his element. He made rapid progress during his short career in the Royal Marines and had been selected for promotion and the Mountain Leaders' Course that he had aspired to for some time. I know that he would have made an excellent commander and Mountain Leader and the Royal Marines, especially the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, will feel his loss hard. My thoughts and prayers are with Neil's family and his fiancée Kate."  Warrant Officer Class 2 'Ginge' Booth, Brigade Reconnaissance Force Sergeant Major, said:  "I first met Neil, affectionately known as 'Old Man Dunstan', on his Recce Troop selection in 42 Cdo. It was apparent from the start that Neil had a flare for reconnaissance work and a spell working in the jungles of Ghana was to prove this. We deployed to Norway in the Arctic winter, where Neil conducted his Novice Ski and Survival Course alongside the Mountain Leaders' Course. It was probably the toughest Novice course that you could possibly endure as a Marine, but Neil rose to the occasion and completed it with style. I have had the privilege to work alongside Neil on three occasions over the years, his professionalism, dedication, unselfishness and cheerfulness has always impressed me. In Switzerland I discovered that he was fluent in French, but not until I had made a complete fool of myself trying with the few words I could remember from my school days to get us through the Swiss/French Border. He even succeeded in making the French Border Police laugh, probably at my expense! It was during this Switzerland trip, in the high mountain peaks, that Neil discovered his hidden passion for climbing and mountaineering. He would make it his mission to participate in as many trips out climbing and mountaineering as possible. His easy manner and humour made him a pleasure to work with and popular with all the members of the Squadron. To me, not only was Neil a first class Marine with whom I had the honour of working alongside, he had become a good friend whom I will never forget. He will be sorely missed by all. My condolences to his family, friends and his fiancée Kate." "Neil was so proud to be a Marine and lived each day to the full. He was my soul mate and the love of my life. Neil was very much loved by all the family."  Kate Miller, Neil's fiancée Sergeant 'Banjo' Haigh Royal Marines, Team Commander, Brigade Reconnaissance Force, said: "It was a pleasure to know and work with Neil. He encapsulated the Commando Spirit. Professional and a great 'run ashore'; he is what all young marines should aspire to be. With his catchphrase 'Alrighty then', if it wasn't for Neil's sleight of hand and humour in the Mountain Leaders' store I would never have passed my Mountain Leaders' course. He would have made an excellent Mountain Leader and will be sorely missed by all. Take care Neil; keep playing that big guitar in the sky."  Neil's comrades in 1 Troop Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:  "Neil Dunstan was a professional reconnaissance operator. He was a constant source of morale with his guitar and always quick to learn a new tune. He was a laid back but selfless team member always willing to help anyone. Always cheerful, even on the worst of days, he demonstrated the ability to embrace the 'Commando ethos'. Neil was a one in a million guy and leaves a void that cannot ever be filled. On return from this tour Neil was due to attend his Junior Command Course and continue on to undertake Mountain Leaders' training, furthering his contribution as a key member of 3 Commando Brigade Reconnaissance Forces. He will be sadly missed by all in the troop and our thoughts are with his family, friends and his beautiful fiancée." The lads of 24 Recce Troop, BRF, said:  "Neil Dunstan was the laid back adopted Grandad of the troop, a quiet but confident Recce Operator who would have been an asset to the Mountain Leader branch. He will be sorely missed by all. Our condolences to Neil's family and friends." Scouse Davies, who worked with Neil, said:  "Rest In Peace Neil, you will not be forgotten."

Marine Neil Dunstan's Funeral on the 28 November 2008

Information Exploitation (IX) Group

A unique unit of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. Members of the UKLF CSG Brigade Reconnaissance Force patrol in Jackal vehicles during a counter-IED operation in southern Helmand province. Read more here

Marine Robert McKibben, known to most on his unit as 'Frank', was serving on Operation Herrick 9 with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group, as a Reconnaissance Operator  Marine McKibben, aged 32, was born in June 1976, and before joining the Corps he lived in County Mayo, in the Republic of Ireland. He joined the Royal Marines at the relatively advanced age of 27 and, after completing Commando Training, joined J Company 42 Commando based in Plymouth. He proved to be an excellent all round field soldier and went on to pass Recce Troop selection, joining 42 Commando's Recce Troop. With this unit he learned the 'pleasures' of soldiering in the winter Arctic conditions of Norway, and passed the arduous Recce Operators' course with flying colours. He served in Afghanistan on Op Herrick 5 where he performed with great enthusiasm, compassion and gallantry.  Following this operational tour he volunteered to move to Brigade Patrol Troop, where he travelled to America, Norway and Switzerland, amongst other places overseas. A very experienced operator, he hoped to fulfil his long-term ambition of becoming a member of UK Special Forces. In addition to his impressive military exploits, he held an honours degree in Environmental Science. Marine McKibben leaves behind a loving family in County Mayo and a girlfriend he cherished. Robert's family paid this tribute:  "As a family, we are all extremely proud of our Robbie. He had very definite plans of how he wanted to live his life; he was always thoughtful, considerate and had an amazing sense of humour that touched so many lives. He was so full of life and was loved so much by his family and by all his friends. Robbie has left a huge void in our hearts and he will never be forgotten." Lt Col Andrew J McInerney Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group, said:  "Marine Robert Joseph McKibben was a larger than life character, with an easy smile and quick wit. He was an immensely capable man, yet his humility made him an example and inspiration to all he served with. A true Commando; tough, unassuming and hugely convivial, he viewed life as a glass half-full. Marine McKibben had an indomitable sense of humour in the face of any adversity. Regardless of the task or conditions his can do attitude helped him and others overcome every test they encountered. His recent performance on the Special Forces aptitude course was clear testament to his motivation, ability and potential. An operationally experienced soldier, he died serving his unit and comrades in a role he relished. Marine McKibben was a key personality within our tight-knit unit of professional specialists; he was held dear by his colleagues and leaves a great void with his passing. The unit will honour his passing, remember him and ensure we continue the valuable work he died conducting. His family have lost a marvellous son; the thoughts and prayers of the unit, and the wider Royal Marines family, are with them and his loved ones at this tragic time." Maj Chris Haw MC Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Brigade Reconnaissance Force, said:  "The Brigade Reconnaissance Force has suffered a tragic loss. Marine 'Frank' McKibben was a large, friendly and robust Irishman who always had a smile on his face. He proved time and time again that he was a strong field soldier under the most demanding of conditions and was passionate about his job. He relished the prospect of serving on Op Herrick 9 with the BRF and had done his utmost to ensure that he would perform to the highest of standards. Throughout the many hardships presented to him during his career in the Royal Marines he maintained an enviable relaxed attitude to life and conducted himself with great humility. His enthusiasm to achieve the best that he could was infectious and he could always be relied upon to get a job done. Frank was one of life's characters who touched many of us in a genuine and understated way. My thoughts and those of all of the members of the BRF are with Frank's family and his girlfriend who he was so proud of. He will never be forgotten." "I first met Frank when he was on his parachute course at Brize Norton in the summer of 07. During the many hours waiting to jump we chatted about his home in County Mayo. He was thrilled that someone else knew his home turf, it was clear that he had a real passion for the West Coast of Ireland. I could see the sparkle in his eyes when he talked of home. He was always interesting to chat to and rarely seen without a smile on his face. We will miss him but not forget him."  Captain Rob Hoey RE, Officer Commanding 2 Troop Brigade Reconnaissance Force WO 2 Ginge Booth Royal Marines, Sergeant Major Brigade Reconnaissance Force, said:  "For the relatively short time that I have known Robert 'Frank' McKibben I have been impressed by his professional attitude to get the job done, passing Special Forces Aptitude is testament to this. It is always a pleasure to have guys within your organisation that you only have to ask once and Frank certainly was one of these guys. Frank was huge in stature and in personality who will be sorely missed by all who knew him. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends." Colour Sergeant Andy Ives Royal Marines, Brigade Patrol Troop 2IC, said:  "Robert 'Frank' McKibben was the big Irish fellow in the troop who could be tasked with the things that needed the mindful touch and sometimes just a little bit of an oafish twist to complete! A man that was working towards his goal and achieving the level as proved with the successful completion of the Special Forces Aptitude. A likeable man whose size was never used with harmful intent and a genuine caring man. Rest in peace Frank our thoughts will always be with you - and stay away from the doughnuts!" Sgt Lees Royal Marines, BPT, said:  "Rob 'Frank' McKibben joined my team prior to Royal Chamois 07. A big and robust Dubliner, he was always keen to perform well. His recent success at Special Forces Aptitude hints at his potential, and he will be missed by the men of BPT." Captain Rob Hoey RE, Officer Commanding 2 Troop BRF/24 Engineer Recce Troop, said:  "I first met Frank when he was on his parachute course at Brize Norton in the summer of 07. During the many hours waiting to jump we chatted about his home in County Mayo. He was thrilled that someone else knew his home turf, it was clear that he had a real passion for the West Coast of Ireland. I could see the sparkle in his eyes when he talked of home. He was always interesting to chat to and rarely seen without a smile on his face. We will miss him but not forget him." Marines Dan Claricoats, 'Ross' Rosser and Lance Corporal Matt Silcock said:  "We first all met together whilst in 867 Troop, where we were introduced to Rob's many loveable and unique characteristics. He was intelligent, dependable, extremely strong minded and determined, always seeing the job through to its end. We all enjoyed many what we would describe as 'lover's tiffs' with Rob as a result of his sometimes unique perspective on things. We've all shared highs, lows and many laughs with him and without ever thinking about it before… been bonded as a family through our shared times. There is a large gap that we now feel and know will be an unfillable void. We look back already with fond and happy memories of Rob 'Frank' McKibben. He will be sadly missed, and our thoughts are with his family and friends." Marine Kev O'Gorman said:  "I only knew him for a short time, but he became one of my best friends in BRF and a really good mate outside of work. One of the nicest guys I've ever known."


Marine Alexander Lucas from Victor Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines, Killed in Afghanistan on Monday 24 November 2008. Victor Company was conducting an operation around Kajaki, alongside Afghan National Army troops, to clear Improvised Explosive Devices posing a dangerous threat to British forces and the local Afghan population. Marine Lucas was a specialist Royal Marine Assault Engineer and his role within Victor Company placed him at the vanguard of troop action. With his specialist skills he provided intimate engineer support to the front line of the fighting troops. As a consequence, he was often the first man into dangerous situations and vulnerable areas, clearing the way for his colleagues to follow. It was in such a situation that Marine Lucas was killed by an enemy Improvised Explosive Device.

 

Despite all the efforts of those around him, Marine Lucas was killed in action and tragically died from his injuries on board the medical helicopter en route to Camp Bastion hospital.

An estimated 1,500 people turned out in his adopted Peebles to say farewell to:- Royal Marine Alexander James Lucas --> Right Please read more from By Bob Burgess: Southern Reporter Location: Borders ... Click here

Marine Lucas, 24, was born in Southampton on 10 January 1984, although he and his family always considered Edinburgh their home. After completing Royal Marines Commando recruit training in October 2004, Marine Lucas joined 45 Commando Royal Marines.  A keen footballer, he played for the Commando team on a regular basis. He served one year in the unit before joining the prestigious Royal Marines Commando Display Team, travelling the country to promote the Royal Marines. He successfully completed his Assault Engineer specialisation course where he proved himself to be extremely capable and a highly professional operator. After the course he returned to 45 Commando in Scotland to be closer to his family in Edinburgh. After a successful time in the Royal Marines, he was due to leave on completion of this operational tour and marry his fiancée in July 2009. Marine Lucas leaves behind his fiancée, Jill, and young daughter, Cara.  Marine Lucas's father, Adrian, said: "Alec was a deeply loved son and brother, who was devoted to his fiancée and daughter. He brought so much happiness to all who met him and was described by close friends as a fantastic role model. He will be deeply missed and cherished by all who knew him." Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer 45 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Al Lucas was every inch a Royal Marines Commando. Brave, determined, cheerful and loyal; he was a hugely valued member of 45 Commando Group. Whether deployed on operations or playing a leading role in the success of our unit football team he has made a great contribution to the Commando and to the Royal Marines as a whole. He was killed playing a vital part in an essential operation to clear an area of explosive devices in order to improve the safety of his company and the local people. 45 Commando has lost a great friend and colleague and I know that the whole unit joins me in sending my deepest condolences to his family and friends as they come to terms with the loss of such an outstanding individual."      

Major Nigel Somerville MBE Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Victor (V) Company, said: "Marine Al Lucas was the embodiment of a Royal Marines Commando. Exceptionally courageous, determined and utterly professional, he died fighting at the forefront of hostile enemy action. I am truly proud to have had the opportunity to serve with such a soldier on operations and his conduct typified the Commando ethos he held so dear. As well as V Company and the Royal Marines losing a much respected friend and colleague, my thoughts are with his family, his much-loved fiancée and his devoted young daughter. He will be sorely missed by our close knit 'band of brothers' and will never be forgotten." Captain Paul Forrest, Second-in-Command V Company, Officer Commanding Patrols Troop, said: "As a member of the recently formed V Company Patrols Troop, Al was pivotal due to his experience as a Marine and expertise as an assault engineer. His loss will be felt across the Company and unit alike and his ability to find time for a 'quick snack' no matter what the situation will always baffle me. His dry sense of humour and broad grin that was infectious to those around him will be deeply missed." Warrant Officer Class 2 Robert Millman, the Company Sergeant Major of V Company, said: "Al had been in my Troop for nearly two years, and his professionalism and humour never ceased to amaze me. He could find the funny side of any situation, even when all around him struggled. His love for his family was evident to all he came into contact with and he talked constantly about his daughter and fiancée and having more time together once out of the Marines. He will be sorely missed by me, the Troop, the Company and all that knew him. My heartfelt sorrow goes out to his family and friends in this time of tragedy."


Marine Tony Evans and Marine Georgie Sparks, both of J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, Killed on Thursday 27th November 2008. The men had been conducting a foot patrol to the north-west of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province. Marines Evans and Sparks had moved on to the roof of a compound when, at around 0900 hours, there was an attack by insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and they were badly wounded.  Both received immediate medical attention and were moved to a secure location before being put on a helicopter to be transferred back to Camp Bastion. However, both sadly died from their injuries during the flight.

 

Marines Tony Evans (left) and Georgie Sparks

 

[ Marine Tony Evans ]

Marine Tony Evans, aged 20, was born in April 1988 and came from Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. He began his Royal Marines training in October 2006 and passed out in July 2007, joining 42 Commando a few days later. In February 2008 he completed arctic warfare training in Norway. Tony's parents, Mr Tony Evans and Ms Julia Churchill, paid the following tribute to their son: "Tony was the type of person who would do anything to help his friends and family and was well respected by all. The Royal Marines was his life since the age of 13 when he became a Royal Marines cadet.  "We, his family, are very proud of what he achieved and will miss him dearly."

Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stickland Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

"Marine Tony Evans lost his life doing the job he loved, fighting alongside his friends and brothers-in-arms in the tight knit and tenacious band that is J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines. A man of humour, courage and energy, he was a 'Bootneck' through and through.  "Respected by his peers, he was the epitome of the Commando; robust in action, loyal in friendship, determined and resolute and always living life to the full. The tributes from his colleagues say it all.  "We have lost one of the 'Smiley Boys' of 42 Commando Royal Marines, and his comrades are unwavering that his loss will not be in vain. This is a tragic loss touching all in the Unit and our thoughts are his family and loved ones."

Major Reggie Turner Royal Marines, Officer Commanding J Company Group, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Tony Evans was one of the biggest characters in J Company. Fit, determined and tenacious with an infectious sense of humour he could be relied upon to raise morale in the harshest of conditions. Physically strong with an evident passion for his job, Marine Evans was always at the forefront of the action. "He embodied the Commando ethos being determined, unselfish and always cheerful in adversity. As a novice in Norway his fortitude and monolithic work ethic were recognised by the Mountain Leaders, and this remained the case on operations in Afghanistan where he was always at the centre of the action. "A consummate professional and team player he was always keen to develop his professional skills and took every opportunity to improve himself, whether it be in the gym or wading through 'A Brief History of Time'. "Tony lost his life whilst selflessly providing fire support to his colleagues in the face of sustained enemy fire. We will miss his irrepressible good humour, his companionship and his evident lust for life.  "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time." Marine Dave Wotherspoon, 2 Troop, J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "There is nothing about his job that Tony didn't love, whether it was going on patrol, sitting in a sangar (sentry post), or cracking funnies with the boys. "He had a few issues though: his first one was the fact that he couldn't grow a moustache, as hard as he tried; secondly, he was always trying to get himself 'massive', hitting the gym twice a day, but try as he did, he could never find that 'chest'.  "But inside was the heart of a lion. On his Cold Weather Warfare Course in Norway he was the winner of the 'Good Egg' Award (for being an all round good guy); which speaks volumes of his character. "Always the first man in anywhere, he was eager, especially when asked to knock down a compound wall; in true 'Tony' style, he put down most of the Compound! He will always be with us forever in our hearts and minds; a true man's man!" Marines Josh McGowan and Tom Ellis, J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines said: "Tony Evans the 'Maccam', not a Geordie! Tony was a true definition of a "Bootneck", always smiling, always spinning his intriguing 'dits' [stories] - some might say even when he shouldn't have been, but we still loved to hear them. Tony was always up for a laugh. If he wasn't lighting up a cigarette you would hear his distinctive 'Maccam' voice echoing through the building.  "Tony was an excellent soldier. Tony was a Royal Marines Commando. A very fit young lad with aspirations of being a sniper, there was no one better. Tony was our "oppo" (mate) and most importantly, our friend. He will be truly missed and never forgotten throughout J Company." Lance Corporal Chris Bedford, J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Tony Evans was the typical 'Jack the lad', a nightmare for all the hierarchy. I have never known anyone to get in so much trouble! However he brought so much morale to the lads, if you could understand his Geordie accent. "Besides the tomfoolery he turned it on as a professional 'Bootneck' when he needed to. He came to me for advice on money, life in general and his broken car that is still sitting in the car park in Bickleigh Barracks. Tony brought life to the party and he will be sadly missed by all of us." Captain Ben Gaffney Royal Marines, Training Officer, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I had the pleasure of taking Marine Tony Evans through Royal Marines Recruit Training with 932 Troop. From the very start it was clear that he possessed the right qualities to become a Royal Marines Commando.  "During his Troop Commander's interview in the first week of training, whilst most other Recruits were awkward and retiring, Tony could barely contain his excitement about the adventures that stood before him! "Nothing fazed him during training; he faced every challenge with a big grin and gained the respect of the other members of his Troop and his training team alike. "He was a talented soldier and a man whose humour and banter drew others to him. I instructed over 200 Recruits during my time, Tony Evans was one of the very best.

 

"I think I speak on behalf of all of 932 Troop and its training team when I say Tony will always be in our memories and he will be sorely missed."


Marine Tony Evans and Marine Georgie Sparks, both of J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, Killed on Thursday 27th November 2008. The men had been conducting a foot patrol to the north-west of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province. Marines Evans and Sparks had moved on to the roof of a compound when, at around 0900 hours, there was an attack by insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and they were badly wounded.  Both received immediate medical attention and were moved to a secure location before being put on a helicopter to be transferred back to Camp Bastion. However, both sadly died from their injuries during the flight.

Marine Georgie Sparks, aged 19, was born in December 1988 and came from Epping is Essex. He joined the Royal Marines in June 2006 and passed out from training in July 2007, joining 42 Commando a few days later. During his time at 42 Commando he qualified as a sniper.

Georgie's parents, Mr Wayne Sparks and Mrs Toni Sparks, and his sister Miss Katie Sparks, paid the following tribute "We have lost our best friend as well as our son. We are deeply saddened and in mourning. We are so very proud of Georgie - he always wanted to be a Royal Marine. Georgie loved the outdoors - fishing, shooting, paintballing - and was very close to his family. "We miss him so much." Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stickland Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Georgie Sparks was a quiet, understated professional. He lost his life fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with his comrades, covering their actions with his expert sniper skills. His loss has touched the entire Unit but no more so than the tight band of warriors that are the J Company 'Jesters'.  "A man to be relied on, a man who had found his place and a man at the peak of his game - Marine Sparks had found a profession he loved and in which he excelled. He never looked back from winning the Commando Medal in training - an award for one who demonstrates Commando spirit, tenacity and courage in adversity above all others, something he lived by to his dying day.  "The brotherhood of 42 Commando Royal Marines mourn him and remain resolute his loss will not be in vain. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. The tributes from his colleagues say it all." Major Reggie Turner Royal Marines, Officer Commanding J Company Group, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Georgie Sparks joined J Company in April. A personable, courteous and hard-working individual, his dedication and professionalism were obvious and it is these high standards which enabled him to qualify as a Sniper prior to deployment to Afghanistan. "Although young, he demonstrated maturity beyond his years in the field and could be relied upon to tackle all tasks with characteristic enthusiasm and dedication. Naturally quiet, he had a dry sense of humour and was a popular member of 2 Troop.  "He lost his life whilst providing covering fire for his colleagues, selflessly putting himself at risk in order to help others. We will miss his confident but understated manner, his meticulous eye for detail and his evident passion for his specialisation.  "Our thoughts and prayers are with Georgie's family and friends at this difficult time." Lance Corporal Lee Smith – 2 Troop, J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Georgie - one of us forever. He was, quite possibly, one of the neatest; always cleaning something. He was, and always will be, our Troop's 'Baby'. But don't believe for a second that counted against him. Wherever we were, whether on camp, in a compound, or on sentry, this man's smile could light up your darkest day.  "His life revolved around his two passions: his family and his shooting. He was the perfect soldier, the perfect friend. His hand was always up for any task, and he gave everything he had, and more. But the first place and last place he remains is in our hearts and in our minds forever." Marines Josh McGowan and Tom Ellis - J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:  "Georgie Sparks, or 'Sparky' to his mates, came across as a quiet individual but to his friends he was a 'hoofing' bloke with a cracking sense of humour.  "Strong-minded and very determined he showed these qualities on more than one occasion, usually during 'phys' (exercise) but most significantly when successfully completing the arduous RM Sniper course.  "Sparky was an honest lad, a true 'oppo' (mate), very polite and a genuine bloke, a unique individual and you will never come across another guy like Georgie. He will be dearly missed from all his friends in J Company." Lance Corporal Chris Bedford, J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Georgie Sparks was one of the few lads that I regarded so highly as a very good young Marine and more importantly one of the best friends I could have known.  "Georgie (or one of the many abusive names we used to call him), told me once how many people told him he would never make it through training. But he proved everyone wrong, not only passing training but becoming a sniper, on his second attempt. He would have hated me for writing that last part!  "He lived in my room; we drank together, ate together and prepared our kit together. Also shooting a lot of rabbits with the rifles he kept at home. I will miss him, the lads will miss him and my thoughts are with his family." Captain Orlando Rogers Royal Marines, OC Manoeuvre Support Group, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Georgie Sparks was an immensely proud Royal Marine with an immeasurable passion for life and his chosen career. Out of all the recruits that I instructed, I remembered him the most - for he epitomized the qualities of a Royal Marine. Even in the depths of a freezing Dartmoor, he was always smiling, never giving less than 110 per cent, and with a constant desire to learn more.  "It was during his training I saw him for his true colours and what I saw was an incredibly determined, reliable and most of all selfless man - the type of Marine you would choose to be watching your back in a firefight. He died doing exactly that, putting himself in danger to keep his colleagues safe. When people ask me what instructing Marines was like, I recall Marine Sparks, and how proud I was to see him presented with his Green Beret in front of his family. I knew it meant the world to him to earn it, but it meant even more to him to see his family so happy and proud when he received it." Secretary of State for Defence, John Hutton MP, said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of Marine Georgie Sparks and Marine Tony Evans. It is clear that both were brave and highly professional young men who died doing a job they were passionate about.  "The loss of Marine Sparks and Marine Evans reminds us of the extreme challenges that our forces in Afghanistan face. My thoughts are with the families of these two men and all the many colleagues and friends they leave behind."


"The town of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire came to a standstill as shops, businesses and roads were closed to mark a Royal British Legion-led repatriation ceremony through the town centre," reported the Daily Mail. "Tearful well-wishers remained silent as five hearses - draped in Union Jacks - parked alongside uniformed British Legion veterans while civilians came to pay their respects."

Sgt John Manuel Royal Marines Funeral Hundreds of people including girlfriend Rachel (above right) filled the Catholic Church of St Mary in Newcastle upon Tyne. Brothers Trevor, 33, and Jimmy, 35, led tributes to Sgt Manuel, of Gateshead before he was buried at Saltwell Cemetery.

[ Sergeant Manuel, known as 'Manny' ]

Sergeant Manuel was killed in action on the 12 December 2008 in Sangin, Southern Helmand whilst deployed on operations with X-Ray Company, 45 Commando Group, Royal Marines. The Company was conducting an operation alongside Afghan National Army troops to dominate areas posing a dangerous threat to British forces and the local Afghan population. Whilst acting as the commander of the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in support of a company operation.

Sergeant Manuel was killed by a suspected suicide bomber. Despite the efforts of all those around him, Sergeant Manuel tragically died from his injuries at the scene of the incident.

Sergeant Manuel, known as 'Manny', was born in the North East on the 11 November 1970. After completing Royal Marines Commando Recruit Training in September 1989, he joined X-Ray Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines. Manny was an 'Arbroath Orphan', an affectionate term used at 45 Commando for ranks stranded north of the border at weekends. He served for the majority of his career with the Fleet Protection Group, also known as Comacchio Group, and with 45 Commando Royal Marines. He also spent a brief spell at the Defence School of Driving, Leconsfield. At this time both 45 Commando and Comacchio Group Royal Marines were based in Royal Marines Barracks Condor, Arbroath and Manny made many close friends and was very much a part of the 45 Commando family. During this time he gained considerable operational experience in Iraq (Op DRIVER), Belize and Kosovo (Op AGRICOLA). He was recently promoted to Sergeant. Sergeant Manuel was a Specialist Driver/Instructor and was also highly qualified in the field of logistics. He fulfilled a crucial role as the Quartermaster's Logistic Forward Representative within X- Ray Company; approaching this labour intensive and demanding role with vigour and passion and providing the company with the necessary stores and support required to achieve its mission. He also embraced any opportunity to patrol with X-Ray Company. Sergeant Manuel was a martial arts and motorcycle enthusiast. He was particularly talented in Judo, a sport in which he excelled. On return from the current tour it was his ambition to establish a judo club in Condor, for the benefit of all ranks of 45 Commando Group Royal Marines based at RM Condor, especially the 'orphans'. Sergeant Manuel was an industrious character and a good and loyal friend; his loss has left a void in the hearts of X-Ray Company and 45 Commando. His 'ball of fire' personality combined with his Geordie humour was well known and respected throughout the unit. He was approaching the end of his career in the Royal Marines and it was his aspiration to pursue a second career with the Police as an Advanced Motorbike Instructor. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group: "Sergeant 'Manny' Manuel was one of 45 Commando's biggest characters and had spent a huge proportion of his 20-year career serving with the unit. Dynamic, enthusiastic, forthright and always cheerful he was a much valued and respected member of the Sergeant's Mess, X-Ray Company, Motor Transport Troop and the Unit as a whole. His contribution to the Commando and to the Royal Marines was enormous whether he was deployed on operations or pursuing his love of martial arts and motorbikes. Extremely courageous and determined he was killed by a suspected suicide bomb whilst playing an important part in an operation to provide security to the local population of Sangin and I know that the whole unit joins me in sending my deepest condolences to his partner and his family as they come to terms with the loss of such an inspirational individual."  Major Richard Maltby Royal Marines, Officer Commanding X-Ray Company Gp: "Sergeant Manuel was a larger than life character who had become part of the backbone of X-Ray Company. A limitless 'ball of fire', Sergeant Manuel was at the forefront of Company life. Hugely popular, he combined a mischievous sense of humour with a dedication and professional manner that was second to none. He died doing what he loved, commanding a detachment on operations and taking the fight to the enemy. His loss will not only be felt by the Company and Battle group, but also across the Royal Marines Corps. However, at this difficult and tragic time, my thoughts are with his family and his partner, Rachel."  Warrant Officer 2 Jim Curran RM – Company Sergeant Major X-Ray Company: "I have known Sergeant 'Manny' Manuel for nearly 20 years, having both served the majority of our careers in 45 Commando RM. I was incredibly proud that we were serving in X-ray Company together again. 'Manny' was an exceptional Royal Marine whose high standards, fortitude and leadership made him an integral part of the Company and we will be at a loss without his input. The enthusiasm, cheerfulness and sheer energy he displayed when undertaking his duties was an inspiration to all. Sergeant Manuel was an outstanding Royal Marine Sergeant displaying the highest standards throughout. A good friend, 'Manny' will be sorely missed by all."  Warrant Officer 2 Kev Cheeseman RM – Company Sergeant Major Zulu Company: "Manny was an extremely professional lad, who was always cheery and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He had permanent grin on his face and always looked on the bright side of any situation no matter what it was. A Geordie through and through; he loved his home town as much as he did the Royal Marines. Manny was a truly outstanding individual who would help anyone without fuss or seek of reward. A truly professional, hard working Royal Marine, who was very proud of his background and of being a 'Bootneck', he smiled through all life's ups and downs. He will be missed."  Sergeant Sean 'Snatch' McKeown RM, 5 Troop, X-Ray Company: "'Manny' was small in stature but larger than life. You could always hear him before you saw him and when you met him his broad grin and sense of humour would instantly make you smile. I've known Manny for nearly 20 years. We've served as marines, corporals and sergeants together in Comacchio Group, Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines and 45 Commando Royal Marines. Like me, he tended to stay north of the border which meant we could get home to our beloved north-east more easily, having 'runs ashore' together in Newcastle at weekends. Manny was a wonderful friend but also every inch a Royal Marine; motivating, professional and thorough in every task he did. He had the courage of a lion and the personality of a hundred men. His sense of humour was infectious and when I had a bad day he was always there as a shoulder to 'drip' on. He would give you his last, but make you sign for it first. Cheers for the Newcastle Legends DVD but in my eyes you are The True Legend. I'll miss you Manny. Always your mate, 'Snatch'."  Sergeant David Thompson – Yankee Company. A close friend: "I've known John since I was 13 years old, as young marine cadets! Even at this young age John possessed the 'Commando Spirit' in spades. He was a truly inspirational character, always with a cheeky smile on his face. He was the first Royal Marines Commando that I knew, who I looked up to with total respect. John was undoubtedly one of the main reasons why I joined the Corps, a true 'Bootneck' through and through. He will be missed by all but never forgotten. My thoughts are with his family during these hard times."  Corporal Michael 'Mick' O'Donnell, Machine Gun Section Commander, 6 Troop, Fire Support Group: "'Jacky' Manuel, 'Manny' or 'wor Jacky' as I preferred to call him was small in height but massive in personality with a big heart to match. Jacky was one of the most professional and hard working friends I've had. He always had time for a bit of a 'craic' and a 'hot wet' – no sugar. Whether it was to wind someone up for a joke or on a more serious note, to offer advice, Manny's laugh was infectious. It wouldn't take long for everybody around him to start laughing too, even if they didn't know what they were laughing about. If he had a bee in his bonnet on a bad day, you would still get a smile and a laugh out of him. I, myself, feel very privileged to have known the big-hearted Geordie 'wor Jacky' and things will never be the same without you around. I will miss you mate." Marine Sam Laird, X-Ray Company Headquarters and Marine Chris Rogerson, 6 Troop Fire Support Group: "Well what can we say about John, 'Manny'? We knew him from when we were kids, rolling about on the Judo mats, listening to his tales about the Marines (having rocked up ten minutes adrift, in true Bootneck style!) He would do anything for us, not caring about age. He was there when we needed lifts, needed someone to talk to and he was even there the when one of us was arrested. It would be fair to say we idolised him. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, we have done it to a 'T'. We chased him for our black belts, got our Green Berets and just like him, joined X-ray Company in our first draft in the Royal Marines. Somehow we managed to all meet up where we first started, here in X-ray Company on Op HERRICK. He put his rank aside when talking to us, constantly joking with each other, but behind closed doors we could sit and have a heart-to-heart and listen to his advice. Although sometimes we never took it, we always knew he was right. We will miss his banter and his words of wisdom and his departure will leave a hole in our lives. He was a best friend, true father figure and a Bootneck through and through. You will always be in our hearts and minds, forever missed but not forgotten." By all the ranks of Motor Transport Troop 45 Cdo RM: "Manny was a true professional. No matter what he was involved in he would do it with a mass of enthusiasm and passion; he always told it like it was and even though you knew you were right, with Manny you were actually wrong ! He was the 'Jack Russell' of the Royal Marines; small, feisty and hyperactive he did everything at "Mach 10". But no matter how busy he was, Manny always had time for a 'dit' (story) and a 'wet' (drink) session - normally the wet would always be finished before his dit! Manny was passionate about judo and was instrumental in setting up the 'Condor Judo Club', his passion, and knowledge will be sorely missed. His other passion was for motorbikes and if you couldn't find him in his office you could no doubt find him polishing his own bike inside the MT (Motor Transport) shed in preparation for taking it out for a spin after work. He had always wanted to ride hard and fast on the German autobahns and his dream was set to come true on return from HERRICK 9 with his close-knit biker gang. Although he won't be able to make the trip himself now, we will still make the trip and legally pass the 100 in his honour. Manny made us all laugh and wouldn't want us to be sad for long which is easier said than done; we wish he was here now to make us all laugh again. We will miss him."


[ Corporal Birch ]

Corporal Birch was killed in action on the 12 December 2008 in Sangin, Southern Helmand on operations with X-Ray Company, 45 Commando Group, Royal Marines. The Company was conducting an operation alongside Afghan National Army troops to dominate areas posing a dangerous threat to British forces and the local Afghan population. Whilst acting as 2IC of the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in support of a Company Operation.

Corporal Birch was killed by a suspected enemy suicide bomber. Despite the efforts of all those around him, Corporal Birch tragically died from his injuries at the scene of the incident.

Marc Birch, known as 'Birchy', was born in Northampton on the 23rd March 1982. After completing Royal Marines Commando Recruit Training in March 2000, he joined 42 Commando Royal Marines. He served at 42 Commando Royal Marines for seven years. During this time he gained considerable operational experience in Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland and Iraq. In 2005, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal and subsequently served in the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines (FPGRM) in April 2007 before moving on to 45 Commando Royal Marines in November 2007.

Corporal Birch was a proud 'Tankie', a Heavy Weapons Anti-Tank Specialist. As a Section Commander within 6 Troop, X- Ray Company, his responsibilities placed him at the vanguard of troop and company action. With his specialist skills he provided intimate fire support to the front line of the fighting troops with a variety of Crew Served Weapons; Heavy Machine Gun (HMG), Grenade Machine Gun (GMG) and the JAVELIN missile system. As an experienced Corporal he was instrumental in the success of his Troop and Company.  He was a keen footballer and when serving at 42 Commando he played for the unit team on a regular basis and was a crucial member of the team when they won the Navy and Tunney Cup in 2000. As testament to his sporting ability, he scored the only goal against the Sierra Leone National Team when 42 Commando played them in Freetown . This fact was also an integral part of his comedy routine.  Corporal Birch was an outstanding character, a good friend and an absolute pleasure to work alongside. He had a cheeky, quirky sense of humour and never failed to see the bright side of life, this combination made him incredibly popular. His gregarious nature was enhanced with the attributes of courage and loyalty. He exemplified all the qualities any Royal Marine Commando would aspire to have. He hoped to progress through the ranks and serve in all of the Commando Units.  Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group: "Corporal Marc 'Birchy' Birch was an outstanding Royal Marine Commando and a popular and very capable leader. Courageous, determined, warm-hearted and with an impish sense of humour; he demanded high standards from his men but always motivated them by personal example and commitment. He has made a considerable contribution to 45 Commando and to the Royal Marines during his service with the unit and his approachability, engaging personality and loyalty was much respected throughout his Troop and his Company. He was killed by a suicide bomb whilst he was deployed at the forefront of an important operation to provide security to the people of Sangin. 45 Commando has lost both an outstanding individual and an important member of the team and he will be greatly missed by us all. Corporal Birch was also a devoted family man and I extend my very deepest condolences to his close family and friends as they come to terms with his loss." Major Richard Maltby Royal Marines, Officer Commanding X-Ray Company: "Corporal Birch was the embodiment of a Royal Marine Commando. Continually cheerful and with a wry smile, he was courageous, determined and utterly professional; he died serving his country and helping his friends. It has been my absolute privilege to serve with somebody so dedicated and loyal; his conduct on operations was first class. Although bitterly saddened by this loss I know Cpl Birch would expect the Company to continue to take the fight to the enemy. His loss will be felt across the Company and the Battle group. However, my thoughts are with his family and Charlene, who he recently married. He will be sorely missed by all." Warrant Officer 2 Jim Curran RM, Company Sergeant Major X-Ray Company: "Cpl Birch joined a newly formed X-Ray Company in November 2007. His knowledge, experience, high professional standards and drive were instrumental in shaping both the Fire Support Troop and X-Ray Company into a highly effective fighting force ready to deploy to Afghanistan . During Op HERRICK 9, 'Birchy' carried out his duties efficiently with determination, focus and thoroughness. With his wry sense of humour and Bootneck boldness, 'Birchy' was always great fun to be around both at work and 'ashore'. Cpl Birch was an exceptional Junior Non Commissioned Officer who embodied the highest standards and traditions of the Royal Marines. He will be missed by all of X-Ray Company." Captain Luke Thomson, Officer Commanding 6 Troop Fire Support Group: "Corporal Birch was a highly popular member of X-Company and 6 Troop. Extremely professional and always willing to help out other marines within the troop, his knowledge and experience had proven indispensable throughout OP HERRICK 9. His dry sense of humour would get him out of most scrapes; mostly involving navigation as the troop found out in Norway , Wales and the Sangin Valley but his energy was infectious. All who knew him will miss him dearly and most of all, the men of X-Ray Company who saw him as a friend and as the epitome of a Royal Marine Commando." Sergeant Neil Metcalf, 6 Troop Fire Support Group: "I was pleased to find that Birchy would be a Corporal in 6 Troop, X-Ray Company. Having known him for a number of years at 42 Cdo as a strong and dependable marine, it was evident that he would be an asset to the troop. His willingness for a few beers at the drop of a hat was impressive. Whilst on OP HERRICK 9 his sense of humour and work ethos was contagious amongst the troop. He will be greatly missed by me and all that knew him. Most of all his love for his family and wife was absolute. Our thoughts go out to them in their time of sorrow".  Corporal John Cowie, Javelin Section Commander, 6 Troop Fire Support Group: "Corporal Marc 'Birchy' Birch played a pivotal role within the Company. He was keen to pass on his knowledge and experience onto junior marines. Always seeing the best in people he would manage to get an extra mile out of all of those under his command. He would often work on the 1% rule - tell enough jokes and 1% of them would get the desired result. When ever a prank was played within the troop Birchy would be the ringmaster. Like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar, Birchy would be found guilty by simply the grin on his face. It was obvious to all who knew Birchy that his family meant everything to him. Everyone knew how supportive his family were of his life within the Royal Marines, especially Charlene. He was so proud to be married that he spoke of her daily whilst deployed on operations. We will miss his laughter, his smile but most of all his great personality that inspired us all." Marine Joe Hawley, 6 Troop Fire Support Group: "The term nicest guy can be used to describe Birchy. He was truly one in a million. His good humour and happy go lucky nature shone through in everything that he did. The junior marines within the troop feel fortunate to have worked with him so early on in their careers. We can only hope to aspire to be as good a Bootneck as Birchy, even if he was more "pussers" than a personal kit muster. His ability on the slopes of Norway earned him the nickname 'arctic fox' but his capability to go on a spontaneous run ashore was remarkable. He was devoted to his wife Charlene and extremely close to his family. It was clear to all of us that he loved them very much. Everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him and who would put up with his abysmal jokes will sorely miss Birchy. From all of 6 troop - 'Never forgotten.'"


[ Lance Corporal Steven Fellows ]

Whiskey Company, 45 Commando Group Royal Marines must confirm the death of Lance Corporal Steven Fellows Royal Marines, known to all as Jamie. He was killed in action on Friday 12 December 2008 in Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Shortly before 0900hrs on Friday 12 December 2008 1 Troop Whiskey Company was conducting a foot and vehicle patrol in the Green Zone south of FOB JACKSON when a JACKAL vehicle struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the Helmand River Wadi. All three of the vehicle occupants were wounded with L/Cpl Fellows' position as the vehicle commander taking the full brunt of the explosion. Despite a rapid withdrawal to the Forward Operating Base's medical facility, and subsequent evacuation by helicopter, L/Cpl Fellows was pronounced dead without regaining consciousness.

 

Hundreds of shoppers stood in silence in Sheffield city centre as the family of Lance Corporal Steven Fellows, 26 - known as Jamie - arrived at the city’s cathedral for the ceremony ... 

In a statement released to coincide with the service, L/Cpl Fellows’s wife Natalie said: “I am completely and utterly devastated and my life is so empty without Jamie. “He was my reason for living and at this moment I have never felt so alone despite the love and support of my family and friends. “Since I learnt of this terrible tragedy, even the simple mundane daily tasks, no longer have the same significance without knowing that Jamie is here to be part of my life.

“I cannot imagine how normality can ever return, or how the pain could ever recede without Jamie, my husband, my best friend and my soul mate standing by my side.”

 

L/Cpl Fellows was born in Sheffield on 15 May 1982. Having joined the Royal Marines in November 2006 at the age of 24, he excelled in training being awarded the King's Badge as best recruit in his Troop. In May 2007 he joined Whiskey Company, 45 Commando, and immediately threw himself fully into life in the Royal Marines. His sporting prowess was quickly noticed and in keeping with his tough, resilient nature he was selected to represent the Unit in the Royal Marines Boxing Championships and was subsequently invited to enter the Royal Navy Boxing Championships to represent the Royal Marines. Despite continued success, L/Cpl Fellows was single-minded in his determination to improve his skills as a field soldier and elected to concentrate fully on his professional development. Strong performances followed on exercises in both the UK and Norway . As a measure of his maturity and capability he was promoted to L/Cpl in April 2008, just 11 months out of training - a very notable achievement. A further measure of his precocious talent was his selection and subsequent success on the Royal Marines Sniper's Course, for which he was given just two days notice prior to attending. Since deploying to Sangin, L/Cpl Fellows has excelled with his understanding of both low level tactics and the aims of the deployment of British Troops to Helmand have seen him perform faultlessly. Jamie Fellows was a tough, compassionate man; highly motivated and mature, he typified the finest qualities of a Royal Marine Commando. A very popular member of his Company, he could engage in lively conversation with anyone; his wit, patter and comic timing were always underscored by a sharp and incisive mind. He was above all things devoted to his family and to his wife Natalie. Unabashed when he spoke of her, Jamie revealed such a deep love and affection for Natalie; all that heard him were touched by it. Jamie Fellows was proud to be a Royal Marine and fiercely loyal both to the Corps and his friends. He will be sorely missed by all. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group said: "Lance Corporal Jamie Fellows was one of the great talents amongst the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers currently serving in 45 Commando and we have lost a future leader of undoubted potential. Since the start of his career Jamie Fellows excelled. Whether it was winning the King's Badge as the best recruit in his Troop, gaining early promotion to Lance Corporal, becoming a sniper of great distinction or representing the Unit and subsequently the Royal Marines at boxing, he has made a huge contribution to this Commando. Intelligent, determined, tough and very good-humoured, he was one of the mainstays of his Troop and Company. He died whilst providing support to other members of Whiskey Company who were conducting an important ground-domination patrol in the Sangin area. 45 Commando has lost an outstanding junior leader and friend and I send my deepest condolences to his wife, family and friends of whom he was so proud." Major Ross Preston Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Whiskey Company said:  "I consider myself very lucky to have known and served with Jamie Fellows. In my view he embodied everything that it is to be a Royal Marines Commando. Tough and courageous under fire, Jamie Fellows was an example to his comrades, fearlessly taking the fight to the enemy. In happier circumstances his self deprecating sense of humour was infectious and his wit merciless. I'll not forget his ability to talk freely with everyone regardless of rank or background on any manner of subjects. Jamie Fellows engendered trust and faith in all those he met in life and his decency and tenacity ensured he never let anyone down. In everything he did Jamie Fellows had passion, most clearly seen in his evident devotion to his family and love for his wife Natalie; my thoughts are very much with them at this time. Jamie Fellows will be greatly missed and he will never be forgotten." Lieutenant Tom Winterton, Officer Commanding 1 Troop, Whiskey Company said: "LCpl Fellows was an awesome marine who gave his very best to everything he did. I first met Jamie in Norway at the start of the year and he immediately impressed with his supreme physical fitness and the professionalism he applied to his soldiering. He spent the rest of the year completing the Sniper Course before rejoining the Troop to deploy to Afghanistan. He was a courageous man who was never fazed and was always there to inspire and lead his Section. He was a big character within the Troop and was respected by every man who met him. It's a privilege to have worked with Jamie, may he Rest in Peace." Sergeant Tim Fulton, 1 Troop Sergeant said: "Jamie was an asset to his Section and his Troop. Although he had only been in the Corps a relatively short time he had already proved himself as a Royal Marine Sniper, on the Boxing Team and through promotion to L/Cpl. Jamie was always very outspoken, and always voiced his opinion even if you didn't know you wanted to hear it! He would always ensure that his Section was looked after and as the Troop Sergeant I knew that if Jamie was content, the whole troop was. Jamie had lived life to the full, having been a holiday rep before joining the Royal Marines, and took hold of every advantage the Corps had to offer. First and foremost Jamie was a very proud husband, which he talked about often. Jamie will be missed by the whole of Whiskey Company and our thoughts are with his family, especially his wife Natalie who he loved so much."  Close friend Marine Josh Green said: "Jamie/Jay was always the most outspoken person in the Troop, if not the Company! Needless to say, he was one of the most popular as well. The reasons for his popularity are far too numerous to mention in full but it was his ability to live life to the max that sticks out the most. He was never one to let life pass him by and he had had a full and eventful life before ever becoming what he was to us in the Marines. It was so recently that we were swapping stories about his time as a rep in Ibiza . His confident and fun loving personality shone through with his sharp tongue and wit. There was also another side to Jay, one that he wasn't afraid to share with the lads, and that was how much he loved his beautiful (and didn't we know it) wife Natalie. He was besotted with her a spoke about their future at length. On a personal level Jay was a great friend right from our very first week at 45 Commando and in Whiskey Company together. We were completely comfortable in each other's company and would never hesitate to share our problems. In short, he was a colossus and will always be remembered as the wonderful and impressive man that he was. Our hearts go out to his wife Natalie and his friends and family. They are in our prayers." Friends Marines Ben Gallagher and Rory Mair said: "Jay will be remembered by us as a fun loving joker whose humour was greatly appreciated and helped everyone through the hard times. He was a remarkable friend and a unique bloke who never failed to impress. We feel so much for his wife and family; we will never forget him." Natalie Fellows, L/Cpl Fellows' wife said: "Jamie was my childhood sweetheart, He meant the world to me and I am devastated. He was the kind, supportive and he put everyone before himself. He was a wonderful husband and also my best friend. He would do anything for his family and friends and I will miss him always."


[ Lance Corporal Benjamin Whatley ]

Lance Corporal Benjamin Whatley, from Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in Afghanistan on 24 December 2008. Lance Corporal Whatley was killed in Nad-E-Ali District, central Helmand while Lima Company was conducting an operation to clear enemy forces from the north of the district. Leading his men from the front, Lance Corporal Whatley was killed by enemy fire during a prolonged and fierce battle with insurgents.

Benjamin Whatley, whose home town was King's Lynn, was born on 29 July 1988. He joined 42 Commando Royal Marines as a rifleman in Mike Company. It was during this formative stage of his career that he deployed to Afghanistan for the first time on Operation HERRICK 5. A hugely successful tour, it saw Ben realise his potential as an infantryman and he began to grow into a junior commander, relishing any opportunity to step into the breach and provide an example for others to follow. A brief respite after that tour saw Ben deploy to the Indian Himalayas on Ex HIMALAYAN WARRIOR, a test of physical endurance, determination and soldiering at high altitude in the harshest and most unforgiving environments. This change of scenery was short-lived as Pre-Deployment Training started in earnest for this current tour of Afghanistan, yet this time Ben had a clutch of junior marines looking to him for sage counsel, guidance and inspiration – a role that he assumed naturally. Ben's family have made the following statement: Retired solicitor Sam Whatley, 54, and wife Teresa, 52, were staying in Chester with her parents when they were told that their son had been killed on Christmas Eve. The couple and their other son Luke, 22, returned on Christmas Day to their home at Tittleshall near King's Lynn, Norfolk.  They said in a statement: "Ben was a vibrant, happy person who had an unbridled enthusiasm for life. "He was so proud to be a Royal Marine; his death creates an irreplaceable loss for all his family and friends." Mrs Whatley a hairdressing lecturer at the College of West Anglia in King's Lynn, Norfolk, added "He was a prankster and a real practical joker with his friends and family. He was just a larger than life character "While he was growing up he was a boisterous and happy child who was always investigating things. He was constantly getting into scrapes fooling about and having a laugh." The couple told yesterday how they had decided not to put up a tree or any Christmas decorations in their home because their son was away in Afghanistan Instead they had been planning a belated Christmas dinner with him after he returned for a two break on January 8 - the halfway point of his seven month tour. Mrs Whatley said: "We would have had a turkey meal with crackers and poppers once he was home. There was no way we could have had a proper family Christmas while he was away. "You never stop worrying when your son is away on a tour. You are on edge for seven months because you never know if you are going to get phone call or a visit to say something has happened.  "The only time you know you son is safe is when you speak to him on the phone. Then you can relax for that time - but as soon as you put the phone down you begin to get worked up again. You don't know what he will be doing in ten minutes time. "Now we have had that visit which we were dreading. I suppose it is something we don't have to worry about any more." Mrs Whatley said her 6ft 5ins tall son wanted to be a Royal Marine from the age of 12. He was inspired by going on an endurance walk in north Norfolk with a former Marine during his last term at Glebe House prep school in Hunstanton, Norfolk.  L/Cpl Whatley later joined the Army Cadets at Fakenham while a pupil at nearby Litcham High School. He left school at the age of 16 to go on a pre-uniform services courses led by a ex-Marine Lee Mallett at the College of West Anglia. Then he joined the Royal Marines for 32 weeks basic training in May 2005. His best friend Tom Curry was killed in January last year when they were serving together in Afghanistan Mrs Whatley added: "He couldn't talk much about what he was up to because he was not allowed to say anything as people might be listening in. "He just said that they were doing a job and they had got some work to do. He was so buoyed up. He loved being a Marine. "He was a very vibrant person. He lived every day as if it was his last and always made the best out of every situation. He packed more into his 20 years than most people do in 60 years." Mr Whatley added: "He enjoyed being with his unit. I don't think he considered the political side of things too much. He was a Marine. It was a job he simply adored. I can't imagine him being anything else or wanting to be anything else." Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stickland Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 42 Commando Royal Marines said: "Another 'Smiley Boy' from 42 Commando lost whilst doing the job he loved, in an environment in which he excelled and surrounded by his mates. His loss has rocked the entire Commando, particularly the tight and combat hardened band of warriors that are 'Lightening' Lima Company. Lance Corporal Ben Whatley sat at the heart of a group of comrades bound together through rugged shared experiences, with strength of friendship that many cannot understand.  "He had truly earned his Lance Corporal's stripe and had so much more to give. All he served with knew him as a 'Proper Bootneck' and an uncompromising friend. His loss bonds us tighter and makes us all the more determined to maintain the initiative against our foe. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and other loved ones at this tragic, tragic time." Major Rich Cantrill Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines said: "Lance Corporal Ben Whatley was a tough, uncompromising Commando and his loss leaves a huge void in the hearts and minds of the men of Lima Company. Promoted just prior to this Afghanistan deployment, his advancement was richly deserved and it was my pleasure to see his calm delight (he almost smiled!) when the Commanding Officer handed him his badge of rank.  "Tall with a booming baritone voice, Ben Whatley had in abundance that magic ingredient of 'Presence'. Every inch a Royal Marine, he was the natural choice to fill a Section Second-in-Command appointment. "A veteran of Afghanistan, Ben knew how to fight and I saw him with my own eyes during the Battle for Zarghun Kalay, winning the fire fight against tough insurgent opposition; this is what Ben was doing when he was killed, fighting from the front for his friends, for his team, for his Company. "We will all miss Ben and the chance to watch him fulfil his tremendous promise, yet I will remember him as an ever-young Commando; a fighter, a man's man, a Royal Marine to the core." Captain Oli Truman Royal Marines, Officer Commanding 9 Troop, Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines said: "Ben was a proper 'Bootneck' and a Commando through and through. The biggest man in the troop, he excelled at relentlessly winding up his Troop Commander, Troop Sergeant and most of the senior ranks in the Company with his jokes and his almost horizontal, laid back attitude. "He was however, a particularly effective Marine and was the automatic choice for promotion to Lance Corporal. It was in this role that he excelled as a reliable and hardworking Section Second-in-Command, proving himself and his ability to lead his team during his time on HERRICK 9 and during especially fierce fighting recently. "Ben's loss is a huge blow to the troop for we have lost an extremely promising and successful member of our close-knit team."  Corporal Luke Colman, Section Commander, 9 Troop, Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines said: "I could not have asked for a better Section Second-in-Command than Ben Whatley. It was a job in which he excelled; I would ask for something to be done only to be told he'd done it twice already, half an hour ago! Ben was a superb soldier which he proved both on exercises and on operations. "Immensely strong he would think nothing of carrying extra batteries or ammunition for the machine-gun and would still not be seen in anything other than a pukka (correct) fire position, going up and down the line encouraging the other lads when things were getting hard. "More than all this he was a great friend to all the lads in the Section, me included. Words cannot express what a great loss this has been to all of us." Marine Nick Knapman, 9 Troop, Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines said: "Ben knew what was important to him and that was his family and friends. Always trying to stitch someone up with a prank, he was without a doubt the craftiest 20 year old I have ever met. Always the first one to want to go out for a drink, he was always the last one ready because in his own words: "it's not easy being this essence (good-looking)". "No matter how much it pains me to say it, he was a maverick when it came to the ladies. With his laid back attitude it looked like he was never giving hundred percent but Ben loved his job and being a true Bootneck was all he knew, and he proved just that on the day he was taken away from us. "See you soon Ben, but hopefully not too soon! You're going to be missed by all, especially those closest to you and I'll never forget you."

[ Cpl Liam Elms ]

Cpl Liam Elms of 45 Commando Royal Marines. Corporal Elms was killed in action by an explosion on 31 December 2008 in Southern Helmand on operations with Zulu Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines. The Company was conducting a local area patrol alongside Afghan National Army troops in order to reassure the local population. Corporal Elms or 'Elmsy' as he was known was born on 28 October 1982 in Wigan. He joined the Royal Marines on 7th May 2001. After completing training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone in Devon, he served with 42 Commando Royal Marines for 2 years.  During this time he saw active service in Northern Ireland (Op BANNER) in 2002, and then again in Iraq in 2003 as part of the UK contribution to Operation TELIC. Returning to the UK Corporal Elms completed his Junior Command Course, and Skill at Arms course where he was awarded top student. He subsequently trained as a Platoon Weapons Instructor Class 2 at CTCRM.

 

Remaining at CTCRM he was responsible for the training of recruits, a task in which he took immense pride, ensuring the next generation of Royal Marines were ready to take their place in a Commando Unit. His hard work and professionalism was rewarded when he was given his preferred appointment to Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, based in Faslane where he was able to further his passion for shooting and represented the Royal Marines as a member of the Corps (Royal Marines) Shooting Team. He then joined 45 Commando Royal Marines on 7th January 2008 deploying to Norway with the Unit before commencing pre-deployment training for operations in Afghanistan. A physically strong and powerful man he was a keen Rugby League fan and also played for the Corps Rugby League Team. Corporal Elms had a great sense of humour and despite his professional pride he could never take himself too seriously; he always had a ready laugh and liked nothing better than to reminisce about the lighter side of being a Royal Marine with his friends. Liam was a dearly loved son to his father Michael, of whom he often spoke and was in constant touch. He also spoke lovingly of his fiancée, and he was busy making plans for the future with her during this deployment to Afghanistan. His death will be felt by all who he influenced but mostly by his family and by those he served alongside. All who knew him will mourn the passing of a dear friend and an exceptional Royal Marine. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group, said: "Corporal Elms was an outstanding Royal Marine and a huge personality. Fit, strong, courageous and very good humoured he died leading his section from the front, doing the job he loved in the company of his friends who had tremendous trust in him and a huge respect for his abilities as a Commando and as a Leader. "The determined commitment and bravery that he has shown throughout the conduct of numerous operations over the last few months has been an example to all and his loss has been felt very deeply throughout 45 Commando. "He will be remembered for the energy and enthusiasm that he had for his profession but also for the generosity of spirit that he extended to all. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten and his tragic death will serve to further strengthen the resolve and determination of his comrades throughout these challenging times. "I know that every member of 45 Commando joins me in sending my very deepest condolences to his fiancée, close family and friends of whom he was so proud." Major Andy Muddiman Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Z Company Group, said of him: "Corporal Elms was a very likeable Junior Non Commissioned Officer, who had a generous and gregarious character. His hallmarks at work were utter professionalism and complete application to the task in hand. As a character he was jovial, big hearted and strived constantly to do his best.  "His contribution to both the training and leadership of the Company has been considerable. His interests both within the Corps and at home centered on his passions for shooting and marksmanship, in which he excelled. He became the authority within Zulu Company on section level tactics and equipment. "Corporal Elms lived and breathed his job, exuding an enthusiasm for soldiering that was instantly infectious. He had Commando qualities in spades: most of all he was unselfish, brave and determined. "An exceptional leader he never flinched from a dangerous task and the manner in which he died, leading from the front, was typical of the way he chose to live." Captain Ben Cassells Royal Marines, Troop Commander Z Company Gp, recalled: " 'Bend your knees, just bend your knees!' My first memories of Corporal 'Elmsy' Elms will always bring a smile to my face. Joining Z Coy at the same time, we both deployed directly on the Norway exercise this year. They say Norway changes you, but for 'Elmsy' I think he changed Norway. "The fastest Bookneck [Royal Marine] on two planks [skis], he was always found at the front of an attack, skiing directly towards the enemy position, only to ski straight past it and beyond into the nearest snow drift. "His refusal to let a small thing beat him, or anything else for that matter, just goes to prove his drive and determination: Commando qualities we would all come to rely upon, well… that and his kit collection anyway. "I honestly believe that everyone in 10 Troop has some pouch, zip, clip or whistle, all 'gucci' and made by Blackhawk of course, 'borrowed' from 'Elmsy'. Despite the banter we used to give him, he actually had some good kit, but don’t tell him we said that. "A Section Commander of the highest quality, 'Elmsy' was always a key personality in a very tight knit family. Throughout his operational deployment he led his Section with pride and dedication always taking the fight to the enemy. You will be missed by us all and I take great pride in calling you a friend. Take care and rest easy."

[ Corporal Elms ]

2Lt Hugh Mackay Officer, Commanding 10 Troop Z Company Gp, said: "Corporal Elms was one of life's true enthusiasts, a wonderful character and a natural leader. He was a dynamo of energy to the end. Despite my short time in his company, Corporal Elms made a lasting impression on me, happy to lend a hand to anybody in the FOB [Forward Operating Base]. "He will be sorely missed by everyone who has been fortunate enough to have met him." Sergeant Tomo Tomkins Royal Marines,  Troop Sergeant 10 Troop Z Company Gp, said: "I first met 'Elmsy' on joining Zulu Company for pre-deployment training. It is fair to say I liked him from that first meeting. A big man with a big heart, who would always have time for a dit-spinning [story telling] session, whether you wanted one or not! "Only a month ago during a engagement with the enemy, 'Elmsy' badly twisted his ankle but with true Commando spirit, he made no fuss and continued on with the patrol.

"Soon afterwards, he discovered that he had broken his ankle and was returned to Camp Bastion for treatment. He hated every minute of being away from his Section - although being near Camp Bastion ’s Pizza Hut was seen as a positive! - and as soon as he was physically able, he returned to the Troop and continued commanding his Section from the front. It was a pleasure to serve with you Royal and even though I only knew you for a short time, I know that I can call you a friend; you will be missed both professionally and personally by all members of 10 Troop Zulu Coy. "Goodnight brother."

Corporal Lee Birkin Royal Marines, Section Commander 10 Troop Z Company Gp, said: "Me and 'Elmsy' go back a few years since meeting at CTCRM on a course. He took great pride in his personal kit and equipment and was a real pro.  "I think it's a fair one when I say that I was round his grot [accommodation] every two minutes asking him, ‘what does this or that piece of your kit do?’ And I kept this up for years after as well. I was not the only one, Corporal Bishop did it too. " 'Elmsy' loved shooting both at work and in his spare time. Whenever the chance arose, he would show off the latest CQB [Close Quarter Battle] stance or a new way of holding and firing a pistol. "Dedicated members of the KFC club on a Friday travelling home together, 'Elmsy' was often seen destroying a Family Bucket, well, I think the words used is that he was 'devastating it at close range'.  "Always keen to lead from the front, his self proclaimed 'OPTAG Black Thursday' left him covered in the River Wissey bog, and the words 'three crates down' could never be mentioned in his presence without a pyrotechnic reaction! This and many more dits that can only be spun by those who knew him best sum up the character that was 'Elmsy'. "A fine Section Commander who had the respect of everybody around him a, Bootneck through and through and an all round good bloke, sorry to see you go mate. The family of Cpl Elms have released the following statement:  "A true mans man. Liam always strived to be the best, his proudest achievement was receiving his beloved green beret. "All who knew Liam loved and respected him. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his lads in Zulu Company and their families. "Liam will leave a huge hole in our lives and he will always be missed."


Information Exploitation (IX) Group

A unique unit of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. Members of the UKLF CSG Brigade Reconnaissance Force patrol in Jackal vehicles during a counter-IED operation in southern Helmand province. Read more here

[ Marine Travis Mackin ]

Marine Travis Mackin was killed in the Kajaki area of Afghanistan's Helmand province on the morning of 11 January 2009. Marine Travis Mackin of Communications Squadron, United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group, was serving as a member of the Security Sector Reform Group in Afghanistan, operating as part of 45 Commando Royal Marines. Marine Mackin was killed in action in Kajaki, northern Helmand province, during a joint patrol with Victor Company, 45 Commando Group Royal Marines, and the Afghan National Security Forces.

Victor Company was conducting a deliberate offensive patrol alongside the Afghan National Army to destroy a key Taliban command cell. This cell had been responsible for numerous attacks on both Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces in the Kajaki area. Whilst establishing a vital fire-support location to protect his colleagues advancing on a Taliban defensive position, he was tragically killed by an enemy Improvised Explosive Device. Within Victor Company, Marine Mackin was a member of the specialist team mentoring both the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police in Kajaki. This role found him on many patrols providing training and advice to the Afghan National Security Forces and acting as the vital conduit between them and the company. He was therefore often at the forefront of operations alongside his Afghan counterparts and was frequently required to guide and lead them into, and out of, hostile situations. It was whilst conducting this crucial role and leading his team from the front in a company deliberate operation that Marine Mackin was killed. His loss is sorely felt amongst his comrades in 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. Travis Mackin was born on 9 December 1986. He grew up in Plymouth and joined the Royal Marines on 5 July 2004. His selfless and helpful attitude singled him out for praise throughout the rigours of Commando training. He served with 45 Commando Royal Marines as a rifleman in Zulu Company, during which time he deployed on combat operations in Afghanistan on Op Herrick 5. Zulu Company was involved in some of the fiercest fighting of that deployment, predominantly operating in the southern region of Helmand province. On his return to the UK he was selected for specialist training and joined the Signals Branch of the Royal Marines. He was noted for his strong performance on the communicators' course and qualified as a Royal Marines Communicator, Class 3, in July 2007. He subsequently joined 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines and served with 3 Commando Brigade's light amphibious raiding unit until April 2008.  A confident soldier, he deployed to Afghanistan on Op Herrick 9 looking forward to proving himself in the challenging role of mentoring the Afghan National Police with his comrades in the Security Sector Reform Group; an aspiration which he rapidly and convincingly fulfilled. Already a veteran of this operational theatre in spite of his youth, he was always keen to impart his hard-won knowledge to those less experienced. He had great ambition, and huge potential; his infectious sense of humour and abundance of natural leadership made him an instant hit with the Afghan Security Forces that he mentored and fought alongside. Marine Mackin's family have strong links with the military and one of his brothers is serving with 1st Battalion The Rifles, also deployed in Helmand on Op Herrick 9. The loss of such an incredibly popular and exceptionally loyal member of our band of brothers is a tragedy. The tributes below say it all. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad and tragic time.  Statement from the family of Marine Travis Mackin: "Travis was a much loved son and brother who is never going to leave us and will be in our hearts and souls forever. He lived for the Marines and was so proud of his uniform. His untimely death leaves a massive hole in all the lives of his family and friends. He touched the hearts of all those that met him and we are so proud and honoured to have had him in our lives." Marine Mackin's girlfriend Laura said: "I am so honoured to have been his girlfriend and he is irreplaceable in my heart. To me he was the most honourable, unselfish and caring person I have ever known and he never ceased to make me laugh. I will miss him beyond words but equally I am so proud to have known this wonderful man." Colonel Haydn White, Commanding Officer 539 Assault Squadron and the Armoured Support Group Royal Marines, said: "Marine Travis Mackin was a highly professional soldier with an infectious sense of humour and liked by all that knew him. Whilst serving with 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines he was conscious that the 3 Commando Brigade Afghanistan deployment might pass him by. Not one to miss an opportunity, he constantly requested to join one of the units deploying and received his wish in April 2008 joining UKLF CSG and subsequently seconded to support Security Sector Reform (SSR).  "Wherever he served, Travis was guaranteed to provide his best and was an accomplished soldier and signaller. He always had a real zest for life and those that met him were better for the experience. All of us mourn his passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this tragic time." Lieutenant Colonel Graeme Armour Royal Marines, Commanding Officer Security Sector Reform Group, said: "Marine Travis Mackin was an archetypal Royal Marine who thoroughly embodied the 'work hard - play hard' philosophy of life. He lost his life operating as a Section Commander, mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces in Kajaki, where his professional and selfless efforts had contributed significantly to the provision of security in the area. "As a Marine performing the role of a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer, Marine Mackin was in his element, using his personable nature and natural authority to gain respect amongst the Afghans, and his experience to help develop their skills. I am in no doubt that he was ready for a Junior Command Course after this tour; his star was certainly on the rise with his abilities proven in the harshest of conditions. "He had the prospect of a successful and long career in the Royal Marines stretching before him. His love of life and cheerful, positive attitude were infectious and wherever he went you would find people smiling and laughing. He was a natural extrovert. The sorrow that is felt throughout the SSR team, 45 Commando and the Task Force as a whole bears testimony to the man who we were all privileged to have known and served with, however briefly. He was a true Commando - he made you laugh - he will be missed."  Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer 45 Commando Group, said: "Whilst Marine Mackin did not deploy to Afghanistan with 45 Commando he has been an integral member of Victor Company Group throughout the last three months at Kajaki. He tragically died whilst operating at the forefront of a Victor Company patrol and he is very much considered as one of our own. His courage, good humour and strong leadership will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues who respected him so much and his loss has been felt very deeply across the whole of 45 Commando."

[ Marine Mackin ]

Major Chris Ordway Royal Marines, Second-in-Command UKLF CSG, said: "Marine Mackin epitomised the Royal Marine Commando; his quick wit lightened even the darkest of situations. A Signaller by trade, he was rightly demonstrating that he was a Commando first and a Communicator second. An experienced lad, I had the privilege of fighting alongside his company on Op Herrick 5. He drew upon the knowledge he had gained on his previous operational tour to lead and inspire his Afghan comrades. "The variety of officers and men of 3 Commando Brigade who knew him well, from across specialisations in the Corps, shows how easily Marine Mackin touched people's lives in such a short period. A true brother-in-arms, his loss is felt acutely across Task Force Helmand and the wider Royal Marines. Our thoughts are with his girlfriend, friends and family at this most distressing time."

Major Nigel Somerville MBE Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Victor Company Group, 45 Commando Royal Marines, said: "A talented, popular and exceptionally courageous individual, Marine Travis Mackin died supporting his colleagues in the face of hostile enemy action. Brave, calm and always measured under enemy fire, Travis was synonymous with leading his team from the very front to support his colleagues around him. This is how he died and how he will always be remembered. The dedication, loyalty and pure courage shown by someone so young is truly humbling. His loss is a tragedy in every way and the Company, Commando and Royal Marines will be a much quieter place without him."  Warrant Officer Class 2 Robert Millman, Company Sergeant Major Victor Company, said: "Marine Travis Mackin was a true Marine; his sense of humour intoxicated all around him, and even when put in extreme situations, he could lighten the moment with a practical joke. He even arranged for Santa Claus to visit his Sergeant Major on Christmas Eve, a feat still unsurpassed by others - he will be in my good books forever. "He was an inspiration to all young Royal Marines in the way he conducted himself on Operations, and at home. He will be sorely missed by all the men of Victor Company Group and throughout the wider Royal Marines. The thoughts of all the men of Victor Company are with his family at this time of extreme grief." Sergeant Lee Collins, Security Sector Reform Group, IC OCC-D Kajaki, said: "They broke the mould when they made Travis. His energy and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds; he was the biggest bag of morale I have ever known in the Corps, always smiling, always laughing. Always looking for a new pet, Travis befriended cats, dogs, snakes, spiders and was raising two chickens in the FOB [Forward Operating Base]. "Travis was always willing to go further, carry more, do his bit and then a bit more. He was a completely professional Marine who would have gone far if he had been given the chance, the example he set would have made him an excellent JNCO [Junior Non-Commissioned Officer]. He died doing the job he loved. Travis always carried a Commando Dagger on his webbing, he always upheld the qualities of a Commando and deserved to wear it with great pride. The Corps will be a much quieter place without him. Our thoughts are with his family and his brothers and sister."

Corporal 'Adz' Burke said: "Travis was a true mate and a great Royal Marine. If there was a joke to be made or a trick to be played, it was Travis. He always led from the front in the lead section and was never afraid to engage the enemy, with his offensive spirit being second-to-none. You could always rely on him to carry more kit than the next man with his sense of honour shining through. "He died doing the job he loved and the job he was brilliant at. He always spoke about his family in a positive way, with always wanting to out-do his brother in the Army. Travis you will be missed my mate and don't worry we'll look after the chickens pal!" Marine Tom Jeffcote, Security Sector Reform Group, OCC-D Garmsir, said: "Before deploying to Afghanistan Travis went into the Sergeant Major's office and asked to be sent to the 'most dangerous place in Afghan'. So they did… and I know he loved every minute of it, being out here doing the job he loved.  "He used to say he was destined to be the Corps RSM [Regimental Sergeant Major] one day, a quote laughed at by his mates, but they knew it to be true. Out of work, Travis was a great lad who liked to get on the sauce, and would often drag me with him to the coldest beaches in Plymouth to go spear fishing. Even when sober he couldn't hit a barn door, but it never dampened his spirits. "I think I speak for everyone who knew him when I say Travis was a 'hoofing' bloke and an excellent soldier and he will be massively missed by all of us. Both mine and his colleagues' thoughts are with his family at this time as they try to come to terms with this tragic loss."


[ Corporal Danny Winter ]

 

Captain Tom Herbert John Sawyer Royal Artillery and Corporal Danny Winter Royal Marines (45 Commando) were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 14 January 2009. Captain Tom Sawyer (left) and Corporal Danny Winter Both were killed in an explosion while taking part in a joint operation with a Danish Battle Group and the Afghan National Army north east of Gereshk in central Helmand.

 

Corporal Danny Winter was serving in Helmand province with the Mortar Troop of Zulu Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines. A specialist Mortar Fire Controller, his role within the company as the commander's mortar expert required him to provide intimate mortar support to the front line of the fighting troops. It was whilst operating in this role, ensuring the ranks of Zulu Company were supported, that he was killed. Corporal Danny Winter, known as Dan, was born near Manchester on 20 June 1980, and lived in Stockport. He joined the Royal Marines in October 1996 and specialised in the mortars heavy weapons branch very early on in his career. Serving with both 40 Commando and 45 Commando he had served operationally in Northern Ireland and in Iraq on Operation Telic in 2003 where he was involved in the initial aviation assault of southern Iraq. After returning from Operation Herrick in Afghanistan in 2007 he completed command training and his enthusiasm to deploy to Helmand for a second time was testament to his determined attitude. Corporal Winter was an extremely professional and dedicated member of the Unit Mortar Troop and he epitomised its unique ethos. He had a true passion for his specialisation and revelled in the small community of which he became a vital part. Highly capable and determined, Cpl Winter was also exceptionally laid back and humble. He undertook everything with absolute gusto, whether it was at work, supporting his beloved Manchester United FC, or spending time with his family and partner Amanda, with whom he shared his life. His enthusiasm was infectious as was his smile, which always had a laugh not far behind it. His combination of attributes made him an irreplaceable character to be around. Unselfish and unswervingly loyal to all that knew him, he encompassed all of the qualities of a Royal Marine.  Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group, said: "Corporal Danny Winter was an exceptional Royal Marine, Mortarman and Non-Commissioned Officer with a big future ahead of him. Clear thinking and forthright yet loyal, warm-hearted and very approachable, he was hugely influential both within the Mortar Troop but also within Zulu Company where for the last few months he had provided them with staunch fire support and planning advice throughout the many challenges that they have faced in Afghanistan. "Brave, committed, extremely determined and operationally experienced he had a gift for giving honest advice and opinion without raising hackles and he was tremendously well respected by all ranks as a result. He was killed right at the forefront of an operation whilst providing the measured and balanced advice to his commander that had become his trademark. His loss has been deeply felt across the whole of 45 Commando and his ultimate sacrifice will always be remembered. The whole Commando joins me in sending my deepest sympathies to his family and friends." Warrant Officer Class 2 Kevin Cheeseman, the Company Sergeant Major of Zulu Company, said: "Danny has been Zulu Company's Mortar Fire Controller [MFC] Alpha for over a year and has worked with the company throughout all pre-deployment training, deploying on Operation Herrick 9 as the Zulu Company MFC Alpha. Danny was always 100 per cent focused on his job and his professional opinion was always welcome and accepted within the Zulu Company Headquarters. "Danny was a key personality within Zulu Company who all the lads looked up to. He always had time for the lads' questions on Mortar Fire and how best it supported them. He was out on the ground supporting most of the patrols over the last three months and would never pass up any opportunity to go out, even on the smallest of tasks. "He discharged his responsibilities with pride and the utmost professionalism. Danny will be sorely missed within Zulu Company. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and we just want to say that Danny was a true 'Zulu Warrior' who was very proud to serve with Zulu Company, 45 Commando and the Royal Marines. A true bootneck has been lost." Captain Olly Denning Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Mortar Troop, said: "Corporal Danny Winter was the epitome of 45 Commando Mortar Troop. He absolutely loved being a part of the Troop and was a part of its very character. He was extremely professional, fit and motivated. With a ready smile he worked hard without ever showing pressure, with a confidence and assuredness that steadied those around him. It was the 'work hard, play hard' rule he took most seriously and could swing from work to full run ashore mode at the blink of an eye. A true great, I will always consider myself lucky to have known Danny Winter." Colour Sergeant Ross Gunning Royal Marines, Mortar Troop Second-in-Command, said: "I considered Dan a true bootneck from the start; a bloke who worked hard and played even harder. During this time I could see his passion for the job and his total devotion to his mates. Danny would always be the centre of attention on a night out, whether spinning 'dits' [stories] about his experiences on previous operations and exercises or just life in general, which he appeared to know a lot about, or so we thought. "He enjoyed karaoke and was often seen with a cigarette and pint in one hand, whilst loosely holding the microphone with the other, and belting out Neil Diamond classics at the top of his voice, often involving everyone else around him to great effect. "Danny progressed in his career and became an outstanding Mortar Fire Controller. This was a job that he put his heart and soul into - like his singing - and excelled at. He was one of the best. From all the Mortar lads our thoughts go out to your family during these difficult times. You will never be forgotten." Sergeant G T C Jones Royal Marines, 45 Commando Mortar Troop Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, said: "Corporal Danny Winter was one of the most professional mortar men ever to pick up a set of binoculars and a compass. He was a man's man, who always had time for you and especially his lovely girlfriend Amanda. If things weren't going your way he would be there raising your spirits with a cheeky grin, witty comment and a laugh that was infectious and unique to him. "He was always the first one to call you out for a drink down the pub, and he was always the first to need taking home. He was the heart and soul of whatever the lads were doing at any time, and he genuinely believed that he was 'the best looking and hardest man in Arbroath'! "Danny had a strong character, was calm under pressure and had the heart of a lion which enabled him to offer advice to friends and family and company commanders. He always led by example and was looked up to by the younger Marines. He was especially well respected in the world of Royal Marines mortars, and he was immensely popular in Arbroath. "Looking back on his time in 45 Cdo Mortars, it is impossible not to smile at some of the comical exploits he used to get up to. On numerous nights out he would always crack his trade mark dance 'the Van Damme' which he executed with all the grace of Woody, from Toy Story. He was a fanatical Man United fan who never missed a game, and would always be singing Man United songs whether they won or not, even if it did wind everyone up. "Danny Winter will be deeply missed by his family, and friends. He was a man who would do anything for you. He is a tragic loss to those who knew him closest and he now leaves a huge hole in Mortar Troop. Danny was a legend and an inspiration to all of us in Mortars and I know he would want us all to be strong and crack on. It was an honour to serve beside him and it was a privilege to have worked in the presence of this massive character. Danny Winter, a true Mortar man."

[ Cpl Danny Winter ]

Cpl Danny Winter, 28, of Zulu company, 45 Commando, Royal Marines Is carried from St George’s Church in Stockport, Cheshire

Corporal Mark Jolly Royal Marines, Mortar Troop, Alpha Mortar Fire Controller, said: "Danny was a good friend, whether teaching other members of the troop how it should be done professionally, or on a run ashore. On most occasions we aspired to be like him whether it be as an MFC, run ashore or as a one man tribute band to Neil Diamond. Danny's wild ways were finally diminished by the presence of a new passion in his life - Amanda, whom he fell for, head over heels. Amanda appeared to take control of Danny's personal remote control to great effect and they were good for each other. Danny you will be truly missed by all that knew you, and will always remain in our thoughts… and future spoofs!" Corporal Lee Birkin, 10 Troop Z Company, said: "Danny Winter was an all round good bloke who did all he could to help 10 Troop Zulu understand Mortar support, and how best to use them. He explained on many occasions in his down time how the lads could call for Mortar support if he could not have eyes on their target. He was liked by us all and had time for all of us with some great words of wisdom. Above all he was well respected and he will be missed dearly by the lads." Marine Scott Longden and Members of 4 Section Mortar Troop said: "Danny Winter was a bootneck through and through who worked hard and played even harder. This will hit our troop hard because to us he was the face of 45 Mortars and our motto, 'MMM', couldn't be more befitting to any other man. My last memory of Danny is walking into the Ship knowing that he would be on his favourite perch by the juke box, playing 'Caravan of Love' for me. Danny will be sorely missed by the men of mortars but certainly not forgotten." A friend, Marine Sam Laid, said: "All I can say is that words cannot describe the loss of Danny Winter, 'the best looking man in Arbroath', as he would introduce himself. I first met Danny when I joined 45 Commando in 2003. Danny and a couple of other corporals, who know who they are, took me under their wing. I started drinking with them every weekend and leave period in Arbroath till this very day. "He was his own person and a totally unique character. A true bootneck. I could spin lots of dits about Danny ranging from our time fishing together, to waking up in his flat watching him rush about getting ready for work, with red body paint all over from the night before, when he had been 'celebrating' Hallowe'en. "He never did things by half and I know he will be sadly missed by his closest friends, his family, Arbroath and of course his girlfriend Amanda to whom my thoughts go out at this time. I'm absolutely gutted, love you brother, God rest your soul and may your memories live on." Lance Corporal Simpson, Zulu Company, said: "Danny was a nice genuine man and a true gent. He was a key man for Zulu Company, who was respected by all of us for his high standards of professionalism and support he gave at all times. He always had time for the lads and their questions, and for this we had the utmost regard and respect for him. We are gutted he has gone and he will be missed greatly."


[ Marine Darren Smith ]

Marine Darren Smith of 45 Commando Royal Marines killed on operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 14 February 2009. He was a member of X-ray Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines and was based in Forward Operating Base Nolay, in southern Sangin.

Marine Smith was wounded in an ambush by Taliban fire. Despite the efforts of his colleagues, he tragically died of his wounds en-route to the medical facilities at Camp BASTION . Darren Smith, known as 'Daz', was born on 6 December 1981 and lived in Fleetwood, Lancashire. He joined X-ray Company in July 2008 immediately after completing Royal Marines Commando Recruit Training.

He was the epitome of a young Royal Marine; enthusiastic, hardworking, fiercely loyal to his friends and very brave. He carried the light machine gun, and was always at the front of his Troop, leading the patrol on operations against the Taliban. 

Daz was enormously popular with all of the other members of X-ray Company. He was a young man at the start of his career in the Royal Marines, but he already had a reputation for hard work and high professional standards. He was intelligent and trustworthy and had a natural talent that promised much for the future. He was a keen footballer and had trailed for Everton, Manchester City and Blackpool, but Liverpool was the team he supported. Even when he was deployed on operations he tried hard never to miss a game. During the quieter times of the deployment when relaxed and amongst his mates, Daz would always speak of his 2 year old daughter, Keira, of whom he was immensely proud. He was a devoted and loyal father and his thoughts would quickly turn to his loving girlfriend, who he had been with since childhood. Daz was immensely proud to be a Royal Marine and died as he lived, leading from the front. He was brave to the last and he leaves a gap in X-ray Company that is irreplaceable.  Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group, said: "The loss of Marine Daz Smith has reverberated with great sadness around 45 Commando Group. Brave, determined, modest yet fun-loving and full of life, he was always in the thick of the action whether on patrol or in his off-duty moments. He had an extremely bright future ahead of him and was viewed as one of the great talents in his Company. "He was killed in the midst of a small arms engagement with the Taliban whilst providing essential fire support to his colleagues during a patrol that had discovered a large cache of Taliban ammunition. His tragic death has been felt very deeply across the Commando and the ultimate sacrifice that he has made will be remembered by us all. "I send my deepest condolences to his friends and close family and in particular to Kelly, his girlfriend, and his daughter Keira of whom he was so proud."

Major Richard Maltby Royal Marines, Officer Commanding X Company Gp, said: "Marine 'Daz' Smith was the embodiment of a Royal Marine Commando. Cheerful, courageous, determined and utterly professional, he died suppressing the enemy in a significant fire fight. Immensely popular, he was dedicated to his family, 5 Troop, the Company and the Royal Marines.  "It has been my absolute privilege to serve with such a loyal, fearless and good natured man. "His loss will be deeply felt within the Troop and Company as a whole. However, at this difficult and tragic time, my thoughts are with his partner, Kelly, and their young daughter." Second Lieutenant Toby Jones, Officer Commanding 5 Troop, X Company said: "Marine 'Daz' Smith was a hugely popular and likeable member of 5 Troop. In my short time as Officer Commanding 5 Troop on OP HERRICK 9, what struck me the most was that he always had a smile on his face. "He displayed in abundance that valued tenet of the Commando Spirit above all other - cheerfulness in the face of adversity. "He was determined and whenever anything needed doing, you could rely on 'Daz' being the first man to get the job done, always giving his very best. Unselfishness is another valued tenet of the Commando Spirit and this he displayed by his boundless devotion to his fellow Marines, girlfriend Kelly and young daughter Keira. "Up until the very end he showed remarkable courage and I was immensely proud to be his Troop Commander. He was everything that could be expected in a Royal Marines Commando and more. He will be sorely missed by all."

[ Marine 'Daz' Smith ]

Sergeant 'Snatch' McKeown, Troop Sergeant, 5 Troop said: "Like everyone else in 5 Troop, I also took an instant shine to Daz, having joined the Troop near the end of our pre-deployment training. I appointed Daz as a Light Machine Gunner, a role which he relished. "Always with a smile on his face, always willing to go that bit further and always helping myself and his 'oppos' [mates], Daz was in my eyes, what every Marine should be: a true Royal Marines Commando with the highest of standards and a sense of humour to match. "My thoughts are with Kelly, Keira and the rest of his family. Daz has left a gap in 5 Troop that will never be filled. Always your true friend and Stripey, Snatch."  Corporal Pete Laurence, Section Commander, 5 Troop said: "Daz was an excellent Marine. I knew when he was in my section that he was trustworthy, always ready to do his job and without fail always smiling. Daz was keen to volunteer for any job that came his way and always suggested ideas to make things better. "Daz was always up for a laugh and mischief whilst also being able to take his fair share of his own medicine, always with that happy go lucky smile on his face. He will be truly missed and his persona around the Troop will not be forgotten. "Truly a great loss, Daz was the nicest guy and I will never forget his smile."  Corporal John Ballance, Section Commander, 5 Troop said: "When I was told Daz was going to join my section I had a feeling of satisfaction. Always first to volunteer for any task, both the 'Gucci' ones and the mundane, he'd get it cracked with the minimum of fuss, never seeking any recognition for his efforts. "Always there with a cheeky smile even when everyone else was feeling down he never failed to lift the section's spirits. His fishing stories became legendary within the Troop and a source of constant amusement. How one man could be so enthusiastic about the world's most boring sport we'll never know! "Devoted to his girlfriend, Kelly, and his little girl Keira he would speak of them with great love during quieter times; everyone's thoughts go out to them. A truly genuine guy, Daz will never be forgotten by those who had the pleasure of knowing him." Marines John Smith and David Middlemas, 5 Troop, added this message: "Marine 'Daz' Smith was many things to many people, but to everyone who knew him it was obvious that the most important thing in his life was his little girl Keira, together with his childhood sweetheart Kelly. He doted on them both and was always speaking of them. "To us he was our very own Captain Jack Sparrow (a fisherman from Fleetwood before he joined the Corps); he brought an almost constant cheeky grin to 5 Troop. He was always there to lift the mood of the lads, by sharing out his parcels of sweets whilst coming up with outrageous forfeits for those who lost to him at cards. "If there was work to be done he was the first to offer a hand and if it could be done listening to 'happy hardcore, dance or trance', all the better. "Daz could flash (lose his temper) like ten men, but that was only in keeping with such a colourful character. Daz was simply a lovely, lovely bloke and words just aren't enough to describe how 5 Troop feel about him. As a massive Liverpool fan, Daz mate, 'You'll never walk alone'." Marine Gregory Burns, 5 Troop said: "Marine 'Daz' Smith always had a cheesy grin on his face and was always up for a laugh. He was always helping the lads out and could be relied upon to cheer you up. He was constantly telling us how hoofing (good) a fisherman he was and how much he missed it. "He was a great man within the Troop and never a grey man; a brilliant soldier and a great Dad. Daz will be always in our thoughts. Love you mate."


[ Marine Mick Laski  ]

Marine Michael 'Mick' Laski of Signals Detachment, Yankee Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines, passed away peacefully at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham on 25 February 2009 with his family beside him.

Despite displaying true Commando qualities to the very end, Marine Laski died of the wounds he sustained in action on 23 February 2009 to the north of Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan.

On the morning of Monday 23 February 2009, Yankee Company was conducting a foot patrol to provide security to the local Afghan community when they were engaged by heavy and accurate enemy fire. Caught in open ground during this initial exchange, Marine Laski was struck by an enemy bullet whilst the patrol fought back to regain the initiative. In spite of every effort by his colleagues, and his own trademark determination, he never regained consciousness. Michael Laski, 21, was born in Liverpool on 11 May 1987. After completing Royal Marines Commando recruit training in September 2006, he joined 45 Commando Royal Marines and immediately deployed with the unit on Operation HERRICK 5 to Afghanistan.  Returning to the unit in early 2008 after successfully completing his Royal Marines Signals Specialisation course, his dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism ensured that he immediately stood out from his peers. The epitome of a Royal Marine, his desire to be right at the heart of Commando unit life manifested itself in his single-minded determination and desire to return to a close combat company. Confident in his abilities, his relentless drive and tenacity and the continual pestering of the Signal Troop Sergeant Major saw him joining Yankee Company in time for operations in the Upper Sangin Valley in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 9. Marine Laski was a dependable, brave and selfless man. He loved his job, and was exceptionally good at it. His spirit and tenacity in the face of adversity and danger were unswerving and his sense of humour and love for life was apparent in everything he did. He was an exceptional Commando, and he was blessed with a truly engaging personality that endeared him to all. Hugely popular within the company, his natural and infectious sense of humour always meant that he was at the centre of company banter. Marine Laski was a ferociously loyal Royal Marine, dedicated to his friends and to the Corps, and that is how he will best be remembered. His loss will be felt deeply by all. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group, said: "Marine Mick Laski was a Royal Marine Commando through and through. Bright, quick-witted, incredibly determined and extremely brave he always sought out every opportunity to operate as close to the front line as possible. "As a signaller in Yankee Company he was invariably on the shoulder of his Company Commander in the thick of the fighting ensuring communications whatever the circumstance. This was his second operational deployment to Afghanistan, and his commitment and bravery in the face of the enemy has been a continual example to us all. "His loss is a heavy blow to Signals Troop and 45 Commando, and we will all miss his loyalty, humour and friendship. The whole of 45 Commando Group joins me in sending my deepest condolences to his father and brothers as they begin to come to terms with these devastating events." Major Rich Parvin Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Yankee Company, 45 Commando Group, said: "Marine Mick Laski was a signaller with Yankee Company Headquarters and as such I spent a great deal of time with him, both on patrol and in the operations room at FOB [Forward Operating Base] Inkerman. He was a sharp-witted and thoughtful individual with an active mind. "His 'scouse' wit was always well-timed and he would often break the tension at moments of pressure with his dry sense of humour. "Brave in combat and always ready to assist others in any task, he was all that a Royal Marine should be. Whether he was providing covering fire to get his comrades out of danger or maintaining communications for the company in his role as a signaller, he was always exactly where he was needed and getting things done. "He was a professional in every sense and a Commando in the very best of traditions; a thinking man's soldier. He was mortally-wounded whilst fighting alongside his comrades, doing the job that he loved and thrived in, and set the standards for all around him to follow. "His loss is a tragedy, but his life was a gift to all who knew him. He lived his life with a determination to always succeed against adversity, but he did this with humility, dignity and humanity. He will be an example for those of us that remain and his memory will galvanise our spirits in difficult times ahead. It was a privilege to serve alongside him. He is missed, but never forgotten."

[ Marine Mick Laski  ]

500 pay respect to brave Mick Laski, 21, of 45 Commando, was shot in the head in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province 23 February 2009. He was flown home and died 48 hours later with his family in hospital. Dad Michael and brother Jonathan were among 500 mourners in Liverpool. Pals formed a guard of honour as Marines carried the coffin into church. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris said: “His bravery has been an example to us all.”

Captain Mick Trafford Royal Marines, Signals Troop Commander, 45 Commando Group, said: "Marine Mick Laski made an enormous contribution to the Corps; his loss will leave a gaping hole in Yankee Company, and the Commandos' Signals Troop. "Hugely popular and deeply respected, Marine Mick Laski was mature well beyond his years, offering compassion and understanding to his friends. He was extremely quick-witted, and always looked for any opportunity for some banter, especially with his 'oppos' [friends] in Yankee Company, where his enthusiasm was renowned as second-to-none. "Our thoughts are with Marine Laski's family at this difficult time. He will never be forgotten in 45 Commando." Captain Ralph Cottrell Royal Marines, Second-in-Command Yankee Company, 45 Commando Group, said: "Marine Mick Laski was an excellent soldier and signaller who was a popular member of Yankee Company and will be sorely missed. He was completely reliable both on the ground and in the operations room. On previous company patrols he had been my signaller, on my shoulder, covering my back and making sure all my messages were passed as I commanded the patrol. "I recall wading chest deep in an irrigation ditch with him to my front. Moments before we had been in contact with the enemy and I remember him calling to Corporal Moore 'this is hoofing, you've gorra get a photo of this!' with a big grin on his face. It was good Commando soldiering and was what he loved to do. "I will miss his humour, the conversations we had, often late at night or early morning when we were on watch, and his drive and energy to excel in whatever he did." Warrant Officer Class 2 Dave Irons Royal Marines, Signals Troop Sergeant Major, said: "When Marine Mick Laski joined 45 Commando from his signals course he took every opportunity he could to remind me how much he wanted to be in a company detachment, to the point were he knew where the gaps were before I did. "Just before pre-deployment training he got his wish and joined Yankee Company; the smile on his face said it all. Since then I didn't get to see him much as he was fully embedded within Yankee Company, however last time I spoke to him he was 'loving it' at Inkerman and was always keen to go out with Company Tactical Headquarters and be amongst it with the rest of the lads. "Marine Mick Laski was an exceptional person overflowing with the qualities you would expect of a Royal Marine, dedicated to his friends, 45 Commando and the Corps. His loss will be deeply felt by us all." Corporal Dan Moore Royal Marines, Yankee Company Signals Detachment, 45 Commando Group, said: "Mick was a massive part of Yankee Company Signals Detachment, always ready to help me whenever I needed it. He was the most professional bloke I ever knew, never cutting a corner in any aspect of his work. "If he wasn't working or sorting out his kit, which he never stopped fiddling with and then testing it, he was entertaining the lads with his 'chad' motorbike stories or his embarrassing dancing when he was listening to his music. He will be greatly missed by me and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. "Mick, you were a top friend and an outstanding Marine. I'll never forget you mate." Marine Mark Goldsbury Royal Marines, Yankee Company Signals Detachment, 45 Commando Group, said: "I worked with Mick day-in day-out for the last one-and-a-half years; it was a pleasure to have known him, and he was a true inspiration to work with. He was the most professional man I've worked with and there was never a dull moment, whether it be him spinning his run-ashore dits [stories], or giving advice on what car or motorbike to buy. Mick was an asset to the Corps and the Signals Detachment, but also a great friend who I will sorely miss and never forget. "My thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time. Rest in Peace mate; see you in the Big Man's Bar." Marine Karl Neave Royal Marines, Signals Troop, a close friend, said: "It was with great sadness and shock that I heard the news of Marine Laski's tragic death on returning from R&R [rest and recuperation]. "The first thing that came to mind was the time we was on our S3s [signals course] and just before going on exercise one of the S2s gave Laski the name of 'Cow Head', just because of the sheer size of his head compared to his body! He took it quite well, which summed him up, he never took things too seriously always ensuring the lads' morale was high whether down at Signals lines (where it was needed) or whilst out for a drink. "He was always reminding me how elite all 'Scousers' are compared to the rest of the world! He was a true professional when on the ground getting amongst it with the lads, a job he was proud of and loved doing. "Laski was a great friend, a great colleague and a great bootneck! He will be sorely missed but never forgotten."


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[ Marine Jason Mackie ]

[ Marine Jason Mackie ]

Marine Jason Mackie of Armoured Support Group Royal Marines was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 14 May 2009. Marine Mackie was supporting IX Company of the Welsh Guards when his vehicle struck an explosive device in the Basharan area of central Helmand, Afghanistan. The explosion killed Marine Mackie instantly and also injured his crew mate who is still receiving medical treatment. At the time of his death Marine Mackie was serving as a Viking All Terrain Vehicle Operator in 3rd Armoured Support Troop of the Armoured Support Group, Royal Marines. Marine Mackie was born in Bampton, Oxfordshire and was 21 years old. He joined the Royal Marines in June 2007. Following successful completion of Royal Marine Recruit Training and the Commando Course he joined 40 Commando Royal Marines based in Taunton where he initially served as a Rifleman.  He then underwent the Armoured Support Operators Course, qualifying him to operate the Viking All Terrain Vehicle. In September 2008 he joined the Armoured Support Group Royal Marines and completed pre-deployment training before deploying on operations to Afghanistan in November 2008.  Marine Mackie was an energetic and highly respected member of the Royal Marines and the Armoured Support Group. He loved all sports and was always a central character in the unit social life. Marine Mackie was a very passionate and proud Zimbabwean who enjoyed hunting at home on the farm, a hobby which helped him become a marksman during basic training. He was admired by his colleagues for his work ethic and love of life. He was extremely proud to be a Royal Marine Commando and held dear the qualities of the Commando spirit and displayed courage, determination, unselfishness and cheerfulness in abundance. Marine Mackie's family paid the following tribute: "Jason was one in a billion and will be sorely missed by his family and friends and his partner Vic and her family." Major Richard Hopkins Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Armoured Support Group said: "Marine Mackie was a colourful, cheerful and enthusiastic young man who I will always remember for his sense of fun and everlasting grin. He was immensely proud of being a Royal Marine and a Viking operator and took great pleasure in his work. "As a member of my vehicle crew on several operations, he had proved himself to be a highly capable, dedicated and hard-working operator. Always at the centre of any pranks or games, he was the first to pick up a ball, bat or anything else that could be improvised and employed for sport. "When on task he remained the true professional, focused and alert regardless of the hardships. He immersed himself in the life of a Royal Marine and was thriving in the operational environment. "The Armoured Support Group has lost a brave and skilled operator but more than this, we have lost a loyal and popular friend. Marine Mackie was one of ours and we will never let go of his memory. His death is a bitter blow but we remain resolute and focused on our duties and will not see his sacrifice pass by in vain. My thoughts and those of every member of the group are with his family and girlfriend at this difficult time." Captain Gez Kearse Queens Royal Hussars, Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Support Troop said: "Marine Mackie was an outstanding young man and a superb soldier. Never one to shy away from responsibility, Mackie's ability to continue working in the harshest of environments brought out the best of this extremely dedicated young man. "Mackie would continue to graft when others slipped by the wayside, motivating those to continue through the difficult times. A passionate sportsman, Mackie was a talented cricketer who often bowled many a batsman out with an improvised ball and bat made during extended periods in Patrol Base locations. "Wonderfully generous with his time and energies, Marine Mackie epitomised all that it is to be a Royal Marine. As a soldier he will be missed as a true professional. A hole has been left in 3rd AST which can never be filled. My thoughts and prayers extend at this most difficult of times to his family and girlfriend." Warrant Officer Class 2 Group Sergeant Major Matt Tomlinson CGC Royal Marines said: "Marine Mackie was known to me as ‘Makie' - but perhaps it should have been smiler because whenever we spoke he would always greet me with that smile. Despite hardships during missions and tasks, atrocious weather and long, drawn out hours of endless Viking operations, Makie would always appear from his vehicle smiling. "This shows the true character of Makie, a true ‘Bootneck' a strong fit Royal Marine, one of the brave, leading the section from the front despite the threat. Marine Mackie will always be remembered, it would be impossible to forget such a character. It was an honour to know him, likewise an honour to serve with him; it will be an honour to remember him. God bless you Mackie." Lance Corporal Jamie McGill said: "Marine Mackie was an unbreakable Marine both physically and mentally, always smiling when times got tough. Everyone knew him for his big grin. He will be sorely missed by all the lads from ASGRM." Lance Corporal Thomas McDermott said: "Marine Mackie was a strong Royal Marine and was always first to volunteer for any job. He was a well liked member of the troop, always with a smile and cheerful outlook on life. Mackie will be deeply missed by all." Marines Jamie McGillick and Tom Leatherbarrow said: "We both shared a room with Jason Mackie when we were at 40 Commando together, having all passed out of recruit training around the same time. He was an absolute pleasure to be around and was always up for a night out and a laugh together. "We had a great six months together at 40 before all moving to ASGRM in September 08. Jason brought his sense of humour with him and always found something continually more honking to do to make us all laugh. He was excellent at breaking things but always managed to keep a smile on his face despite the admin vortex that was continually following him around. He was a fantastic bloke and we will all miss him deeply. Rest in peace mate." Marine Anton Rushmere said: "Mackie had the kind of personality you could always depend on to lift morale when things got hard. We loved to talk about home and family and often shared parcels containing biltong and ouma rusks, an African delicacy. Mackie was a family guy through and through and loved his girlfriend very much and my thoughts are with them all now." Marine Mathew Vowles said: "Mackie was a young and ambitious Marine. You could always rely on him to boost your morale either by getting caught doing something he shouldn't or generally just having banter with the lads. He was a true character in himself who had a lot of ambition. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends, especially his girlfriend. He will be dearly missed by all the lads and will never be forgotten." Trooper Bobby Moore said: "Marine Mackie was a strong character with a promising career. He was always centre of any banter or prank being played on the lads, but would always give the game away with his smile. Gone but never forgotten." Marine Callum Gray said: "Marine Mackie was a brilliant soldier and an even better friend. Mackie didn't have the best of laughs but he seemed to do it a lot so that is good! He had a great dream and I have no doubt that he would have succeeded. To a wonderful friend, a brilliant soldier and my brother, Mackie. Always in our hearts." Marine Chris Bardsley said: "Marine Mackie was a good marine and a hoofing mate. Always first to put his hand up to help someone, and the last to shy away from any work. He will be sorely missed by everyone in ASGRM." Marine Ben Tait said: "Marine Mackie was a strong bootneck who prided himself on upholding the Corps values. His cheerfulness in adversity was one which we all respected him for. His ability to never drip and look on the positive, is what made him such a valued member of this group." Marine Baz Markham said: "Marine Mackie was a physically fit and strong member of the group. Always helping out whenever he could. It was an honour to have known him and he will be missed." Marine James John said: "Marine Mackie was a very strong and promising Royal Marine. He was always up to help someone out and never shied from any work. Always found with a smile, he will be dearly missed by all members of ASGRM." Trooper David MacDougall said: "Marine Mackie was a promising and strong character who never shied away from work and he always had a smile on his face. Mackie loved life and most of all loved being a bootneck. He will be missed by all but never forgotten."


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[ Lance Corporal Robert Martin Richards ]

Lance Corporal Robert Martin Richards from Armoured Support Group Royal Marines died in Selly Oak Hospital on Wednesday 27 May 2009, from wounds sustained in Helmand five days previously. Royal Marine Lance Corporal Rob Richards (his family know him as Martin but his friends call him Rob) was serving as Second-in-Command of a Viking All-Terrain Vehicle Section in 3rd Armoured Support Troop of the Armoured Support Group Royal Marines (ASGRM) when he was mortally wounded in the Nad e-Ali district of central Helmand, Afghanistan, on 22 May 2009.

LCpl Richards died while supporting the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. He was given immediate first aid at the scene and evacuated to medical facilities in Kandahar before being flown back to the UK. Many would not have survived the flight home but, testament to his character, LCpl Richards battled against his injuries for five days.

LCpl Richards, aged 24, lived in Betws-y-Coed, North Wales. He was unmarried with no children. He joined the Royal Marines in April 2002. Following successful completion of Royal Marine Recruit Training and the Commando Course he joined 45 Commando Royal Marines based in Arbroath, where he served as a Rifleman and then Section Second-in-Command and completed an operational tour of Northern Ireland. He then underwent the Armoured Support Operators Course qualifying him to operate the Viking All-Terrain Vehicle in May 2006. Following this he deployed for what was to be the first of three tours to Afghanistan. LCpl Richards was a highly regarded and experienced Viking operator. He loved football and golf and participated in all unit social activities. His knowledge of the Viking vehicle and of Afghanistan was extensive and he was the source of much advice to those around him. His courage under fire had been proven on numerous occasions during which he displayed great composure and skill. He led by example and was unafraid to place himself in danger in order to see the troop through a mission. His dry sense of humour and dedication to his friends made him a driving force in the group. He left a lasting impression on everyone who came in contact with him. He will be sadly missed by the Armoured Support Group and the wider Royal Marine Corps. The family of LCpl Richards said: "Martin was an exceptional young man, much loved by all his family and friends. He touched the hearts of all who knew him. "Martin was a keen sportsman and played football for his local team, Machno United, when back on leave. Martin lived life to the full and was generous to the extreme. "Martin achieved his goal, his whole ambition in life, seven years ago, when he joined the Marines. His and his family's proudest moment was when he passed out as a Marine Commando. "Martin, Robert to his friends and colleagues in the Marines, was regarded as a brave, courageous and supportive soldier, who was a keystone of the group. "Martin died doing the job he loved and will be sadly missed." Major Richard Hopkins Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Armoured Support Group, said: "LCpl Richards was a unique, utterly confident and accomplished Viking operator. His eccentric pranks and arid banter coupled with his ability to dress in quirky PT [Physical Training] kit or the most obscure items of issued clothing made him stand out starkly in the group and for all the right reasons. "He was simply an enormous character in the Armoured Support Group Royal Marines and he has left his mark on all of us. He clearly possessed his own inimitable style of leadership, rooted firmly on personal example and loyalty and this was an obvious and phenomenal force in the group. "As an operator, he had been forged on operations and his sense of importance lay firmly with the necessities of fighting and winning, all else was irrelevant. "Rob brought something distinctive to the Armoured Support Group and his character will remain ingrained in our unit ethos and approach for a very long time to come. My thoughts and those of every member of the group are with his family at this difficult time." Captain Scott Ashley Royal Marines, Second-in-Command Armoured Support Group, said: "LCpl Rob Richards was a true Bootneck and, like a stick of rock, if you snapped him in half he would have Royal Marines Commando written the whole way through. Rob was immensely proud of being a Royal Marine and let everyone know this. "He was totally committed and professional in his work and a joy to be around. He was a talented sportsman and very proud of his Welsh roots and would continually let the Englishmen in the group know what he thought of the English game of rugby. "I had the privilege and honour of working with Rob over the last four years and he definitely left an impression on not only me but everyone who ever worked with him or whose paths he crossed. "My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time; Rob you will always be in our thoughts and never forgotten… Here's to you ROYAL!" 

Captain Gez Kearse, Queen's Royal Hussars, Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Support Troop, said: "LCpl Rob Richards was certainly the biggest character in 3rd Armoured Support Troop, and the Armoured Support Group as a whole. "His love of amusing underpants and quick wit ensured never a dull moment for anybody in the troop, and ensured he kept me constantly on my toes at all times, never letting me forget that I was a 'pongo'. "Whenever an incident involving the troop occurred, Rob was always there to pick up the pieces and comfort his colleagues. During incidents where ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] forces were injured, Rob would always be the first to sprint out of his Viking to their aid, administering first aid and offering words of comfort and encouragement. "Coming to the end of his third tour of Afghanistan in the Viking, Rob was the most savvy of all the Viking operators. He knew the Viking platform inside out and always moved his vehicle and section in the most effective and intelligent of ways, mostly under intense enemy fire. " Rob was a true leader, always at the front, stepping up to the mark when others faltered. I, as a Troop Leader, truly valued his opinion and ideas, as I knew his breadth of experience would always lead to the correct decision. "Rob will be truly missed by me as a colleague, a soldier and also a friend. A truly unique character that will never be replaced who will always be missed. A gaping hole has been left in the Armoured Support Group with Rob's passing." Warrant Officer Class 2 Group Sergeant Major Matt Tomlinson CGC, Royal Marines, said: "Brave, courageous, selfless in life, professional, reliable, knowledgeable and, if I quote Sgt O'Callaghan, an absolute legend. These are a few of the words I would use to describe the Einstein of Viking, LCpl Rob Richards, Royal Marine. "Within days he would have completed his third Operation Herrick tour with Viking. Afghanistan was his back yard, so experienced whilst operating here, this provided him a comfort zone, he was already planning for his return. "You could see how content he was when out on the ground, during the winter period stomping around in his black Wellington boots looking like Rommel. "There was another humorous side to Rob, especially during PT sessions, his choice of phys rig was basically chav, regardless of his fellow marines digging out blind to look like an extra from Top Gun, Rob would be comfortable in a large pair of shell suit type shorts and T-shirt. "Rob, we will always miss your presence, You will forever be in our thoughts, Rob the legend, Rob the true original Bootneck. "Time for rest now Rob, you've more than done your duty." Sergeant Patrick O'Callaghan said: "Rob 'The Body' was the alpha male amongst the pack; the right man in the wrong place at the correct time. He had Commando spirit of the purest form, a hard-working, hard-playing Bootneck that I'm grateful to call a friend. "He had the energy of a hundred horses, the humour of a thousand clowns and the strength of a million Paras. As all Bootneck's are, he was essence, very witty and fun to be around. Ladies stand down; your services are no longer required. I shall miss him, keep smiling Royal; your spirit will live on." Corporal Glenn Melhuish said: "Rob 'The Body' Richards was a fearless Commando and a courageous leader always showing cheerfulness under adversity. Never fazed by any situation he was put into. A true Bootneck through and through who thrived on operations. "Known to his mates as Rob 'The Gob' due to his strong opinions and outspoken nature, he was a legend in ASGRM and probably the best mate a bloke could ever have. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten, rest in peace mate." Corporal Marcus Rose and Lance Corporal Jack Dewhurst said: "In memory of Robert Martin Richards, better known as Rob 'The Body' Richards. We have known Rob since the start of his Bootneck career, he was a character back then and his legend only grew over the years. "After our paths had taken us down different roads we met once more in ASGRM whereupon I saw Rob running naked around a field calling himself Strawberry Rob with the lads trying to lick him clean. This was a true testament to his character. "Rob was the epitome of a Bootneck. Once Rob had his sights set on something there was a no turning back; that even extended to him buying a car from the internet having never viewed it, only for its wheels to almost fall off half-way down the motorway. "Rob will be in our hearts and minds forever as a true friend. We will miss his terrible dits, his constant arguing and his bad taste in fashion, contrary to his own beliefs. Let our thoughts be with his family at this time." Lance Corporal Kevin Raynor said: "I have been fortunate enough to have known and worked with Rob for most of my career. I first met him when I joined Whisky Company 45 Commando and really got to know him well when we deployed to Norway together, where I once had to CASEVAC [casualty evacuation] him back to our room after he'd had too much to drink only to find on my return to the bar downstairs that he'd climbed out the window and beaten me back to the booze! "A true Bootneck. On a more professional level there are a handful of guys I've come across that I would consider extraordinary when it comes to the job we all do out here. Rob 'The Body' Richards was right at the top of that list. Rest in peace Royal." Marine Sam Pearson said: "LCpl Robert Martin Richards was a hoofing marine who showed all the qualities of the Commando ethos. He was also never shy to stand and speak on behalf of the lads whatever the subject. "Rob also loved his job and was always keen to lead from the front. Not only have we lost a hoofing oppo, but we have lost a hoofing soldier who would stick by you in any situation. All our condolences go to his family. Rest in peace mate, you will never be forgotten." Marine Jason Hunt said: "Robert Martin Richards was a hoofing marine who showed the Commando spirit in abundance. Never shying from any task. Rob, as he always said, was a leader of men and his men would follow undoubtedly. Rob was for many an idol and all that you could ask for in a Royal Marine. I am sorry to lose such a good friend, rest in peace Royal."


[ Corporal Christopher Lewis Harrison ]

Corporal Christopher Lewis Harrison of Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, Killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 9 May 2010. During a deliberate operation, Bravo Company was conducting a patrol alongside the Afghan National Army in order to help provide security for the local population of Sangin. At approximately 0620 hours local time on 9 May 2010, south of Patrol Base Shuga, Corporal Harrison was fatally wounded in an explosion. Corporal Harrison was 26 years old and was born in Watford. He lived in Taunton with his wife Rebecca. He entered Royal Marines Recruit Training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines on 13 March 2003, passing for duty on 18 December 2003. Corporal Harrison served with the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, and qualified as a heavy weapons (mortars) specialist in 2005. In 2007 he deployed with 40 Commando Royal Marines on Operation HERRICK 7 and had recently returned from an amphibious exercise in the Mediterranean and the Far East. In January 2010 he was selected for, and successfully passed, Junior Command Training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines. Returning to 40 Commando he then deployed on Operation HERRICK 12 as a Mortar Fire Controller with Bravo Company, based at Patrol Base Shuga.

Corporal Harrison's wife Rebecca said: "This is the most devastating news of my life. I have lost the most fantastic husband I could ever have wished for. "Even though I knew and fully supported what Chris did as a Royal Marine and the dangers he was facing, I am still broken by his loss. Chris was my life, he was my motivator and my inspiration, my rock, the one person with whom I shared everything. "It hurts me beyond words knowing that I will never have my beloved husband by my side ever again and we will never raise the family that we so desperately craved to complete our lives together. He will forever live in my heart." 

Corporal Harrison's parents, Martin and Gill, said: "We have lost a wonderful and loving son and brother who was devoted to 'Becky' his wife, and all of his family. He was an outstanding young man with qualities way beyond his young years. "Although he had to be tough, demanding and in peak physical condition to do his job as a Royal Marine, he was also caring, kind and considerate to those he truly loved. We are extremely proud of our son Chris and what he achieved in his short but exceptional life; we will preserve his memory forever."  Corporal Harrison's older brother Russ said: "Chris was an outstanding bloke and Royal Marine who absolutely loved his job, his mates and his wife. "Although this is the worst possible news for all of our family, I know that Chris would want his mates still serving out there to keep their minds focused on the job, come back safe and have a massive drink of port in his honour. His humour, generosity and kindness will be dearly missed by everyone, especially me. "All of my memories are of him and the massive grin on his face, and I know that is how he would want to be remembered. RIP mate, I will never forget you. x"

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer, 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "Corporal Chris Harrison embodied the best of his generation; fit, bright, dedicated and incredibly courageous. He died leading his fellow Marines in an operation to disrupt an insurgency threat in Sangin. "A larger than life character, both in stature and personality, he was one of the few men who was known across the whole of 40 Commando. He achieved legendary status amongst his cohorts, having overcome snakebites in Brunei and delivering rapid and accurate mortar fire support on this, his second deployment to Afghanistan. "He is a man who will be sorely missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family and friends. Corporal Chris Harrison was, and will always be, the model Commando." Major Mark Totten, Officer Commanding Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Corporal Chris 'H-Bomb' Harrison was a towering mortarman, whose physical presence matched his professional competence; but his sheer character outweighed them both. He was extremely popular across the entire Commando unit, especially Mortar Troop, and had the knack of making friends easily, no matter whose company he was in. "He was undoubtedly the focal point of troop morale. Chris was a junior Mortar Fire Controller but was the complete master of his brief, and his professionalism was immediately apparent when he arrived in B Company. "His competence was a reassuring hand on the shoulder of those he shared a patrol base with; they knew he could rapidly bring his skills to bear in support of them. He led from the front, not just through his impressive physical presence but with character and grit; he possessed the commando qualities in spades and was always first to volunteer, especially in the face of danger. "He confronted danger like he approached everything else, with an infectious sense of humour. On operations in Helmand he was determined to be in the thick of it and was immensely proud of what he achieved. He was a Bootneck in every sense, took life by the collar, and got the very most out of it. He will be mourned and missed as we push on in his spirit." Major Richard Muncer, Officer Commanding Command Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Corporal Harrison was an outstanding Royal Marine and Junior Non-Commissioned Officer who it was a privilege to have commanded. He was one of the key personalities in Mortar Troop, who was immensely popular and respected across the unit. "Everything he undertook during his time with the Royal Marines was always done with unwavering commitment and enthusiasm; he set the best of examples to us all and exemplified the spirit of being a Royal Marine Commando. "Corporal Harrison was exceptionally good at his job, which he loved, and his infectious sense of humour meant that he was always at the centre of things. He will leave a gap that will be very difficult to fill at 40 Commando, especially within Command Company and Mortar Troop." Lieutenant Matthew O'Sullivan, Officer Commanding 4 Troop, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Corporal Harrison was attached to 4 Troop from the start of our Op HERRICK 12 tour. His role within the troop was to assist in the fire support role, co-ordinating mortars and other air assets in order to aid troops on the ground. "This role was of paramount importance, providing feedback from surveillance assets regarding insurgent activity in the area and more importantly the ability to protect troops on the ground when under contact by providing smoke screens and fire missions. "From the beginning of the tour Corporal Harrison was a key figure in the troop, planning process for future operations and also at the forefront of troop banter. His manner was that of an older brother to the majority of Marines, by keeping up morale with his loud sense of humour and also showing a fierce determination to protect the Marines working alongside him. "Corporal Harrison will be deeply missed by all of 4 Troop; his wonderful personality and high professionalism made a distinct impression on all the Marines in Patrol Base Shuga and all our thoughts and prayers are with his family and wife who he spoke dearly of throughout his time in Afghanistan." Sergeant Simon Smith, Mortar Line Commander, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Corporal Chris Harrison, Mortar Troop - a man who was immensely popular. Corporal Harrison fulfilled the role of 'B' Mortar Fire Controller to the full. Although relatively junior he excelled in his timely, accurate reporting and battle appreciation. "A huge figure, Chris led from the front; his huge frame seemed to pale any large Bergen into insignificance. Chris was a true Bootneck both at work and ashore. "His sense of humour always revealed itself before, during and after a few ales. Apart from his outstanding professionalism, my memories of him will always include his bar antics in Penang on Exercise Taurus when the RSM [Regimental Sergeant Major] christened him 'the madman of Malaysia', after watching him in one of the bars. You will be forever in our thoughts mate." Sergeant Matthew Bentley and Sergeant Wayne Lyness, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Chris Harrison was an irrepressible and enthusiastic character who brought great professionalism and a keen will to all of his endeavours. Chris rapidly established himself within the Mortars' world and his almost freakish grasp and rapid reconfiguration of the weapon system saw him quickly earn his place as a commander of his own crew. "On Op HERRICK 7 he proved himself to be the consummate mortar practitioner and was invariably first to be ready to fire, his speed surprising all, including the Old and Bold within the Mortars' fraternity. As recognition of this performance he was selected above and beyond his peers to attend Mortar Fire Control Training at Warminster, where once again, perhaps unsurprisingly, he received the accolade of top student. "Chris was never selfish with these skills and was always ready to pass on his knowledge as well as constantly seeking more information allowing him to improve. "Eulogies always tend towards the sentimental but from everyone who worked with him or knew him, they would say that he was an altruistic and generous man with a ready smile and a witty quip. "He was genuinely the life and soul of any party, his dancing style was definitely all of his own, with mad lunging and reverse elbow moves causing havoc on the dance floor. He leaves a massive gap in all of our lives and he will be sorely missed." Tributes from 1 Section, Mortar Troop, 40 Commando Royal Marines: "Chris Harrison, or 'H-Bomb', was a larger than life character, the troop comedian and an extremely popular lad with everyone who knew him. Known for his outlandish attire and questionable dancing, Chris was always the main focus point of Mortar Troop nights out. "When it comes to work, Chris was professional and on the ball with everything he did. A testament to his strength was how he 'yomped' out of the jungle unaided when he had been bitten by a snake. "He was on his feet for 12 hours after the bite! Chris was an important member of Mortar Troop, a real character who brought us lots of banter to the troop. He will be greatly missed by Mortars and will not be forgotten." Corporal Matt Howells, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "As our Mortars Bravo, Chris' professionalism was never in doubt. Every time our patrols went out Chris would, without prompting, gain overwatch from his self-constructed hide and observe our every movement, anticipating everything. "Not afraid to get his hands dirty, Chris was embedded in my section during a patrol into the Green Zone when we came under contact from automatic weapons. In well under a minute, whilst under fire, Chris had got the mortar line laid on ready for a smoke task to cover our withdrawal. "Not only 'hoofing' at his job, Chris' humour was also abundant, especially during the many hours spent in the ops room. He was, without question, a Bootneck." Marine Jay Brown, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Chris was like an older brother to myself and the other lads in the troop; he was easy to get on with and was always smiling. He would always have a camera to hand to capture a chad photo of himself; he had a great sense of humour and was always at the centre of any banter especially between the other Fire Support Team lads. "He was proud of what he did and was a typical Bootneck, always cracking phys and even the odd bit of bread baking. I feel fortunate to have known him, he will be deeply missed." Marine Drew Gardiner, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I first met Chris when I joined 40 Commando; since then he has always been a smiling, welcoming face. Always a good role model to younger Marines, he showed true professionalism at all times, while still managing to keep a good sense of humour and letting nothing get to him, which helped other lads out who were feeling down. "I will remember him for his cheerfulness in all circumstances and as a great bloke to be around. It truly was a privilege to have known him. He will be missed by everyone who knew him and will never be forgotten.


[ Corporal Stephen Walker ]

Corporal Stephen Walker from 40 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Sangin, was killed in Afghanistan, Friday 21 May 2010. Corporal Walker was killed in an explosion that happened near Patrol Base Almas, in Sangin, Helmand province. He was conducting a joint foot patrol with the Afghan National Army to reassure and improve the security for the local population in the area when the incident took place. Corporal Stephen Walker was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland on 5 April 1968. He lived in Exmouth with his wife Leona and their daughter Greer; and was also a proud father to his son Samuel. He originally joined the Royal Navy on 19 May 1986, qualifying as a cook and serving at HMS Raleigh, HMS Cochrane and on board HMS Cleopatra. He subsequently transferred to the Royal Marines, entering Recruit Training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines on 12 March 1990, passing for duty on 7 November 1990. During his 20 year career he served across the broad spectrum of Royal Marine Units including; Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, 40 and 45 Commando Royal Marines and the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines as a Recruit Troop Instructor. He had a widespread background of instructional expertise in areas such as Mortars, Platoon Weapons and Jungle Warfare. He also had considerable operational experience in theatres such as Northern Ireland, Southern Turkey and Northern Iraq and, most recently, Afghanistan. In 2005, he excelled in his Junior Command Training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, placing in the top three students on his course. This much deserved promotion gave him the opportunity to pass on his wealth of knowledge and experience to his young marines, something for which he felt extremely passionate about.

Joining 40 Commando Royal Marines in July 2009, he immediately conducted Mission Specific Training for deployment to Afghanistan. In April 2010, he deployed with Alpha Company, 40 Commando to Op HERRICK 12, employed as a Section Commander based out of Patrol Base ALMAS. His Company had been responsible for providing security, thereby increasing their freedom of movement, to the people of Sangin during his time in Afghanistan. On the morning of Friday 21 May 2010, Alpha Company was conducting a reassurance patrol, alongside the Afghanistan National Army, near Patrol Base ALMAS. At approximately 0850 hours local, north of the Patrol Base an explosion occurred. Tragically Cpl Walker was killed in action as a result of the blast.

Corporal Walker's wife Leona said: "Steve was passionate, loyal and determined. He enjoyed the role he had in the Marines but he was a family man at heart. "He was a fantastic Dad to Greer and he was the perfect soul mate to me. "Although this is a very sad time, Steve would want us to be positive. Remember the good times, the happy times. "A lot of people's lives will be deeply affected by Steve's all-to-early departure. "Life goes on, but it will never be the same for us." Leona x

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin said: "Corporal Stephen 'Whisky' Walker, an ex-navy chef turned Royal Marine Commando, was one of the most professionally astute men I have ever met. Brave, loyal, utterly dedicated and absolutely selfless, he died leading his section on patrol in southern Sangin. Having served twenty years in the Royal Marines, he was my most experienced and probably my best Corporal. I valued his counsel greatly and despite being his Commanding Officer, he taught me tactics. "I often joined his section during our pre-deployment training. He was a natural leader who cared passionately for his men; he trained, he operated, he lived and he died at the front. He is a man who will be sorely missed by everyone in 40 Commando. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Leona, daughter Greer, son Samuel, his family and friends. Corporal 'Whisky' Walker was, and will always be, the consummate Commando." Major Sean Brady, Officer Commanding Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Cpl Walker, known to all in the Company and the Unit as 'Whisky', was probably the most professional Marine I have had the pleasure of serving with during my career. With an eye for detail, he was never willing to sacrifice standards or cut corners in order to find easier ways of doing things; moreover, he was never willing to allow others to do so either. "During the Confirmation Exercise (CFX) in the build-up training for the deployment to Afghanistan, his performance was highlighted by the exercise directing staff as exceptional, and they observed that during a building search that he was in charge of they had never seen the task completed so well, in fact it was more or less the perfect solution. "It was this level of commitment which led me to move him from 1 Troop to the newly formed 3 Troop so that he could quickly raise it up to the level required to deploy. Whisky was initially not happy, and in his usual style he explained to me in no uncertain terms how hard he had worked in getting his original section to the standard he required. ”However, as was typical with him, he quickly set about moulding his new section and bringing them up to his impeccably high standard. It would be fair to say that 3 Troop quickly embodied the 'Whisky' way of doing things. Once in Afghanistan I went out on patrol with him on a number of occasions and I was immensely impressed with how he led and protected the marines under his command. "On one occasion I vividly remember him physically stopping the lead man of his patrol with a wise hand on the shoulder just as the lead man was about to move through a trip wire. His actions undoubtedly saved the lives of the marines in the patrol and this event just enhanced his already legendary reputation. "In Cpl Walker I had someone who was always ready with some useful advice and he was confident enough in his own abilities not to be afraid of passing this on, regardless of rank. Most importantly however, he was loyal to his men and he died at the front of the patrol where he was best placed to lead and protect his men. "The Royal Marines have lost a great leader; however, if he were here now to give us some advice, the consummate professional in him would tell us to "crack on" and get the job done. So we will. Our thoughts and prayers are now with his wife, daughter and son at this difficult time." Capt Dan Sawyers, Officer Commanding, 3 Troop, Alpha Company said: "Cpl 'Whisky' Walker was an outstanding Royal Marine and Junior Non-Commissioned Officer, he was a privilege to have commanded. On OP HERRICK 12 he led 7 Sect, 3 Troop, from our Patrol Base, PB ALMAS, on ground patrols in the Green Zone. He has always led from the front, and provided constant support to both myself and the Marines in the Troop. "He set impeccably high standards, and was a constant reminder of the very qualities that are instilled in every Royal Marine during training. He loved his job and the Royal Marines, and his enthusiasm was infectious throughout the Troop. No one, from Marine to Troop Commander was safe from a daily reminder about the standards we should be striving to achieve. He had a great sense of humour that never faltered whatever the situation. "Everyone in the Troop looked up to Cpl Walker; his experience and knowledge could never be ignored. He was also a father figure to the Troop, waking up an hour before everyone else to ensure that the porridge was ready, whilst at night he would oversee the evening meal. He was always approachable, and always willing to offer assistance at any level. Our days here at PB ALMAS will be a lot quieter; 'Whisky' will be deeply missed by the whole Troop at PB ALMAS, especially his Section. "To them, the gift of leadership and the ability to inspire complete devotion and loyalty were his to an exceptional degree. He was the consummate professional, and a true friend to all that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Leona, daughter Greer, and son Samuel, who he spoke so dearly of throughout his time in Afghanistan." Sergeant 'Darbs' Darbyshire, 3 Troop Sergeant, Alpha Company said: "Cpl 'Whisky' Walker was a man who I had the pleasure of getting to know during my time in 3 Troop. I had only worked with him for the last 6 months, and it was a privilege to have done so. He was and still is one of the most professional Royal Marines I have ever met. "With his unselfish nature and knowledge of the job, it was often hard to rein his enthusiasm in. You would sometimes think that he had just passed out of training, and had not been in the Corps for some 20 years, with the passion and drive he displayed in everything he did. "He was always the one to lead from the front and always keen to pass on his experience to the rest of the Troop. He was a larger than life character, who will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loving family, especially his wife and children. We will always miss you Whisky, but never forget you." Sergeant 'Dinger' Bell, 1 Troop Sergeant, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Cpl Stephen 'Whisky' Walker, a proud and loving father and husband, a true Bootneck legend, a leader of men who always led from the front. He inspired all those around him and his values, standards and professionalism were second to none. "He was a charismatic man who had a presence whenever you were near him. He never suffered fools gladly, but he strived to bring everyone up to his level and he would never let you down. He was never above you, he was never below you; he was always by your side. Goodbye brother."  Corporal Ash Morris, 1 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Never has a kinder man walked the planet. Whisky was a man who never failed to speak his mind for the benefit of others, even if this would get him into trouble. All that mattered to him were the things closest to his heart; his family and his loyal section of Marines. Proud of his heritage he would regularly be seen educating the English boys on the Scottish/Celtic ways of the past. "However, it was his professionalism that made Whisky the figure he was. Operational service in Northern Ireland and Iraq gave him the qualities of an outstanding Royal Marines Commando. Whisky was a man who will always be loved, missed, and remembered by all who knew him." Corporal 'Geese' Ghessen, Fire Support Group, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Whisky was a larger than life character who brought humour to everyone he met, and a man that everyone looked up to. He was a proud family man who was also a proud brother of our Corps. He was always ready to speak his mind to better us all. "When Whisky was around there was never a dull moment as he was the life and soul of any party. As a leader you could not have asked for a better NCO, always leading from the front and at hand to share his knowledge and experiences to anyone who would listen. All of the Commando qualities are personified in Whisky who was proud to be a Royal Marine. He was a man that was always ready to stand up for his marines and because of this he was admired by us all. "As a father figure to many, he will be missed by Alpha Company and the Corps as a whole. Whisky was a "True Bootneck". Corporal Darren Davis, 8 Section Commander, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Cpl 'Whisky' Walker was such a huge character in the Troop; words cannot do him justice. He oozed every quality that a Bootneck should have - the complete package. I only met Whisky in December, but those five months felt like I had known him for five years, that's the kind of bloke he was. One of his qualities I personally admired was the way he spoke his mind, it didn't matter whether you were a young Marine or an old and bold Major, you would listen to him - admittedly you would not have a choice in the matter. "He was always straight down the line and to the point. His Section was a credit to him; he had moulded them into a very professional team, which will leave them in good stead for the rest of the tour. He is going to be sorely missed by everybody at Patrol Base ALMAS, but his voice will echo around the walls here throughout the rest of our tour. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, who he adored and couldn't wait to get back to." Corporal Andrew Lock, 9 Section Commander, 3 Troop, Alpha Company 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Whisky was the sort of man that typified the perfect example of a Royal Marine; he was the ideal role model. How anyone manages to spend the best part of 20 years in the Corps and stay as enthusiastic as he was, is unbelievable. "He was a professional Corporal, who demanded high standards, which he got because of his kind, unselfish and enthusiastic nature. Everything was about the lads to Whisky and making sure they were okay. He was never afraid to speak out in defence of them, even if it did land him in trouble. "His experience and professionalism was admired by all in our Troop, regardless of rank. He was a good family man, and I know that his life outside the Corps was devoted to his wife, son and daughter. "I do not know where we all go from here as a Troop; the man was a father figure to all of us. Our hearts go out to his family, especially his wife and children. The professional standards that he set the Troop will remain with all of us for the rest of our lives. The man was a warrior and should be honoured by everyone. We loved him." Marine Ryan O'Regan, 1 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "In the brief time that I knew Whisky I came to realise just how little I knew of my job. He knew everything there was to know about soldiering, and he was never shy of 'offering' his advice. The lads learnt so much from Whisky and I know they were very grateful for this. He was also one of the kindest men I'd ever met and he would always strive to look out for the lads and make sure they were never 'seen off'. "He was a fountain of knowledge and had a passion for the job, the lads and his family. Whisky was truly one of the kindest 'larger than life' blokes the lads in A Coy had ever met. He will be sorely missed by all, especially the young Marines who most definitely looked upon Whisky as a true Bootneck... A true Royal Marine Commando."


[ Corporal Stephen Paul Curley ]

Corporal Stephen Paul Curley from 40 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Sangin, was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 26 May 2010. Corporal Curley was killed in an explosion while he was conducting a ground domination foot patrol through the southern Green Zone in order to reassure local nationals and understand their concerns about living in the area. Corporal Stephen Curley was 26 years old and was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Married to Kirianne, he lived in Exeter with their five-month-old son William. He joined Royal Marines Recruit Training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines on 31 March 2003, passing for duty on 17 March 2004.

On completion of training he was drafted to Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines and subsequently deployed to Iraq on Operation TELIC 4 in 2004. 2006 saw his first deployment to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 5, serving with Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines; during which he distinguished himself by saving a fellow marine’s life. Further training with 42 Commando, on exercise in Northern Norway provided him with experience of operating in a mountain and cold weather environment. Established as an experienced and professional marine, he was selected for Command Training, passing his Junior Command Course and promoting to Corporal in March 2009. A keen runner and climber; with a taste for cold weather warfare, Cpl Curley chose to volunteer for the arduous 9 month Mountain Leaders Course, becoming a qualified Mountain Leader (Class 2) in April 2009. Rejoining Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines in September 2009, he undertook the Advanced Urban Combat Instructor's Course, a role he relished within 7 Troop. In March 2010 he deployed once again to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 12, serving in Sangin as part of the FOB JACKSON Operations Company. On the late afternoon of Wednesday 26 May 2010, Charlie Company was conducting a foot patrol in and around the Southern Green Zone to reassure the local nationals and understand their concerns. At 1831 hours local in the Sangin area an explosion occurred and as a result Corporal Curley was killed in action.

 

His wife Kirianne said: "It is impossible for me to express what my husband meant to me, Daddy to our 18 week old son William and my partner in crime, Stevie was my purpose, what makes me tick. "A man of few but powerful words when it mattered, he lived by the motto 'If you're not living life on the edge, you're taking up too much room'. This will be forever imprinted on our hearts. "Stevie was a perfectionist - he prided himself on being the best and the best he was. His professionalism was highly regarded by all who knew him but it was his quirky un-PC one-liners that really caused a stir. Steve loved to make people laugh and laugh with them. "Stevie was a quietly proud man, proud to be a Royal, proud to be my husband and proud to be a Daddy. "Steve stood firmly for what he believed in a man who lived by his convictions and fought vehemently for what he thought was right. "Steve loved his family, and would be so proud of his mother and brother. We will carry your heart with us always. Engraved in my wedding ring the words, Kirianne, my one, my love, my wife. Stephen, sleep well my love." Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin said: "Corporal Stephen Curley was the very best of his generation; bright, fit, charismatic and supremely brave, he was a man who genuinely inspired others. Based with me in FOB JACKSON, I saw in him a selfless, loyal, utterly dedicated and natural leader of men. "He died on patrol in Sangin leading the men he loved, and alongside the men who loved him. His sharp wit knew few limits, particularly in the gymnasium where he reigned supreme, with both the RSM and I regularly in the firing line. As a marine he was professionally unrivalled – a mountain leader, a consummate tactician and a brilliant section commander who cared passionately for his men. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Kirianne and new-born son William, his family and his friends. He will be desperately missed by everyone in 40 Commando. Corporal Stephen Curley was, and always will be, a Royal Marine Commando." Major Ed Moorhouse, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Corporal Steve Curley is irreplaceable as a man, a leader and a Royal Marines Corporal. He was the most consummate of all round professionals and a man who I can proudly say that I have had the immense privilege to have commanded and worked alongside. "Fiercely proud of being a Royal Marine and a Mountain Leader, he was a natural leader of marines and had galvanised a group of young men in 7 Troop into an exceptionally strong and dynamic Section who he was proud to call his own. At the heart of this single minded professionalism was his energy and enthusiasm for everything, complimented by an utter vitality for life and the challenges that it brought. "Nothing was ever too onerous for him and the more austere and challenging the task, the more he would revel in undertaking it; this infectious enthusiasm drove everything that he did, and all ranks in Charlie Company were energised by it. A man with the driest sense of humour and a wry Yorkshire wit, nobody in Charlie Company was safe from a Steve Curley one-liner no matter what rank or status you carried; the Sergeant Major and I speak from personal experience. "Charlie Company Group mourns the passing of an exceptional young man who has touched us all during his tragically short life; a man who personified everything in the Charlie Company 'Spartan' ethos. I have no doubt that he would have risen to the highest echelons of the Royal Marines and I would have taken great pleasure and pride in championing this assent. "Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife Kirianne and his new born son William; I am only saddened that this young man, unlike me, will never know just what a formidable and unique leader of men his father was." Sergeant Danny 'Smudger' Smith, Troop Sergeant, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Is it wrong for a Troop Sergeant to be inspired by one of his Corporals? If it is, I am guilty of that. I had the absolute pleasure of working with Steve as a Marine; and then had the honour of instructing him on his Junior Command Course. In true ‘Steve fashion’ he was among the front runners throughout. "I was then privileged again to be given Steve as one of my Section Commanders, on completion of his Mountain Leaders Course, for our current tour in Afghanistan. Nothing could have delighted me more. Words cannot explain the immeasurable impact that Steve Curley has had, not just on the Troop, but the whole of Charlie Company, he is irreplaceable. "As a Troop Sergeant, you are expected to be the man the guys look to for advice, so why did I always find myself looking to Steve? Steve was unbelievably good at what he did and without fail he always managed to make the right choice. The men of 7 Troop idolised him, he was their oracle and best friend. I have never met another man with such an amazing sense of humour, every bad situation could be made into a hilarious joke which of course meant he had a natural ability to pick the lads up when the chips were down. "The tragic loss of our closest brother has left an immense hole in a very tight Troop. It is a fact that 7 Troop has evolved around Steve Curley and has adopted his professionalism and skills; this is his true legacy to us. Steve was a best friend and a true Spartan and will always remain a fantastic role model to myself and the boys. Corporal Dave Martin, Section Commander, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "From the day I met Steve Curley, when he welcomed me to 7 Troop, we were always in competition: in the gym, in the field, tactics, shooting, who had the best tan, who was more essence; however everyday he would just be that little bit better than me. With that cheeky smile and cutting sense of humour he would make me laugh constantly. He was a great soldier, but more than that he was a great friend. Rest in Peace." Corporal Carl Saunders, 1 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "What can be said about Steve that people don’t already know? Sitting writing this I honestly don’t believe any words can do him justice, his actions and personality speaks louder than words ever could. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Steve as a friend for over 5 years and I believe that I am a better man for knowing him. "Ever since HERRICK 5 his professionalism has shone through, always leading from the front. Physically he was leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else, surprising when you consider how short he was! Speaking to him after he successfully passed his Mountain Leader’s 2 course he simply described it as, “just phys in the bag”. He leaves behind a beautiful wife and child whom he loved very much. Sleep well mate, a true legend, I’ll miss you." Lance Corporal Luke Metcalfe, Section Second-in-Command, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "As a Section Second-in-Command, Steve was someone I looked up to through his professionalism, the way he dealt with situations and just his general jokey character. He was by far one of the best Bootnecks I’ve ever come across and it made perfect sense to me that he was a Mountain Leader. "There is now a massive gap in 7 Troop, as a Section Commander and a friend. Even though for much of the time you could just hear his ridiculous northern accent and jokes, he always made sense to me and I learnt from him continuously. I’ll miss our nights out in Taunton, and our flat in Norton Manor Camp will never be the same again. Rest in Peace Steve Curley you’ll be sorely missed." Marine 'Dougie' Douglas, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "No words I write or say can even come close to describe the man Steve was. Although I knew Steve for only a short time, such was the effect on people that he had, I know it will last a lifetime. Steve was not only a hoofing Bootneck on Operations, he was a great mate. He was by far the biggest character in our Troop and he will always be missed. Rest in Peace Steve we will miss you always." Marine Dan Gaul, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Steve was an incredible soldier that you could always rely upon. Every time I went on patrol with him in Sangin, I felt as safe as I possibly could; he was hoofing at his job and always looked out for the lads. He would never let his guard down on patrol, he was like a robot that never switched off. A true Bootneck through and through; Rest in Peace Steve you won’t be forgotten." Marine Chris McCallum, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "On meeting Steve he immediately made an impact on you. His attitude was completely professional no matter what he was tasked to do. You felt at ease being led by him, and would follow him to the end of the world. He was a true Royal Marine and bled the Corps Colours. Rest in Peace Steve; father, husband and Bootneck." Marine Ashley Palmer, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "It was an honour to work with Corporal Steve Curley as he always knew what he was doing in any situation. He was a highly professional Bootneck and an inspiration to us all. He was always smiling and bringing morale to the lads whether ashore, or sunbathing with his socks on, so he could look more tanned and essence. He was a great character, I looked up to him in everything that he did and I will miss him as a great soldier and a friend. Rest in Peace Steve Curley." Marine James Twigg, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Steve inspired confidence in us all through his character and professionalism. It was reassuring having him as your leader out on the ground in Sangin. He always made sure you were okay while doing his job to the highest standard."  Marine Rory O’Farrell, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "In the short time I have spent in Charlie Company, I realise how big a part Steve played in 7 Troop. He was extremely professional and a proud man and always taught the lads new and better ways to soldier. Steve knew when to have a laugh and when to soldier; just Steve alone was enough morale for the lads to get on with the day ahead. Steve will be missed and never forgotten, as everyone says, Steve was the Charlie Company Spartan; Rest in Peace Steve." Marine Adam Gunningham, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I couldn’t have asked for a better Corporal, he was an inspiration to me and made me a better soldier. Steve was a very proud man who always spoke his mind, no matter what he was thinking. He always looked at the funny side of things and was a constant source of morale around the Troop whether ashore or in a ditch somewhere on Dartmoor. I had the upmost respect for Steve and he will always be in my thoughts, as will his family. Rest in Peace Steve Curley, I’ll always remember you." Marine Rob Maltby, 7 Troop, Charlie Company said, 40 Commando Royal Marines: "Steve, a Bootneck through and through. A friend, loved by all that met him. He was a larger than life character and respected by all for his professional attitude to every situation, whether it was ashore or at work. I am a better Royal Marine for knowing Steve and will miss him greatly. Rest in Peace Steve Curley I will always remember you." Marine James Clare, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I first met Corporal Steve Curley when I joined 7 Troop, Charlie Company late last year. It was very evident early on, that through his professionalism and larger than life character that he was a highly respected Section Commander and Mountain Leader. I have become a better Royal Marine through working with Steve and he will certainly not be forgotten."


[ Marine Scott Gregory Taylor ]

Marine Scott Gregory Taylor, from Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 30 May 2010. Marine Taylor was killed as a result of an explosion which occurred when he and Alpha Company were conducting a foot patrol to help reassure the local population and to increase security within the area around Sangin. Marine Scott Taylor joined the Royal Marines on 29 September 2007, aged 18. Prior to enlisting he completed his GCSEs and A-levels at Buxton Community School in his hometown of Buxton, Derbyshire. Following in the footsteps of his older brother Liam, Marine Taylor passed for duty as a Royal Marines Commando on 29 September 2008. Joining Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, he took part in numerous exercises, most notably TAURUS 09, the largest Royal Naval deployment in over 10 years, participating in ceremonial duties in Gibraltar and multinational exercises in Cyprus and Turkey. The exercise culminated in the Far East where he completed an arduous jungle warfare training package in Brunei. Upon return from summer leave in September 2009, his attention was focused on Mission Specific Training for 40 Commando's deployment to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 12. In April 2010 he deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, with Alpha Company, based out of Patrol Base Jamil. 

Marine Taylor's family have made the following statement: "Scotty was the perfect son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend who would do anything for anybody no matter who they were, always caring and respectful. He loved his family and lit up the room with his smile. He had a wicked sense of humour and was loyal, caring and brave, never showing pain. He will leave a void in everyone's lives who knew him that can never be filled."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer, 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "Marine Scott Taylor was everything I needed in a Bootneck; proud but not arrogant, loyal but still independent, courageous but not foolhardy, he was an outstanding Marine. Brave, strong, bright and physically very fit, he was an utterly selfless man, who was often unassuming, preferring instead to let his actions speak for him - and they spoke with power and tumult. "He was a giant in the gymnasium, a consummate professional in the field and a true mate to his friends. He died on patrol in southern Sangin as point man, leading the men who he had grown to love like brothers. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his mother and father, his brother Marine Liam Taylor and all his friends and family. He will be sadly missed by all in 40 Commando. Marine Scotty Taylor was, and will always be, a Royal Marine Commando." Major Sean Brady, Officer Commanding Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Scott Taylor or 'Scotty' to his mates was an outstanding Marine who demonstrated on a daily basis both immense courage and determination. Due to his maturity and diligent nature he had been selected to be the lead man for his section, with the responsibility for clearing a safe path for the remainder of the Marines in the patrol. "This task is not only physically demanding but mentally exhausting; in this he excelled and I have no doubt that he saved the lives of his comrades on countless occasions. Although he had only been in the Royal Marines for a short period he had already made a lasting impact on everyone he had met. "On first impressions he came across as quiet and unassuming, however this hid the fact that he was extremely driven; whether it was in the gym, where he outshone most people in the company, or in the jungle where he demonstrated superior soldiering skills. When asked what his ambition in the Royal Marines was, he replied 'to become a sniper and then in time a Regimental Sergeant Major'. "For many this would be nothing more than a pipe dream but for Scotty it was not difficult to envisage him achieving these goals. I can say without any hesitation that he was a natural leader and that a glittering career has been cut short. Nevertheless, he died doing what he wanted to do, leading from the front and setting an example that the rest of us must now try to emulate. "It is difficult to quantify the degree of loss that will be felt by Alpha Company; our pain is insignificant when compared to that of his parents, Stephen and Jayne, as well as his brother Liam who is also a serving Royal Marine. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this most distressing of times." Sergeant Danny Pea, 2 Troop Sergeant and Commander of Patrol Base Jamil, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "How or what do you feel when you lose one of your own men out here? Well now I know, Scotty or 'The Back' as the lads knew him, was a professional, determined and dedicated soldier. Scotty was a very strong individual, a Marine that the lads looked up to. He was a mature and hardworking man who when asked to do something would do it to the best of his ability and without question. "If I could have had 30 guys like Scotty in the troop then I would have been a very happy man. Scotty was what we describe in the Corps as the 'Grey Man', the job was always done without hesitation and he would not normally stand out from the crowd, but this was the way he liked it, and I would not have wanted it any other way. "My thoughts go out to his family and friends and anyone else who knew Scotty Taylor. He was a man, soldier and a friend that I will never forget. Rest in peace mate and look out for us all while we are out here." Marine Pete Carver, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Scotty, what a lad! You could always tell what he was thinking, and it was usually about how good his pecs looked. I never heard him complain without him laughing. He was always talking about going for a few beers in Bali or about how great Buxton water was. "I always looked up to Scotty because of his positive attitude towards everything; when he set his mind on something he just got on with it. Scotty was a true friend and one that no-one can replace; I even thought of him as a brother, looking after him on nights out. My heart goes out to his friends and family. Scotty will be truly missed but never forgotten." Marine 'Hodgey' Hodgson, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I had known Scotty for about eight months and would just like to say what a hoofing bloke he was. Scotty had an awesome sense of humour and was well liked by all the lads. He was always able to crack funnies when times were hard; you couldn't ask for a better oppo. Scotty was such a professional Bootneck, and he always liked to look his best no matter where he was. "If he wasn't in the gym he was busy tanning and if he wasn't doing that he was drinking hot wets. Speaking of drinking, Scotty would always be out on a Thursday night in Taunton with the lads. He always talked about his brother and how they would go out drinking. He looked up to his brother and was always spinning dits about him. "My thoughts go out to his family at this time and hope that they stay strong like he would have done. I would like to finish by saying that everyone is going to miss you mate; you were a hoofing bloke through and through." Marine 'Ginge' Milburn, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Scotty was an awesome character who was well liked by the lads. He loved cracking phys as well as conducting a good tanning session. It's a massive blow knowing such a hoofing Bootneck like Scotty Taylor has been taken from us; he was an awesome Marine. "He always did what he had to do no questions asked, and the Commando ethos summed up Scotty to a T. Mate, you'll be up there now smashing the phys as you always loved to do, especially concentrating on your back and abs. You will be painfully missed by all mate, I'll be thinking of you buddy, see you in another life. Cheers Ginge." Marine Will Pickett, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Scott was an awesome soldier and an even better person. He and I became quite close on tour and we would regularly do gym sessions together where he would always outclass me. Big Scotty T, or Scott "The Back" as he was called, due to his huge back and shoulders, testament to his dedication in the gym, would always smash the troop at pull-ups. "Scotty was a very calm and laid back person who made hard things look easy; because of this he was well liked throughout the troop and the company. Scott would always have one or two large cups of tea and coffee for breakfast in his 'I love tea' mug, which always made me laugh. "He was a professional through and through; I know his brother is a Marine and if he is anything like Scotty he should be proud. I'm sorry that I am not that good at writing as he deserves more than I can say and I hate to write about Scotty in the past tense. I hope you take some comfort in reading this letter, my deepest sympathies." Marine Pat Wall, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Scotty 'The Back' Taylor, what can I say? I knew you for eight months which was more than enough to learn what measure of a man you were. You were truly liked and respected by everyone, a sound example of a strong Marine, especially to me. You were a tanned, phys ninja, wet drinking machine. "Always in good spirits, you never had any drips. Your banter was real morale for me out here, and you were my 'go to man'. You were the biggest family man, always spinning dits about drinking with your brother and my thoughts and prayers go out to your family. It was a pleasure and an honour to have known and served with you. You will never be forgotten." Marine Tino Hotine, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Scotty 'The Back' due to the fact that your back was massive! This was but one of your many qualities, the others being the rest of your body: abs like a cheese grater and a chest that Lucy Pinder would be proud of. As well as this, you were professional through and through and although I didn't know you for long, I really enjoyed the time we spent together. "You never complained about a thing, every time something needed doing you were the first volunteer no matter how bad things got. You carried out your job with the utmost pride and you were proud to be a Bootneck. It is terrible that you are no longer with us mate and I hate to write in the past tense, but our memories of you will be shared between us for as long as I live. "I'll take on board the tanning tips you gave me and try my hardest to get a body like yours because you were one hell of an essence bloke and by god did you know it. Our thoughts are with your family buddy but if they are as strong as you were I am sure they will get through these hard times. We'll be sure to have a drink with them back at Norton Manor, and the obvious hoofing dits about you will be  spun. Until then buddy keep us safe down here, I know you will."  Marine 'Tommo' Thompson, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "What can be said to honour Scotty? There is no shortage of stories that explain how he was respected and liked both as a valuable friend and a professional colleague. In addition, his dedication, his loyalty, his cheerfulness and his willingness to always do the thankless tasks if it meant that his friends wouldn't get seen off by having to do them. "However, out of all his attributes the one I think Scotty would smile and be proudest of all to be remembered for would be his lats; he had the body of a an Adonis and he took a quiet and deserved sense of pride in this. You always liked a good drip Scotty and that was part of who you were. "We would spend hours together on sangar duty or in my room at Norton Manor chatting about random stuff which would always turn into a drip session, until we just started laughing and joking about it all until we went to scran and then had one more thing to drip about. "However, whatever your drips were about they never affected your complete dedication and loyalty to your friends, work and to your family who you were extremely proud of. You would often mention how you couldn't wait to see them again, especially your brother who is also in the Corps. I have had the pleasure to work with both of you now and my sympathies go out to him and to the rest of your family. "I know it is a cliché to say it but Scotty really was the personification of a Royal Marine Commando. His selflessness, dedication, determination, courage, integrity and sense of duty were just some of the qualities that make Scotty a perfect example of what a Bootneck should be to everyone from the youngest Marine to the most grizzled SNCO [Senior Non-Commissioned Officer]. "However, out of all his qualities I think everyone will agree that his incredible capacity for modesty was the first thing anyone noticed. He would constantly set himself goals and targets and he would always be striving to improve himself, not just in work but in every aspect of his life. "Lastly I just wish to say that you will be missed deeply by everyone, especially your friends and family. I was proud to be able to call you not only a colleague but a good friend, and as such I could keep going on for ages but as to be expected there is a long list of people wishing to pay their respects so I shouldn't monopolise this time we have. "I will see you again one day Scotty, so make sure you have the wets on when I get there. All the best Scotty, I will miss you, as will all  the lads from 40 Commando. Take care and stay massive." Marine Thomas French, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Although I only knew Scotty for a couple of months I knew him well and counted him not only as a colleague but as a good friend as well. I was his Vallon partner which made us bicker like a couple of kids; but we would always forget what we were arguing about, sit and laugh at how childish we had been over a wet together. "That's the type of bloke he was, a proper professional who would always go out of his way to help you out and for that I am very proud to have served alongside him. I know that if I become even half the man Scotty was then I can walk tall. "You are gone but never forgotten; your memory lives on forever. It was an honour to work alongside you, and I will try my best to uphold the standards you set. You were a great Marine and an even greater man."  Marine John Cadwallader, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I first met Scott Taylor at Alpha Company lines in 40 Commando. We both talked about his home town of Buxton, we got on from then. He was a good friend to me and he showed me the ropes when I first rocked up as the new guy. "Scott was a strong, fit and clever young man. While at work he was always someone to look up to. I will miss you loads Scott, rest in  peace mate."


[ Marine Anthony Dean Hotine ]

Marine Anthony Dean Hotine, from Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 2 June 2010. Marine Hotine was killed during the early morning as a result of an explosion which occurred when Alpha Company was conducting a joint reassurance patrol with the Afghan National Army in the area around Patrol Base Jamil, in the Sangin district of Helmand province. To reassure the local population in Sangin and to create a sufficiently secure environment for the Afghan Government to deliver vital services to their people, Alpha Company have been conducting numerous patrols partnered with the Afghan National Army over the last two months. In the last few weeks, Alpha Company conducted a successful operation against an IED factory where a large number of IED components were discovered. The consent from the local nationals around Patrol Base Jamil has improved significantly, with IEDs being routinely pointed out by the Afghans during security patrols undertaken by Alpha Company.

Marine Anthony Dean Hotine was 21 years old; he was born in Torquay and lived in Warminster with his parents and younger brothers, Callum and Kieren. He started Royal Marines Recruit Training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines on 25 June 2007, passing for duty on 7 March 2008. On completion of training he attended the Defence School of Transport, Leconfield, where he gained his full range of driving licences, including his HGV driver qualification. Drafted to Yankee Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines, in May 2008, he deployed on his first operational tour to Sangin, Afghanistan, on Operation HERRICK 9. Having gained invaluable operational experience he specialised as a Signaller (Class 3) in July 2009, coming in the top third of his course. Known as 'Tino' to friends, in November 2009 Marine Hotine joined Command Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, and immediately began Mission Specific Training for his second deployment to Sangin, Afghanistan, on Op HERRICK 12. He deployed in April 2010 as part of Alpha Company and was based out of Patrol Base Jamil.

 

Marine Hotine's family paid the following tribute: "We are so proud of Anthony; he lived and breathed the Royal Marines and he was a 'Bootneck' through and through. Words cannot describe the devastating sense of loss felt across the whole family; he was an amazing son, big brother and grandson to us all. "He was the life and soul of any party and his passing will leave a huge hole in the hearts of everybody who loved and knew him. He lit up a room with his smile and always lived every day to the full. We are so lucky to have had him in our lives and he will always be part of us. 'Tino' you will be missed, never forgotten, and very much loved forever."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer, 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "Marine Anthony Hotine was a brilliant young man who was at the height of his profession: bright, selfless, dedicated and keen-spirited, he was an outstanding Marine. Having previously served in Sangin a little over a year ago, he wanted to return next year for his third deployment - he was one of the most loyally committed men I have ever met. "An ambitious character who always had a plan, he strove for greatness, both in his life and in his work, and invariably achieved it. He had an infectious wit, a sharp mind and a big and generous heart. "He sadly died on patrol in southern Sangin doing the job he loved, alongside the Marines he so passionately cared for and with the friends who so loved him in return. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. He will be sadly missed by all in 40 Commando. Marine Tino Hotine was, and always will be, a Royal Marine Commando." Major Sean Brady, Officer Commanding Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Anthony Dean Hotine, known as Tino to everyone in Alpha Company, was the signaller for Patrol Base Jamil and although he was only 21 he was one of the more experienced Marines as he had previously served in the same area when he was with 45 Commando Royal Marines on Op HERRICK 9. "Despite the fact that he joined Alpha Company part way through Mission Specific Training, he immediately fitted in and he quickly demonstrated that he was an excellent signaller who instinctively understood how to support his fellow Marines when on the ground. "Quiet and kind-hearted by nature, he took pride in everything he did and he was constantly looking to improve himself. Professionalism matters in the Royal Marines, it is what we are all judged on first and foremost, and I have no qualms about saying that Tino was one of the best I have worked with. "And it is for that reason that the lads loved and respected him. Moreover, it is impossible to doubt his courage; he knew the dangers involved in operating here and he willingly accepted them on a daily basis, but importantly he did so whilst retaining his sense of humour and generosity towards others. "He was always willing to give that little extra of himself, no matter what the price, and that is what made him the ideal Royal Marine Commando. The concept of 'marching to the sound of the drums' may seem anachronistic in today's world; however it perfectly describes Tino's attitude to his job and to his life. "He will be sorely missed by all within Alpha Company and the wider Corps. However, the sorrow we feel is overshadowed by that of his family and friends and all of our thoughts and prayers are with them now and forever." Lieutenant Jack Anrude, Officer Commanding 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Anthony 'Tino' Hotine was without a shadow of a doubt a first class Royal Marine who displayed enormous potential. Having already deployed on Op HERRICK 9 with 45 Commando Royal Marines, he was an experienced and extremely trustworthy member of our team. "He joined 2 Troop just before Christmas of last year and I immediately knew that the troop had gained an invaluable team member. I instantly chose him to be my radio operator and, if you had not known, you would have thought he had spent a decade in the Corps considering his professional knowledge and impact on the team. "Never one to lose his cool, his ability shone through in this high tempo environment. Throughout his time with us, he impressed in everything he did, always anticipating the next move, and I knew that any task I set him would be completed to the highest possible standard, in record-breaking time. "No matter what the situation, he would always greet you with his trademark smile and raise your morale tenfold, regardless of rank. As his Troop Commander, I found on many occasions that I would have to raise my game to keep up with him, such was the calibre of the man and the standard he expected from everyone in the troop. "A consummate professional in every respect, the Corps has lost a gold standard Royal Marine and the troop will never be the same again. Our thoughts and prayers are now with his family and friends." Warrant Officer Class 2 'Tank' Sheerman, Signals Troop Sergeant Major, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Hotine, known as 'Tino', was hand-picked from his Signals Class 3 course. He immediately impressed me with his enthusiasm for the communications branch and love for the Royal Marines. Having already served on Op HERRICK 9 with 45 Commando, he was experienced beyond his years. "His keenness and drive shone through which marked him out for a bright future. He would always greet you with an infectious smile. The loss of Tino, who was a professional communicator, will be felt by the whole of Signals Troop. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends." Sergeant Danny Pea, 2 Troop Sergeant and Commander of Patrol Base Jamil, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine 'Tino' Hotine was a first class Marine; I used to use the phrase 'workhorse' to describe him as this man used to do everything around camp whilst we were back in Taunton. "In addition, he was an awesome signaller who was constantly at my side through thick and thin. Tino's experience and courage was second-to-none and this man was only 21 years old; he had so much to offer and he would never hold back from helping his friends. "Tino slept in the bed space opposite me in the patrol base and whenever I woke up he was always in his sleeping bag which was strange considering how incredibly hot it is at night. He had his favourite movie sent out and he could not wait to watch it. It was 'Napoleon Dynamite' and even though at times it wasn't funny, Tino always had the same silly smile on his face. "Tino was a keen soldier who always wanted to impress. His maturity was that of a 30-year-old man; I'm sure he was destined to be a corporal in the next 12 months. Without doubt, Tino would have gone far in the Corps, and would have easily passed any course thrown at him. As a signaller, Tino would always ensure that we had comms, and although at times he didn't always like the way things were going he would never moan or drip. "Tino, as your Troop Sergeant you did me proud mate, and you would always dig out to impress. You will be greatly missed by me, the rest of 2 Troop, all of Alpha Company and the remainder of the Corps. You, Scotty, Chris, Whiskey and Steve better be having a beer up there now or maybe the new you is just in the gym working on those abs and pecs! "My thoughts and love go out to your parents and everyone that knew you. Sleep well up there mate and keep smiling, I know you will brother. Remember 'Once a Saint, Always a Saint'." Corporal Greg Batten, Police Mentoring Troop, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I first met Tino at Lympstone prior to us joining 40 Commando and deploying on Op HERRICK 12. He was on his Signals Class 3 course and I was on my Signals Class 2 course when we deployed on the final exercise together. I was struck with how dedicated and professional he was towards his specialisation and the Royal Marines. "He always dug out blind for his mates in the field and we soon became friends. I'm extremely glad that we managed to get in one last night out before we left, even if it was at the expense of my credit card! He was always a great source of morale on a Monday morning when I picked him up for work. "He would be armed with a coffee and some appalling dits from the weekend. He was a very capable Marine and destined for great things. Rest in Peace mate." Corporal Steve Hayward, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Tino, I have only known you for a short period of time but what an impression you have left me with. You loved life and you remind me of Jim Carrey, not necessarily in looks but you were funny, always happy and doing some stupid walks. "You had me in stitches with that yellow cap that you wore. I was so glad to have you in the accommodation, not only to talk to, but to wake up for sentry. Mate it's your turn on sentry - even though you would always wake up and say 'nah it's not me'. You loved signals, something I don't, but you managed to teach me a few things. "You were the first bloke out of the whole company to get comms on the monthly changeover, and you were so chuffed that you just kept on telling people about it. You would also just crack on and do things for the lads, helping them out all of the time. "You were professional and unselfish. You were over the moon with your morale parcel from the 45 Commando lads. "We promised we would stop smoking but your will power was stronger than mine. I'd have to go behind the back of the patrol base for a sneaky cigarette and pretend that I had still quit. "You got into your phys and you chose Buggsy, the biggest and most ripped bloke to be your training partner. He put you through the paces but you always went back for more even though you could hardly move a muscle. We used to joke about building an armoury just for you to fit those massive guns (arms) in. "I called you the 'Tino Massive'. You always looked strong coming back through the gates of Patrol Base Jamil after a patrol with a smile on your face. It's not the same without you mate. You were professional, confident, happy, unselfish and funny, and the list just goes on. "I'll miss you, the lads here will miss you, and I cannot imagine how much your family will. You may not have been massive but your heart certainly was. Cheers mate, rest in peace, Steve." Lance Corporal 'Tracer' Leonard, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Where should I start? You were a big character in the troop with your mad faces and crazy dance moves. You always had comms booming, always happy and always in the gym on your personal mission of 'Op Massive'. "This was even though you were one of the physically stronger members of the troop; you just wanted bigger 'guns' for your trip to the USA and we had fun coming up with slogans. "As I let you out the gate for the last time I told you that ECM [electronic countermeasures] is your new role, you pulled a mad face and said 'I hope so, the weight of this unit gets me massive', yet again another funny moment with you, sadly our last. I'll miss you Tino, from Tracer." Marine 'Midge' Midgley, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Despite weighing only eight stone, you were one of the strongest blokes I knew. You had a huge heart and always a huge smile on your face to go with it; you gave so much morale to all the lads, whether you were cracking funnies in perfect voice procedure or picking lads up for not knowing their mnemonics. "We would sit outside together tabbing it up, thinking of hoofing ways to make big bucks once we got out of Afghanistan; you had it sussed mate. You were a top lad that could always bring a smile to my face with the unique immature banter we used to share. "I can only remember one time where we had a serious conversation and that was to quit smoking and get massive; thinking of all that actually sounds pretty daft as well, but that's why I loved you mate. "You were such an awesome lad and in the short time I knew you since I joined 2 Troop you managed to make such an impact on me, from your professionalism to your character. "You were such a squared away Bootneck, hoofing at the job you loved and you would often talk about how you wanted to deploy on Op HERRICK 14. "For me, the example of you as a 21-year-old Marine already on his second tour just demonstrates how much you loved the job. The Corps colours ran through your blood and your soldiering skills were second-to-none. "You would tell me how you were going to travel America in a Winnebago during post-tour leave, tearing through the different states leaving your mark. "I'm sure me and the lads will do you proud when we're out there mate and I will be thinking of you every day and wish you could have come along to make the trip as hoofing as you described it in your head. Tino Mate, you were a workhorse that always dug out blind for anybody, you were a hoofing bloke and Bootneck. "The hole that you have left will be impossible to fill, you will be sadly missed by everybody, and my thoughts will be with your friends and family. Never forget you mate, stay strong Royal." Marine Michael Yianni, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Tino, you were one of a very few people who I looked up to as you had an aura of confidence about you that was backed up with knowledge and skills. You loved your job and you never stopped talking about it, whether it was your 'sweat' Op HERRICK 9 dits or your endless Bootneck run ashore dits. "You were always so happy it would lift my morale just having a cigarette with you. You and I were smoking buddies and anti-phys partners when we started this tour and then one day you had an epiphany and decided 'Op Massive' was the way forward and that smoking was for losers. You cracked the gym every day, which started to make me look bad! "I even tried to give up smoking with you until 15 minutes later the nicotine patch peeled off and despite you saying it was sweat I took it as my body rejecting it and cracked. You didn't fair much better, lasting two weeks until the tobacco sticks pulled you back. "Despite this you stayed strong with the gym and when your gym partner Buggsy left you for Rest & Recuperation, I felt compelled to step in and help. I couldn't have the shame of you getting bigger than me. "You were just an all round good bloke and a great mate and words can't describe how me and the rest of the troop are feeling right now, especially so soon after losing Scotty. "You were talking about getting straight back out here with 45 Commando after the America knees-up and that shows how much strength and courage you had which is why I'll stay strong for you, as I know you'd want me to. "My heart goes out to your family and loved ones and I'm sure they'll get through these bad times if you're anything to go by. I miss you Tino and I'll always remember you. Michael." Marine 'Brev' Bretherton, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Tino, his strength could not be measured in how much weight he could lift and you definitely could not measure it on how muscular he was, even if he did spend hours in the gym trying to get massive. "His strength came from the heart and it really did radiate outward to the rest of the lads. Everything Tino did, he did to the best of his ability, and his ability surpassed many others. "He put 100 per cent into everything, even if that included dripping, but no matter what, the jobs still got done; be it checking off kit, to keep the lads safe on the ground, or staying on top of the comms, like the excellent signaller he was. "Tino and I had planned on going on holiday to America with a few other lads after we had finished the tour. We were planning on flying all round America to different states. "The finale of our trip was going to be Las Vegas with our new medals, gambling our money away without a care for our bank balances. That just about epitomises the character he was, he was worry free. He had a 'where the chips may fall' attitude to life which made him all the more interesting to be around; it made you feel very fortunate to have known him. "After this tour was done he was hoping to get back up to 45 Commando where he did his first tour and get back into another fighting company to come back out to Afghanistan for Op HERRICK 14. "That above all, truly shows how brave a man he was. On this terrible day we all dug out blind for you and we could tell you dug out blind for us too, and for that, I thank you very much. We will miss you all so very much and we all shall never forget you. "You were a credit to yourself, your friends, your family and most definitely the Corps. My thoughts go out to your family and friends all around the Corps." Marine 'Smudge' Smith, 1 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Tino, I first met you in training and because I was a biff at the ropes I didn't pass out with you. However, we recognised each other straight away when you came to 40 Commando for mission specific training. "It was good to catch up with you on Mission Rehearsal Exercise on Salisbury Plain, spinning dits and seeing what the other lads were up to. You always came across as a professional bloke and talked about having a hoofing time on Op HERRICK 9, and you couldn't wait to get out to Afghanistan and do the business a second time. "You were even planning to go out on Op HERRICK 14 to get your third tour in to become an Afghan vet! You always found the brighter side of any situation and I never seemed to see you without a smile on your face. Just the other day you were trying to show off your chest and there was a good bit of banter. "You had your heart set on America after this tour and were planning to go around the States in a Winnebago. Every time we talked about it, or a film came on with Las Vegas in, you got mega excited and it was hard not to get excited with you. "Like I said before, you were a real professional bloke and your skills and drills were hoofing and you had it fully squared away on the net. I will miss you mate and my heart goes out to your friends and family. I know they will be so proud of you and your memory will live on forever in everyone's heads and hearts. "It was an honour to have known you, and be out here with you. Take care up there and say hello to Scotty for me. Always remembered, love Smudge." Marine 'Ginge' Milburn, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I haven't known Tino for a long time, only about two months in fact, but even in that short period he had proved what a switched-on cookie he was. During the evenings he lit the place up, and the funnies that he would crack boosted the morale sky high. "Tino loved phys, you would see him in the gym pumping some iron and he'd look over and crack a funny about how massive he was getting. Tino was a Bootneck through and through, he never dripped; he just cracked on with his job. "My thoughts are with your family and friends mate, you will be such a loss to the Troop and the Corps. You will always be in my mind, see you up there mate." Marine Rory Colmer, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Before the start of the tour I only knew Tino from all the good things said about him by the lads. Once out here I started to work with him, I realised that all the things that were said were true. No amount of words or speeches, are good enough to describe this man. "Tino was a very professional Bootneck, his skills and drills perfect, his admin squared away and he always knew what to do. He knew his trade like the back of his hand and everything he did was to a very high standard. The signals branch and the Royal Marines as a whole should be proud to have had this man serve with them. "As an oppo you could not have found anyone better. He always had a funny story and he was a strong man always staying positive. He never shied away from a job and never dripped even when called into the operations room at all times of the day and night to sort out the radios. You will be missed by all Tino, and never forgotten." Marine Pat Wall, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Tino was a fantastic soldier who made anything he put his mind to seem effortless, from quitting smoking as he wished, to squaring the lads away on the ground. Tino was a calm, cool and collected influence on 'us'; his friends at the Patrol Base. "He could either be a man of few words or he was constantly on send, spinning dits to raise morale. Take care up there Tino and watch over us as we see out our tour, just as you always have. "As I put pen to paper now, I am fully aware that anything I write will fail to illustrate the calibre of man you were; that is only known by those who got to meet and know you. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family. You will never be forgotten." Marine 'Tommo' Thompson, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I had been talking to Tino on Sangar duty the night before, planning out his ongoing strategy to 'get massive'; he was always good for a laugh, cheerful in the worst circumstances in a way that would put a smile on everyone's face. "Always professional and mature but still able to see the funny side of everything, including his 'wiry' physique, he was always happy to pose for the lads and demonstrate his progress on his long term Op HERRICK get massive regime. If anybody ever needed assistance with anything at all, then Tino would always be willing to help and do everything he could to make the job for the lads as easy as possible. "Tino loved the Corps, loved the life and loved the lads. He had helped to build Forward Operating Base NOLAY on his last tour and was keen to get on Op HERRICK 14 too. Being a Marine came easy to him and he set a good example to everyone he worked with, always smiling and always working hard with utter dedication. "He was a great friend, happy to give advice when it was asked for and always there for anyone in need, with a big cheesy grin and a sympathetic ear. Tino will be missed by all the lads in 2 Troop, Alpha Company, the rest of 40 Commando, as well as all his mates in 45 Commando. "I know wherever you are now you will still be carrying on with 'Op Massive' and we will all join you one day to see how your physique is coming on. My deepest sympathies go out to all who knew you as they will all be hurting now. Remember, 'Once a Saint always a Saint'. Tommo." Marine John Cadwallader, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I will never forget the times we spent on Sangar duty mate, always talking about mad nights out we have both had back in our home towns. It didn't take long to realise we were both two of the same when it came to having a good time and generally making fools out of ourselves. You would always tell me in great detail about your trip you had planned for post tour leave, in the USA. The way in which you described it was so exact and clear it felt like we were both there, travelling across the Southern States. "When it came to your job, there was no one better. We could not stop laughing as we talked down to the operations room in perfect voice procedure. Half of them down there didn't have a clue. You were a great friend Tino and I will miss you dearly. "I will always remember you as a strong, funny and switched on bloke that didn't let anything get in your way. You were a credit to yourself, your family, 2 Troop, Alpha Company and the Corps. I still can't believe you have been taken from us mate. "My prayers go out to your family at this dark time. I know you will always be looking down on us mate, watching out for us. Thank you for all the great laughs you gave us. You will never be forgotten." Marine Dan 'Moxy' Moxham, Logistics Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Tino was a great Marine and a great roommate for me back at 40 Commando. He always carried a smile on his face. He was proud of what he had achieved during his time in the Marines and also proud of what he was doing here on this tour. "If he, the 'Scarlet Pimpernel', wasn't on camp in the evenings, he was travelling home to be with his family he openly loved and enjoyed being with. But when he did come back in the mornings he would always give me a little, 'terror shake' when I was in bed at 6am - just to make sure I didn't need the toilet before I intended to wake up at 7am - a running joke that was always given back with interest when he tried to get his head down. "Something he would always do while listening to his, 'quit smoking' application he had on his beloved iPhone, berating that he'd 'have to start it over again' after being woken up. "For our Post Operational Tour Leave we'd actually planned and instigated a road trip that would see a group of us travel around North America starting in Miami and somehow ending up in Las Vegas. "It had chaos written all over it but we were determined to make it a lasting memory for each of us! In fact, he was so passionate about doing it that when it was just a dinner table idea, he was straight on to the internet finding out prices for flights and Winnebagos. "When Tino had a spare minute to himself, I normally found him sitting on his bed, house wife in hand, doing a bit of kit mending, something he always stressed about with his knowledge of his previous Op HERRICK Tour. I remember he loved saying to me the cliché line that 'if you look after your kit then your kit would look after you'. "But that was him, a cliché, your typical Bootneck, the one you could turn to when a bit of banter was all that was needed, the one that was there when you needed a little advice. My thoughts and prayers now go out to his family, friends, loved ones and all that were lucky enough to know him. Anthony Dean Hotine was, and always will be, a true Royal Marines Commando."  Marine Gavin Taylor, Charlie Company, Signaller, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Tino and I first met on the S3's course where we instantly bonded to become best mates. He spent a lot of his spare time around my house where he was accepted as one of the family, my wife enjoyed his company but nowhere near as much as my children who he always kept amused with his crazy faces and ability to entertain them with ease. "Tino was an excellent Royal Marines Commando and close family friend. He loved the Corps and he could not wait to get back out to Afghanistan again after his experiences with 45 Commando on Op HERRICK 9, only 12 months prior. "He was such an easy person to get on with and he was truly liked by everyone who met him. He would always have a wise crack for any situation he found himself in. He will be remembered as a hoofing oppo and a good friend. "A great guy, that I have had the privilege in working alongside, he will be greatly missed by everyone who has ever met him.  Rest in Peace Tino."


[ Marine Steven James Birdsall ]

Marine Steven James Birdsall from Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, died in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, on 14 June 2010, as a result of a gunshot wound he suffered in Afghanistan. During the late afternoon of Sunday 13 June 2010, Bravo Company was providing security to Royal Engineers who were reinforcing the defences at one of the UK Check Points in Sangin. At approximately 1629hrs local time, Marine Birdsall received a gunshot wound and was immediately evacuated to Camp Bastion's Role 3  Hospital where his condition was listed as critical. Marine Steven James Birdsall was born on the 6 October 1989. He lived in Warrington with his parents and younger sister, Melissa. In December 2007 he joined the Royal Marines, aged 18, passing for duty as a Royal Marines Commando on the 7 November 2008. On completion of training he attended the Defence School of Transport in Leconfield where he gained his full range of driving licences,  including his HGV driver qualification. He joined 40 Commando Royal Marines in January 2009. Shortly after, he deployed with Delta Company on Exercise TAURUS; a large scale amphibious deployment, taking him through the Mediterranean to the Far East and culminating in a jungle warfare package in Brunei. In September 2009 he moved to Bravo Company and conducted six months of Mission Specific Training for this operational tour with 40 Commando to Afghanistan. He deployed to Helmand in April 2010 and was based at Patrol Base EZERAY, in northern Sangin. Bravo Company has conducted numerous joint operations with the Afghan National Security Forces aimed at bettering the lives of ordinary Afghans by improving security and increasing their freedom of movement.

Marine Birdsall's family have made the following statement: "There are no words that could ever express the heartache of losing our beautiful son, Steven, who was always so selfless, brave and fearless. Loving brother to Melissa, grandson to Grandma, Granny and Granddad and a much loved nephew and cousin. "Steven had so many friends back home in Warrington and in 40 Commando Royal Marines, and we are forever thankful to the lads who were with him when he needed them most. See you later mate, we are so very proud of you, love Mum and Dad."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "Marine Steven Birdsall was a brilliant young marine whose gallantry, selflessness and determination impressed all who knew him. He was strong, brave, full of spirit and full of character. "A talented footballer, he played for 40 Commando immediately on joining the Unit and quickly proved to be a fit motivated marine who inspired others. He possessed a sharp mind and a big and generous heart – he loved his family, his friends and his fellow marines; and they adored him in return. "He was a consummate professional; forever focused, very proud and utterly dependable; yet always cheerful and magnanimous. He was the perfect marine. He sadly died on patrol in northern Sangin, doing the job he loved; protecting the people. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents, his sister, his family and his friends. He will be sadly missed by all in 40 Commando. Marine Steven Birdsall was, and always will be, a Royal Marine Commando." Major Mark Totten Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Stevie Birdsall was a jovial, fun-loving and exceptionally talented young man who has been taken in his prime. His ability on the sports field had ensured considerable success as a footballer prior to joining the Royal Marines, with whom he developed and flourished. "The determination that led to his sporting success allowed him to complete Initial Commando Training, despite setback through injury and was a permanent fixture of his approach to Service life. He sharpened his field craft skills with Delta Company in the jungle of Brunei before joining Bravo Company for deployment to Afghanistan. "He never missed an opportunity to excel whether at work or playing football. Arguably his finest hour was leading a scratch team to success in the Cancun Beach Football Festival, a champagne moment that remains unequalled amongst those who shared it. "Once deployed, Stevie brought enormous courage, humour and emotional support to his section; he laughed, larked and listened within the Patrol Base and was a centre of gravity for morale. On the ground his contribution was unstinting; sharp and alert, even when carrying the most burdensome equipment. "He was quick to occupy exposed positions within a patrol and faced the enemy with gallantry. Stevie's last act was to watch over a Royal Engineer team as they laboured in the Afghan sun. He was a model Bootneck, true friend and comrade. "The love of his family was demonstrated daily through the marvellous packages he received and selflessly shared; our thoughts and prayers are with them in this most difficult time." Lieutenant Jon Phelps, Officer Commanding 11 Troop Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Birdsall was a fantastic marine who showed huge potential for the future. A rising star of the present generation of young Marines, he was always selfless in how he went about his business. Unassuming, intelligent and professional until the last, he could always be relied upon no matter what the task. "It was this, 'can do' attitude and adaptability that often placed him in positions requiring a special dependency in a man; something he relished. An enthusiastic and competitive sportsman he could often be found partnering his mates in the gym giving as good as he got. "Marine Birdsall was the ideal Marine who made my job a lot easier. He truly embodied the values of the Corps. His character is irreplaceable, and will be sorely missed by all of 11 Troop. "It is a testament to his determination that he was strong enough to hold on until he was back in the UK with his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents, younger sister, relatives and friends. Rest in Peace Royal." Sergeant Jason Wood, 11 Troop Sergeant, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Birdy was a great lad, always smiling and took being a Bootneck in his stride. He was always cheerful, never 'dripped' and was a well liked member of the Troop. "He will be sorely missed by all who knew and worked with him. All the lads in 11 Troop are thinking of his family at this very difficult time." Marine Olly Spence and Marine Matt Baldwin, 11 Troop, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "As a Marine, Birdy was the same as he was at playing football, strong, full of heart and always worked hard for the team. As a Light Machine Gunner in the section, his drills on the gun were as slick as his wet hair after a morning shower. As a mate he was second to none, he had an unparalleled sense of humour on, as well as off the job. "He always listened especially when you needed it most. Birdy was a highly respected member of the Royal Marines 'sun bathing team'; his healthy glow making him popular with the ladies. Whilst exploring Egypt he gained valuable experience by using his boyish good looks to get familiar with the female side of the Royal Navy. "Judging by all the welfare packages he received, he was obviously much loved by his family and friends, as he was by his Troop. His good heart and cheeky smile will always be remembered by those who had the pleasure of knowing him."  Marine David Shutler, Delta Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Birdsall, or 'Birdy' as he was known amongst the lads, was a good friend of mine. He was a quiet lad with a huge personality and was well respected within Delta Company. He was strong, fit and very dependable. Birdy always gave 100 per cent at all times, never dripping when times got hard. "Before deploying on Op HERRICK 12, he went on a lads' holiday to Cancun with some of his troop. I'll never forget him turning up at the airport before flying to Cancun at 6am, worse for wear from the night before. "I remember how happy he was when he told me they won a four-a-side beach football tournament, beating the Americans in the final. He was a very good footballer; we played together for 40 Commando RM before deploying. "Birdy, I'm going to miss not having you around, mate. My thoughts are with you, your family and friends back home at this sad time. Life in the Corps won't be the same without you."


[ Marine Richard Hollington ]

Marine Richard Hollington, from Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, died from wounds sustained in Afghanistan in the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on Sunday 20 June 2010. During the late afternoon of Saturday 12 June 2010, Bravo Company was conducting a reassurance patrol in Afghanistan for the local nationals in an area to the south of Patrol Base Ezeray. At approximately 1616hrs local time, Marine Hollington was caught in an explosion. He was immediately evacuated to Bastion Role 3 Hospital where his condition was listed as critical. On 13 June 2010 he was transferred to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. At 1108hrs BST on 20 June 2010, with his parents and brothers present, Marine Hollington sadly died of his wounds. Marine Richard Hollington was 23 years old and lived near Petersfield, Hampshire, with his parents and younger brothers Nick and Charlie. Prior to joining the Royal Marines he played semi-professional football for Fareham Town Football Club. Completing Royal Marines training in September 2008, he attended the Defence School of Transport, Leconfield, gaining his full range of driving licences. Joining Delta Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, in December 2008, he deployed in the New Year on Exercise Taurus; the largest Royal Naval deployment in over ten years. Serving both afloat and ashore he participated in a number of multinational exercises in Cyprus and Turkey. The exercise culminated in the Far East, where he experienced the rigours of a jungle warfare training package in Brunei. On return to the UK he joined Bravo Company prior to beginning Mission Specific Training for Op HERRICK 12. He deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan in April 2010, where he was based at Patrol Base Ezeray. Bravo Company has been conducting joint operations with the Afghan National Security Forces over the last few months aimed at bettering the lives of the local people by improving security and increasing their freedom of movement.

 

Marine Richard Hollington's family made the following statement: "What can we say that hasn't been said so many times before and will be repeated so many times to come? "Richard will leave a huge numbing hole in the lives of his family, friends and Royal Marine colleagues. The saying goes 'It is better to live one day as a lion than your whole life as a worm.' "He chose to live his days as a lion and to us, and we believe his friends, he was the biggest, if softest, lion in the pride - how proud of him we all are. It was typical of Richard, and a crumb of comfort to us, that even in death he donated his organs to help others in accordance with his wishes."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin said: "Marine Richard Hollington was one of my finest. He was bright, intrepid, determined and full of character; he was very much at the heart of 11 Troop. A very talented footballer and magnificent marine he had a lot to be proud of, yet I knew him to be an affable, generous, loyal and modest young man. "He was gregarious and well-humoured, and in the privations of life in Sangin, he was invaluable. It takes extraordinary courage to be at the front of every patrol but Marine Hollington did so with the professional pride that gave confidence to others "He was a strong and resilient man with an immense personality. He sadly died of his wounds incurred whilst on patrol in Northern Sangin, but we take some comfort in knowing that he was with his loving family at this terrible time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents, his brothers, his family and his friends. "He was one of life's greats and will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando. Marine Richard Hollington was, and will always remain, a Royal Marine Commando." Major Mark Totten Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Dickie Hollington was a superior Royal Marine Commando who brimmed with character and potential. He was one of those gifted souls to whom success was familiar; be it on the football pitch or in his chosen profession, to which he brought gusto, natural ability and commitment. "With an irrepressible sense of fun and lust for life, Dickie was always at the seat of laughter and his passing has left a tremendous void amongst his companions in Bravo Company. He revelled in Troop banter and constantly buoyed those around him with his sharp wit and love of friendly debate. Men like Dickie are pure gold in a Patrol Base here in Afghanistan. "His optimism was infectious and probably best highlighted by his 100% certainty in recent days that England would win the World Cup. Professionally, Dickie was first rate. His experience, soldiering ability and raw courage made him ideally suited to the task of lead man in the patrol, the vital role within a section that proves a route for all to follow. "The manner in which he faced danger and carried out this stressful duty ensured important work was completed and is a beacon of professionalism to all the Company; we will look to him for mettle in the days ahead. The Commando qualities of courage, determination, selflessness and cheerfulness under adversity have been exposed in different circumstances throughout our history; Dickie had them in spades and his application in these demanding circumstances showed Commando spirit worthy of all our forefathers. "With all his professional focus and commitment, he was rounded; he worked and played hard but found time for those who really mattered to him - his family, to whom our support, thoughts and prayers are extended to at this difficult time." Sergeant Jason Wood, 11 Troop Sergeant, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "As Dickie's Troop Sergeant it was easy to like this hard working, keen young man. He was incredibly fit and was a keen footballer. He was always having a laugh and he lived life as a Royal Marine with ease. He was a big character in the Troop, with big hair and a backside to match! We will miss Dickie and our thoughts are with his family." Lance Corporal Steven Houckham, 11 Troop Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Having shared a room at Norton Manor with Dickie for 18 months, and being in the same section, I have many good memories of him, and not one do I regret. He was a typical Bootneck with a great sense of humour and a massive personality "Dickie was very approachable, was never short of a laugh and was someone who would go out of his way to help you. As a Royal Marine he was top class and a true professional, as a mate he was a true legend. Dickie was there to back you 100% of the time, and took a part of the Troop with him when he left. "Making the biggest sacrifice of all, he will not be forgotten." Marine Karl Rickard, 11 Troop Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Dickie and I both arrived at 40 Commando at the same time. From day 1 we were inseparable. He had a great sense of humour and never took anything too seriously. Dickie was a typical lad always at the forefront of troop banter. "When it was time to do the job, many couldn't do it better, and when it was time to have a laugh, still not many could do it better. Knowing Dickie has been taken from us is a very hard fact to live with, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He will never be forgotten." Marine Tom Lingley, Company Headquarters, Delta Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I started recruit training with Dickie in January 2008. He was always a very strong lad, a great laugh, and good for morale. I've got a scar on my back from play-fighting with him, messing about as you do; it resulted in eight stitches! "We both joined 40 Commando on the same day. Dickie went to 11 Troop; I went to 10 Troop. We shared a room together. We used to do a 'Come Dine with me' sketch, cooking for each other, and giving each other marks out of ten. "Dickie always cracked stir fries and scored on average late sevens. Six of us went to Amsterdam together on pre-deployment leave and I have great memories of good times together. Dickie loved his football and, even though he was from Portsmouth, he loved Manchester United. "Before joining the marines he played for Portsmouth FC. He was a good footballer and represented 40 Commando against the Royal Navy at HMS Raleigh "Dickie it's never going to be the same without you. You'll be very sorely missed. RIP Royal." Marine Luke 'Mo' Mousley, 10 Troop Delta Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I first met Dickie in November 2008 when I joined 40 Commando. Dickie was a really friendly lad, always up for the banter. I used to chill out with him in his room and we used to go ashore together. I remember him as the 'life and soul'. "He always had a smile on his face and was good for a laugh. We went to Amsterdam together and had more trips planned. I'll really miss you Dickie. There's a big gap in our group now. It won't be the same without you. RIP Royal."


[ Marine Paul Warren ]

Marine Paul Warren from Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in Afghanistan on Monday 21 June 2010. Marine Warren was injured in an explosion when Patrol Base Airport Lounge was attacked by insurgents. Despite being given immediate first aid by his comrades, Marine Warren's injuries proved to be fatal. Marine Paul Warren was born in Preston and lived with his family in Leyland, Lancashire. He was 23 years old. He joined the Royal Marines on 22 May 2006, and on completion of recruit training was drafted to 45 Commando Royal Marines, based in Arbroath, Scotland, joining on 26 June 2007. In January 2008 he deployed with 45 Commando to northern Norway for two months of cold weather warfare training. Later that year he completed Mission Specific Training in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 9 in September 2008. He served with Whiskey Company, 45 Commando, in Sangin, at Forward Operating Base JACKSON and Patrol Base TANGIERS.  On 19 January 2010 he was drafted to Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, in time to complete Mission Specific Training for Operation HERRICK 12. In March 2010 he once again deployed to Afghanistan, where this time he was based at Patrol Base Airport Lounge located on the edge of the Sangin Wadi. Charlie Company has been responsible for the security around Patrol Base Airport Lounge and has conducted dozens of patrols in support of the local nationals.  They have completed numerous joint clearance operations with Afghan National Security Forces and have uncovered many improvised explosive devices, rendering the area safer for the local population to go about their daily business.

Marine Warren’s family paid the following tribute: "A loving son, a brother and grandson who made us proud as a family. His cheeky smile will be missed by all who knew him."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer, 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "Marine Paul Warren was an outstanding Marine. He was bright, articulate, loyal and very brave. He was without doubt the epitome of his profession. Having previously served in Sangin only last year, his experience was invaluable in preparing and at times reassuring the men of 9 Troop. "He was a man of presence, a man who inspired others with his professional example and equanimity. Paul was sharp; he was fit, always keen to learn and was utterly selfless. "He took pride in what he did and others took confidence from his approach to life. I saw in him a dedicated, reliable, talented and intelligent marine who had a promising career cut tragically short. "He died in his Patrol Base in Sangin, doing the job he loved and alongside the people who will know him forever as a true friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents, his two brothers, his family and his friends. "He was one of life’s greats and he will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando. Marine Paul Warren was, and will always remain, a Royal Marines Commando.” Major Ed Moorhouse, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Paul Warren was something special in Charlie Company, and that is an accolade I use sparingly in the close knit band of brothers that we are, where all excel in doing their duty in the most challenging of environments in Sangin. "In singling out Marine Paul Warren, this accolade rightly describes a man who volunteered and acted as Point Man for every patrol which his Section undertook in Sangin; in my eyes these men, ‘on point’, are the bravest of the brave. "To Paul Warren, this was a matter of duty. Being the experienced man, who had patrolled Sangin before, he saw fit that it would be he, and only he, who would lead his Section on patrol in Sangin; in volunteering for this he knew only too well the risks that were associated. "Marine Paul Warren humbled me with his modesty, his quiet accomplished professionalism and his pride; pride in being in 9 Troop, pride in being in Charlie Company and above all pride in being a Royal Marines Commando. "He was an exceptional Royal Marine; dedicated, trusted, loyal and courageous. To have been his Company Commander has been the greatest of honours, I am only saddened that the pleasure in which I have had undertaking this duty has been so tragically cut short. "The loss of Paul has left an indelible mark on Charlie Company and we grieve the loss of a very fine man. Our Corps is a close family and Charlie Company is a microcosm of this. "We pride ourselves on our Spartan ethos; and in reconciling ourselves with our loss, Paul Warren was a Spartan and this is how we will always remember him. "At this dark hour, Charlie Company remember in their prayers Clifford and Lynn, Paul’s parents, and pray that the light and confidence  that he gave us, returns to their lives as time heals their tragic loss.” Lieutenant John Lynch, Officer Commanding 9 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Paul since he joined 9 Troop earlier in the year. It didn't take long for me to realise what a professional and 'switched on’ Bootneck he was. "He had previously served in Afghanistan with 45 Commando and the experiences he brought to the Troop were priceless. He was a natural leader and was well respected and liked within the Troop. "Paul embodied all the Commando qualities and as such was an inspirational role model to the younger marines. His example helped forge 9 Troop into a formidable force. "Paul was an extremely intelligent man who could often be found reading one of the many books in the Patrol Base's library. It was during in-depth conversations that Paul's knowledge and intellect shone through. "He put his all into everything that he did, whether it was cracking ‘Op Massive’ in the gym or working as the lead man on patrols around Sangin. He was an expert at clearing our routes of IEDs; he recently found an IED which could have caused many casualties. Without doubt he saved lives. "His potential for command was obvious to me and his Section Corporal, this made him a natural choice for Section Third-in-Command. He also stepped up to Section Second-in-Command when required, and in typical Paul fashion, was 'all over it'. "I could see many great qualities in Paul and have no doubt that he would have continued to excel within the Royal Marines. "9 Troop are close-knit. The loss of such a bright character has left a void which will never be filled. Paul was a Charlie Company Spartan, a true Bootneck and a friend. Rest in Peace Paul, you will not be forgotten.” Sergeant Al Grant 9 Troop Sergeant, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I had the immense pleasure of knowing and working alongside Marine Paul Warren as 9 Troop started their Pre-Deployment Training. "Paul had already completed a tour of Sangin with 45 Commando and had volunteered for this deployment. His sheer courage and professionalism shone through in everything he undertook. "His extensive operational knowledge meant that he immediately claimed his place as the Point Man in the Section. Paul was always keen to pass on his experience to the younger members of the Troop and whenever we were patrolling Sangin he was always striving to improve how we operated. "There is a huge gap to fill in 9 Troop now that Paul has gone, but it is without doubt that the lads who remain will carry on where he  left off; this is exactly what he would have wanted. "Paul was a shining example of what a Royal Marine Commando and Bootneck should be, and I am sure he would have excelled had his  time not been cut short. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. Paul, once a marine, always a marine, Rest in Peace mate." Corporal Simon Schofield, Section Commander, 9 Troop, Charlie Company, said: "I was proud to have served with Paul, as we all were, a hoofing marine and a top bloke, who kept our Section safe. "The most 'switched on' guy I have ever met, it gave me great confidence to follow Paul as I always knew that he’d make the right decisions and lead us on a safe and true path. "I will always remember Paul for his quick wit and his dry sense of humour, he was always keen to share the news if I had made a wrong decision, and always referred to his idea being far better. "Paul was a true fighter in every sense of the word, always keen to lead if there was a scrap. An immensely brave man, a quality he proved on countless occasions on Point Man in Sangin. "He leaves behind a massive hole in 9 Troop and an even bigger one in 2 Section, but I know he would want us to go on and continue to take the fight to the enemy. "I had the pleasure of meeting Paul’s parents at the Families Day prior to deploying to Sangin. They were immensely proud of their son and all of his achievements. Our thoughts go out to them at this heart breaking time. Rest in Peace Royal." The 40 Commando Royal Marines of Flat 6, Charlie Company Lines, Norton Manor Camp, Taunton: Lance Corporal Andy Coyle, Marine Sam  Bend, Marine Matt Sabberton, Marine John Crookes, Marine Glyn Forshaw and Marine Steve McConnell, said: "Paul joined 40 Commando around four months before we deployed to Sangin and he moved into our flat as his new home in Taunton. "Sometimes it can take a while to get to know someone, especially when joining an already tight knit group as we were. However, this was not the case with Paul; from when he walked into Flat 6 he fitted in immediately with the lads and was instantly one of the boys. "Having already deployed to Afghanistan with 45 Commando, on Operation HERRICK 9, and more specifically to Sangin, he was an experienced marine in whom we all looked to for advice and guidance for the forthcoming tour. "He was always willing to reassure the lads and was very helpful when giving advice from his experiences on Operation HERRICK 9. "Paul was an absolute pleasure to live with; he was always having a laugh and always making his fair share of the 'wets'. "Paul had aspirations of going to University upon leaving the Corps, where he would have undoubtedly excelled. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Paul’s parents and family at this time. It was an absolute pleasure to have known Paul and we will  never forget him. Lance Corporal Seb Rolland, 9 Troop Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I joined the Corps on 22 May 2006 along with Paul and 50 other recruits; many of whom did not pass training. In those first few months I knew Paul as a straightforward, hard working, determined individual who had no trouble passing out of training. "Afterwards we went our separate ways, Paul to 45 Commando and me to 40 Commando. In February 2010 we again ended up in the same Troop. "It was only on HERRICK 12 that I really got to know and respect him. Our shared interests and Paul's sense of humour always made talking to him easy. "But it was Paul's professionalism, integrity and courage that made him the man I would turn to for his advice or opinion on all matters; whether it was work or personal. "No task was beneath him and nothing phased him. It was a pleasure and honour to know and work with you Paul. I have lost a good friend and the Corps has lost a great marine. Rest in peace mate.” Marine Adam Baird, 9 Troop Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I first met Paul a year ago at Royal Marines Poole. My first impression was that he was a very ‘switched on’ marine with a great attitude towards the job. "His ability to 'blackcat' you with his terrible dits, after a few drinks ashore were second to none. "Paul was the kind of guy that would help you if you had a bone question, or give advice about anything without even batting an eyelid. "This was one of the many great qualities he had, along with making the best out of a bad situation, of which we experienced many, whilst running over the hills of the Brecon Beacons. "Paul was someone I was glad to call one of my best mates. He will be sorely missed by me, 9 Troop, and all of the mighty Spartans of Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines.  "We will miss you mate and you'll never be forgotten.”


[  Lance Corporal Michael Taylor ]

 Lance Corporal Michael Taylor from Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Sangin, was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 22 June 2010. Lance Corporal Taylor was killed during an exchange of fire with insurgent forces in the Sangin district of Helmand province. He was manning one of the sangars in the patrol base when the incident occurred. Lance Corporal Michael Taylor was 30 years old and lived in Rhyl with his partner Sonia and their three children Ethan, Wesley and Charlton. A former British Army soldier, he joined the Royal Marines on 26 April 2004. After passing for duty as a Royal Marines Commando he joined 45 Commando, based in Arbroath, Scotland. During his first draft he took the opportunity to serve with Naval Party Iraq as part of the Operation TELIC Force Protection Team before returning to 45 Commando in January 2007. A second draft saw him remain in Scotland while he served with the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines until January 2009. On completion of this draft he specialised within the anti-tank branch, qualifying as a Heavy Weapons (Class 3) Marine. Returning to 45 Commando he subsequently deployed on Operation HERRICK 9, serving in Kajaki with Victor Company. From 45 Commando he joined Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, in November 2009, and immediately began Mission Specific Training for Operation HERRICK 12. Quickly promoting to Lance Corporal he deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, in March 2010, where he was based. Charlie Company has been responsible for the security around the Sangin area and has conducted dozens of patrols in support of the local nationals.  Having completed numerous joint clearance operations with Afghan National Security Forces and uncovered many improvised explosive devices, the area has increased freedom of movement and security so that the local population are able to go about their normal daily business. During the early afternoon of Tuesday 22 June 2010, his patrol base was engaged by accurate small arms fire. At the time Lance Corporal Taylor was providing protection to the camp in one of the security sangars and was fatally wounded in the incident.

 

Partner Sonia Fleming said: "Michael you were my soul mate, you were the best loving partner and dad anyone could have asked for. You lived to be a hero and died a hero. We are all extremely proud of you and always will be. Your legacy will live on through your three wonderful boys who will inspire to be just like you." Son Ethan Taylor, 13, said: "He was a great dad and he did everything for us. He was always active and took us to football games; he was one in a million and I love him. Rest in Peace Dad, I will be thinking of you all the time, missing you already." Son Wesley Taylor, 11, said: "He was the best dad I could have ever wished for and I can never replace him. He did our family proud and deserved everything he achieved in his life." Parents John and Jackie Taylor said: "We have lost a brave, one of a kind son. Unselfish, kind and totally devoted to his family and children we are lost for words to describe the hurt and pain that we are all feeling right now." Grandparents Margaret and Paul Wright said: "We are devastated. They have broken the mould now this smashing, generous and loving young man is no longer with us." Brother John Taylor, 26, said: "I have lost the best brother and best friend a bloke could ever ask for. I will never forget him." Sister Leanne Taylor said: "My big brother was the greatest, he was always there for everyone, no-one can ever take his place."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer, 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "Lance Corporal Mike Taylor was a superb Marine; fit, bright, dedicated and incredibly courageous, he thrived on operations. Having served in Kajaki only last year, his experience and professional vigour was invaluable and he was instrumental in the successful preparations of 9 Troop. "As a Junior Commander he was excellent; he had precisely the right presence and personality to reassure and give confidence to others. I saw in him a conscientious, generous, enthusiastic man with a passion for his job and the many challenges that came with it. He  tragically died at his patrol base in Sangin protecting the very people, his own band of brothers, who had quickly grown to respect, admire and be inspired by him and his whole approach to life.  "He had the drive and the tenacity, but more importantly the family and the friends to succeed at anything he did. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner, his three sons, his family and his friends. Lance Corporal Mike Taylor was, and will always remain, a Royal Marines Commando." Major Ed Moorhouse, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I have lost one of my best. Lance Corporal Mike Taylor was exceptional and I shall miss him greatly. He was promoted within weeks of arriving in Charlie Company; it was the most natural thing to do. Mike Taylor was a rare quality - modest, reserved, thoughtful and yet a natural leader of men. "His leadership had an air of quiet accomplishment; there was no need for excess verbosity with Mike Taylor, his presence and manner alone inspired, mentored and guided those Royal Marines in his charge. In watching this natural demeanour one could not be more humbled; many aspire to it and very few have it, Mike Taylor had it in abundance. "Mike Taylor was the archetypal Royal Marines Commando; strong, powerful and unquestionable in his professionalism. His back was adorned with a Commando Dagger flanked by two Welsh Dragons; there was no man prouder of his profession or his country. "In contemplation, following Mike's death, it seemed only appropriate to recite, in honour of his memory and his life, the iconic lyrics written by William Williams, which are always best heard echoing around the Millennium Stadium, 'Guide me, O thou great redeemer, Pilgrim through this barren land'; I hope that our choral efforts are met with Mike's approval as he looks down upon us. "The most important pillar in Mike's trio of passions was his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner Sonia and their sons Ethan, Wesley and Charlton. He was a Royal Marines Commando, a Charlie Company Spartan and a fine leader of men and this is his legacy. Mike Taylor may you Rest in Peace." Lieutenant John Lynch, Officer Commanding 9 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I had the pleasure of working with Mike ever since I took over command of 9 Troop late last year. We completed our pre-deployment training together on Salisbury Plain and snowy Otterburn. During these exercises Mike distinguished himself as an extremely capable Marine and commander. "Subsequently, he was promoted and became a Section Second-in-Command. His big personality and strong character helped forge 3 Section into a well-oiled machine. "He had previous operational experience which he passed onto those new Marines straight from training. This gave them the confidence to soldier in the hostile environment of Sangin. "It is a credit to his likeable nature that his Marines respected him and emulated him so that they could become great soldiers like him. As an anti-tank specialist his professional knowledge of the number of weapon systems he could operate was unrivalled. He was a composed character and would stay calm whilst under contact, making sure his Marines were doing the right thing. "Around the patrol base Mike was a bit of a DIY legend. He was a real handyman and helped construct a toilet and shower area, a chill-out zone, and a 'hoofing' pull-up bar to help us get massive. His unselfishness and camaraderie around the patrol base made it a much more comfortable and enjoyable place to live. "I enjoyed talking to Mike about his family, past tour experiences and runs ashore in Liverpool as we were both from the North West." "Mike will always be remembered in 9 Troop as both a lion-hearted Commando and a great friend. Our thoughts are with his family, partner and children. Rest in Peace Mike, gone but not forgotten."  Sergeant Al Grant, 9 Troop Sergeant, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Words cannot describe the sadness I feel for the loss of Mike. He was someone I admired and a true friend without a fault. You don't meet many people in your life like Mike, men who have these attributes. "Mike was a true Welshman to the core and a Bootneck through and through. With his two distinctive large red Welsh Dragons on each shoulder and the Commando Dagger in the middle, these were his dual love and passion - work and country. "He was a pillar of strength to the section and the troop, and the trust I had in him was paid back ten-fold. Mike wanted more and more responsibility, showing he was up to the task, proving what a vital individual he was to the safety of the young lads in the section. "His DIY skills were second-to-none and would amaze me. It was like watching a 60-minute makeover; he would be able to build anything around the patrol base to make life easier and more comfortable. This was the selfless nature of Mike. "Mike was a family man who loved his partner Sonia and their three boys. We would talk about them, telling stories of each other's families. I will miss those times greatly. The troop's thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. You will be missed, but you will always be in our minds." Corporal 'Scoffs' Schofield, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Big Mike - ever the professional, ever the gent. Since you joined the troop I have always felt the younger lads and myself would have a lot to do to reach your high standards of soldiering. Your knowledge of all things military was outstanding and never failed to impress. "A true family man, a very funny man, I loved our banter, always trying to outdo one another. Iron Mike, a pillar of strength to all, a very proud Welshman and father. Always doing DIY in the patrol base and even managing to cut through a 6x6 block of wood with his trusty leatherman. Ever the team player and a shoulder to go to for advice. Never forgotten, Big Mike Taylor." Lance Corporal Joe Leborgne, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Mike joined 9 Troop, Charlie Company, in November 2009 and moved into our flat in Corporate Lines at Norton Manor Camp, Taunton. Before he joined the grot, the oldest lad was 21 and we had a reputation of being called the 'ASBO Grot'. Although Mike was a bit older than us it did not stop him playing 'Call of Duty', going to the gym, watching rubbish films and having a laugh with the rest of us. "Mike was a mature and calm guy who gave us a lot of guidance on how we could better ourselves and our careers. Being more experienced and having been to Iraq and Afghanistan before, Mike was able to reassure us of any doubts or grey areas we had in coming out here. "He was the model Bootneck; proud, kind, generous and responsible. He was someone we looked up to. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this tragic time. It was a pleasure to know you Mike. Rest in Peace mate." Lance Corporal Seb Rolland, 9 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I used to call Mike 'Iron Mike' and that nickname summed him up to a tee. A strong character that commanded respect as easily as he earned it, his high level of professionalism was an inspiration to all around him as was his strength. "Unwavering courage and a relentless sense of humour; he was a proud man, a proud father and a proud Bootneck. I am proud to have known you, proud to have worked with you, and very proud to call you my friend." Lance Corporal Lloyd 'Taff' John, Sniper Section, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Mike you will be sadly missed but never forgotten, you were the ultimate professional, the most dedicated Bootneck I have ever met. You were always busy making life easier for everyone here. Will never forget you mate, it is a pleasure to call you my mate. My thoughts are with your family and children. Rest in Peace mate." Marine 'Charlie' Charlesworth, 9 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Lance Corporal Mike Taylor was one of the most professional Marines to have graced the Corps; fierce and loyal, he led from the front, always there for the lads. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten. God Bless Lance Corporal Mike Taylor, I will miss the card games and his poker face." Marine Harry McGill, 9 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Lance Corporal Mike Taylor was one of the most professional and inspirational Bootnecks I'd met, always there at the forefront. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten." Marine 'Bear' Handley, 9 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Lance Corporal Mike Taylor was a loyal, courageous man who was always digging out blind to ensure the lads were always squared away and ensuring they were okay. His inspirational leadership and strong character will never be forgotten and his friendship sorely missed. I will always remember him." Marine 'Sully' O'Sullivan, 9 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I have known Mike for seven months and in that time he became one of my best friends. I could talk to Mike about anything as he was a good listener and gave me the best advice to any problem I had in my time in the Corps. "I have never come across a more switched on, fearless, unselfish and brave Bootneck. He has taught me so much, for which I am very grateful. I will never forget you Mike or as long as I live." Marine Carl Galvin, 9 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I always saw Mike as a sort of father figure for the troop, with his wealth of experience both in life and within the Corps. He was always keen to help out the lads, whether it was with military skills, coaching on the boxing pads, or using his carpentry skills to improve life in the patrol base. "But above all he was a good friend and a fantastic junior leader. I will always remember you Mike and I am truly grateful to have known and worked alongside you." Marine Daz Tedstone, 9 Troop, Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "The first time I met Mike was at the Careers Office in Wrexham as we were both about to join the Corps; straight away I knew he had something special about him. 5 years later we both found ourselves in 9 Troop and I saw Mike as a natural leader and an inspiration to all the lads. "I could always look to Mike to make me smile as he had a wicked sense of humour and a smile that was infectious. He was a really outstanding marine and the proudest man I ever had the privilege of knowing, it was an honour to work with Mike and an even bigger honour to call him my friend. "My heart goes out to all your family at this devastating time. There is a massive hole left in 9 Troop without you Mike. Rest in Peace Royal, you will be immensely missed." Marine Rob Leigh, 9 Troop, Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Mike Taylor was a man I very much admired and respected. He was always striving to do all he could for the men in the Troop. On the ground he was sharp, professional, tactically astute and conscientious. In the face of the enemy he was determined, brave and calming to those around him which inspired courage. "Though I will miss Mike for his immense talent as a Bootneck, I will miss the man more. Working closely together we had become friends, something I am very proud of, Mike's respect was hard earned and highly prized. My heart goes out to his family of whom he was so proud and devoted to. RIP Royal you will not be forgotten." Marine Jo 'Fritz' Phillips, 9 Troop, Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Mike, The short time I knew you it was a pleasure that I shall never forget. You were a rock at all times to those who needed you, always cool under pressure and never phased when those around you needed you most. "Always trying to make life easier for those around you and never asking for anything in return. A true gentleman and a true Bootneck. You will be missed by all then knew you. Rest in Peace mate." Marine Nick Peats, 9 Troop, Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Mike, like a father to the Troop, not just because you were one of the oldest, but because of the way people looked up to you, not forgetting your DIY skills around the Patrol Base. You will be sorely missed, it was a pleasure to know you. Rest in Peace Mike." Marine 'Tucks' Tucker, Sniper Section, Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I feel so privileged to have known and worked alongside Mike. I find it hard to truly describe how great a loss he is to this Troop and the Corps. He was an extraordinary character. Mike was a key figure, a role model, a leader and a friend and I am so honoured to call him an oppo. "Mike's strengths didn't just lie with his soldiering and people skills, his love for his family seemed infectious as he spoke of his young lads every time we spoke. Mike was intelligent and wise and was undoubtedly one of the most professional Bootnecks I have had the pleasure of working with. I will never forget you Royal, you really were the best."


[ Sergeant Steven William Darbyshire ]

Sergeant Steven William Darbyshire from 40 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Sangin, was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 23 June 2010. Sergeant Darbyshire was killed by small arms fire during a firefight with insurgent forces whilst on a security patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province. Sergeant Steven William 'Darbs' Darbyshire was 35 years old. He was born in Wigan, and it was there that he lived with his partner Kate and their two young sons Ryan and Callum. He was a great fan of sports, particularly football and golf, but especially rugby: earlier in his career he represented the Corps as a rugby league player. Joining the Royal Marines in 1996, he was drafted to 40 Commando Royal Marines on completion of his commando training. This first draft saw him serve an operational tour in Northern Ireland before choosing to specialise in the Heavy Weapons (Air Defence) branch. Serving with Air Defence Troop he deployed to Iraq in 2002 on Operation TELIC. He was selected for promotion, passing his Junior Command Course in 2003 and subsequently promoted to corporal. In 2007 he deployed to Afghanistan with 45 Commando on Operation HERRICK 5. As an experienced corporal, a senior command course quickly followed his tour of Afghanistan and he was promoted to sergeant in 2008.  Rejoining 40 Commando in September 2009 he was initially employed as the Provost Sergeant, before becoming a Rifle Troop Sergeant within Alpha Company. Completing mission specific training for a further operational tour to Afghanistan, he deployed in April 2010 to Sangin with Alpha Company, where he was based at Patrol Base ALMAS. Alpha Company has conducted daily reassurance and security patrols with Afghan National Security Forces to protect the local Afghans around Patrol Base ALMAS in the Sangin District. They have improved the lives of hundreds of ordinary Afghans by providing a security bubble which has increased their freedom of movement, led to wider governance in the area and has encouraged economic development During a joint patrol with the Afghan National Army, on the morning of 23 June, Alpha Company was conducting a reassurance patrol to the local nationals in Sangin. At approximately 0734 hours local, as the patrol was returning to Patrol Base ALMAS, they came under small arms fire attack from insurgent forces. Sergeant Darbyshire was struck during the fire-fight and was fatally wounded in the incident.

 

The family of Sergeant Steven William Darbyshire have made the following statement: "Being a Royal Marine was Steven’s life and growing up it was all he wanted to do. "He was proud to wear the uniform and served his country as the consummate professional. He died doing the job he so loved. "He was strong, vibrant, generous, passionate, full of life and he certainly lived life to the full. "Our World will be a bleaker place without him, his infectious laughter and fantastic sense of humour. Mere words do not begin to convey the deep grief and painful heartbreak his untimely death has brought to his shattered family and friends. "Steven may have been a ‘hoofin’ bootneck’ to his colleagues but to his beautiful boys, Ryan and Callum he was the very best Daddy in the World. He will live on through his sons and those who love him so much will never forget him and the sacrifice he made. "Steven leaves behind him his partner Kate, sons Ryan and Callum, parents Barbara, John, Derek and Sue, brother Neil, Nan and the many friends whose lives he touched. "RIP Sergeant Steven Darbyshire. Fall Out."

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin said: "Sergeant Steven Darbyshire was one of life’s great characters. A proper Lancashire Lad, he typically had the wit, the cunning and the tenacity down to a fine art. "I knew him to be a charismatic, loyal, determined and dedicated Sergeant with an irrepressible and infectious sense of humour. "The last time I saw him he was covered in thick mud having just fallen into an irrigation ditch, but he gave me a beaming smile and in the manner that only he could deliver, illuminatingly described his misfortune to all. "He never took life too seriously, but he cared passionately for the lives of others. He was a selfless, honest and extraordinarily courageous leader who thrived in the role of Troop Sergeant. "He inspired and encouraged, he got the very best from his men, his band of brothers and they loved him for it. He was a proud father, a magnificent leader and definitely a 'Saint'. "He tragically died on patrol in Southern Sangin doing the job he loved, with the men he so ardently cared for. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner Kate, his two young sons, his family and his friends. "He was a great man and will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando. Sergeant Steven Darbyshire was, and will always be, a Royal Marine Commando."

Major Sean Brady, Officer Commanding Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Sergeant Steven Darbyshire, commonly known as 'Darbs' to all within Alpha Company, was an excellent Troop Sergeant and an outstanding Royal Marine in general. "He joined Alpha Company in the latter stages of training for our deployment to Afghanistan, taking over the newly formed 3 Troop. "I was immediately impressed with how he pulled his team together and we all soon came to love his laconic manner and quiet understatement, as even whilst under fire he came across as calm, collected and determined. "Most tellingly, he had a sharp and well developed sense of humour which, although he sometimes tried to suppress, came through at all times. "He led by example, and he was a man in whom you could find great confidence and comfort even at the hardest of times. He was at the heart of 3 Troop, the perfect foil to his Troop Commander, providing wisdom and balance to all of the marines in his Patrol Base. "He was a true Bootneck; he loved and protected his men; he courageously took the lead and he always knew how to get the best out of people. "Loyal, is an oft used term to describe men; however, in Darbs' case it explains everything you need to know about the man. He died a soldier’s death, doing the job he loved and with the men he loved. "Alpha Company has lost a true warrior, a man that I can say I have had the honour to have commanded and served with. We now look to the future, to repay our debt to him and to take his memory forward; he will forever be an 'Alpha Saint'.  "At this time our thoughts and prayers are with his partner Kate and with his children Ryan and Callum." Captain Dan Sawyers Royal Marines, Officer Commanding 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Sergeant Darbs Darbyshire was an outstanding Royal Marines Sergeant who it was a privilege to have worked with. Behind his laid back northern exterior, was an extremely experienced and professional Sergeant. "He was unfazed by the constant danger we faced, able to draw on years of experience and a great sense of humour to reassure all those around him. "A true Bootneck and selfless individual, he died making sure that every last man of his Troop was back in from patrol. Having spent many hours in the ops room, often late into the evening reflecting on the day's activities and those that lay ahead or watching films, I had someone I could rely on, someone I could talk to, and someone I could laugh with. "He had the respect of the whole Troop and he was someone we all looked up to. He was a great friend and will be sorely missed. A proud and loving father, he never stopped talking about his two little boys, Ryan and Callum. "All our thoughts and prayers go out to his partner Kate, and their two young children." Captain Chris Moore, Officer Commanding Fire Support Group Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I first met Darbs 7 months ago when he arrived to take over the newly formed 3 Troop with Captain Sawyers. He was one of those blokes who you couldn't help but like and instantly form a rapport with. "He was about as honest as a man could be; telling it like it was and not fearing the consequences. This he always did with the welfare of his lads in mind, willing to do anything to make their lives easier. I will never forget his broad northern accent which always made me smile. "He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends. Rest in Peace Darbs." Warrant Officer Class 1 Marty Pelling, Regimental Sergeant Major, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "When Darbs joined 40 Commando he was initially employed as my Provost Sergeant. A role that his direct manner left me in no doubt that he was less than impressed with. Despite this, his professional work ethic ensured that he engaged with all aspects of this new role, and his brusque no nonsense northern manner actually made him the ideal man as the unit 'Sherriff'. "However, the reorganisation of the unit for our deployment to Afghanistan identified a requirement for an extra Troop Sergeant in Alpha Company and Darbs was absolutely delighted to be given this role.  "A role that he ultimately aspired to, and one that his considerable experience made him the perfect candidate for. It was with a very happy heart that Darbs joined his new Troop, ready to begin forging them into the proud, brave, tight knit group of men that they have become. "As a Sergeants' Mess orphan, (he lived in Wigan so stayed on board during the week) Darbs was always happy to spend his evenings in the mess watching either football or rugby in our sports bar. "A passionate Rugby League supporter, especially when his beloved Wigan Warriors were playing. His presence in the mess was always that of a man happily content to share a pint with his fellow Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, while passing his often critical, but wry judgement, onto whichever unfortunate team was playing on the sports channel. "They would never be quite good enough! "Darbs was a charismatic individual, whose wonderfully dour Lancashire carapace belied a man of great humour, warmth and camaraderie. "He often spoke of his partner Kate, and their two boys Ryan and Callum, and when he did so his voice was always full of pride and love.  "On behalf of all members of the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess of 40 Commando Royal Marines, and from all the Senior Non-Commissioned Officers of the Corps, may I offer our deepest sympathies to Kate, Ryan, Callum, his family and friends. "They are very much at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers at this most difficult of times. Farewell Darbs, it was a privilege to serve with you, we will save you a place at the bar." Warrant Officer Class 2 'Bobby' Ball, Company Sergeant Major, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Sergeant Steven 'Darbs' Darbyshire was the all inspiring leader for the men of 3 Troop to look up to and the ever stable crutch for the ranks in Company Headquarters to lean on. "He was dependable and incredibly loyal, never mincing his words. I can never remember seeing Darbs upset or disgruntled. He was and remains a thoroughbred, a true Bootneck, a pleasure to have as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in the Company and a friend in the Mess. "To know that the men in 3 Troop were looked after by such a diligent marine was comforting beyond words. Darbs never shared his problems; he took each hurdle one at a time and selflessly drove through any obstacle. "He was passionate about his men, their training and welfare, always looking to improve their capabilities and morale. "It is and always will be an honour to have known and served with such an exceptional man and Royal Marine Commando. Sergeant Darbs Darbyshire, a Saint if there ever was one. "Our thoughts and prayers are now with his partner Kate and two young boys, Ryan and Callum. You will never be forgotten."  Sergeant Danny Pea, Troop Sergeant, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Darbs, I had only known you for 7 months but what a time we had together. Even though it was the build up to the Afghan tour, you and I spent a lot of time hanging around in the office late into the evenings, completing nominal roll after nominal roll for deployment. "Nothing could phase you out mate, it didn’t matter if you had just won the lottery or been on the worst exercise in NATO, your attitude was the same, dry and non-emotional, with the attitude of ‘lets just get on with it’. And I can guarantee that whilst saying this you would have had a cigarette hanging out of your mouth. "Your northern accent though did make you standout in the Company but I think you definitely used to play on it, even more so than myself! Your attitude and dedication towards the Corps, the lads and your family was second to none, there was never a time when you would not put them first. "The Corps has lost an awesome and professional Sergeant and you will be in my thoughts forever. My thoughts go out to your family, partner and children. Never forget, 'Once a Saint always a Saint'." Sergeant Dinger Bell, Troop Sergeant, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Sergeant Darbs Darbyshire what can you say! I have had the honour and privilege of being your friend since the mid 1990s; a typical Bootneck. Sarcastic, funny, intelligent and highly professional, Darbs would never let you down; he was a constant source of entertainment. Darbs, the father figure of his Troop, he had a calming influence on his lads, always putting them first. "He was a very loving father and husband who adored his family. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends, a true Bootneck who will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace brother." Corporal Ash Morris, Section Commander, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I first met Darbs when I was a fresh faced marine in Bravo Company 10 years ago, he was the same then, as he is now, constantly smiling and always dripping about the price of beer! "I have only spent a short time at Patrol Base ALMAS with Darbs but I have learnt a lot about how a Troop Sergeant should be, truly professional, running a tight ship, whilst at the same time being horizontally relaxed with humour being at the forefront of every word spoken. "The Troop will miss Darbs greatly. He was a truly professional Marine and Bootneck. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this tragic time." Corporal Daz Davis, Section Commander, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "What can be said about Darbs. He was a hoofing bloke and a hoofing Bootneck, who the whole Troop looked up to. I certainly haven’t come across a more chilled out and professional Troop Sergeant. "I have certainly learnt a lot over the past few months from working with him. Welfare for the lads was always his primary concern and he would always do his upmost to square us away. Darbs’ sense of humour was cracking and he had me chuckling daily, normally over those hoofing phantom resupplies. Well at least you won’t have to suffer any more of those. "Darbs you’ve left a big hole in Patrol Base ALMAS mate, and you will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family." Lance Corporal Ratcliffe, Company Medic, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Darbs was a Royal Marines Sergeant who I looked up to immensely. Always being behind him in the patrol I learnt a lot from him, that I will remember for my whole career. "I have lost count of the amount of times I have laughed with Darbs on patrol; I remember when he fell over in an irrigation ditch I couldn’t stop laughing, but then neither could he and that was the kind of guy Darbs was. "A Northern lad like myself, we got on well, I will miss my smoking partner. "He never stopped talking about his two beautiful little boys Ryan and Callum. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his partner Kate, and their two young children. "Darbs, it was a pleasure and an honour to have served with you and I would just like to thank you for everything. I will miss you and you will never be forgotten." Marine Ryan Cherry, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "For the time I have known Sergeant Darbs Darbyshire, the one thing that surprised me most, was how chilled out he was, especially for a Sergeant in the Royal Marines. "He always spoke to you as a friend, whether it was in a difficult situation or out on a run ashore. This is one of the qualities that earned him the utmost respect from everyone that knew him, especially the lads in 3 Troop. "We all used to laugh that Darbs never had the heart to get really angry at the Troop, and would always tell us off in a polite way, usually with a joke thrown in at the end for good measure. But that was his way, and it worked, and none of us wanted to let him down. "During this difficult time on operations I could not have wished for a more professional Bootneck to look after our Troop. "His death is a great loss to the Royal Marines; he will be greatly missed by all, especially the lads of 3 Troop. My condolences go out to his family. Goodbye my friend."


Marine David Charles Hart from 40 Commando Royal Marines was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 8 July 2010. Marine Hart was serving as part of Combined Force Sangin and was killed in an explosion while on foot patrol in the Sangin District of Helmand Province.

[ Marine David Charles Hart ]

Marine David Charles Hart was born in York, North Yorkshire and was 23 years old and lived with his family in Upper Poppleton. He joined recruit training in February 2009, and stood out as one of the top recruits and in recognition of this was awarded his Diamond. He passed out for duty as a Royal Marines Commando on 16 October 2009, when he was awarded The Commando Medal. The Commando Medal is awarded to the man who, throughout training, shows, to an outstanding degree, the qualities of the Commando Spirit. These are defined as: Determination, Courage, Cheerfulness and Unselfishness. On completion of recruit training he was drafted to 40 Commando Royal Marines, based in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton. Joining Charlie Company in October 2009 he immediately conducted Mission Specific Training for an operational tour with 40 Commando in Afghanistan. Qualifying as a combat medic, and singled out as an impressive and mature individual, he was quickly selected to become part of the newly formed Police Mentoring Team. In April 2010 he deployed to Afghanistan and was based at Forward Operating Base Sabit Qadam and Patrol Base Sangin Tufann. During the early evening of Thursday 08 July 2010, Charlie Company was conducting a joint reassurance patrol with the local Afghan Army. At 1825 hours local, west of patrol base Sangin Tufann, an explosion occurred, fatally wounding Marine Hart.

Dilys and Chris Hart, his parents said: "David loved his family, his girlfriend and friends, many that he has known since early age. "Throughout his life David showed the qualities of the Commando Spirit, he had a great personality and was a friend to everyone. "His cheerfulness, his sense of humour and of course his smile will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. We are immensely proud, as he was, of his achievements." Sarah Hart, his sister said: "Dave was the best brother I could ever have wished for. "He was caring, funny, had an infamous cheeky grin and would always be there for you. "I am so proud to have been his sister, and of his chosen career as a Royal Marines Commando. "He truly loved his job and relished the challenges he was facing on a daily basis. "Dave, I will miss you so much. You were so brave and I will always remember you as a true hero."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin said: "Marine Dave Hart was magnificent; both in personality and in profession. "Diligent, loyal, utterly dedicated and completely selfless, he was a perfect Commando. "He had a resolute but compassionate manner that everyone admired; he thrived in adversity and inspired others to do the same. "He was tragically killed on the eve of his 24th birthday, with a bright career ahead of him, but he died doing the job he loved and amongst friends who will love him forever. He took great pride in all that he did and was a man of great presence; in stature, in temperament, and in life. " He was a young and deeply impressive marine who was fiercely courageous and always thinking of others before himself. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his friends. "He was truly one of life's greats and he will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando. "Marine Dave Hart was, and always will be, a Royal Marine Commando." Major Ed Moorhouse, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Marine Dave Hart was universally popular with everyone in Charlie Company; there was not an ounce of malice in Dave, he was always cheerful, always upbeat and a friend to everyone. "He was a marine, no matter the circumstances and no matter the rank, who would always give you the time of day; and who would go out of his way to help you. "This wholesome, compassionate and thoughtful man was fiercely proud of his profession, of his Corps, Charlie Company and the Band of Brothers who he fought alongside. "Strong, dedicated and professional he epitomised what it is to be a Royal Marines Commando. "In Dave Hart, I saw a marine with a career in the Corps ahead of him and a man hungry to prosecute that professional challenge that it presented. "As his first Company Commander I took great pride in setting him on that path, and I am greatly saddened that a journey that had such rich and abundant potential has ended in such tragic suddenness. "He was a man with the Corps at his feet. "At this dark and very painful time our thoughts and prayers are with Dave's parents, sister and girlfriend and we hope that that the  vitality and light that he gave us all returns to them as time heals their bereavement and tragic loss. "Marine Dave Hart was a Charlie Company Spartan, a Royal Marines Commando and a loyal friend to us all and this is the legacy by which we will always remember this very fine man. "Dave, may you Rest in Peace."  Captain Dom Rogers, Officer Commanding, Police Mentoring Troop said: "Marine Dave Hart was one of the very best young marines I had under command, a man who displayed all of the attributes that I could have asked for as his Troop Commander. "He joined the Police Mentoring Troop when it was formed in January, prior to deploying to Afghanistan. "Demonstrating early on, that although only recently out of training he was more than capable of standing toe to toe with his more senior counterparts on what is a difficult tour of duty. "Since deploying to Afghanistan, to mentor the Afghan National Police in Sangin, Dave Hart grew in stature as a Royal Marines Commando. "He was a keen, enthusiastic and lively member of the Troop. He maintained an absolute dedication to his comrades and a professionalism that belied his relative inexperience. "Working with, and mentoring the ANP, requires every Royal Marine to step up and take on added responsibility and display patience and plenty of moral courage. "Dave Hart had these qualities in abundance; he never failed to rise to the challenge with good humour, which endeared him not only to the rest of the Troop but also the Afghan Policemen, who he worked alongside. "As a comrade Dave was first class and an extremely popular member of the Troop. "Thoughtful and conscientious, he would always put others first, whether out on patrol carrying equipment or relaxing in one of the paddling pools that he, and others in his Section, had had sent out from the UK. "A formidable athlete he was partly responsible for creating the Troop gym out of vehicle tyres and other objects lying around the FOB. His gregarious presence will be sorely missed by all in his Multiple and the rest of the Troop. "At this tragic time his parents and family will remain in the Troops thoughts and prayers. "Thoughtful, determined, confident and supremely fit, Marine Dave Hart was an extraordinarily rounded Bootneck who had already shown great promise for the future in his short career as a Royal Marine. "He typified every quality that a Royal Marines Commando is required to have and he will remain an inspiration to the rest of the Troop. "It is the highest privilege to have been fortunate to have had him under my command." Sergeant Damian O'Sullivan, Troop Sergeant, Police Mentoring Troop said: "I struggle to find words that describe Dave Hart to those who did not have the privilege of meeting him. "I know it will not be possible, in words alone, to explain the impact this young man had on all who met him. "His utter lust for life, his love of his family, his girlfriend Sarah and of course his friends. "I have tried to find just one word that described him; in my eyes the only word that comes to mind is, indomitable. "He refused to be beaten by any circumstance and always displayed the Commando quality of cheerfulness in adversity. "Dave had the ability to smile which would reassure you that things could not always be that bad. "As his Troop Sergeant, I can say that he was an outstanding man to work alongside, totally professional and dedicated to his job and friends, of whom there are so many. Sadly when such a person is taken from us the void left behind is huge. "We will always remember you Dave; you were the best of us, Rest in Peace my friend." Corporal "Tommy" Steele, Section Commander, Police Mentoring Troop said: "Marine Dave Hart, in a nut shell, was the most perfect example of a Royal Marine I have ever had the privilege to have known and I was proud to have him in my Section. "Even though Dave hadn't been in the job long, the rest of the lads, including myself, could look to Dave for that extra bit of inspiration. "When things were down, it was his positive attitude, larger than life sense of humour and that, 'you can't get me down' smile that would always come to the fore. "Dave died doing the job he clearly loved and I have no doubt after receiving his report at the end of this tour he would have progressed quickly in his career. "Dave, it is an understatement when we say you will be sorely missed; you leave a hole which is hard to fill. "You did yourself, and the rest of us proud mate and I'll never forget you. "You'll always be in my thoughts, Rest in Peace Mate." Corporal "Bob" Roberts, Section Commander, Police Mentoring Troop said: "Dave Hart was the epitome of a good Royal Marine. "Professional, enthusiastic, encouraging, courageous and ever-optimistic, the list goes on. "He was without doubt the most optimistic and positive person I have ever met, and ever likely to. "Out of training only three months prior to joining the Troop, his utter professionalism never betrayed his relative inexperience. Within both 4 Section, and the Troop, he was, and will always remain a giant amongst men, brimming with eagerness and a desire to soldier. "The Troop's duty 'essence' bloke, he effortlessly cut the shape of a Spartan warrior, all the while smiling, cracking funnies and getting bronzed for his R & R – something he keenly swapped so others could be with their loved one's sooner. "He expressed only two weeks ago of his first act back home – a cold pint of milk and a curry back in his beloved York. "Dave revelled in being a marine, absorbing all the intel, dits and information he could to make himself and others around him better soldiers. "Never dripping when a gash task was handed out - only smiling and seeing the positive angle in everything, this typified him as a shining star. "So, whilst the flame has been extinguished the warmth is still felt even though an irreplaceable bloke has departed our fold. "Rest in Peace Dave Hart."  Marine Nick Warnock, Police Mentoring Troop said: "Dave Hart was in every way the perfect Royal Marine and it was an honour to have known him and to have worked alongside him. "His 'no job too tough' perspective and 'you can't beat me' smile were his trademark features. "He will be an immense loss to our Section. Although he had not been in the job long, all of the lads who had the privilege of meeting him will be able to tell you of his non-stop positive attitude and great sense of humour. "Dave you will be missed immensely, however although you are gone you'll never be forgotten and I will always remember you with a smile. "Rest in Peace mate."  Marine "Ollie" Oliver, Police Mentoring Troop said: "If you were unfortunate enough not to of met, or have encountered Dave, then it is impossible for me to describe him in the fullest of terms; his personality, his persona and his amazing outlook on life. "In this small corner of the world we mourn the tragic loss of Dave. "However, I want everyone to know that Dave and I had many conversations about the dangers of our job and in these conversations we did talk about the potential of one of us passing. "In these conversations he said that if this were to occur he couldn't complain and that he had loved life and up until that time he had a brilliant one. "His greatest fear was leaving his family, girlfriend, friends and loved ones distraught and upset, but in talking about this he wanted us to celebrate his life and remember the good times. "I write this now as a lesser man as I do not have his company, but have led a better and fuller life due to the fact I lived and worked alongside him. "You couldn't find a more willing, dedicated or professional Bootneck and what's more you couldn't find a more loving, kind, considerable and passionate man. "I am proud to say that I had the complete honour of being his friend and being close to him. "Dave, mate I will spend the rest of my life doing whatever I physically can to make you proud and to continue your name. "You will remain in my thoughts until that day we meet again. "You might have left and now be gone, but you'll never be forgotten. "Rest in Peace Royal."  Marine Dale Saberton, Police Mentoring Troop said: "It was such a privilege to have known Dave and also to have worked alongside him, he was a quality mate and a hoofing colleague. "There are so many good things to say about Dave. "Whatever he was tasked to do, good or bad, he never once moaned, he just cracked on. "He was the best morale for me and all of the lads, whatever the situation he would always put a smile on our faces and make us laugh. "My thoughts are with all of his family, his girlfriend and his mates. "Dave was an outstanding bloke and an outstanding Bootneck. "I don't think that they come much better than Dave. "He was a true Royal Marines Commando and will always remain a Royal Marines Commando to us. "It was awesome knowing you, love you mate and going to miss you.  "Rest in Peace Royal." Marine Ryan Johnson, Police Mentoring Troop said: "Marine Dave Hart was an inspiration to us all. "There was no task too difficult and nothing ever seemed to faze him. "His passion for life and his commitment to the job he loved showed no limits. "He embraced every moment, and any task, no matter how challenging; it could not break his spirit or enthusiasm. "It is with great disappointment that I was only able to know and work with him for less than a year. "But in that small amount of time, he had such an impact on me and everyone around him. "He could lift everyone's mood with just one witty comment, and the flash of a cheeky grin. "I envied him, in the nicest of ways, all of the time I knew him. "He had it all, good looks, a charming personality, great physical and mental strength, an indomitable spirit and a career that he loved. "My thoughts are with his girlfriend Sarah, who he always talked about with a great sense of affection and true love, and his family and friends all of whom he cared much about. "It is impossible to forget someone like you Dave, and I will strive to become even half the man and Bootneck you were. "Rest in Peace Royal."  Marine Gareth Wilkinson, Police Mentoring Troop said: "It is truly hard to find the superlatives to do justice to the memory of Dave, he was quite simply the perfect 'oppo'. "His enthusiasm knew no bounds, his courage was unquestionable, his strength and tenacity were unparalleled and the magnitude of his spirit was immeasurable. "Never have I met anyone with a greater optimism, enthusiasm or simply unquenchable spirit, and the skills to bring these qualities to bear. "He was a truly exceptional marine, a great bloke and a good friend. "He had a truly infectious personality and you couldn't help but be happy in Dave's company. "He will be sorely missed by all of us, our thoughts and prayers are with his family, girlfriend and friends."


 [ Marine Matthew Harrison ]

Marine Matthew Harrison from 40 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Sangin, was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 13 July 2010. During the early evening of Tuesday 13 July 2010, Marine Harrison's unit, Charlie Company, was conducting a joint reassurance patrol with the local Afghan National Army, south of Patrol Base Seylab Doo.  At 1805 hrs local time, the patrol was engaged with small arms fire. Marine Harrison was mortally wounded in the attack. He was evacuated to Camp Bastion Role Three Hospital, where he died of his wounds Marine Matthew Harrison was born on 14 July 1986. He had three brothers, David, Steven and James, and lived in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. He joined the Royal Marines on 16 February 2009, aged 22. Impressing from the outset, Mne Harrison was awarded a diamond in recognition of being one of the top recruits. Passing for duty as a Royal Marines Commando on 30 October 2009, he was awarded the King's Badge. The King's Badge is awarded to the best all-round recruit of the most senior Recruit Troop in training, only if he is worthy of the award. On completion of training he joined 40 Commando Royal Marines (40 Cdo RM), based at Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton. Joining Charlie Company in November 2009, Mne Harrison immediately conducted Mission Specific Training for Operation HERRICK 12. In April 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan and was based at Forward Operating Base Sabit Qadam.

Marine Matthew Harrison's parents, Brian and Janette Harrison have made the following statement: "Matthew was a quiet, warm-hearted guy, absolutely dependable. He was boundless in energy, someone who couldn't do anything in just half measures. He was greatly loved and will be greatly missed." "Matt was unique, full of character and full of life, always up for a challenge. He was passionate about being a Marine and serving out on the front line. He died doing what he said he ‘needed to do'. Behind the marine, Matt had a sensitive soft heart; a precious, loveable son. Life is precious; only God knows how precious Matt was." Marine Matthew Harrison's elder brother David has made the following statement on behalf of his brothers: "My younger brother Matthew was an understated genius who could achieve anything he set his mind to. He will always be remembered for the passion and commitment shown while serving on the front line with 40 Commando. "Matt's short and action-packed life, depicted in true Harrison spirit, will be an enduring source of inspiration for those who were privileged enough to know him. He meant the world to me as a brother and will be sadly missed."

 

[ Marine Matt Harrison  ]

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "Marine Matt Harrison was brilliant in every sense; as a Royal Marine he was the consummate professional, and in personality he was irrepressible; always wearing his trademark beaming smile. "His courage and enthusiasm inspired so many people. I knew him to be a man who was entirely selfless, loyal and dedicated. A King's Badgeman, a Spartan, a hero, he was by every measure the model Commando who was always there at the front. He died on patrol in central Sangin, tragically on the eve of his 24th birthday, but he died with pride, doing the job he loved and amongst his band of brothers, his friends who will love him forever. "He was a young, bright and deeply impressive marine who had an inevitably promising career cut all too short. Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents, his brothers, his family and his friends. He was truly one of life's great men and he will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando. Marine Matt Harrison was, and always will be, a Royal Marine Commando."

Major Ed Moorhouse, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "A bright light has been extinguished in Charlie Company. Marine Matt Harrison was outstanding; outstanding as a person and as a Royal Marines Commando. He was one of my best: selfless, courageous and dedicated. "He represented a small cohort of the bravest within Charlie Company where all are eligible for this accolade. Matt Harrison was the Point Man for 7 Troop; it was he who led the way on patrol in Sangin, it was he who cleared the route and marshalled his colleagues, it was he who remained alert to the danger on every corner; he was one of the bravest of the brave. "The Corps is a tight family, and Charlie Company is a microcosm of this; we recruit from a broad church, we are a family of individual characters bonded together by a common Commando ethos and brotherhood. "Matt Harrison was a proud member of this family; he was his own man, his own character and this is why he was so admired and respected by all who knew him. A man with the thousand yard smile and a warmth to his eye; he was both compassionate and thoughtful and yet ruthlessly professional. "He was the perfect combination of characters to operate in the complex environments that Royal Marines are asked to serve in this modern era. As his first Company Commander, I saw a man starting his career that would no doubt have comprised of many riches; he was a man with an abundance of talent and he relished the challenges that lay ahead. I am deeply saddened that these riches will never be discovered. "At this dark hour our thoughts and prayers are with Matt's parents and brothers and we hope that their grief will be eased, and the light that Matt bought to all of us returns to them as time heals their pain. "Matt Harrison leaves behind his Band of Brothers who will continue their endeavours as only he would have wanted. Matt was a Charlie Company Spartan, a Royal Marines Commando and one of the bravest, and this is how we will always remember him. Matt, may you Rest in Peace." Lieutenant Doug Spencer, Officer Commanding 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "It takes great bravery to be out front, and in Sangin it takes even more. Marine Matt Harrison was always at the front of 1 Section, 7 Troop, patrolling from our Forward Operating Base right up until the moment he tragically died. Using his metal detector, in the four months he served on operations, he undoubtedly saved the lives of many fellow Marines by clearing a safe lane for others, and by finding numerous IEDs. "As a humble individual, he asked not for favours, nor recognition for what he did; namely risking his life day after day for those who patrolled behind him. He understood the risks, but did it anyway because he put the safety of his friends before his own. Matt was very popular and a friend to all, none had a bad word to say about him. He only had one facial expression; a beaming smile. "His exemplary attitude inspired, and his willingness to help humbled. Awarded the King's Badge for outstanding performance in training, in Afghanistan he continued to set the benchmark for all of us in 7 Troop with his professionalism and enthusiasm. "For him, soldiering was a labour of love. He was also the softest Royal Marine Commando I've ever met; sensitive, thoughtful, and softly spoken. Matt was an incredibly brave young man with such fantastic talent and potential, I have no doubt that had his life not been cut short he would have gone on to even greater things. It is a tragedy to have lost him but an honour to have known him." Sergeant Danny "Smudge" Smith, Troop Sergeant 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matt Harrison, in my eyes, really was all a Troop Sergeant could ever wish for in one of his marines. Matt will always be remembered for his hugely infectious smile, his light-hearted humour and his incredibly soft nature, but underneath his warming smile was intelligence and bravery that most of us could only ever dream of. "His ability to think one step ahead of the enemy was outstanding and his eye for detail impeccable, his natural courage was also extremely inspiring. Matt was always first to volunteer to go point man on patrol, clearing a safe route for his boys behind, first to climb a ladder to check a compound was clear of the enemy and always willing to carry the heavy kit so others wouldn't suffer. "No matter how hard or dangerous the task, Matt always wore his huge smile; content in the knowledge he was doing all in his power to keep his 7 Troop brothers safe. I stand here today mourning the loss of a Brother in Arms and a man I am privileged to be able to call a friend, one of my finest men who without doubt warmed our hearts and brought nothing but laughter and joy to me, and all that knew him. "Matt, watch over us mate and continue to lead us down the right track. We are proud of you and will always remember you and your wonderful smile - long may it keep us smiling. You are an inspiration to us all. I'm sure now you are reunited with our good friends Steve, Dave, Paul and Mike and the banter has already begun. You lived and died like a Spartan, may you now rest in Peace Royal Marine. See you at the Re-org." Corporal Kelvin Fort, Section Commander, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "In the short period that I knew Matt I saw him as a very professional soldier and a bloke with the best sense of humour that I have ever seen. A Bootneck who smiled as much as Matt will be a man who will be sorely missed by the Troop. Rest in Peace Royal; see you on the other side." Lance Corporal Jay Presneill, Section Second in Command, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matt to me was a cheeky chappy who I liked very much, he had a quick wit that I often bore the brunt of. Every patrol he was at the front making sure that the patrol stayed safe wherever we went. "I felt it was a privilege to have known and served with him; his sense of humour and professionalism made him a great man and a great Marine who will be sorely missed. His family can be proud that he was loved by everyone and that he fought to the very end. Rest in Peace Royal, see you on the other side." Mne Dan Holder, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matt was an awesome friend and an even better Bootneck. He always strived to be the best, this showed by earning the King's Badge in training. He had a great sense of humour even when it came to himself. Matt was also the ultimate geek of the Troop and his love for Lord of the Rings was unprecedented! "He had an awesome go at life - for such a young guy travelling to far parts of the globe and funding this using his awesome poker skills. He will be truly missed by the lads and has left a massive hole which can never be repaired. Rest in Peace friend; I will never forget you."  Mne Adam Gunningham, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matthew Harrison was one of the best Royals I have seen, his professionalism and stubbornness to always succeed and be the best at whatever he did is what made him the King's Badgeman. I will never forget such a brother to me; I would have fought beside him through anything, always knowing he had my back. "I will miss his vocabulary and the voice that went with it. All the banter that followed from the day we met was always of my Yorkshire accent and his Queen's English; times I will always remember. Rest in Peace Matt; until we meet again." Mne Jonathan Crookes, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matt was the beating heart of 7 Troop, ever present with a smile and sense of humour, even when times were dark and demanding. His unique character made him a pleasure to know, and his fearless nature and fierce commitment to his friends meant it was an honour to serve with him. "We worked together as Marines, and fought together as brothers. Rest in Peace Royal, I will carry you with me always."  Mne Leighton Marsden, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matt Harrison was described by the OC as, "one of his best"…this was profoundly true. His quick wit and cheeky smile made him a fearsome poker player and on many occasions he would wipe the floor with us. He was loved by 7 Troop for his ability to smash through a whole crate of 'goffers' in one night and his briefcase stature. "We will always remember his silly gait and love for his beach blonde receding hair, but nothing will compare to his professional skills as a Marine. I'm sure as hell that Steve will be giving him some stick right now. Matt was a close friend and loved by everyone he met. Rest in Peace Royal." Mne Jonathan Douglas, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matt Harrison was a top bloke, not only professional but willing to put himself out on a limb to do anything for the lads. Like it has been said before, he led from the front because that was who he was. "Matt was intelligent, witty and a competitive guy who not only made an impact on me but on the rest of the Troop. He will be truly missed by all of us. Rest in Peace Royal, see you in the Re-org." Mne Chris McCallum, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "From the moment I met Matt he made an impact on my life, he was a fighter until the end and showed his true grit and determination. "His broad smile and quick sense of humour meant he was always great to be around. Whether it was beating me at poker or giving me banter I am going to miss you brother. Rest in Peace Royal." Mne James Twigg, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matt lived a short but fascinating life and he was a great guy to be around. Hearing about his exploits when on sangars with him turned it from a chore to a joy. "Matt could have done anything he wanted in life but he chose to be a Marine. Always a beacon of morale and positive energy he was an important member of the Troop who will be sorely missed as a soldier and a friend." Mne Tom Caton, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Matt was a 'hoofing' bloke, he would always put himself forward for anything and was always one of the lads. The best memory I have of Matt was when he creamed in at the Remembrance Parade on his first day, which always annoyed him when we brought it up. Rest in Peace Royal, you will be greatly missed." Mne Brandon Hubbs, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "A few short words about Matt, he was always in high spirits. Spending time with Matt on Sangars and around the accommodation was a joy, seeing him with his bright smile and very enthusiastic outlook on anything and hearing his antics from living in the north of Sweden for a year, to majoring in playing the steel drums. "He was a friendly guy hanging around with the rest of us, showing us how to play poker (he always won!). A great soldier, friend, and all around top bloke, you will be missed but always remembered. Rest in Peace."  Mne Rob Maltby, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Cdo RM, said: "Since the day he moved into the 'grot' back at 40 Commando, to working and living with him on tour - he was always a big part of 7 Troop. He became one of my best friends, with his wit and humour but also his shocking receding hairline. "No matter how he styled it or tried to cover it up he just couldn't hide the fact that he was going bald and I liked to remind him of that! A 'hoofing' Bootneck, and a truly great Marine, Rest in Peace mate, you will always be in my thoughts."


[ Marine Jonathan David Thomas Crookes ]

Marine Jonathan David Thomas Crookes, from 40 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in Afghanistan on Friday 16 July 2010. Marine Jonathan David Thomas Crookes, from Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Sangin, was killed in an explosion while on foot patrol in the Sangin District of Helmand Province. Marine Jonathan David Thomas Crookes was born in Birmingham and lived with his mother and fiancée, Danielle in Halesowen, West Midlands. He was 26 years old, and was a younger brother to Robert and Jane. He joined the Royal Marines Reserve, Birmingham Detachment, in September 2005 passing for duty as a Royal Marines Commando in November 2006. He was awarded the Commando Dagger for the best all round recruit in training. Outside of the Royal Marines he was studying for a degree in International Relations and worked as a Tree Surgeon and Labourer. Volunteering for an operational tour to Afghanistan, he was drafted to 40 Commando Royal Marines in May 2007. Shortly after, he deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, on Op HERRICK 7. In September 2009 he was once again mobilised to join 40 Commando Royal Marines for deployment to Afghanistan. Joining Charlie Company, he immediately conducted Mission Specific Training for Op HERRICK 12. In April 2010 he deployed to Afghanistan and was based at Forward Operating Base Sabit Qadam. During the early evening of Friday 16 July 2010, Charlie Company was conducting a local reassurance patrol. At 1839 hours local time an explosion occurred. Tragically Marine Crookes was killed in action as a result of the blast.

Marine Crookes' mother Sue Crookes said: "Jon was a caring, thoughtful son, full of life. If he made up his mind to do something he always achieved it to a high standard. I am so proud of him. Generous with his time, if he couldn't do something for me, he would always find a friend in the Marines who could. "A talented student, he was studying International Relations at university and he was using his experience deployed with the Royal Marines to inform his thesis. "Danni, his fiancée, is understandably devastated, as is the whole family.  His fiancée Danni Davis, who had been with Marine Crookes for six years, said: "He was the love of my life. I cant explain how much I loved him but I am so very proud of him. It was so hard to share him with the Marines and his duties but he always did it so well." His sister Jane Crookes said: "He was a devoted brother, always there to help, he always made me smile. A loving uncle to his niece and nephew - we loved him very much."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin said: "Marine Jonny Crookes was a giant of a man; in stature, in character and in life. Supremely brave, he died at the front of his patrol – a position which requires enormous skill and courage, and a position that he filled with consummate professionalism. He gave confidence and reassurance to all, and in particular his friends and comrades in Charlie Company who loved him like a brother. "He was an inspirational marine who, as a Reservist, volunteered again to come to Sangin with 40 Commando. He was a bright, strong, fearless man with a selfless, determined, but well-humoured and affable manner; everyone admired Jonny Crookes. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his mother, his fiancée, his family and friends. He was truly one of life's great men and will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando. Marine Jonny Crookes was, and always will be, a Royal Marines Commando." Major Ed Moorhouse, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "We have lost a truly outstanding man. Marine Jonny Crookes, known universally as "Crooksey", was everything you could ask for in a Royal Marines Commando; he was a mountain of a man, strong, powerful and brave. His courage knew no bounds, he was one of the bravest of the brave in Charlie Company and that accolade is only reserved for my Point Men. "These men are exceptional, as was Jonny; they lead the patrols that move along the alleys and compounds of Sangin in the full knowledge of the danger that exists around every corner; in doing so they accept the risks and dangers solely to allow those behind them to walk in their steps. I am continually humbled by the likes of Jonny Crookes and men like him. "Jonny Crookes brought so much to Charlie Company, as a man with operational experience, and a reservist, he had a wider perspective on life and a maturity of age that are both critical on operations. He was a father figure to those in 7 Troop. "A thoughtful man, a courageous man, quietly unassuming and dedicated, he was a man who the young operational virgins in Charlie Company could talk to when times became challenging and questions were being asked. Jonny Crookes was that pillar of strength that all commanders rely on. He was the most stoical man I have ever met in all of my years of soldiering; he was an inspiration to us all. A man of presence, bearing and gravitas, the mould has been broken; there will not be another Jonny Crookes. "Charlie Company remembers in their prayers, Jonny's mother, fiancée, brother and sister at this tragic time. Jonny Crookes was the epitome of a Charlie Company Spartan in every sense of the word, an outstanding soldier, noble to his brothers in arms, strong and powerful yet modest and caring. He was a unique man and one who we will miss enormously. Jonny Crookes may your soul Rest in Peace."  Lieutenant Doug Spencer, Officer Commanding 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Marine Crooks was everything you could wish for from a Royal Marine; an outstanding soldier and an exceptional human being. It was a privilege and an honour to serve with him. On Op HERRICK 12 he was Point Man of 3 Section 7 Troop, patrolling daily from Forward Operating Base Jackson into Sangin DC and the nearby Green Zone. "A gentle giant, he was one of my very best Marines. Had I had the chance to tell him so I am sure he would have been shocked; such was the modesty of the man, I am gutted I never did. "As a reservist with one operational tour already behind him there was no requirement for him to deploy again, he served because he wanted to do his duty and was absolutely fearless in doing it. He approached even the most difficult tasks with a nonchalant shrug and a chuckle laughing at the odds. Every bit a Bootneck he had the Commando qualities in spades; courage, determination, cheerfulness in the face of adversity and unselfishness. He would have done anything for his pals and indeed he was killed whilst saving others. "His soldering skills were second to none. Every patrol he would be out front with his detection equipment picking a safe route and clearing a lane for the rest of us. He found numerous IEDs. He was tactically astute and as his Troop Commander I valued his judgement. With his experience he mentored the younger lads and inspired confidence in them. "He was also one of the most intriguing people I have ever met. He combined his time in the Royal Marines Reserve with drumming in a successful heavy metal band and a part time degree in International Relations, whilst all the while working as a labourer." "A remarkable man and one of our country's best, he will be sorely missed by 7 Troop, Charlie Company and all those who had the good fortune of knowing him. He could have done anything he wanted in life; he chose to be a Royal Marines Commando and to serve his country, for this he will be remembered forever. Our thoughts are with his family and his fiancée Danielle." Sergeant Danny 'Smudge' Smith, Troop Sergeant 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Crooksey was one of, if not the finest man and marine I have ever had the pleasure to meet. A huge stature of a man oozing Commando spirit, full of compassion and respect for all he knew. The men in 7 Troop looked up to Crooksey as a big brother, our very own gentle giant who was their pillar of strength, confidently looking out for the boys. "In the Patrol Base he would go out of his way to make life easier for all. On patrol he would make sure he was Point Man of his Multiple; clearing the route of any danger so his boys were out of harms way. Nothing in life was a chore for him and he took great pleasure in helping others whatever it may be. When Crooksey left us for his R&R the boys were gutted as he had been our Point Man and shield of strength for 3 months. "We had to patrol for 3 weeks without him, so all prayed for his speedy return. He found numerous IEDs on his many patrols out front undoubtedly saving the lives of many men. "Crooksey tragically died on route to assist in the evacuation of a casualty; a true testament to this wonderful human being with qualities that very few people, if any, possess. Crooksey was so proud to be a Bootneck and so proud to be a part of 7 Troop. "My only wish was that we had the chance to tell him how very proud we were of him. Our hearts go out to his family and fiancée Danielle who he loved dearly and always spoke about with a big smile. Crooksey you have died a legend, now may you Rest in Peace. Look after the rest of our boys up there - we will see you at the re-org." Corporal Darren "Simmo" Simpson, Troop Sergeant 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Crooksey was an inspirational Bootneck; strong, confident and fearless. When we had our Sections put together before the deployment I was immensely pleased to have him in mine. When it came to choosing a Point Man Crooksey approached me and stated that he would rather be at the front; an immensely brave thing to do, such was the measure of the man. It was a pleasure to patrol with Crooksey, his knowledge and skill shone through." "Through many difficult situations he always got on with his job of checking the area for IEDs and clearing a path, helping to save lives. Tragically it was during one of these situations that Crooksey died, whilst saving the lives of others. When we were in a Forward Operating Base or Patrol Base, Crooksey would speak fondly of his fiancée Danielle and what a wonderful time they had on R&R recently. He leaves a hole in the Troop that can never be filled. "I have lost my best marine and my best friend. My heart goes out to Danielle and the rest of his family who will be feeling a loss much greater than ours. Rest in Peace mate. We will all miss you." Lance Corporal Andy Coyle, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Having spent over six months sharing a ‘grot' together back in the UK before we deployed to Afghanistan, I had the absolute privilege of calling Crooksey one of my top mates and had grown to know him very well and admire him even more. I honestly believe that Jon was one of life's special individuals that don't come along very often. "Whether it was cooking immense scran in the grot, dragging us through his horrendous circuits, having some of the best nights out together or just sat discussing the news, Jon was always there at the front giving it 100 per cent. He was a constant reminder to me, and all of us in the grot, of everything that a consummate Bootneck should be. Always digging out, yet always doing it with a big smile and undoubtedly with a sarcastic remark in there somewhere too. "We spent a month together at a Patrol Base in Sangin and he was the perfect Point Man. Selflessly leading the Section through some extremely difficult circumstances and always volunteering to help out around the PB, if a job needed doing and doing well Crooksey was the man I would look to. "He was commonly known amongst us as the ‘ultimate versatile man' who if he wasn't cutting down trees with a chainsaw he was helping design river defences. I always loved just sitting and chatting with Crooksey. He was an extremely intelligent man, his insights from previous operational experiences and his thirst for knowledge made him a truly immense person to sit and talk with. He always talked of his fiancée and how he wanted to settle down in St. Ives and how I would have to come and see him for a beer. "Jon, I'm going to miss you mate; you were an inspiration to me and everyone else around you. Rest in Peace legend."  Lance Corporal Joe Leborgne, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "As soon as Crooksey joined the Company for pre-deployment training he made an instant impact on me. He had a massive physical presence as well as a hoofing personality with a killer sense of humour constantly having the lads in stitches with sarcastic comments and jokes. Crooksey was a kind, generous and approachable guy who would do his best to help you out in any way, shape or form whether it be giving you advice from his own experiences throughout his career, or helping you cook a meal for the lads at a Patrol Base. "Whenever there were any jobs that required volunteers Crooksey would always be the first to volunteer and always see the job through to the bitter end. He was a strong, dependable Bootneck who just used to dig out on any evolution big or small. Jon, you were someone I looked up to and you were a role model for me and everyone around you. It has been a pleasure to know you and to have served next to you. A true Charlie Company Spartan. Rest in Peace mate." Marine Ben Slade, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Crooksey was simply by far one of the greatest Bootnecks that I have ever lived with, worked with and most importantly fought with, both on operations and back in the UK. Ever since we shared a ‘grot' together at Norton Manor Camp and even when we got into theatre, there was not a single day which went by where he did not have me in stitches with laughter. "We were also cooking oppos on camp where he would always cook and I would always wash-up, due to the fact that apart from me being useless at cooking, he would excel at another one of his many strengths. He thought the world of his mother, his family, his girlfriend Danii, and of course his many mates around the globe. He was by far one of the strongest, most generous and most unselfish of mates you could ever have met and apart from his horrendous taste in music, which he used to successfully deafen me with both in his car and in the grot, he was the most complete friend you could ever wish for. "Rest in Peace mate. It was an immense privilege to have known you and to have served alongside you. You are a true legend in every possible way, a model professional and a complete Spartan."  Marine Ross Williamson, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Crooksey was an inspiring Bootneck and this was clear to everyone who worked with him. He excelled in all aspects of his job whether it was in the gym or in the field. I had such a laugh with Crooksey. It didn't matter what we were doing, we could always just have a joke about it and share some banter. However, Crooksey could talk about serious topics as well, if I had something playing on my mind I wouldn't have to ask him about it. "He could tell straight away and would ask me before I had said a word. You have left a massive hole in Charlie Company, we will miss you massively. It was a privilege to have known you and to have served with you. Rest in Peace Royal." Marine Andy Rijckmans, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Crooksey was quite simply the best; the best chef, the best Bootneck, your best friend, whatever he did he had a natural ability to achieve. He never boasted about this, instead if he saw you were struggling he would be offering his advice at the drop of a hat. "Crooksey, words cannot describe what an amazing Bootneck we all thought you were. It has been a privilege to have fought alongside you and call you a friend; you have left a hole that cannot be filled. Rest in Peace Royal." Marine Jacob Levene, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I have never met anybody who had anything bad to say about Crooksey and I know I never will. He showed no weakness in any aspect of his life and is irreplaceable as both a Bootneck and a friend. He was professional, brave, funny, intelligent and completely unique. "The fact that I got to walk the ground alongside Crooksey makes me extremely proud and he was a humbling man to work alongside. I know that one cannot be a better Bootneck than Crooksey and his presence will be painfully missed by all who knew him. Go in peace brother." Marine Tom Buck, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I first met Crooksey on an RMR weekend mid-yomp, and his character made him instantly likeable to both me and those around him. It was a lasting impression he formed on me that day which I was to hold throughout the whole time I knew him. "They say that first impressions count the most and I think it would be hard to beat the one that Crooksey made. That impression was a  man who was strong, resolute, with a kind hearted nature, tinged with humour, who took everything in his stride. He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him and always remembered as a superb Bootneck." Marine Ben Slade, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "When Crooksey joined Charlie Company he brought with him a lot of experience and a lot of morale, he was the type of guy who was popular with everyone and you could easily talk to him about anything. You could say "Crooksey how's your pet penguin keeping" and he would come back at you with a funny line about how it ate his mate's crocodile and it's got a bad belly. "That's the sort of humour he had, it was unique and always funny to me. He was a highly professional Bootneck and was not afraid to take point in the Section. He was always at the gym adding on mass to his tall frame. Some would be intimidated by his stature but he was really a gentle giant when you got talking with him. Crooksey, I will remember the good times mate; Rest in Peace my friend." Marine Jack Smith, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Crooksey was the best person you could wish for whilst on tour. Not only was he head chef but he would go out of his way to do any task to benefit others. He was a gentle giant, but if you ever saw him on the punch bag you wouldn't imagine he could be so laid back and nice. "He lived for the Corps doing yet another tour as a Royal Marines Reservist; every time you spoke to him he would re-iterate his love. You will never be forgotten mate. You have taught me a lot. Rest in Peace Royal." Marine John Cadwallader, 2 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I first met Jon on a Royal Marines Reserve training weekend, and in the first minute of meeting him I knew we were going to be good mates. He was a bloke I looked up to; strong, fit, clever, and just an all-round great Bootneck. When we all decided to deploy on HERRICK 12, Jon was the glue that kept all the RMR lads together. "He would always get all the lads out ashore planning ‘hoofing' nights out. I bumped into Jon in Bastion as we were passing through on R&R; he was spinning dits about the past times again, and as always, he had a crowd around him, everybody wanted to be just like him, or even just around him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends in this dark time that they must be going through. I will never forget you Jon, Rest in Peace mate and I will see you in the re-org."  Marine Patrick Allerton, Mortars Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Crooksey was, quite simply a great bloke. Quiet, but with a steely determination, he was physically a giant of a man whose compassion, selflessness and indomitable spirit marked him out. Jon was a proud Bootneck, discharged from the regular Corps after a shoulder injury in training, he never gave up his dream. "After a long period of rehab and surgery, he finally achieved his green beret through the RMR in late 2006. His sheer joy at this triumph, mixed undoubtedly with some relief, will last long in my memory. "Ever the first to step forward and throw himself into the arena, Jon volunteered immediately for HERRICK 7 and then again for HERRICK 12, where his experience and calming influence would serve only to strengthen ‘C' Company. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time, Rest in Peace my friend." Marine Mick Anderson, 10 Troop, Delta Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "I first met Jon in September 2005 during Holding Troop for the RMR. It was during ‘pays to be a winner' evolution that he knocked me five feet into a bush during a sprint! It was nothing personal, that's just how competitive and strong Jon was. "I don't think I've ever met another lad (Bootneck or civvy) who enjoys phys as much as Jon. From then on we went to everything  together; we passed out as Royal Marines together and were both mobilised and joined 40 Commando in preparation for HERRICK 7. We ended up being in the same Company, Troop and even Section – 2 Section, 4 Troop, B Company. "On HERRICK 7, Jon got a reputation for being a "phys ninja" as he was point man and it was usually our Section leading, whilst the rest of the Troop were hanging out at the back, passing messages up for him to slow down. Jon also had a passion for music and like all Bootnecks appreciated a good night out – especially in Taunton.  "Jon loved being a Royal Marine and that's why he was the first man to put his name down for HERRICK 12. At this sad time my thoughts are with his mother Sue, fiancée Danni who he lived for, and his brother and sister. I'm so sorry for your loss. Rest in Peace Jon, you are more than a friend to me. We will meet again, sleep easy Royal."


[ Marine Adam Brown, ]

Marine Adam Brown, from 40 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Sangin, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 1 August 2010. Marine Brown was conducting a reassurance patrol as part of 3 Troop, Alpha Company, to provide security for the locals in the area. At approximately 1750hrs on Sunday 1 August, there was an explosion in the vicinity of his patrol base and Marine Brown was killed instantly in the blast. Marine Adam Brown joined the Royal Marines in October 2004 and passed for duty as a Royal Marines Commando in September 2005. He was born in Frimley, Surrey, and was 25 years old. He lived in Burtle, near Glastonbury, with his wife Amy, whom he married in December 2009. On completion of Commando Training he was drafted to Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, and immediately deployed to Iraq for three months. He subsequently deployed on numerous exercises, including jungle warfare training in Sierra Leone, before he specialised as a signaller in 2007. Rejoining Alpha Company as a newly-qualified signaller, he deployed to Afghanistan in October 2007 on Operation HERRICK 7 where he served in Kajaki.  During 2009 he took part in a large-scale amphibious exercise, operating in the eastern Mediterranean, the Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Malay Peninsula and Brunei. In September 2009 he began Mission Specific Training for his second tour of Afghanistan. He once more deployed to Helmand in April 2010 as a signaller with 3 Troop, Alpha Company, where he operated from Patrol Base Almas. Alpha Company has been conducting daily reassurance and security patrols with Afghan National Security Forces to protect local Afghans in the Sangin district. The Marines have improved the lives of hundreds of ordinary Afghans by providing a security bubble which has increased their freedom of movement, led to wider governance in the area, and has encouraged economic development.

 

Marine Brown's family have paid the following tributes: By Amy, Marine Brown's wife: "My wonderful husband, my childhood sweetheart and best friend. Always a hero in my eyes and I am so proud of you. I will treasure the perfect memories I have of our life together, always. "You are a true inspiration to all who knew you and you made me the proudest woman in the world when I became your wife. I love you now, always and forever." By Jenny and Robert, Marine Brown's parents: "Adam, an irreplaceable son, but so much more; our best friend. Adam, you loved life as much as we loved you. We will think of you and love you always. "You will be sorely missed by both your immediate and wider family. Your death has broken all our hearts. By Stephen, Marine Brown's younger brother: "Adam was filled with courage, pride and dignity, which made him an inspiration to all around him. "He will be deeply missed by family and friends, but will live forever in our hearts as the outgoing, fun and spontaneous character he has always been. Rest in peace my brother, my love forever." By James, Marine Brown's younger brother: "Adam was a loving brother, son, husband, grandson and godfather. He always brought a smile to everyone and was never afraid to try new things. "He will be deeply missed by friends and family and life will not be the same without him. He was a credit to the Forces and loved by everyone that knew him. He was my best friend as well as my brother. Lots of love." By Laura, Marine Brown's younger sister: "Brown bear, my biggest brother, my idol, my best friend, you always kept me believing. I will always keep you so close and all my memories so real. I love you Adam, forever and always." By Sue and John, Marine Brown's mother-in-law and father-in-law: "Son-in-law, you were the son we never had, our mighty Royal Marine Commando. We are so very proud of you for just being you and for loving our daughter, your beautiful wife, so very much. "You taught us how to grasp the tree of life and shake it for all its worth." By Luisa, Marine Brown's sister-in-law: "You were the best brother-in-law and husband to my sister, loved by everyone, forever and always. A man bigger than life."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "Marine Adam Brown was a superb Marine - courageous, supremely fit, hugely professional and utterly selfless; he was a model Commando and true Alpha Company Saint. "He had spent his whole career in 40 Commando and had volunteered to come back a second time to Afghanistan. He was a bright and diligent man who used his experience wisely; he reassured and inspired others, he was the Marine that everyone wanted to work with. "A robust and resolute man, he took pride in all that he did and he thrived in the austerity and privations of life in a patrol base. His generous and determined nature endeared him to all; he was a friend to everyone, a consummate professional to his Marines, and a loving husband to his wife Amy. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her, his family and his friends at this truly difficult time. He was a magnificent man and a great Marine who will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando. Marine Adam Brown was, and always will be, a Royal Marines Commando." Major Richard Muncer, Officer Commanding Command Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Brown was one of the strongest Marines that I have had the privilege to work with and command. A consummate professional, he always strived for excellence in everything he did and inspired those around him to achieve the same. "Within Signals Troop he was one of the shining lights of his generation and it was for this reason that he was employed with Alpha Company in southern Sangin. The most challenging of environments and circumstances require the very best that the Royal Marines have to offer and Marine Brown was just this. "As one of the senior Marines in the patrol base that he was operating from, the younger and more inexperienced Marines that he worked alongside always looked to him for advice and counsel. He provided this readily, whether through a quiet word of encouragement or the outstanding example he set. "His ability to raise the spirits of those around him with his quick, dry wit and wry smile will be sorely missed within Command Company and especially Signals Troop; he will leave a gap in the lives of every man in the company that will be exceptionally hard to fill. "He was the epitome of a Royal Marines Commando, selfless and courageous to a fault. All our thoughts are with his family at this incredibly difficult time." Major Sean Brady, Officer Commanding Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Adam Brown, known as Ads to everyone in Alpha Company, was an outstanding Royal Marines Commando. "He was one of the more senior marines in Alpha Company having joined us part way through the training for our tour in Afghanistan. "The experience he brought as a signaller and a commander was invaluable as he had previously worked with Charlie Company as an Acting Corporal running their Signals Detachment. "Moreover, it was evident from the moment that I met him that he had a glittering career ahead of him; he was a true leader who possessed that vital ability to be able to remain calm whatever challenge he was presented with. "It was this aura that he projected which gave strength to those around him, his courage allowed others to find theirs. "He was the consummate professional; focussed, fit and intelligent he was the epitome of a Royal Marines Commando and in the dangerous conditions in Sangin, he was the man to which you would turn. "His ability to remain positive and his unselfish nature meant that he was loved and respected by all of us in Alpha Company. "The job we do is hard and at times unforgiving, however the struggles are made worth it by having had the privilege to serve alongside Adam and it is clear that we are better men for having done so. "Our thoughts must now turn to the future but Adam will always be remembered, we will do our best to follow his example and as the Alpha Company motto goes 'Once a Saint always a Saint'. "At this difficult time our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends now and forever." Captain Sam Fearn Royal Marines, Second-in-Command Charlie Company Group, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Adam 'Ads' Brown was exceptional; we've lost a friend, an outstanding Royal Marine and a true brother-in-arms. "Ads was a man with a personality that made him instantly likeable by all who met him. "Outgoing, intelligent and approachable, he was everything you looked for in a friend and a colleague. "As a close knit Corps this loss has devastated us all. "Ads served with distinction in Kajaki on Operation HERRICK 7 as a Signaller in Charlie Company. "Despite his relative inexperience at the time, he was courageous, motivated and highly professional.  "Following Operation HERRICK 7 he remained in Charlie Company as a signaller, during a period that saw the regeneration of the Company after the tour and an amphibious deployment from the UK to the Far East. "Owing to his considerable potential he was quickly promoted to Acting Corporal, skipping the rank of Lance Corporal altogether, a true testament to his ability. "As a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer he excelled, impressed and inspired all around him as a leader. He never considered making those in his charge do that which he was not willing to do himself. "He led from the front, inspiring a team of young marines in environments ranging from the deserts of Saudi Arabia, through the swamps of Bangladesh and in the Jungles of Borneo. "He was destined to return to Afghanistan and during the preparation for Operation HERRICK 12, Ads moved to Alpha Company. "Though reverting to the rank of Marine, he was selected as a Section Second-in-Command due to his confidence, experience and ability which he had in abundance. He spent the tour working in a remote and demanding part of Sangin. "As ever was his style he led his team of marines from the front. He fearlessly encouraged young marines to keep going in the most testing of operational environments. "Despite him being a shining star in the Royal Marines, and having a passion for what he did, without question his one true love was his wife Amy. "He always spoke about her irrespective of the unpleasantness of the situation he was in; he beamed as he spoke about their life together. Whilst we grieve the loss of a friend, it doesn't come close to what Amy must be feeling right now. "Our thoughts and prayers are also with his Mother and Father, Robert and Jenny. "We hope as time passes that the light that Ads brought to our lives starts to return to theirs. Rest in Peace Ads, we'll miss you." Captain Nick Griffiths, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Company Second-in-Command, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Adam Brown, known as Ads to everyone who knew him, had served with Charlie Company as a Signals Detachment Commander before joining Alpha Company during pre deployment training. "He was well known in 40 Commando as he had served on Operation HERRICK 7 with the unit in 2007. "His reputation preceded him; he was regarded as strong, both physically and mentally and had a mass of experience as a soldier on the ground in Afghanistan. "Marine Brown will be remembered by his wife Amy and his family but also by his family in Alpha Company. "If I use the Commando prayer as a measure of a Royal Marine, Marine Brown epitomised what is written. "The Marines of 3 Troop Alpha Company put their trust in him and he did not fail, he was fearless in facing the dangers that he came across on a daily basis. "He embraced the responsibilities put upon him with a strong heart and a cheerful mind, he was considerate of the needs of others and did not seek his own ends; he delivered time and time again. "Marine Brown lived by the high traditions of Commando service. Once a Saint always a Saint." Captain Daniel Sawyers Royal Marines, Officer Commanding 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine 'Ads' Brown was an outstanding Royal Marine and it has been a privilege to have worked with him. "I couldn't ask for more in a Marine, he truly was one of the best the Corps had to offer, but Ads did have more to offer, and he could have easily been one of my Corporals. "His previous experience was invaluable, and he matched this with an effective intelligence and maturity that stood out from his peers. "A consummate professional, he was utterly dependable, and inspired confidence in all those around him. "Yet it was his selfless nature that we all admired and respected most; he will forever be remembered for his warm smile and great sense of humility. "He was never too busy to help out with a job that needed doing, and he always put his all into doing it. Articulate, intelligent and funny, he was a friend to everyone and a pleasure to be around. "He was always keen to learn and to know what was going on, such was his passion for his profession. He was someone I could always call upon to help with a problem, and someone who always had time for a 'wet' and a chat. "He was a loyal, dedicated and courageous Royal Marine, whose loss humbles us all here at Patrol Base ALMAS, and all those that knew him. "His loss within 3 Troop is deeply felt and has hit at the heart of our unique bond, which Marine Brown embodied.  "He was an exceptional person and we will grieve his loss. I am truly saddened that we have lost such an exceptional and talented Marine that had so much ahead of him in life. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Amy, and his family. We will never forget Marine Brown, a husband, a son, a friend, a Royal Marines Commando, and we will forever keep his memory alive." Warrant Officer Class 2 Karl 'Tank' Sheerman, Signals Troop Sergeant Major, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Marine Adam Brown, or Ads as everyone called him, was simply the ultimate professional at everything he did. "You seldom meet a person who contains so many of the qualities required to be a leader of men, he had these in abundance, and was aiming for the very top. "I first met Ads on exercise last year during Exercise TAURUS 09 when he stood in as a Signal's Detachment Commander for one of the fighting companies in 40 Commando Royal Marines. "I only found out later that he was an acting Corporal but I could have sworn he was a fully qualified Junior Non-Commissioned Officer, as the leadership qualities in him were plentiful and these included the rare distinguishing characteristic of calmness when under pressure, rare qualities indeed to be found in a young man of 25. "He was destined for a great future in the Royal Marines which has been cut cruelly short by this tragic event. "He was one my very best who was utterly reliable, and was a friend to all within the Troop. This is a terrible loss not only for Signals Troop but for the Corps and all who knew him within 40 Commando. "My heart goes out to his parents Jenny and Robert and his wife Amy. The void created by his untimely death can never be filled, but the memory of him will endure. "Rest in Peace Sigs." Sergeant Baz Campbell, Troop Sergeant, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "In the short time I knew 'Ads' he struck me as a very dependable marine who could punch well above his weight. "On patrol he was extremely diligent and would constantly update the patrol on anything untoward. Within the Patrol Base he was always busy helping out whether it was cooking scran or helping with mustering signals equipment. "He was a hard working conscientious lad who will be deeply missed by all his colleagues in 3 Troop. "Our thoughts are with his wife Amy, his family and all who knew him."  Corporal Andrew Lock, Section Commander, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Ads was my Section Second-in-Command and it was a privilege and an honour to have someone as experienced and kind hearted to work alongside. "Although his primary role was to maintain the Troops Signals equipment, he made it known right from the start that his primary role was a marine, and a very professional one at that. "He was very calm and someone I could rely on in a sticky situation. "You could see from Ads' personality that he was a content man and very much at peace with his life. "He was without a shadow of a doubt the best marine we have had at Patrol Base ALMAS. "He was very selfless, and if it wasn't for him being so caring of the lads, and checking the lads spacing on patrol, then we would undoubtedly have taken more casualties.  "That is a prime example of the professional and caring manner in which he carried himself. "Ads always found it amusing that I was a size 7 boot, and he was a size 12, his boots can never be filled. "My heart goes out to his wife Amy, who was always a topic of conversation, and to all his family. "Ads you will always be our 'Brown Bear' and you will stay with us for the rest of our lives. "Goodbye brother and Rest in Peace." Corporal Daz Davis, Section Commander, 3Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Ads Brown was the nicest bloke I have ever had the pleasure of both meeting and working with. "I first met him three years ago before we deployed on Operation HERRICK 7. "Ads was an acting Corporal in Charlie Company's Signals Detachment at the time; needless to say comms never went down. "He was an outstanding soldier who oozed all of the Bootneck qualities, and all the younger marines looked up to him. "Ads was never afraid of doing extra sangar duties or getting his hands dirty, he was a great mentor to the younger lads in the Troop. "As a section Second-in-Command on patrol he was always nagging the lads about their spacings, and it was due to him that on the day he died, he prevented more casualties from being inflicted. "It was an honour to serve with you and an even bigger honour to have you as my friend. "You are going to be sorely missed mate, but you will never be forgotten. "My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Amy and his family and friends." Corporal David Moss, Headquarters Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I first met Ads when he was Charlie Company Signals Detachment Commander at the start of pre deployment training for Operation HERRICK 12. "He made the job look easy and I looked up to his professionalism, and with his friendly and easy going nature he would always be the person that I would go to when I needed advice. "I could not have been happier when he told me that he was joining Alpha Company as a Troop Radio Operator, knowing that I would have him to turn to whenever I struggled, knowing that his cheerful banter would always keep me smiling whenever I was around him. "He was an awesome Bootneck and Signaller, always digging out and thinking of others. He was one of the lads. "Ads was a natural leader and if he wished to stay within the branch he would have easily made promotion, I will always look up to his qualities. "He has touched so many lives and I can't describe how much he will be missed by all that knew him in the Company, Signals Troop and Corps. "My thoughts go out to his family and friends, you will never be forgotten, Rest in Peace Royal, we will miss you." Corporal Emile Ghessen, Fire Support Group, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Ads was a Bootneck through and through. A man who strived to be the best at everything he did. "Ads was liked by all that knew him, it's easy to say this but it is true. When talking about Ads you will not find a man who could say anything bad about him. "It's hard in life to find people who genuinely display the qualities which he had. "A loyal and courageous man who was one of the team, ready to lead and pass on his experiences to all; he loved the men he worked with and we loved working with him. "Ads, we will all miss you, but you will never be forgotten. If we could all be like Ads, we would be all the better for it. "When we all go home people will call us heroes, but the real heroes are men like Ads because he has paid the ultimate price. "He was a true hero that will never be forgotten by all who knew him." Corporal Ash Morris, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Ads was a man liked by all who had the pleasure of meeting him. Ads had an infectious smile and a friendly personality that made you instantly get along with him. "I had the privilege of working with Ads for 11 weeks, I wish it had been longer. Everyday was a pleasure. "Ads was never shy of cracking a funny or spinning a dit about his Rest & Recuperation or how he was going to spend his weekends surfing around the UK, always speaking with a genuine smile. "Ads was always the first to help anyone who needed it, whether it be a working detail or simply someone to confide in. "I'm going miss you so much; a true friend and a brother in arms. "Our thoughts now go out to your wife Amy, and your family. Goodbye friend." Corporal Carl Saunders, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Like everyone in Alpha Company and 40 Commando, the loss of Ads has hit us hard. Testament to what a legend he was. "Always morale to talk to, we always laughed about how awesome the Signals world was! "We spent 5 days before our Rest & Recuperation putting the world to rights and deciding how we were going to live the dream on leave. "He always looked out for his mates and if it wasn't for him, and his spare sleeping bag, I would have frozen in Patrol Base ALMAS! "Ads Brown, a true Bootneck and a true friend. "You will be missed mate, sleep well." Corporal Dexroy Edwards, Commando Headquarters Registry, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I first met Ads when I joined Command Company on completion of Operation HERRICK 7. "We shared the same flat at Norton Manor Camp and our cabins were adjacent to each other. Ads had an immediate effect on me, especially his infectious nature and witty sense of humour that I have had to suffer on a daily basis. "Never one to back down from a good bit of banter; everything from my choice of music, jewellery, food and fashion sense all received a thrashing from Ads' sharp wit. "Ads it was a pleasure to have known and served alongside you Royal. "You will forever remain in my thoughts and your sacrifice will not be forgotten. "My prayers and condolence go out to his wife Amy and his parents Jenny and Robert, and also to his family and friends at this very difficult time. "See you at the re-org Royal!" Corporal Ryan Turner, 3 Section Mortar Troop, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I have known Ads since 2007 when we were both in Charlie Company for Operation Herrick 7. "Ads was a great bloke and an all round hoofing marine. He was always ready to help out no matter what the job, and was always there to help bring on the younger marines. "Wherever Ads went he always became an integral part of that Troop or Section, mainly down to his great personality. "He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Rest in peace mate." Lance Corporal Hugo Wilton, Fire Support Group, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I only had the privilege of knowing Ads since he joined Alpha Company. "He was one of the friendliest and most genuine blokes you could hope to meet. "Everyone in the Troop got on well with him, that's the sort of man he was. I don't know anyone who so well personified the phrase 'instantly likeable'. "He was an extremely hard worker and the type of bloke who would see you doing a working party and be the first to come over and offer a hand. "He would wear a smile whilst doing it too, now matter how arduous the task was. Ads was awesome at his job, and I know I speak for everyone when I say we were gutted he went to 3 Troop instead of staying with the Fire Support Group, although it probably says a lot about his skills as a Signaller. "I'm going to miss him, the lads are going to miss him, and all our thoughts and prayers go to his loved ones. "Rest in Peace Royal and goodbye my friend." Lance Corporal Jonathan Ratcliffe, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I first met 'Ads' when I was attached to 3 Troop back in April, he was the first person to welcome me to the Troop. My first and ever lasting impression of 'Ads' will be what a hoofing all round bloke he was. "Whenever he went through villages on patrol around Patrol Base ALMAS, the kids used to love him and always be around him, and he was always happy to chat and have a laugh with them. He always had a smile on his face. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Amy and his family. "'Ads' it was a pleasure, you will always be in our hearts. "I and 3 Troop will miss you. Goodbye mate." Lance Corporal Gary Sinar, 3Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Having Ads in the Troop brought knowledge, experience, and an absolutely quality bloke to our time here at Patrol Base ALMAS. "I could talk to him about anything and take in his wealth of knowledge, not only about being a 'Bootneck', but life in general. "He was so calm when he needed to be, and he always stayed switched on for the sake of others around him because he loved being a Royal Marine. "He would always talk about his wife, Amy, who I know he loved very much, and planned on living a long and happy life with her. "My heart goes out to Amy and his family and friends." Marine Perry Hooper, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Ads or as he was more commonly known to 3 Troop, 'Brown Bear', was a perfect marine, even though he would hate to admit it. "'Ads' wore his heart on his sleeve and you always knew where you stood with him. Whenever you felt down you could always count on him to put a smile on your face, with his good sense of humour and his non-emotional comments that came with a maturity of age. "He always looked out for the lads and had his own opinions on how to run the Corps. "Ads you were the finest master chef with a ten man ration pack that I have ever met, I only wish we had that meal you planned to cook back at home. "My heart goes out to his family and his wife at this sad time. "He will be sorely missed, you will never be forgotten Royal, we will make sure of that." Marine Daniel Rowles, 3 Troop, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I hadn't known Ads for as long as I would have liked to, but during the time I did get to know him, I developed the utmost respect for him. "I clicked with Ads from when I first met him, and that was down to his charismatic personality and a sense of humour that could raise morale on any occasion. "Ads was an ideal Bootneck, and loved soldiering. This love for soldiering was obvious from his constant professional attitude and outlook in whatever the circumstances. "Ads was a very experienced marine, having previous operational experience in Afghanistan. "He was also extremely intelligent and someone we all looked up to. "My thoughts go out to his family and friends, especially his wife, Amy, whom he spoke of all the time. "Thanks for being a good friend Ads, you will be sorely missed." Marine Andy Hall, Fire Support Group, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "Ads, although I only met you a short time ago on the Company Mission Rehearsal Exercise, straight away I knew you were a larger than life character. "You had time for anyone and brought morale to everyone you met, be it through dripping or jokes, you always brought a smile to me and all who had the honour of meeting you. "I will miss not having anyone to talk motorbikes and Alan Partridge with! I always saw you as a credit to the Corps, an inspiration to me and all who met you. "I always looked up to you and to call you a friend was an absolute privilege. "You were a true Bootneck and I know I speak for everyone when I say you will never be forgotten. "My thoughts are with your family, whom you spoke so highly of, and loved so dearly. Rest in Peace Royal." Marine Neil Adams, Fire Support Group, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I had the pleasure of being introduced to Ads on Operation Herrick 7. He was always smiling and it made others around him smile as well. "It was a huge 'prof' to finally work alongside him in Alpha Company. He was such a huge influence on the younger lads. "No matter what the task he would carry it out with stacks of morale and professionalism. I was thredders to see him leave the Fire Support Group and even more thredders that I'll never get to see him again. "My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. He'll never be forgotten, Once a Saint, always a Saint.  "Rest in peace Royal." Marine John Catlow, Fire Support Group, Alpha Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "I met Ads on a driving course in the summer of 2008 and had instant admiration for him as a man with excellent values who was also an all round genuine nice bloke. "I stayed good friends with Ads and around Norton Manor Camp he would always make time to stop and talk to me, and make the effort to ask how I was doing. "He joined Alpha Company as our Troop Signaller and true to Ads' nature he was an instant hit with the lads. "He gained everyone's respect because he was so awesome at his job, coupled with the fact that he was such a nice guy he soon became a very influential member of the Troop. "It was because of these values that he was transferred to another Troop where his leadership skills were needed, to the detriment of our Troop. "Ads was a brother in arms and will be truly missed. "Rest in Peace mate."