The Rifles

Afghanistan

 

The Rifles (RIFLES) is a regiment of the British Army. It consists of five regular and two territorial battalions, plus a number of companies in other TA battalions, making it the largest regiment in the infantry. Each battalion of the Rifles was formerly an individual battalion of one of the two large regiments of the Light Division (with the exception of the 1st Battalion, which is an amalgamation of two individual regiments). read more here

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The 2 Rifles Memorial Stone is situated at Ballykinler Camp, N. Ireland

Private Jonathan Kitulagoda.  Aged 23


One British soldier was killed, and four soldiers injured, by an apparent suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan on 28 January 2004. Private Jonathan Kitulagoda who died, was aged 23 and came from Plymouth where he was a student. A member of the Rifle Volunteers, a Territorial Army battalion, he was serving in Kabul with the International Security Assistance Force. Lieutenant Colonel Ian Blewett, The Commanding Officer of The Rifle Volunteers, said: "It was with immense sadness that we learnt of the death of one of our soldiers, and injuries suffered by his colleagues, while on peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan. My thoughts, and those of the entire Battalion, are very much with Private Kitulagoda's family, and the families of those injured, at this dreadful time. "Jonathan Kitulagoda was a young man of 23 who played a full and professional role as a TA infantryman, and was a popular and committed member of E (Devon and Dorset) Company. Together with his fellow soldiers, he volunteered for duty in Afghanistan, helping the efforts to bring peace and help ordinary Afghanis forge a better society." The Rifle Volunteers' Regimental Headquarters is at Wyvern Barracks, Exeter, and can be contacted on 01980 673329.


[ Rifleman Stuart Nash ]

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Rifleman Stuart Nash who was killed in action in Afghanistan, 17 December 2008. Rifleman Stuart Nash was killed in action during combat in Zarghun Kalay, Nad e Ali District, Helmand province. He was wounded as he was covering comrades from a compound rooftop while working as part of the 1 RIFLES Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) Battle Group. His fellow riflemen administered first aid and he was evacuated by a Medical Emergency Response Team helicopter, but subsequently died of his wounds.

 

[ The Australian Flag ]

 

The Australian Flag came into being after the federation of the Australian States into the Commonwealth of Australian on 1 January, 1901. The Commonwealth Blue Ensign was selected a result of a public competition (over 30 000 designs were submitted); although selected in 1901 and gazetted in 1903, it was not given Royal assent and adopted as the definitive Australian flag until 1954 in the Flags Act 1953 (Act No. 1 of 1954)! It is based on the Blue Ensign of the United Kingdom.

An Australian citizen, Rifleman Stuart Nash was born in Sydney on 19 April 1987, and enlisted in The Rifles on 9 March 2008 in Gloucester. He attended the Combat Infantryman's Course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, where he quickly established himself as a popular and confident character with maturity beyond his years and a positive influence on his peers.  Rifleman Nash's parents, Bill and Amanda Nash, said: "We are shattered of course by the news, but Stuart was doing what he most wanted to do in life, having harbored a wish for a military career since joining the cadets at the age of 13. He went to the UK to join up to get a better opportunity to do real soldiering, which he has done, if only briefly. He was a willing volunteer; our soldiers have chosen their profession and we are, and will remain, proud of their willingness to make these sacrifices for the security of all of us who remain at home." His Company Commander at Catterick, Major Robert Connolly, said: "He was a thoroughly professional young soldier who embodied the value of the British Army. His enthusiasm and approach to training were reflective of his desire to become an outstanding field soldier and to support his friends and colleagues." After passing out of Catterick on 19 September 2008, Rifleman Nash was assigned to 1st Battalion The Rifles at Beachley Barracks in Chepstow. Following pre-deployment training in the United Kingdom he joined the battalion on operations in Afghanistan. He joined his mentoring and liaison team in Nad e Ali, a district centre west of Lashkar Gah, and recently the scene of intense fighting. In what can only be regarded as a baptism of fire, Rifleman Nash rapidly adapted to the austere life of a patrol base and established new friends among his fellow riflemen, who quickly christened him 'Oz'.  Although the newest and youngest member of his team, his gentlemanly manner and thorough professionalism instantly gained him acceptance. He was a polite man of strong faith who was always happy, and was always ready to put others before himself. If he was ever the man left behind, the returning patrol was always greeted with chopped wood for a fire and hot water for brews. His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, shared such a brew with Rifleman Nash and his friends the day before he was killed and remembered clearly his impressive and humbling loyalty, good humour, maturity and intellect. 

Lt Col Cavanagh said: "Rifleman Nash was clearly thriving on the dual challenges of his own early professional service and the responsibilities of mentoring his Afghan National Army warrior colleagues. He was honest about the difficulty and danger of his work, modest about his own reserves of courage, robust and determined to succeed. He was already enthusing - utterly realistically - about joining the battalion's reconnaissance or sniper platoons after this operation in Afghanistan. He would have been superb in either. He fell a hero, in combat alongside his fellow riflemen." His OMLT Commander Major Mark Nooney said: "Nashie had only been in the Army for nine months but already showed great potential. He was young, bright and ambitious. 21 years old, an Australian from Sydney with a background in mechanical engineering and a strong sense of duty, Stuart had decided he should come to Britain to join the Army to do his bit and see the world. He talked of his desire to buy a sports car and tinker with it on return to the UK, such was his constant, optimistic and industrious approach to life." Identified as having the potential to do well as a NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer), he was admired by his fellow riflemen for his fitness, can-do attitude, big heart and thirst for knowledge. Team Commander Captain Iwan Williams said: "He was one of the most promising new soldiers I have worked with; his intelligence and enthusiasm marked him out amongst his peers. He instantly became a popular member of the team, always doing more than was expected and always with a smile. He will be missed greatly."  His friends from training and his mentoring and liaison team recall that he was undeterred by the dangerous side of soldiering and had joined the Army to do operational service – 'proper soldiering' as he called it. Corporal Joseph Nash, who shared the same name and had quickly become a friend, was with him when he was  wounded. Cpl Nash said: "He was shot whilst calling out target indications and returning fire, all the time under heavy enemy fire. Despite being recently out of training he was a professional and a soldier in the best traditions of Australia and Britain. "Once a Rifleman always a Rifleman. Swift and Bold.”


6th BATTALION THE RIFLES The South West's Territorial Infantry Battalion 6 RIFLES are a Territorial Infantry Battalion and part of the Army's newest and most forward looking Infantry Regiment. In February 2007 the 1st Battalion the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment became the 1st Battalion The Rifles, while the D and D Territorial companies of Rifle Volunteers became a part of the 6th Battalion The Rifles. In this amalgamation of the Devon and Dorsets, the Royal Gloucester and Berkshire Regiment, The Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets the lineage, traditions and long history of the 11th, 39th and 54th of Foot will be carried forward into the future.

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Whether you employ Reservists or you're a member of the Reserve Forces yourself, here you'll find all the information you need on your rights, commitments and support.

[ Serjeant Chris Reed ]

Serjeant Chris Reed of 6th Battalion The Rifles (6 RIFLES) was killed in action in the Garmsir District of Helmand Province. Serjeant Reed was attached to C Company of the 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) Battle Group and was Second in Command of his team of 8 Riflemen working alongside their Afghan National Army (ANA) counterparts. The Molts assist and teach the ANA in all aspects of military operations.  Serjeant Reed was killed by an improvised explosive device whilst conducting a vehicle patrol alongside the ANA in the desert of Helmand.

Serjeant Christopher John Reed was a Territorial Army (TA) soldier from Plymouth, who in his civilian career built luxury super-yachts. Although only 25 years of age, he was a highly experienced Territorial soldier, having joined the Rifle Volunteers in his beloved Plymouth in 2001.  He completed a busy and testing operational tour of Iraq with the Battalion in 2005. In early 2008 he passed the tough and demanding Platoon Sergeants’ Battle Course at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, earning praise from the instructing staff for his ability and obvious leadership skills. He was an incredibly capable, intelligent and loyal Rifleman who was both popular and very well respected by all those who served alongside him. As a TA volunteer, or S.W.A.T. soldier ('Some Weekends And Tuesdays' as 'Reedy' would put it) he dedicated much of his spare time to the Army getting involved where and whenever he could, always with a beaming smile on his face. He first volunteered to deploy to the Falkland Islands and quickly formed a very tight bond with his fellow Riflemen, and his many qualities became abundantly clear to his superiors. The Regimental Serjeant Major for 1 RIFLES said after his first meeting with 'Reedy' that it would be his "main effort to persuade him to become a full time Rifleman in my Battalion", a real testament to his character and competence. He had made a strong impression on the tour dealing with the challenges he and his team faced with energy and humour. During a recent fire fight, his Team Commander and three ANA soldiers were injured by shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade blast. Without pause, Chris took control of the situation, overseeing the evacuation of the casualties and then continuing with the patrol. His Company Commander, Major Andy Watkins said of him, "Serjeant Chris Reed was one of those individuals who  saw the best in everything and this outlook was infectious. His team was richer for him." His relaxed but professional manner never failed to bring out the best qualities in those around him. He took the time to form an excellent working relationship with his ANA colleagues; one of his peers Serjeant Leon Upton noted: "Reedy was conscientious and enthusiastic, taking the time to understand what made the Afghan soldier tick and they really responded to him as a result." 'Reedy' was born and bred in Plymouth and could always be heard talking about home, “The Muff”, with many of the Riflemen he had grown up with. Serjeant Chris Reed was due to marry his fiancée Heather on return from Afghanistan and the number of “Blueys” passing through the post bag between Reedy and Heather was a constant source of wonder to his fellow Riflemen. He will be sorely missed by all members of The Rifles, especially the 1st and 6th Battalions, and his team. Our thoughts are with all those who were close to him and whom he left behind. Once a Rifleman always a Rifleman, SWIFT AND BOLD. Sjt Reed's family, friends and colleagues have paid the following tributes: Brian and Joy Reed, Serjeant Christopher Reed’s parents: "Christopher was in the Territorial Army and doing a job he believed in. He did that job with pride and honour and with people he respected. He was selected to train the Afghanistan National Army and worked in a Forward Operating Base. He believed he was making a difference. "Christopher became engaged to Heather on the day he left for Afghanistan and was planning on a wedding when he got home. He touched the hearts of all he came into contact with. Christopher will be sadly missed by his mother, father and brother Andrew, his fiancée Heather, all of his family and friends and all who knew him. "We are very proud of what he has achieved and what he was trying to achieve." Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer OMLT (1 RIFLES) Battlegroup: "Serjeant Chris Reed was one of a very few 6 RIFLES Riflemen serving alongside his 1 RIFLES colleagues in the demanding OMLT role. That he was so successful is testament to his notable talent and dedication. "Chris was assured in his dealings with the Afghan National Army – deftly applying the wider skills and experience he picked up in his civilian career – and also a great leader of his Riflemen in the most dangerous of circumstances. He was much admired for his professionalism and enthusiasm. "On our most recent visit to his Patrol Base the Regimental Serjeant Major and I were greeted by Chris warmly before being treated to a confident, perceptive, incisive and memorable brief of his OMLT team’s experiences and requirements – typical of the man. "He represented and commanded his team of Riflemen superbly; we are all very proud to have served alongside him." Lieutenant Colonel Tom Mereweather, Commanding Officer 6 RIFLES: "The death of Serjeant Christopher 'Reedy' Reed is a hammer blow to the Battalion. He was a talented, committed and highly professional Non Commissioned Officer who engendered trust and respect from all who came into contact with him. I regarded him as one of my very best Section Commanders. He was undoubtedly a Company Serjeant Major of the future. "I last spoke with him during pre deployment training but my particular memory is visiting the Platoon Sergeant’s Course on which he was a student in February this year. It was typical Welsh winter weather: cold, windy and very wet. Reedy’s platoon was hidden in a wood and he appeared from the gloom, big smile lighting up his blackened face. Ever cheerful and enthusiastic despite being cold, tired and under pressure to produce a patrol plan, we discussed how he was doing and what the future might hold for him and the Battalion. "Once mobilised I was not surprised to learn that he had been selected to join one of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams with the 1st Battalion. His competence, previous military experience and natural easy going authority made him an obvious choice. A natural leader he relished the opportunity to train and mentor his Afghan Army colleagues. "A wonderful West Country soldier - calm, modest, easy going but with a sense of purpose and obvious steel, he will be greatly missed. All ranks of the 6th Battalion are mourning the loss of a brother Rifleman." Major Paul Miller OC Corunna Company, 6 RIFLES: "I did not know Christopher Reed but I did know Serjeant Reed. The ever professional Rifleman, it was his dedication to the Territorial Army, his `can do` attitude, the everlasting smile and his loyalty to all those around him that he will be remembered for by all of Corunna Company. "Throughout the company's Pre-deployment Training it was the high standards that the instructor Serjeant Reed expected and extracted from the riflemen that prepared Corunna Company so well for its up and coming operational tour; we will forever be in his debt. Ever thinking of his loved ones our thoughts are with his family and fiancée. "Reedy we will all miss you." Warrant Officer Class 1 Rod Poulter MC, Regimental Serjeant Major 1 RIFLES: "Serjeant Chris Reed was a charismatic, diligent Senior Non Commissioned Officer who always put the Riflemen’s welfare before his own. Chris knew his team inside and out, not only as soldiers, he knew them as men. He displayed great, natural leadership – something obvious to me when I visited him recently in his Patrol Base in Garmsir; his team had the utmost confidence in him – just as I did. "To say that he had a bright future is an understatement. Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman. He will be remembered."

 

Fiancée Heather

[ Serjeant Chris Reed ]

Rifleman Haron Onderi, serving in C Coy 1 RIFLES: "For the days I have worked with 'Reedy', I have come to know him as a top bloke. A Non Commissioned Officer who is committed and works for everyone in the same way: right from the lowest Rifleman to the highest.  "Reedy, a kind bloke who is ever smiling made sure everybody else was on his list before himself. His leadership qualities were outstanding and this was clearly shown by him whilst fighting the Taliban, when the Boss had to leave ground because of his injuries, he took over. A boat maker by profession, he kept on saying how he loved both his civvy job and the Army as well." Rifleman Marc Luscombe, 6 RIFLES: "Since the time I first walked through the doors of Millbay TA Centre in Plymouth and Chris Reed (then Lance Corporal) was on his tour of Iraq, he had already built up a reputation as a knowledgeable, capable and professional soldier. "He was a true 'Plymothian' putting in long hours with his civilian employment in the dockyard and then volunteering many hours preparing training for his TA platoon. When it came to pre-deployment training for Op HERRICK 9, Reedy (now Serjeant) carried on his fearsome reputation and because of his exceptional ability was chosen for attachment to the 1 RIFLES OMLT. "Although after his attachment our paths were not to cross again I understand that Sjt Reed remained faultless at his work. A true soldier; a true friend. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him." Rifleman Andrew Pooley, 6 RIFLES: "Cheers mate! You were an inspiration to us all. Your drive, enthusiasm and humour for everything you tackled never failed to amaze me. All of us at Plymouth will strive to maintain the high standards you set us and maintained yourself, with such effortless charisma. "You were the glue that held us all together and will always be in my thoughts. Take it easy Number One....!" Colour Serjeant Nicholas Beresford, 6 RIFLES: "I will always remember Chris as the most dependable, cheerful, enthusiastic, friendly, and professional man I have ever had the fortune to call my friend. He will be missed as a soldier by all those who were lucky enough to serve with him and as a friend lucky enough to laugh with him. See you again Chris !" Rifleman Warren James, 6 RIFLES: "I will always consider myself fortunate to have worked with Chris. Never before have I met anyone with the same level of professionalism, knowledge and astute sense of humour that Chris displayed. The world will be a much quieter and sadder place without him. Best of luck mate, we’ll miss you." WO2 Deano Whitmarsh, 6 RIFLES: "I first got to know Chris during build-up-training. He was an extremely popular and professional soldier with a great sense of humour, admired by everyone, always friendly and helpful." Rifleman Alexander Regan, 6 RIFLES: "'Reedy' was one of the warmest and kindest men I have met and the most professional soldier I have seen. He will be greatly missed."

Lance Corporal Kevin (Lucky) Luckett, 6 RIFLES: "Chris was a good friend, a superb soldier and an example to others. I had some good laughs and jokes throughout training for Operation HERRICK. Chris loved his job; it is a big shame that he is no longer with us. "It is a huge blow for those of us remaining as we have lost a friend and successful member of our team. It is the worst thing for any family to go through. My thoughts go out to them. I will miss you Chris." Rifleman Joseph Petrie, 6 RIFLES: "Chris was a great guy who had something special about him that everyone wanted to be a part of. He shone in every aspect of his life, both in the TA and in Civvy life. He was a good friend to everyone. Our hearts go out to his family. He will be deeply missed." Lance Corporal Vaughan Condron, Riflemen Graham Allen and Adam Bugden, 6 RIFLES: "Chris was beloved and respected by all who had the opportunity to work with him. He was universally known throughout the Battalion and beyond. Always keen and at his most professional, he brought out the best in those around him. He was not only a capable soldier but an irreplaceable friend both within the Army he loved and to his family and work friends. "To those at 'D' Company his passing is a loss which will hit hard and will be difficult to get over. It is the utmost privilege of those left behind to have served with one of the Army’s finest NCOs." Rifleman David Massey, 6 RIFLES: "There aren’t enough words to describe Chris. Knowing him as a friend and colleague was a privilege to all who knew him. He was honest, down to earth and always there when you needed him, whether for help, advice or just a chat. His experience, knowledge and professionalism always astounded me for such a young guy. "Full of life and always up for a beer with the lads at the end of a day’s work. I can honestly say on behalf of all  who knew him that he will be missed but never forgotten." Corporal Tony Friday, 6 RIFLES: "Chris Reed was a good strong soldier, a very good leader to his men. Always cheerful and willing to help, Chris was admired by all who knew him and inspired confidence. It was a pleasure to have known him and to call him a friend. Chris died doing the job he loved." Corporal Barry Crane, 6 RIFLES: "I have known Chris for several years and classed him as a true friend and a good mate. I will truly miss him and remember the laughs and jokes we had together always." Rifleman George Coffin, 6 RIFLES: "Well, all I can say about Chris is he was one in a million. He would take time out to just say ‘hello’, just to check if you were OK. He will be sadly missed. He was a bloody good bloke and a top soldier." Rifleman Charles Addison, 6 RIFLES: "Chris was utterly professional as a soldier, but he was also good natured and down to earth. He would tell me off regularly for calling him ‘Corporal’.... insisting that we knew him as Chris; as always, he did this with a smile. "Chris always led by example, you would find him sweeping out the locker room or doing other tasks that some seniors would see as menial. "I will always remember him as a man quick to laugh and smile who would always go the extra mile so that you did not have to ... Chris, you will NEVER be forgotten."


[ Acting Corporal Richard 'Robbo' Robinson ]

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Acting Corporal Richard 'Robbo' Robinson, from 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Saturday 17 January 2009. Acting Corporal Robinson died as a result of enemy fire during an ambush north of Sangin District Centre while on a patrol to dominate ground with his Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) and the Afghan National Army (ANA) platoon with whom he had been operating since September 2008.

Corporal Robinson was born on 4 August 1987 and grew up in Saltash, Cornwall. He enlisted into the Army on 18 December 2003, attending the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in 2004 and completing his Combat Infantryman's course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick in January 2005 where he was posted to 'C' Company, 1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. He served with C Company as a Private in Iraq from April to November 2006. He completed his Potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officer Cadre in early 2007. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in November 2007 and posted to the Reconnaissance Platoon of 'S' Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES). He soon completed the arduous Sniper course during the battalion's jungle training exercise to Belize, Central America, in the early part of 2008. Corporal Robinson joined 'E' Company, 1 RIFLES, in April 2008 as a Sniper, Mentor, and Section Second-in-Command. Having completed the pre-deployment training that summer, he deployed with E Company to Sangin in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Op Herrick 9 at the end of September. Corporal Robinson was a key team player in an operating environment where the individual skills of each and every member of the team have a decisive effect on the outcome of every situation. With his reconnaissance and sniper skills, and his sense of professional pride, he provided those decisive effects, and did so with sensibility, determination, and a ready sense of humour. He was quiet and conscientious, keeping his eye on the detail and getting on with his daily tasks efficiently and without great fuss or search for recognition. As a mentor to the Afghan National Army, he brought all his professional experience to bear in a working environment where he was required to operate two ranks higher than his current rank. He received the acting rank of full Corporal for this tour, in recognition of the extra responsibilities and pressures of working at the Afghan Company level of operations in the isolated and austere environment of the deployed Afghan Patrol Bases. He took all this in his stride, dealing with each challenge as it came and ensuring that all his own Riflemen were prepared and administered for the myriad of often unpredictable tasks that the Operational Mentoring mission entailed. His loss to the small and tight knit team of which he was an integral part will be felt heavily, but it is his family and friends, both inside and outside the regiment who will mourn his tragic passing; our thoughts are with his brother Matthew, serving in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, sister Sophie, and his father Kenneth and mother Janet. "Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman" "SWIFT AND BOLD"

[ Cpl Robinson ]

Cpl Robinson E Company, 1st Battalion, The Rifles, was buried in St Stephen’s Church in Saltash, Cornwall.

Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer, 1 RIFLES, said: "For so many friends across the battalion and outside the Army, and most acutely for his friends and family, Corporal Richard 'Robbo' Robinson's death in action in Afghanistan will bring great sorrow. "He was a popular, talented man and will be badly missed. Highly qualified and richly experienced for one of his vintage, he was credible and confident as an Acting Corporal and was already showing potential well beyond that. How proud we are of this courageous young man; he had achieved great things and yesterday he gave his all with his team around him. We are lucky to have served alongside him."

Major Jonathan (Jonny) Kitson, Officer Commanding E Company, 1 RIFLES, said: "Corporal Robinson was a quiet and discerning character, who combined a calm approach to his everyday tasks, with a robust and strong work ethic that ensured that he and his men were prepared for all the eventualities thrown at him in this most challenging of operating environments. He was mature beyond his years, having gained valuable experience in Iraq, which he used to good effect during both the pre-deployment phase and once deployed, to educate and lead those under his command in a comprehensively assured and easy going manner. "Having completed the battalion's gruelling sniper cadre last year, he delivered this individualistic and specialist skill to the highest level of competence, as well as keeping his team informed, administered and consistently well led at the same time. He had the sort of potential which is gratifying to see in a young and committed Rifleman: resourceful, quick thinking, caring and ready to help others before himself, he epitomised the ethos of his regiment as a junior commander and was set for a successful career. "He had a ready sense of humour (such is the lot of a Newcastle United fan) and I rarely saw him without a smile on his face, or firing out the banter in the Patrol Bases or in the FOB [Forward Operating Base]. The loss of such a talented, resourceful and well liked individual is a blow to the company, and his team in particular, but it will be felt most deeply by his family and I can only express the company's deepest condolences to them; you are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time." Lieutenant Lyndon Pinches, Team Commander OMLT 7, said: "Corporal Robinson had been part of OMLT 7 from the very beginning and was welcomed into the team with open arms. Those who already knew him were pleased to have his skills and experience added to the team. He had already served in Iraq and trained in both the Recce and Sniper Platoons. Those who did not yet know him were soon to realise what he would bring to the party. "He was incredibly level headed and calm in all circumstances, even when situations were at their most stressful on operations. He was a proud Rifleman and JNCO [Junior Non-Commissioned Officer] and had already proved his potential to go a long way in his career by doing the job of a Serjeant [it is regimental tradition to spell Sergeant with a 'j'] for the team in Afghanistan. "Corporal Robinson was an asset that any team would be proud to have. His skills as a sniper and ability to achieve tasks well beyond his pay scale were more than evident in the many months he has served with the team and in his service with the battalion. His likeable nature and good humour never failed to raise morale consistently, even when all those around him were in low spirits. On behalf of the team we are all so proud to have served and fought alongside him." Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Paul Goldsmith, Company Serjeant Major E Company, said: "Robbo had been a member of E Company 1 RIFLES right from the beginning when the company was first established in April 2008. Coming from the Sniper Platoon he brought with him a wealth of experience and professionalism that helped to make the company what it is today. "Robbo, a quiet guy by nature, commanded respect from others by his ability and above all a cool head when in difficult situations, which was demonstrated on numerous occasions when out on patrol. He leaves a large void in the company and an even larger one within his team which will not be easy to fill, if at all. On a personal note, it has been an honour and privilege to serve alongside Robbo and my heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends." Acting Serjeant Simon Lake, Second-in-Command OMLT 7, said: "Corporal Robinson, AKA Robbo, joined the 'Devon and Dorsets' in March 2004 where he was moved into my room - he was only 17. Robbo was such a cool minded guy and an excellent soldier. We went to Iraq together in April 2006 and were then placed together in the same team for this Afghanistan tour where he brought so much experience to the team being Recce and Sniper qualified. "He made my job so much easier; when I needed something doing Robbo was always ready and would have it squared away within minutes. It was a great honour to serve with such a great Rifleman, a legend in my eyes. But it was also a great honour to be his friend, a close friend, someone who I will never forget. It is a great loss to me. I know that his family will miss him the most and my thoughts go out to them." Serjeant Sean Ridler, Second-in-Command Sniper Platoon, 1 RIFLES, said: "Corporal Richard Robinson, known as Robbo to all within the Sniper Platoon, was a strong member of the platoon and was looked up to by all his subordinates and could be relied upon by his commanders to carry out any task given. He will be missed within the tightly structured community of the platoon, especially his strength in the bad times, during and after the sniper cadre. He could always laugh at the bad things and bring good away. Robbo was a good soldier but most of all a great friend to have; the platoon will be a different place as he will solemnly be missed by all."


[ Corporal Daniel 'Danny' Nield ]

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Corporal Daniel 'Danny' Nield from 1st Battalion, The Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan on Friday 30 January 2009. Corporal Nield was killed as a result of an explosion, believed to have been caused by a Rocket Propelled Grenade, during a contact with enemy forces during a deliberate operation north of Musa Qaleh in Helmand Province. He was deployed as the Forward Air Controller (FAC) in a Fire Support Team (FST) of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery. They were attached to an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) from his own unit, S Company, 1st Battalion, The Rifles, working alongside the troops of the Afghan National Army (ANA). Corporal Nield was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire on 15 March 1977. Educated at Pittville School in Cheltenham, he joined the Army Cadets at the age of 13. On 2 September 1993 he enlisted at the Cheltenham Army Careers Office joining the Gloucestershire Regiment, who later became the Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (RGBW). Corporal Nield completed a Potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Cadre in December 2000 and his Mortar NCO Standard Course in December a year later. Corporal Nield surprised his colleagues by leaving the Army in April 2004 but rejoined in July 2006. After the founding of The Rifles he then went on to pass the demanding Forward Air Controllers' Course in April 2007. Corporal Nield's calm West Country exterior masked the steely professionalism of a true warrior who relished his time spent on operations. Having served on operations in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Kosovo, he had already completed a previous tour of Afghanistan. 

 [Corporal Daniel 'Danny' Nield  ]

Artist Matthew Cook is a serving soldier in the Territorial Army. His work from a recent tour of Afghanistan is the subject of a new exhibition at the Ministry of Defence in London ... link here

Images courtesy of Matthew Cook ... (I'm still trying to contact Matthew, if any one knows him, please ask him to contact me) 

Corporal Nield had also taken part in exercises with his Regiment across the globe including Arizona, Botswana, Belize, Canada, Cyprus, Kenya and Kuwait. Corporal Nield deployed in September 2008 for Operation Herrick 9 as part of a FST where his role was to control fast jets and attack helicopters in direct support of UK and Afghan Forces on the ground. This was his second tour in this role and was clearly a job that he loved. His experience, dedication and unwavering enthusiasm were an inspiration to all. He consistently provided clear and concise advice to his ground commanders and used his initiative to bring in air support, frequently in circumstances of extreme pressure and danger, to have a decisive effect on the enemy. As such he was largely responsible for the safe return of many of his UK and Afghan colleagues over the tour. Corporal Nield was a personable, reliable and loyal team member. His sense of humour was legendary across the Regiment and he would seldom miss an opportunity to poke fun at his mates. As an FAC within an artillery-dominated Team, Corporal Nield would often be heard winding up his colleagues with the phrase, "Guns for show, jets for a pro!" for which they seldom had a repost!  Blessed with a nickname unspeakable in polite company, he would habitually introduce himself as such much to the entertainment of his colleagues.  Corporal Nield will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege to serve with him from his FST, the Riflemen of S Company OMLT as well as the wider regiment of The Rifles. However, it is his parents Peter and Sheila, sisters Emily and Kimberley, and brother Anthony who will feel his loss the greatest and our thoughts and prayers go out to them all as we mourn the passing of a great Rifleman who died living the life that he loved.  "Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman" SWIFT AND BOLD

Corporal Nield's parents Peter and Sheila Nield, said: "Danny lived for the Army, and was proud to serve his country. He died doing the job he loved." Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer, 1 RIFLES said: "It was with great sorrow that the 1 RIFLES Battle Group learned of the death in combat, north of Musa Qaleh on 30 January 2009 of Corporal Daniel 'Danny' Nield. He was a popular Rifleman, full of character and at the top of his profession; revelling in the qualifications and experience in battle-winning skills that always took him to the front of the battle. "I will remember him speaking confidently, convincingly, and provocatively, and with humour, about such matters from the seat of a borrowed quad bike in the sunshine in his dusty District Centre during a short but well-earned break between tasks. "His enthusiasm for his profession was as memorable as his 'Zap' moustache and he was full of ideas on how new talent should be identified and new techniques developed. 

Major Nick King, Officer Commanding S Company OMLT, 1 RIFLES said: "Corporal Danny Nield was a highly professional member of a small team operating under often extremely stressful circumstances here in Afghanistan. Cool under fire, he intuitively provided timely advice and effective air support having a decisive impact on the enemy and helping extract his colleagues from tight situations on more than one occasion. "Corporal Nield thrived in the small team environment where his sense of humour was most devastating! A proud and reliable Rifleman, he will be sorely missed by all that had the pleasure of knowing him." 

Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Rod Poulter MC said: "Cpl Danny Nield was one of the great characters in our regimental family. I had the pleasure of serving alongside him in the 1st Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment, commanding him in Cyprus with the then 1 RGBW, and more recently as a fellow Rifleman in the 1st Battalion The Rifles.  "Danny Nield was a very proud West Country soldier and an avid Gloucester RFC fan. Hugely sociable, Danny Nield believed in working hard and playing harder. Wherever he went he made his mark and inevitably made yet more friends in the process. His death will be felt by his many fellow Riflemen across all seven Battalions of The Rifles. Danny you will be sorely missed but we will never forget you." [Note it is a regimental tradition that Serjeant is spelt with a 'J'] Company Serjeant Major Shaun Aston, S Company 1 RIFLES said: "Danny Nield was a strong, confident NCO who loved the work he was involved in. He never stopped encouraging the young Riflemen around him passing on all his years of experience. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fellow Riflemen. Sadly missed but never forgotten." WO2 Mark Getley said: "Corporal Danny Nield was the ever-professional soldier who loved his job. He had the utmost respect for his friends and colleagues (although he would never dare say so!) and will be sadly missed but never forgotten."  Acting Serjeant Danny Ashton said: "Danny Nield was born and bred in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. He loved the Army and was passionate about his job. Always ready for a good night out, Danny Nield was gifted with a cracking sense of humour. He was very proud of his Gloucestershire roots and watching Gloucester rugby team was dear to his heart. He will be greatly missed by his many friends from across the Regiment." Rifleman Popcynski, S Company, 1 RIFLES said: "Danny Nield was a true professional whose dedication and natural soldiering ability allowed him to fulfil the demanding role of an FAC in Afghanistan to an excellent level achieving real and substantial results. A good friend and fellow Rifleman, he will be greatly missed by his many friends and family alike." Rifleman Christopher Sharpe, S Company, 1 RIFLES said: "My thoughts of Danny are of his love for Gloucestershire, and Strongbow cider. He was a much loved member of the Mortar Platoon and will be missed greatly. It has been an honour to have known such a character of the Regiment and my heart felt condolences go to his family and the many people who knew him."


[ Lance Corporal Stephen Kingscott ]

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Lance Corporal Stephen Kingscott of 1st Battalion The Rifles Killed in Afghanistan on 16 February 2009. Lance Corporal Kingscott died during the assault of an enemy position during a deliberate operation against insurgents in the Nawa district of Helmand province. Stephen Michael Kingscott was born on 10 July 1986 at the Freedom Fields Hospital in his hometown of Plymouth.  Stephen joined the British Army after gaining seven GCSEs from the John Kitto Community College; he trained at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, and the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, before he joined his regiment, 1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland.

[ Stephen Michael Kingscott ]

In summer 2006 Lance Corporal Kingscott served in Iraq with 1st Battalion The Devon and Dorset Light Infantry before they were amalgamated into 1st Battalion The Rifles, in which he served in Belize, the Falkland Islands and Afghanistan. During pre-deployment training for Operation Herrick 9, he was selected for special language training, passing an intensive ten-week Dari course. In Afghanistan he was employed in the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) Battle Group, working in one of the small, tight-knit teams that train and fight alongside the Afghan National Army.  Lance Corporal Kingscott was a physically fit individual who enjoyed many sports and represented the battalion in the 1st XI football and cricket teams. When in Afghanistan he could also be found teaching and playing volleyball with the Afghan National Army in the Patrol Base. Lance Corporal Kingscott was an intelligent, competent, friendly and popular Rifleman who was dedicated to his work, selflessly placing himself in harm's way before his comrades. He was larger than life and would always be the first to raise the morale of his team when the going was tough in southern Helmand. Once, out patrolling in the Green Zone, his balance failed him whilst tiptoeing over a precarious log bridge, sending him tumbling into one of the many irrigation ditches. Right behind him, his Company Commander, Major Andy Watkins, asked after his well-being. As a team mate gave him a helping hand out of the water, his reply was simply "I wanted to try out my backstroke, it's getting a little rusty", and with a wry smile continued on with the patrol; testimony to his irrepressible sense of humour and cheerfulness in adversity. His commitment to those around him was a constant theme noted by his fellow Riflemen, who always found themselves behind Lance Corporal Kingscott when advancing on the enemy.  Stephen's parents, Wendy and Michael, his sister, Laura, and his fiancée, Gemma, said: "Stephen is our loving son, brother, grandson and fiancé, who died for his country. He will always be our hero and always in our thoughts." Lance Corporal 'Deaks' Matthews of C Company, 1 RIFLES, said: "Schnoz was a good bloke. He had a great sense of humour and was a fun guy to be around. He always knew how to make people laugh. He was a great soldier and did everything to the best. "He was a good friend of mine and he had good friends across the battalion; he will be greatly missed." As a Non-Commissioned Officer he held the respect of his company across all ranks and his high standards were a shining example to those around him and, in particular, to his Afghan colleagues.  His Team Commander, Captain Dan Holloway, commented on Lance Corporal Kingscott's "fearless nature in battle, always pushing on towards the enemy objective to take the fight to them" after one of the many examples of his physical and mental courage during an operation. Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer 1 RIFLES, said: "Lance Corporal Steve Kingscott died from wounds sustained in combat, despite the very best efforts of his fellow Riflemen on the spot - who had to fight to extract him - and the outstanding attempts to save his life by medical staff all the way back from battlefield to Field Hospital. "When Steve was hit he and his OMLT company colleagues, together with their Afghan National Army counterparts, were taking the fight to the enemy yet again in the latest of a series of brave and successful missions. "The depth of Steve's previous experience and the speed with which he picked up new skills made him a model Rifleman, no more so than on operations; that he was also a battalion 1st XI footballer and cricketer gives some idea of the breadth of his talent. "We are so sorry for Steve's parents and family, his beloved girlfriend, and his friends; they will miss him terribly, as we will. "He was a splendid representative of the Battalion and The Rifles. We are all very proud to have served alongside him. "Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman. Swift and Bold." Lance Corporal Kingscott will be sorely missed by all the members of 1st Battalion The Rifles, C Company in which he served, and the Afghan National Army soldiers he taught and fought alongside whilst deployed in Afghanistan. Steve is survived by his parents Michael and Wendy Kingscott, his sister Laura and his fiancée Gemma; the thoughts of his wider 'family' are with them at this difficult time.


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Left to right: Corporal Tom Gaden, Lance Corporal Paul Upton and Rifleman Jamie Gunn

Corporal Tom Gaden, Lance Corporal Paul Upton and Rifleman Jamie Gunn all of 1st Battalion The Rifles Regiment, Killed in southern Afghanistan yesterday, Wednesday 25 February 2009. The soldiers died from wounds sustained as a result of an enemy explosion during an escort patrol in Gereshk district, central Helmand province.

[ Corporal Tom Gaden ]

Corporal Tom Gaden, 1st Battalion The Rifles Corporal Tom Gaden was killed in action on Wednesday 25 February 2009 when the vehicle in which he and two other Riflemen of his Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) were travelling was struck by an IED on the highway East of Gereshk. He was on patrol with his OMLT with whom he had been operating since January 2009. Tom Gaden was born on 23 November 1984 in Taunton, attending Bishop Fox’s Community School. He took part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and had been a member of the Blackbrook Scout Troop.

He enlisted into the Army in Taunton and on completion of the Combat Infantryman’s Course at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, was posted to the Second Battalion, the Light Infantry (2 LI, later to become 3 RIFLES)) on 25 November 2002. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2005 and attended the Section Commanders' Battle course in the summer of 2006. His performance was remarked upon as the 'best of the 2 LI batch'. 

He served on Op TELIC 2 (Iraq) and on peace keeping operations in Cyprus, joining the 2 LI Recce (Reconnaissance) Platoon where he was 'zealous and enthusiastic' by nature, earning the respect of his peers and becoming one of the most popular members of his platoon. Corporal Gaden was posted to the First Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) in February 2008, moving to E Company that April, and was immediately selected to attend the Close Quarter Battle Skills Course with a view to passing on these skills to the Company for the tour to Afghanistan. However, he was almost immediately selected to deploy as a Section Commander to Um Qasr, Iraq, as part of the Battalion’s commitment to that operational theatre. He spent four months working with the Naval Transition Team before redeploying just after Christmas 2008 to rejoin his original team in a remote Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Helmand, Southern Afghanistan. Corporal Gaden was a competent and assuredly professional operator, selected for the technically complex skills of Close Quarter Battle, then selected again to carry out a discrete and independent task for the Battalion. He took these rapid changes in his stride, remaining resourceful and flexible to the operational requirements and always relishing the challenge. He thrived in Iraq and led his Section with skill and determination throughout that short tour. On arrival in Afghanistan, he immediately involved himself in the small team environment in an isolated and austere FOB, as team 3ic (third in command), stepping up where necessary as second in command of the team.  Corporal Gaden was a Rifleman of the calibre that has shaped the Regiment’s reputation and the Battalion’s character and ethos. He was well known for his strong faith and deep sense of duty, which was reflected in his qualities as a commander and friend to those around him. He was part of the future of this great organisation and his sacrifice will be felt by all Riflemen. Our sense of loss cannot match the sorrow and grief that is being felt by Corporal Gaden’s family, and his fiancée. Our prayers are with them at this time.  Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman, 'Swift and Bold'

Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer, 1 RIFLES: "The news that Corporal Tom Gaden had been killed by an Improvised Explosive Device was devastating for the Battalion and heart-breaking for his family and friends. "It has been a bitter blow. Of all of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams, Tom's was one of the tightest knit, as a result of its relative isolation and the challenges the team has overcome in the course of this tour; of consolation to Tom and his fellow heroic Riflemen will be the fact that they fell together. "I remember Tom from my 2 LI days in Edinburgh; there he was already showing great potential and the signs that he would develop into an outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer. He was already a popular and respected leader. "In addition he had amassed rich, impressive achievements and experiences from outside Army life - most of all his beloved young family - and as a result he will be very badly and widely missed."

Major Jonathan (Jonny) Kitson, Officer Commanding E Company, 1 RIFLES: "I had the uncomfortable duty of welcoming Corporal Gaden into the Company on the same day as I had to task him for a four month tour of Iraq. He took the news in a manner befitting his calm and professional reputation. His only concern was that he should be able to get back to E Company as quickly as possible, which he did in January of this year. "He had an immediate impact on his team, galvanising the Riflemen’s efforts and surging forward with a passion for the task at hand. He showed a significant degree of care and compassion for his Rifleman, no doubt emanating from the strong faith that he held at the centre of his life. "The Company mourns a great leader and a firm friend." Captain Rich Camp, Team Commander OMLT 9: "Corporal Tom Gaden joined OMLT 9 at the start of the year having served the four previous months in Iraq. Initially the team 3i/c, he had recently stepped up as my Second in Command and it was in that role he was serving on 25 February 2009 as a vehicle commander. "His professional competence and diligence were clear for all to see – he saw the Riflemen who worked for him as being a great responsibility which he served tirelessly. His love of the Army was an inspirational driving force for everyone, and his experience and professional knowledge were of great benefit to us all. "Much of his time was spent with the lads training in the gym and he was a physically strong man. It would not be unusual to see him with a group of willing volunteers running phys [physical training] after a patrol; a testament to his nature and the admiration the team had for him.  "An exceptional NCO and natural leader, the loss of Tom is a crushing blow to the OMLT, professionally and personally. He was a close friend to us all and held in high regard across the Regiment. "I know however, this will be felt most keenly by his parents and young family in Taunton, of whom he talked a great deal – my thoughts and prayers go out to them." A/Cpl Woolley, A/Cpl Southwick, A/Cpl O’Neill, Rfn Diamond, OMLT 9 team-mates: "Cpl Gaden, 'Tomo' as he was known to us, was a very keen soldier who took the role of 2IC when he came to Afghanistan. He was a much loved and respected Rifleman to us all. "Tomo will be missed for his keenness and his passion for the job, and his love and loyalty to his friends and family. "Reveille, Tom"  Corporal Tom Gaden's mother, Judy; father, Nick; fiancée, Amanda; sister, Ruth; and brother, Sam, made the following statement: "Tom was an inspiration to the whole family. He was a soldier through and through and the rock that kept our family together. "He was very loving, never judged anyone and was always very supportive, nothing was ever too much trouble for him. "We are trying to come to terms with our devastating loss and kindly request that the media respects our need for privacy."


[ Corporal Tom Gaden ]

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Lance Corporal Paul 'Uppers' Upton, 1st Battalion the Rifles Acting Lance Corporal Paul Upton was killed in action when the vehicle in which he and two other Riflemen of his OMLT were travelling was struck by an IED the highway East of Gereshk on Wednesday 25 February 2009. He was on patrol with his OMLT with whom he had been operating since April 2008. Paul Upton was born in Paderborn on 17 March 1977. He originally enlisted into the Army in Salisbury in August 1986. On completion of his Combat Infantryman’s course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick he was posted to A Company, First Battalion The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (1 RGBW) on 24 February 1997.  He served in the Anti-Tank Platoon with a tour to Northern Ireland and exercises in Canada. Lance Corporal Upton left the army in 2000 to pursue other interests, although he was deployed as a reservist to Kosovo with the First Battalion the Princess’s of Wales Royal Regiment. He re-enlisted in December 2007 and was posted to E Company, First Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) in April 2008, in time to commence Pre-Deployment Training for  their operational tour in Afghanistan, alongside his brother Leon, a Serjeant in C Company of the same Battalion.  Lance Corporal Upton was thirty one years old. Mature and experienced, lance Corporal Upton immediately settled back into Regimental life. It was as if he had never been away and he clearly relished being back in the Battalion environment and back with many of his friends from his former Regiment. His determined and friendly manner was evident in his energetic approach to all he did, and he took many of the younger Riflemen under his wing, offering advice, but never forcing it, and ‘digging out blind’ at all tasks. He led by example and encouraged others with boundless enthusiasm and a ready smile. He was a clear candidate for the forthcoming Non-Commissioned Officer cadre and had already shown his ability and potential as an Acting Lance Corporal during the tour. As a Mentor to the Afghan National Army, his patience and maturity shone through and he was a vital part of the mentoring effort.  This tragic loss will be felt sorely by all who knew him in the Battalion, and particularly by his team-mates. He was a constant presence and a rock for the team, bearing adversity and hardship with consummate ease and a constantly bright outlook on life, which was a bonus to all who knew him. However, we feel most for the sorrow and grief of Paul’s parents Peter and Christine, his brother Leon, and his much loved son Jake. Our sense of loss is nothing compared to their grief and we are thinking and praying for them at this time. Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman, 'Swift and Bold'

Lance Corporal Paul Upton of 1 RIFLES Lance Corporal Upton's friends and colleagues paid the following tributes: "It has been very difficult to come to terms with the death of Lance Corporal Paul Upton, killed yesterday by an Improvised Explosive Device while patrolling with his fellow Riflemen. "While the Battalion has rallied round - most of all to support his proud and immensely popular and talented  brother Serjeant Leon Upton, of C Company - it has been devastating. Paul was a slightly unusual Rifleman, in that he had only recently re-joined after a long spell in 'civvy street'.  "I remember as if it was yesterday his first day back in the Battalion as we bantered in the corridor; his sense of excitement was palpable and inspiring, and it was quite clear to all of us that he knew that he was back where he belonged. "We are proud of this young man - and the decisions he has taken - and will miss him terribly." Major Jonathan (Jonny) Kitson, Officer Commanding E Company, 1 RIFLES: "Acting Lance Corporal Upton was an ideal Rifleman: constantly upbeat, diligent and a grafter who worked hard for others before himself. His determination to get back into the swing of things having re-joined the army was evident from the start of the pre-deployment package and he was recognised instantly as a future Junior Non-Commissioned Officer. He clearly loved his profession and he cared deeply for his fellow Riflemen.  "Polite and well mannered, his tidiness and attention to administrative detail were legendary, to the point of obsession. However, this made him a perfect vehicle 2IC (second in command) and he was never to be found without all his kit and equipment in perfect readiness for any task. "The Company has lost a dear friend and a great character who will be remembered as the quintessential Rifleman." Captain Rich Camp, Team Commander Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) 9: "Acting Lance Corporal Paul Upton ('Uppers') joined my team at the very start of pre-deployment training and brought far more than his rank would suggest. "He was mature and caring, treating everyone he met with kindness and respect. In terms of professionalism, he was consummate. His years of experience were of significant benefit to us all, and counted for a great deal on the ground. He always had time to chat to the lads and was the centre of a lot of morale in the team.

"Uppers was a keen and talented artist who spent a lot of his spare time with his sketch book. The results were outstanding. He designed all manner of things, and indeed had a waiting list for tattoo designs across the Forward Operating Base in which we worked. Uppers was one of the most organised men I have ever met, and this combined with his enduring patience, made him an outstanding asset and hugely valuable when dealing with the Afghan National Army. "Uppers was a genuinely kind person with time for anyone who needed it – one of life’s true gentlemen. His talk was often of his boy and brother, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his whole family who will be feeling this terrible loss the most. "It was a true honour to serve with him, and he is sorely missed as a close friend by the whole team." A/Cpl Woolley, A/Cpl Southwick, A/Cpl O’Neill, Rfn Diamond, OMLT 9 team mates: "LCpl Upton was better known as 'Uppers'. For a soldier who had been out of the forces for eight years to re-enlist in time for pre-deployment to Afghanistan, Uppers rolled back into the way of life as if he had not been out. "He was an excellent Rifleman to work alongside, as all of the team would tell you. He will be best remembered for his obsession for cleaning and his artistic drawings and being an outstanding and well loved Rifleman." Lance Corporal Paul Upton's mother, Tina, said: "Paul had his life cut short doing a job he loved and he will be greatly missed by family and friends."


[ Rifleman Jamie Gunn ]

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Rifleman Jamie Gunn, 1st Battalion the Rifles  Rifleman Jamie Gunn was killed in action when the vehicle in which he and two other Riflemen of his OMLT were travelling was struck by an IED on the highway East of Gereshk on Wednesday 25 February 2009. He was on patrol with his Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team with whom he had been operating since April 2008. Jamie Gunn was born on 4 August 1987 in Leamington Spa and grew up in Monmouth, Wales. He was selected as  an apprentice for Land Rover before deciding that his future lay in the armed forces.  Soon after turning twenty, he enlisted into the Army in Hereford on 20 November 2007. Whilst waiting to start his basic training he worked long hours to get to the peak of physical fitness. He successfully completed his Combat Infantryman’s course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick in May 2008, triumphing over an injury to reach the required standard. On passing out from the Centre he was posted to ‘E’ Company (E Coy), First Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES), in Beachley, Gloucestershire. He was twenty-one years old. As a new Rifleman in the newly formed Company, Rifleman Gunn settled in quickly to the hectic pace of Pre-Deployment Training, where his previous experience as a Land Rover mechanic was put to good use.  Practical with his hands and always keen to help, he was an asset to the team in making their life more comfortable when in the rough conditions of exercise and later on operations in Helmand, southern Afghanistan. Careful in his choice of friends, he was a loyal and conscientious young man who was enthusiastic about his expectant career. Predictably, he came out of his shell once the tour started in earnest, quickly establishing himself as a core member of his team and earning the respect of his commanders and fellow Riflemen alike. Humorous, and at the centre of every banter session, he was clearly relishing his chosen profession, taking pride in his work and totally at ease in the harsh and austere working environment of these eight-man teams. His valuable work with the soldiers of the Afghan National Army saw them develop noticeably over the months he acted as a Mentor. He was an integral part of a small and tight knit team, forged by common experience and communal struggle. His loss drives a deep sadness into this team and he will be sorely missed by those who will continue the struggle.  Our pain does not compare to the grief of his parents, Janet and Mervyn, and his sister Jess; our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time. Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman, 'Swift and Bold' Rifleman Gunn's friends and colleagues paid the following tributes: Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer, 1 RIFLES: "I was shocked and stunned by the news early yesterday morning that Rifleman Jamie Gunn had been killed with two fellow Riflemen by an Improvised Explosive Device. This was a terrible shock for us and will be heart-rending for his family and friends. "For one so young and inexperienced at the start of this operation, he had been performing superbly, and had grown into a very impressive, mature and confident Rifleman. "He was showing as much potential as anyone and would no doubt have 'smashed' through the Junior Non-Commissioned Officer training later this year as he pressed on to even bigger and better things. "We will remember his enviably calm, cool attitude under pressure - and his smile when the going was better. He will be very deeply missed." Major Jonathan (Jonny) Kitson, Officer Commanding E Company, 1 RIFLES: "Rifleman Gunn was a typical example of the calibre of young men in this Battle Group, and showed all the characteristics and grit that have helped to make the mentoring mission here in Helmand so successful. "As a junior member of the Company during the pre-deployment training package, he was relatively quiet and unassuming, but he listened intently, took on board the lessons being taught, and worked hard to establish himself in his Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team. His skills as a former apprentice mechanic were quickly pressed into service. "When I saw him in January, I did not recognise the fresh faced young Rifleman I had met in May last year. He was confident, assured, clearly at the top of his game as a soldier – a professional in all aspects. Despite his relative lack of experience, his Team Commander had already identified him as a potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officer. "We have lost a fine Rifleman and a dear friend." Captain Rich Camp, Team Commander OMLT 9: "Rifleman Jamie Gunn ('Gunny') joined my team fresh out of training and quickly established himself as a key member of it, deploying with OMLT 9 to Afghanistan in September 2008. Working in a difficult environment where maturity is critical, he impressed all who had the pleasure to work with him. "He was immensely popular; ever smiling and always willing to laugh whatever the situation. Physically and mentally strong, Gunny worked tirelessly alongside his team-mates - no job was ever too big and he was never too tired to ‘crack on’ and get something sorted if it needed doing. He was often to be found at the centre of the banter, giving easily as good as he got, passing the time with the many close friends he had around him. "He retained a cool head regardless of the situation throughout the tour, something of great credit to a man of his age. He learned and understood his core business remarkably quickly and had clear aspirations for life in the Regiment after Afghanistan; I have no doubt that he would have thrived in the Rifles. "Working in the teams we do, fellow Riflemen stop being colleagues and start being friends in the first few days – it is an honour to say he was a good friend of mine; a feeling echoed by every man in the team. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents and sister of whom he talked a great deal, and who will be feeling this tragic loss more than anyone." A/Cpl Woolley, A/Cpl Southwick, A/Cpl O’Neill, Rfn Diamond, OMLT 9 team mates: "Rifleman Gunn, also known as Gunny, or Gumbo, was a fairly new and young Rifleman, but that did not stop him from being outstanding at his job and having a brilliant sense of humour. He was loved by all that worked with him. "He will best be remembered for being the only Welshman who was scared of sheep and for being a brilliant friend to us all." Rifleman Jamie Gunn's family including his mother, Janet; father, Mervyn; and sister, Jessica, made the following statement: "Jamie's proudest desire was that he wanted to shine in life. "He was a funny, popular lad who loved his mates and the girls but most of all we are so proud of our son, brother and grandson who will always shine in our hearts forever."


[ Rifleman Adrian Sheldon ]

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Rifleman Adrian Sheldon of 2nd Battalion The Rifles. Rfn Sheldon was killed in Afghanistan on the evening of Thursday 7 May 2009 as a result of an explosion when travelling in a Jackal vehicle near Sangin in Helmand province. Rifleman ‘Shelly’ Sheldon first joined the Battalion in March 2001, having completed training at the Army Foundation College Harrogate and the Infantry Training Centre Catterick.  He served on operations in Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. He then left the Army, to try something else, and spent time working in IT Recruitment and for a Driving Agency. But it soon became clear that life as a 'civvy' was not for him and he returned to the Battalion in time to begin our pre-deployment training for Afghanistan. He served in 8 Platoon, the Fire Support Platoon in B Company, 2 Rifles. A Rifleman first and foremost, he was an extremely well-qualified driver and, got stuck in to the task of learning the JACKAL, the vehicle he was to drive in Afghanistan. He set about learning his new job at the double and with an enviable alacrity. When not driving the JACKAL, he also took his place in a Rifle Section as Machine Gunner. Rfn Sheldon came from Kirkby-in-Ashfield; he was a Mansfield lad. He was an avid Mansfield Town supporter and followed the Stags from a young age. He also supported Manchester United – an unprecedented mix. He also enjoyed rugby, socialising with friends, and TV sports especially darts. Rfn Sheldon leaves behind his parents, Mark and Diane Sheldon, and his younger sister, Amy.

His family have released the following statement: "Adrian was our son best mate our hero, the light of our lives has gone out and never to be replaced." Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, CO 2 Rifles Battle Group North, said: "Rifleman Sheldon was one of those 'rocks' in my Fire Support Groups. Deeply experienced on operations and in life, he was an outstanding role model to all of us who count it a privilege to have served alongside him. "He was a master of his trade and, like his brother Riflemen, he was thriving here in North Helmand; he was at the very forefront of his Company’s operations to make a difference for the people of Afghanistan . "One of what I call my 'Mansfield gang', he was not a noisy Rifleman like some but there was an enviable depth and maturity to his character, which drew Riflemen of all ranks to him. "He is sorely missed. But I know that our grief is nothing compared to that which his devoted parents and sister will be enduring. They are firmly front and centre of our thoughts and prayers at this unimaginably difficult time. "His fellow Riflemen are back in action and I know that Rifleman Sheldon, such was his commitment, would have been the first to order the Bugle Major to 'Sound the Advance' ." Major Iain Moodie, Officer Commanding B Company, 2 Rifles, said: "Rifleman Sheldon, although new to B Company, arrived back as an old friend to the Battalion and quickly settled in. His quiet, self-effacing manner and cheeky grin often masked his maturity, experience and wisdom, but never his dry sense of humour. "He was a hugely experienced Rifleman - in support weapons, as a driver and in life. He slipped back into soldiering naturally after his short stint in 'civvy street', as if he was back home. He relished the challenge of operating in Afghanistan and loved being surrounded by fellow Riflemen. "He was a hugely competent and experienced driver, as well as a Machine Gunner when on foot. His calmness under pressure and steady hand was always welcome to the more junior members of the Company. "His quick and dry wit underpinned everything and it was always great fun to be in his presence. No matter what the rank, a quick-fire ribbing and a big grin was always the approach from him. "We are all grieving in FOB Inkerman with him gone – we have lost a brother. But what we are feeling, we know, is nothing compared to that which his family are going through. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents and sister during this tragic time. Tomorrow we will go on with our mission, mindful of our tragic loss, but galvanised to do the job we have been sent here to do. We do this with the knowledge that Shelly would have wanted it no other way." Colour Serjeant Bell Fire Support Group (FSG) 2nd in Command (2IC), B Company, 2 Rifles, said: "I was very fortunate to serve with Shelly on Op TELIC 2 in Iraq. He was an excellent soldier who relished the challenge of operations, surrounded by his mates. "He left the Army but soon re-enlisted, and, fortunately for us, civvy-street did not remove his dry sense of humour. Shelly was great for keeping up morale with his dry sense of humour and he was never shy of cracking jokes. "In addition to his quick wit, he was very quick to get to work and understood the seriousness of our job. His experience meant that he was an ‘old hand’ and his judgement and common-sense approach was respected by all. His death has come as a massive blow to the Platoon. "We all grieve the death of a great friend, a soldier but, more so, a brother Rifleman. "Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman - Swift and Bold." Second Lieutenant Tom Parry, Platoon Commander, B Company, 2 Rifles said: "Rifleman Sheldon was a much loved member of the Fire Support Platoon. He was a professional soldier and team player. "Shelly had seen operational experience in Sierra Leone , Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and most recently in Forward Operating Base Inkerman, Afghanistan . His experience and sense of humour rubbed off on those within the platoon and he could always be depended upon to get the job done. "Rifleman Sheldon was a strong member of Two Section, carrying the Light Machine Gun for many hours on numerous patrols into the Green Zone. He was called on for his Jackal driving experience when out on desert patrols. I remember teasing Shelly as he was preparing the vehicle for patrol and he always had some banter to throw back. "Rifleman Sheldon was a friend to me, and considered a best friend by many of the men of the FSG. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Swift and Bold."

Cpl Williams, Section Commander, FSG, B Company, 2 Rifles, added: "The tragic and untimely death of Rifleman Sheldon has left a hole in our section which cannot be replaced, either as a man or as a soldier. "Intelligent, quick-witted and highly capable, Shelly was equally loved and respected throughout the platoon. His abilities, character and willingness to laugh at the absurdities of life, made him a joy to serve with and means that he will be deeply missed by us all. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time." Rfn Baleisuva, FSG, B Company, 2 Rifles, said: "Rifleman Sheldon was a very good and kind person to know. He always made everyone laugh and, no matter how hard the times, he always saw the funny side of it. "We often had a can of pop after a patrol and talked about life out here. Everyone who was on the ground with him is affected by his death and we did all we could to get him out safely into more qualified care. I still have his can of pop. "Shelly, we will always remember you and remember that you are a Chosen Man. God Bless you." "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord - Psalm 150:6" Capt Al Davis, B Company, 2 Rifles, said: "For the short period I knew Rifleman Sheldon he was a quiet, considered but a whole-hearted soldier. He was extremely popular within the platoon due to his selfless loyalty and cheerful temperament in all that he did. "He was utterly dependable whatever the task and relished the new challenge of becoming a JACKAL driver prior to deploying with B Company on Op HERRICK 10. It was a role for which he showed great aptitude and understanding. "Never overtly ambitious, a reflection of his gentle nature, he embodied the commitment and steadfast maturity of a senior Rifleman within the Fire Support Group. Rifleman Sheldon was his own man, true to the ethos of our Regiment where individual thought is praised and greatly encouraged. "He will be forever remembered as a devoted and loyal son to a loving Platoon and Regiment. Our thoughts and prayers now rest with his family back home." Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander of Task Force Helmand, said: "It has been a very sad day and we have lost some dear friends and colleagues; all of them brave, committed and professional soldiers. They epitomise all the men and women who serve within my Task Force. We will each take some quiet moments to honour those who have died and then we will carry on with our tasks. "These attacks were indiscriminate and uncoordinated and serve only to harden our determination and resolve."


[ Rifleman Cyrus Thatcher ]

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Rifleman Thatcher died as a result of an explosion whilst he was on a patrol near Gereshk in Helmand province. Rifleman Thatcher, aged 19, joined 2nd Battalion The Rifles in December 2007 and deployed almost immediately to Salisbury Plain on a Battle Group exercise with 10 Platoon, C Company. Even as a new and junior Rifleman, he showed great promise from the outset. He won a battalion award for valour at the end of the testing exercise for preventing a counter-attack during a particularly tricky operation clearing a wood block. His all-round qualities were confirmed when Rifleman Thatcher was selected to go to the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick as a mentor to new recruits. He was an exemplary role model. In summer 2008 he deployed on his first operational tour to Kosovo on Operation VALERO, where he thrived. On return, he threw himself into pre-deployment training as his company prepared for Afghanistan. Life was full-on and he was involved in every turn of the training wheel. He performed brilliantly on the Battle Group's final exercise before deployment. At a particularly difficult moment on the confirmatory exercise, he stood up as a section commander, leading his fellow Riflemen through a wood clearance with great confidence and skill. He deployed in April 2009 to Afghanistan as a General Purpose Machine Gunner, a testament to his strength and fitness. He had already been identified as a potential section second-in-command. He had set his heart on promotion or joining the Sniper Platoon after Afghanistan; he would have excelled whichever path he took for, quite simply, Rifleman Thatcher was a Rifleman of immense promise. Rifleman Thatcher came from Caversham in Reading. His passions were Manchester United, all things football, and spending time with his two brothers and his parents.

Rifleman Thatcher's parents, Robin and Helena, and brothers Zac and Steely, gave the following tribute: "Cyrus was a much-loved son and brother whose loss we will never recover from. He loved his job and was proud to serve his country. We will always be immensely proud of him. He will forever be in our hearts and minds." Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Rifles, said: "Rifleman Thatcher was one of a tremendous gang of young Riflemen who joined us in between Iraq and Afghanistan. He had a heart for adventure; his prize for valour on our testing exercise back in February 2008, within three months of joining the battalion, was a tandem freefall jump from 12,000 feet.  "As he received the prize, it was all he could do to utter that he hated aeroplanes - passionately so. To his huge credit, he jumped and, not only that, he ensured that his family was there to record the event for posterity. His grin when he returned to tell us all about it was a picture. And in Kosovo, his first operational tour, he thrived on the diversity of that country and the task in hand. "He was one of the very best - a real thinking Rifleman whose questions were always perceptive and on the money; those questions proved to me that his rivers ran deep. Less experienced than some but you would never have known. He was one of those few who genuinely had a rucksack full of potential. "He was fiercely proud of all he had achieved and was the live-wire in one of my strongest platoons. He lapped up the skills we require for this place and, under the most demanding of circumstances, he was standing tall. He knew he was making a difference for the benefit of the Afghan people. "As his Commanding Officer, I count it a privilege of the highest order to have known Rifleman Thatcher. His life was one of such promise and he is sorely missed. But I know that our sadness is nothing compared to that of his dearly loved and hugely supportive parents and proud brothers. "His family is right at the very centre of our prayers at this unimaginably difficult time. Rifleman Thatcher would have been the first to tell us to get back up 'on the ramparts' and that is where this Battle Group is and will remain." Major Alastair Field, Officer Commanding C Company, said: "Rifleman Thatcher was an outstanding 19-year-old Rifleman who simmered with potential. Readily accepted and respected by all ranks, Rifleman Thatcher was arguably one of the best Riflemen in my Company. He had it all - a fit, strong and intelligent exterior and a caring but wicked sense of humour beneath. A ray of morale always shone through, whatever the weather and circumstances. No job was too tough. His Platoon, Company, Battalion and the wider British Army has lost a rising star and personality."

Lieutenant Paul Mervis, Officer Commanding 10 Platoon, said: "There are many good men out here but 'Thatch' was one of the best. The darker and colder the night, the bigger was his smile. The hotter and longer the day, the louder was his laugh. His sense of humour trumped all adversity, whether it was an infectious giggle when morale was low or a practical joke. He was always there to provide solace for the men. "His attributes as a soldier were exemplary. He had the world at his feet. He was on line for the next Junior NCO [Non-Commissioned Officer] cadre despite his age and experience. He was utterly reliable. "Perhaps what I saw more than others was his deeply caring and thoughtful nature. Whether it was giving or sharing his welfare parcels with his friends or the sympathy he showed for the local Afghans he met on patrol. We have lost a good man, one whom I will never forget." Serjeant Leon Smith (spelling of sergeant with a 'j' is unique to The Rifles), Platoon Serjeant 10 Platoon, said: "Rifleman Thatcher was a ray of sunshine within 10 Platoon. Always giggling and joking, making the blokes smile. As a Rifleman, he was a pleasure to work with; reliable, trustworthy and giving others a hand when they needed it. The Junior NCOs could rely on him and, more so, me. "It would only be a matter of time on patrol, going firm in a compound, or on exercise somewhere in the UK, that you would hear his laugh - usually at a joke he had just cracked. I am going to miss that laugh and that Rifleman. Rest in Peace, my brother." Lance Corporal Joe Ells, Section Commander, said: "Rifleman Thatcher came to my section and, almost from the start, he managed to combine real competence as a good, reliable soldier with a wicked sense of humour. "I have known him too long and have been through too much with him to open up now. All I want is that he is remembered for the laughter, the jokes and the rippings. You are a mate and will never be forgotten." His friend Rifleman Stuart Elliot said: "It was an honour to have known Cyrus and to have fought with him on the battlefield. It won't be the same without him and I know his friends, family and loved ones will miss him greatly. "He was a great friend and never failed to keep morale high. Whenever times were hard, you could count on him to be cracking the jokes. He gave his life doing what he loved. "When he first joined the platoon, he was quiet and shy but it didn't take him long to show his true colours for the rascal he really was. He soon started the practical jokes and that is the way we will always remember him; his memory lives on - forever.


[ Lieutenant Paul Mervis ]

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Lieutenant Paul Mervis from The 2nd Battalion the Rifles (2 RIFLES) was killed as a result of an explosion during a deliberate operation near Sangin, northern Helmand Province, Afghanistan on the morning of 12 June 2009. Lieutenant Paul Mervis, born on 30th September 1981, grew up in London and was educated at King's College Wimbledon. He then spent a gap year in China and Israel before going on to study Philosophy at University College London. Summer holidays were invariably spent in Africa in the Namibian bush. Post graduation, his passion in geo-politics and travel led him into the world of journalism where he was involved with The Week and The Spectator. But it wasn’t long before his thirst for adventure drew him into the British Army.  Lt Mervis was one of the very first officers to commission into the newly formed RIFLES in April 2007. After the testing Platoon Commander's Course at Brecon, he was posted to 2 RIFLES as the Platoon Commander of 10 Platoon and he was straight into the mix. He led his Platoon with distinction on a demanding TESEX before deploying with the Battle Group to Kosovo, where he thrived on his first operational tour. He was in his element in the diversity of that place and it soon showed that he was an operational soldier who relished overseas deployments. 2 RIFLES then entered an intensive period of pre-deployment training for HERRICK 10 and, for Lt Mervis, the operation could not come soon enough. Lt Mervis' unique character and leadership forged a very special Platoon. Every exercise and training serial, whether Platoon, Company or Battalion, was tackled with the vigour, thoroughness and professionalism of someone who cared passionately about his Riflemen and who was prepared to strain every sinew in preparing for the demands of operations in Helmand. During his first two months of the tour, based out of Forward Operating (FOB) Base Gibraltar as part of Battle Group (North), Lt Mervis was at the forefront of all his Company's operations. He fought hard and led his Platoon through tragic times, when Rifleman Thatcher was killed in action he was a rock to those he commanded. It was typical of the man that he led from the front in one of Afghanistan's most demanding and dangerous districts. Tragically, Lieutenant Paul Mervis was killed, whilst on a foot patrol, by an explosion north of FOB Gibraltar on 12 June 2009. Lt Mervis' family Jonathan and Margaret, Hannah and Jack Mervis said: "Paul was a wonderful, loving son, brother and friend – generous and thoughtful, with an infectious sense of fun. Paul was killed doing the job he chose and loved. He was passionately committed to his men – far beyond mere duty. He had read widely about Afghanistan, and went with a genuine desire to help bring enough stability there to enable reconstruction to follow." Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES BG, Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson said: "Lieutenant Paul Mervis was utterly irrepressible. There was no more committed officer in the Rifles and the Riflemen adored being under his command. "He was one of those leaders who, out here, was always first onto the objective. He had taken the fight to the enemy at every turn and it had not been without a cost - Rifleman Thatcher was in his Platoon and his beloved 10 Platoon had already had two other Riflemen wounded in action, including his Platoon Serjeant. "It was a cost which hurt him to the core but it did not deter him. He adored platoon command and the richness of its challenge and there was nothing he would not do for one of his Riflemen. In the Mess, most of us could not keep up with him. "He was always the first to grab the wine list in a restaurant, opining that only he knew the best clarets. He was the officer who sent my children the highest on the trampoline and they loved him for it. "But Paul was not just a fun-lover, he was full of enquiry and was a deep thinker - about soldiering and about life. Out here, he had established a model relationship with the Afghan National Army in his Forward Operating Base - he had an enviable ability to encourage, cajole, inspire and motivate them. "He read more about Afghanistan than anyone as we prepared for this tour and his empathy for the people of this fascinating country was exemplary. He had been due to move on soon to train recruit Riflemen back in Catterick which he would have done brilliantly but it is a measure of the man and his passion for those he commanded that, since our arrival here, he had, on every occasion we met, asked if he could stay on. He was already planning to return to Afghanistan next year. 

"His mother and father were so proud of him and all that he had selflessly achieved and our thoughts and prayers must be with them and Paul's brother and sister at this unimaginably awful time. But this will be some solace - their son, Paul, died in command, at the front of his platoon, leading it on operations fighting in a just cause for the benefit of impoverished Afghans. "He would want nothing more than for us to get back up onto the ramparts, with the Bugle sounding, to let the enemy know that we are coming back."

[ Paul Mervis ]

Officer Commanding C Company, Major Alastair Field said:  "Paul Mervis was a one in a trillion. I have never met a more passionate and engaging young officer in my twelve years in the Army. "His thirst for knowledge was unquenchable. You knew when 'Merv' was out of the Mess when the periodicals and Amazon parcels he had ordered piled up on the post table! "I could not have wanted more of him as a Platoon Commander – less perhaps the odd ironed shirt. Full-on, intelligently so, he was caring and understanding in the best way. He had a sharp intellect and immediately got the bigger picture faster than most of us and did so without a trace of arrogance. "He also had that ingredient of plain old presence and leadership which only a few genuinely possess. The reputation Paul had personally engineered for his Platoon was enviable in the Battalion. "No one signed off under his command – a true testament to the high morale he had created. We could all see his longer term potential, both on the staff and later in command. Sadly his raw talent will not have the chance to flourish. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved parents and his brother and his sister." Platoon Serjeant 10 Platoon, Corporal Steve Childs said: "No words that I can say will ever be enough to sum up the character of Mr Mervis. I know that, if it’s possible, you will be looking down on us with Thatch, throwing the banter around with your cheesy smile in tow. "Perhaps his greatest characteristic and what we will all remember most was how passionate he was – I have never seen a Platoon Commander who did so much to look after his men. "He had our utmost respect as a Platoon Commander, but perhaps more so as a genuine friend. Mr Mervis achieved so much in his short life. I assess the thing he was most proud of, however, was commanding the men he loved. Mr Mervis was rightfully proud of what he had achieved by commanding 10 Platoon. "He died doing what he loved, surrounded by us all who looked up to him. May your soul rest in peace. You will never be forgotten." Company Serjeant Major C Company Warrant Officer Class Two Simon Thomson said: "Mr Mervis was larger and louder than life itself. From a Rifleman's perspective he was the model Rifles Officer. "Yes, he was scruffy and at times allowed the Platoon Commander/Rifleman relationship to become a little more relaxed than perhaps The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst had taught him but, in my twenty years in the Army, I have never met, nor am I likely to meet, a man who cared so much about his men. "He fought the corner of every single one of his men, striving to get the best course or job opportunity. He would telephone me whilst on leave to let me know that one of his Riflemen had a compassionate problem at home or when a Rifleman had missed his flight back to Northern Ireland." Platoon Commander C Company Lieutenant Andy Huxter said: "Paul Mervis was the epitome of a larger than life character. Arriving at the Battalion with a dislocated shoulder having fallen off St Paul's Cathedral set the tone for his Army career. "He knew and could share a joke with what seemed like everyone in Battalion. He invested in and cared for his men more than could be asked for, working all the hours of the day to make sure their best interests came first, all of which was done behind closed doors and not seen or known of by many. "He was an intellectual, deeply read and widely knowledgeable. Nothing could change his character or approach to life. The more you got to know Paul, the more complex and the more likeable a person one would find him. "His motivation could never be questioned because you knew that his men were always at the forefront of his mind. Paul was the best and most loyal of friends. He leaves a huge gap in our lives but also so many happy memories. We will miss you more than you could ever know. Be at peace.  "I don't know how to sum up Merv in one line, he was the life and soul of the Mess, clearly loved by all who knew him, and rightly so. Professionally he was the best. "He made me feel so welcome in the Mess and was a true friend to me, I could talk to him about absolutely anything. He was a credit to The Rifles and will never be forgotten." Section Commander Lance Corporal Joe Ells said: "It's difficult to write about someone who had such a strong and unique character. The 'Merv-dog' was no like no other officer, he was always joking and laughing like one of the lads. He wasn’t just a platoon commander but a friend too. "He loved 10 Platoon and his men to bits and it broke his and our hearts that he would be leaving us in July for a new job. Mr Mervis left us this morning surrounded by his men. He will always be part of 10 Platoon – tough Riflemen who were proud to be led by him. Rest in peace, Mr Mervis. Always 10!" Section Commander Corporal Sean Kirkham said: "Mr Mervis was in a league of his own! A top 'Boss', who always put his Riflemen first. He was also like a father figure to us. His leadership was the backbone of the Platoon after Rfn Thatcher was killed. "He has left us doing what he loved and was brilliant at – commanding 10 Platoon. Working with 'Merv-dog' was always fun. He would invariably have a big smile on his face or be trying to crack a joke. "You could hear his laugh anywhere in the FOB – usually it was at someone else's expense. He will be sorely missed by me and all of the lads of Mighty Ten. You inspired us and it has been a pleasure working with and knowing you. Rest in peace, my friend. Gone but never forgotten." Rifleman Stuart Elliot said: "Mr Mervis wasn't just our Platoon Commander, he was part of our 10 Platoon family. He also managed to be a good friend to all us too. "He will never be forgotten for the natural leader he was. He had time for everyone and would go out of his way to help anyone he could. We all now think he has joined up with Thatch on the re-org – 2 great friends re-united, giggling like 2 little school girls! "Mr Mervis had strength in depth. This was evident when Thatch left us. He stayed strong, leading his men from the front. We will now do this for him and make him proud."


[ Rifleman Daniel Hume ]

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Rifleman Daniel Hume of The 4th Battalion The Rifles, who was killed in Afghanistan on 9 July 2009. Rifleman Daniel Hume was killed in a contact explosion whilst on a foot patrol near Nad e-Ali, Helmand province. Rifleman Daniel Hume's family has made the following statement: "Daniel passed out of Catterick as top recruit and since joining the Army he was the happiest we had known him, he had truly found his place in the world. He believed in what the British army was trying to achieve and was confident. He was proud to serve his Country and was planning to move Battalion when he returned, so that he could guarantee a speedy return to Afghanistan. "We have lost a son and a best friend, his death has left a huge void in our lives, we are fiercely proud of him."

His Commanding Officer, Lt Col Rupert Jones MBE, said: "Rifleman Daniel Hume always said that he wanted one day to be RSM of the Battalion. This may at first appear to be an arrogant boast from a young soldier, but in his case it was anything but this. He was an exceptionally gifted young man who wanted to genuinely do something with his life and it would have been a brave man to bet against him to achieve his ambitions. "He only arrived in the Battalion at the end of April having just passed out from ITC Catterick where he was the Top Student. However, he was no stranger to success despite being only 22. He was a keen snowboarder, but his passion was downhill mountain bike racing and it was a passion for which he had a genuine talent. "He started racing at the age of 12 joining the Mountain Bike UK / SCOTT bikes squad in 2002. By the end of the season he was 3rd in the national rankings, with 6 wins to his name. It was clear even at this stage that he was a genuine star in the making. More success followed and in 2004 he came 42nd in the Downhill World Cup. Rifleman Hume was a young man with extraordinary talent and a real thirst for life. "He was born in Slough, before moving to Maidenhead where he was educated at Furze Platt Senior School and then at Reading College. Despite his talent on a bike he accepted that he wouldn't make a living from it and a career in the military beckoned. Initially he headed towards the Royal Marines, attending the Commando Course in 2007. Displaying his typical determination and physical ability, he was nearing the end of the course when he took himself off for personal reasons. Over the next year he worked for a courier company before the call of the bugle drew him to the Army.  "The Royal Marines' loss was the Rifles' gain. In training he was nothing short of a star; always first in everything, immaculately turned out, but always there for his mates and up for a laugh. When his friends were struggling, he was there for them with a kind and encouraging word and assistance. He was a natural prankster and up for a challenge, but despite this mischievous streak, like the very best Riflemen, he was never caught. "He arrived in 4 RIFLES at a difficult time with the bulk of Pre Deployment Training completed, but it was testament to his quick and confident manner that he settled into his platoon making an immediate impact. He was a true professional, utterly determined in everything he did and it was no surprise that he rapidly mastered the skills that he would need in Afghanistan. In his short time in Helmand, he came to be a Rifleman that both his friends and commanders could totally rely upon, no matter what the task. "He was a man with boundless energy, naturally fit and a sportsman, with exceptional motivation and will to succeed. Despite all of his ability, he was truly humble and was just one of the Riflemen - loved and trusted. In difficult times you need men of character who rise to the immense challenges that we ask of our young men; Rifleman Hume was one such man. He had become a rock within his section that belied his relative inexperience. With depth beyond his years, he had an unusually mature head on his shoulders.  "In the short time he was with 4 RIFLES he made a huge impact within B Company. Identified from the outset as a star of the future, he drew rare praise from his Company Serjeant Major and even the senior Riflemen had come to rely on him. "Rifleman Hume was the epitome of the Thinking Rifleman. Early promotion beckoned and he had his eye on a move to the Sniper Platoon to join some of our very finest Riflemen. The Snipers sit at the heart of the Rifles tradition and he would have excelled with them. Mature and perceptive, his aspiration for the year was to complete the tour safely. Cruel fate has denied him this. "His brother Riflemen have been robbed of a future leader, who would over the coming years have been at the forefront of his generation. However, his family have lost much more - they have lost a beloved brother and son. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the 4 RIFLES family are with them at this tragic time. We will remember him. "Swift and Bold."  From his Officer Commanding, Major Neil Bellamy: "Rifleman Daniel Hume had a tremendous amount of energy surrounding him and only had one gear - 5th gear! He would approach every task whether small and insignificant or vitally important with the same degree of diligence and enthusiasm. I first came across Rifleman Hume during the RSOI package helping to organise his Section with the style of an ambitious young JNCO. I was surprised to find out later that day that he was a relative new boy and it was apparent to me then that he was destined for a rapid rise up the promotion ladder. "As a selfless and incredibly professional young soldier, he will remain as an example to us all, but more importantly as a close friend and fellow Rifleman he will be greatly missed by us all." Company Sergeant Major, WO2 Danny McCreith, said: "You would think that there would not be much to say about a Rifleman that had arrived in B Company in early April; how wrong you would be! Rifleman Hume came across as soldier with more experience, drive and will to succeed than many of his more senior colleagues. "I remember one of our first days in PB SILAB, when Rifleman Hume and I helped build a Sangar at the front gate. I can honestly say that I have never come across a Rifleman who put so much effort into a task and felt so much pride in the achievement. It was at this stage that I spoke to the OC and highlighted a star for the future. Rifleman Hume had genuine desire to win and this was evident during a 5-a-side football match against the Gunners on one of our quieter days. Rifleman Hume had to be substituted because of his over enthusiastic approach, no malice just raw energy. "I have no doubt that this young soldier had a bright future ahead of him and my thoughts at this very difficult time lie with his family and friends. RIP Rifleman Daniel Hume from one Rifleman to another." From his Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Matt Littlejohn: "Rifleman Daniel Hume was without doubt a rising star in 5 Platoon. He made an indelible mark not only with those in his platoon, but also within the wider audience of B Company, 4 RIFLES. This being no mean feat with the short time he was with us. "Rifleman Hume was one of my most capable and trustworthy Riflemen. He personified the Army's values; he showed respect for others and worked not for himself but for those around him. He was mature beyond his years and I am adamant that his Army career would have reflected his enormous potential. Two days before the patrol Rifleman Hume had told me of his aspirations to become a JNCO. "Brimming with confidence he recalled how he saw other Section 2ICs performing their job and told me how he could do it, and do it better! His dedication could not be faltered and I remember many a time where in briefings he was the only one in the platoon taking notes, consistently thriving on learning new lessons. "Rifleman Hume strived for success and accepted nothing less in every aspect of soldiering whether it was in barracks or on operations doing a job he was fiercely passionate about. Rifleman Hume really had a zest for life. His parents played a large part in his life and he regularly spoke about them. "Rifleman Hume will always be remembered by those of 5 Platoon, however, our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt sympathy are with his family. For his parents Adrian and Wendy, they should feel immensely proud of their son who achieved so much in the most demanding circumstances. He embodied what it is to be a thinking Rifleman and displayed the courage and fighting spirit that all of us can draw inspiration from. It is not only an honour but a privilege to have been able to command such a distinguished Rifleman." From his Section Commander, Corporal Dominic Purcell-Lee: "Daniel was a cut above the rest, the way he conducted himself was something that made him stand out as a very unique individual with a lot of drive, self determination and pride. He was exceptionally trustworthy and put 100% into everything he did because nothing less was acceptable. He excelled at everything he put his mind to. He was more than an ordinary soldier, he was a natural born Rifleman. Daniel Hume - 'Chosen Man'." His friend, Rifleman Gary Smith, said: "When we first met Daniel it was when we started training together at Catterick. The first impression that we had was that he was a switched on lad and knew what it was to be a soldier. As the months went by he was a good mate of ours. He always wanted to help people out. Daniel had said that he wanted to do his full 22 years in the Army, and be the future RSM. All of us believed he would achieve it." From his friend, Rifleman Jack Pearcey: "When I asked Daniel what he wanted to achieve out of his career he answered, "I'm going to be RSM". He was keen as mustard, being an Infantryman was his bread and butter. He was a natural and brilliant squad and more importantly a brilliant bloke, goodbye mate. Gone but not forgotten."


[ Cpl Jonathan Horne ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Cpl Jonathan Horne, (above) Rfn William Aldridge, Rfn James Backhouse, Rfn Joseph Murphy and Rfn Daniel Simpson of 2 RIFLES ... The five soldiers from The 2nd Battalion The Rifles, who were killed in Afghanistan on 10 July 2009. Corporal Jonathan Horne, Rifleman William Aldridge, Rifleman James Backhouse, Rifleman Joseph Murphy and Rifleman Daniel Simpson were killed in action near Forward Operating Base Wishtan, Sangin.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thomson, Commanding Officer of the 2 RIFLES Battle Group: "It has been a grim day here in Sangin but at the end of the day, as we prayed for our fellow Riflemen who have given their lives in the service of their country and for the good of the Afghan people, the Bugle Major sounded the advance and it would have been heard right across the valley as the sun slipped behind the ridge. We turned to our right, saluted the fallen and the wounded, picked up our rifles and returned to the ramparts.  "I sensed each Rifleman tragically killed in action today standing behind us as we returned to our posts and we all knew that each one of those Riflemen would have wanted us to 'crack on'. And that is what we shall do – there will be no turning; the work is too important. We are undeterred. But we will miss each fallen Riflemen sorely. They lived and fought alongside us and tonight our lives are much worse for them not being here. But we can celebrate what they were and what they achieved. We are so very proud of them. "And yet in all of this, we know that our grief is nothing compared to that of their loved ones – parents, wives, children, girlfriends and families. And it is them we also hold tonight in our thoughts and prayers and ask that they may somehow find strength and courage to face the days ahead." Corporal Jonathan Horne, 28, from Walsall , joined the 1st Battalion, The Royal Green Jackets in July 2004 having completed his Infantry training in Catterick. He attended the Section Commander’s Battle Course in Brecon in 2008 and was promoted to Corporal in the middle of Pre-deployment training. Corporal Horne served with distinction as both a Green Jacket and as a member of the Rifles in Iraq between 2006 and 2007 (where he was wounded in action) and on peacekeeping operations in Kosovo in 2008. He was hugely proud to deploy to Afghanistan as a Section Commander and relished the opportunity of commanding Riflemen in battle. Tragically, Corporal Horne was killed in action by an IED blast on the morning of the 10th July 2009 in Sangin. He leaves behind his beloved wife Rachel, his children Frankie and Jessica, his parents and three brothers. Corporal Horne’s wife, Rachel: "A sad farewell to my wonderful husband who was a devoted father, husband and a loving son. We will miss you more than words could ever describe. You were the most caring, thoughtful, funniest, loving and generous person I have ever known. You were so brave and we are all so proud of what you have done. We will always love and miss you. You will forever be in our thoughts." Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group: "Corporal Horne was one of a generation of rising stars in my Corporals’ Mess and he was right at the top end of it. He had gone from Rifleman to Corporal in only four years and was thriving on the responsibility of command on the most testing of operations. ‘J’, as we knew him, wore command lightly – testimony to the depth and attractiveness of his character as well as his natural soldier’s qualities. Nothing fazed him on the ground out here and Riflemen fought to be in his section. He was tough, compassionate and full of infectious mirth, exactly what I look for in my JNCOs. His career was packed full of operational experience – Kosovo , Iraq and Afghanistan . "He adored life in all its richness. And somehow he always managed to get his way into the Corporals’ Mess football team – no-one else thought he was as good as he did. He was wildly and genuinely popular in the Corporals' Mess and he would dance (badly) to the very end at their fabulous parties. He leaves a gaping hole in his Platoon, his Company and the Battle Group. Our thoughts and prayers are with his adored wife, Rachel, and his children Frankie and Jessica (born not 3 months ago)." Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES: "I met Corporal Horne later than most; he was away on a promotional qualifying course at Brecon when I took command but his reputation went before him: Highly competent, professional and caring, but tough with a wicked Brummie sense of humour. Corporal Horne did not let me down; he was everything that a Company Commander would have wished for. My lasting memory is seeing him in action helping the wounded, calmly controlling the situation until tragically his young life was ended by the evil insurgents." Captain Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES: "Corporal 'J' Horne was a pivotal member of 9 Platoon and of C Company. He worked tirelessly for the men under his command and he was an inspiration to both Riflemen and commanders. His constant cheeriness and ‘can-do’ attitude were deeply infectious. Corporal Horne was the epitome of the professional Junior NCO. He was smart, tough, exceptionally fit and he always led by example. "Unsurprisingly, when his Company Commander, Platoon Commander, fellow JNCOs and Riflemen were lying killed and injured after an explosion, he was one of the first on the scene providing first aid and organising their extraction to safety. Corporal Horne was killed by a secondary explosive device whilst attempting to save the lives of those he lived and fought with. He will be remembered always as a hero, a friend and a true Rifleman. "Celer et Audax." Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant: "Corporal Jay Horne was a hugely cheerful character who always arrived at work with a big smile on his face. He was full of life and always brightened the day for the whole platoon. He was a mentor to the Riflemen, who looked up to him and responded to his easy style of leadership. As a Section Commander he was dependable and absolutely unflappable. If I needed a man for a task; I could rely on him. No question. "He was passionate about fitness and would pass his spare time in the gym lifting ‘big boys’ weights’ and admiring his body in the mirror. "The body of a God" he would call it – it was the matter of some debate! He will be missed greatly by 9 Platoon and by the wider Company and Battalion. At the time of his death he was leading his men in a casualty extraction, putting his men first, as always. It was utterly typical of the man." Corporal Carl Thomas, Fellow Rifleman and Medic: "I feel lucky and privileged to have known Jay since the time he turned up in the Battalion. Not only was he professional in everything he did but he had a wicked sense of humour and made me laugh on a daily basis. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his wife and children. Not only have I lost a great colleague but a great friend as well. You will be sadly missed by everyone who knew you and I feel it is a privilege to have known you personally for such a long time. Rest in peace my friend." Lance Corporal Powell, Fellow Rifleman: "Corporal Jay Horne was a professional soldier and an excellent Section Commander whom I have had the privilege to serve with since 2005. Jay had a great sense of humour and everyone loved hearing his Brummie accent. It would put a smile on our faces without fail. He loved his wife and two daughters dearly and often spoke about them; they were his strength here in Afghanistan . He will be sorely missed and will never be forgotten. See you on the Re-Org mate." The Riflemen of 9 Platoon: "Corporal Horne was a Corporal in rank but a Rifleman at heart. He was devoted to all of us, and his friends and family. Jay would always do everything in his power to help people especially in times when things were tough. Whether it was just a chat or going out of his way to help; he was always happy to do so. Jay had a witty sense of humour and was always laughing and joking, which never failed to lift our moral. Jay was happily married and was really proud of his daughters. He often talked about them and he always used to say that his world revolved around his family. Jay will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family. "R.I.P Brother we will never forget you."


[ Rifleman William Aldridge ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman William Aldridge William Aldridge came from Bromyard in Herefordshire. He attended Minster College in Leominster and was keen on Martial Arts. Rifleman Will Aldridge joined C Company 2 Rifles in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland in December 2008 at seventeen years of age, after attending The Army Foundation College at Harrogate and completing his Infantry Training in Catterick. Rifleman Aldridge completed pre-deployment training for Afghanistan with his Platoon but was unable to deploy on tour until he turned 18 on the 23rd May 2009. Rifleman Aldridge played a key role with the Battalion’s Rear Party in Ballykinler, guarding the families of those already in Afghanistan until he was old enough to deploy himself. Rifleman Aldridge was fiercely proud of being one of the very youngest British soldiers in Helmand . Rifleman Aldridge was killed by an IED blast in Sangin on the 10th July 2009 whilst helping to extract casualties from a previous explosion in which he too had been injured. He leaves behind his mother, Lucy, and two young brothers, George and Archie. Rifleman Aldridge's Family made the following statement: "The family can’t pay William or his comrades who died with him a big enough tribute. He achieved his dreams by becoming a Rifleman and was very aware of the sacrifice he may have to make. He will leave a huge void in our lives and always remain the perfect son."

[ Addressing the congregation, his former cadet leader, Captain Bob Harrison, said Rfn Aldridge, known as Will, would be remembered as someone who died whilst fulfilling his dream.  ]

Reverend Chris Fletcher, who knew the soldier as a child, described him as someone who would "always go back to help". He told the young hero's service: "That courageous attitude that teaches you to go back did not desert him at the last, as we all know." Friends, family and colleagues of the "well-mannered" soldier, known for his "wide grin", packed St Peter's Church in his home town of Bromyard, Herefordshire, for his funeral. Addressing the congregation, his former cadet leader, Captain Bob Harrison, said Rfn Aldridge, known as Will, would be remembered as someone who died whilst fulfilling his dream. "He was a mature cadet," he said. "He could always be found in the thick of things - always with that wide grin that everyone who knew him would immediately remember. "For me, Will is best remembered as a cadet who always put his sector first. "Will's dream was very clear - he wanted to be a Rifleman ... "I have taught a great number of cadets in my time. Will shall always be one of those I shall remember who knew what he wanted and went out to get it."

Residents lined the streets and cheered as his coffin, draped in the Union flag and covered in flowers, was taken in a procession through the town centre and into the church. Rfn Aldridge's tearful mother and his two young brothers, five-year-old George and four-year-old Archie, followed the coffin.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES: "Rifleman Aldridge arrived in the Battalion as we started our training for Afghanistan and it was clear from very early on that he was a natural field soldier who relished the challenge of preparing for the intensity and complexity of operations in Afghanistan . He has stood tall in Sangin – a selfless, capable, thinking Rifleman. He had been to the Army Foundation College Harrogate, evidence itself of nascent talent and had got to grips with the myriad of skills needed for Afghanistan quicker than most. "He was a big going concern and was already ear-marked for more responsibility. We will miss him dreadfully and our hearts go out to his beloved family." Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES: "Although new to my Company for the Afghanistan tour, Rifleman Aldridge had impressed me from the outset. Well mannered, well turned out and very much a thinking Rifleman. Such was his stature he reminded me of an old Platoon Serjeant friend of mine from 2 RGJ. There is no doubt in my mind that Rifleman Aldridge could have gone all the way. We were injured together in the first explosion. We were both injured and in shock together but he comforted me with his patience and kind words. Sadly his life was snatched by another explosion on the way back to the FOB. Another new talent whose potential will tragically never be known." Captain Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES: "Rifleman Aldridge was a key part of a very close knit and battle hardened platoon. Although he deployed later than most, he quickly found his feet and he rapidly absorbed the skills required to operate in this complex and dangerous environment. He spent the bulk of his time in Afghanistan living in, and operating from, a small Patrol Base in Sangin. With virtually no amenities, luxuries or creature comforts to hand, he thrived on the challenge. "He was a bright, fit, popular and resourceful Rifleman who made friends easily, and quickly grew proud of his Platoon and the men with whom he lived and fought. They too were fiercely proud and protective of him. He harboured aspirations to join the Special Forces and showed great promise for a long and successful career, which ended most tragically as he fought beside his friends to give the Afghan people a better life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family." Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant: "Rifleman Will Aldridge was a quiet, well-mannered, generous young Rifleman who absolutely loved his job. He had aspirations well beyond his years. As the youngest member of the Platoon and the Company, he was intrigued by the Special Forces and desired to serve with them. He had a most promising future and was on track to take part in the next Potential Junior NCO Cadre, which I have no doubt he would have passed with ease.  "In this close circle of friends within the Platoon, he always talked of his family and his girlfriend Zeta, whom he loved very much. Will; you will always be remembered as an exceptionally fit and motivated Rifleman, devoted not only to his family but also to his Platoon. "Will, Remembered by all, Forgotten by none - Brother Rifleman." Lance Corporal Powell, Section Second-in-Command: "Rifleman Aldridge was a keen soldier. He was an ambitious man and always with a smile on his face. He wanted to do his best at everything. He loved the Army and wanted to serve for a long time. I got to know him when we served together in a small patrol base for a month away from our normal FOB in Sangin. He always talked about his parents and the rest of his family. It will never be the same without him and he will always be in my mind. He was a gleaming bloke. He will never be forgotten – rest in peace." Rifleman Jacobs, Fellow Rifleman: "I first met Will when we joined the Battalion at the same time. He was always one of the boys; cheerful, happy and always up for a laugh. He was obviously hugely proud of being in the Army. I will always remember him as one of my brothers. Love you, Big Ginge." Rifleman Wilson, Fellow Rifleman: "Will and I have known each other from training, and he hasn’t changed since then. He’s always been a happy, loving and very proud soldier. We have so many good memories together before coming out to Afghanistan – like him trying to use my bath as his bed after a good night out! He will always be on my mind and in my thoughts, as will his family and friends. I’ll see you again one day Brother, but until then – you just rest in peace."

The William Aldridge Foundation has been established as a lasting and living legacy both in memory of and dedicated to one of the very youngest British soldiers to serve in Helmand Province, Afghanistan and the youngest to have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Founded as a 'Service Provider' to the wider Military community, bringing information, advice and support through the many Forces Charities, Organisations, Regimental Associations & Welfare Funds to those Serving, Veterans, Injured Service Personnel & Bereaved Military Families"


[ Rifleman James Backhouse ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman James Backhouse Rifleman James Backhouse, 18, from Castleford, Yorkshire joined the Army in September 2007 and arrived in 2 RIFLES in April 2008 where he joined 9 Platoon, C Company. Rifleman Backhouse joined the Battalion as an Under-18 and was therefore unable to deploy to Kosovo in 2008. So, it was with great enthusiasm that he deployed to Afghanistan with his Platoon in March 2009. Rifleman Backhouse cleared the route ahead for his fellow Riflemen to follow. He was killed in action by an improvised explosive device, doing the job he loved, surrounded by his friends. Rifleman Backhouse loved his fitness and was always striving to be stronger and faster than the next man. He leaves behind his parents Andrew and Sharon and his three brothers, Gareth, Dean and Ryan.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group: "One of four brothers, Rifleman Backhouse, was a natural soldier and this was his first tour. As part of 9 Platoon, he had endured some of the most austere conditions in Sangin – there was never a murmur of complaint and he was the sort who simply got on. He was a determined, rigorous and thoughtful young man who saw the lighter side of life. He loved his rugby and his football and his heart was set on being a PTI - it would have been right up his street. He was always at the front when we ran on the beach in Ballykinler. He had lungs big enough for the rest of his Platoon. We were jealous. "He was utterly selfless and always the first man in his Company to welcome new Riflemen. He is sorely missed and his family are front and centre of our prayers at this unimaginably difficult time." Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES: "A gritty sounding Yorkshireman; Rifleman Backhouse was in my select group of Riflemen that were being put forward to attempt the gruelling JNCO Cadre on return from Afghanistan . He was quickly accepted by his fellow Riflemen as one of the lads and as someone who could be relied on. This tour had brought out the best in Rifleman Backhouse. He was ‘always on the ramparts’ as we say and quick to volunteer for any task, especially those which took the fight to the enemy - there were many of those. His sense of service was humbling." Captain Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES: "Rifleman Backhouse was hugely disappointed to miss his first chance at an operational tour when he was unable to deploy to Kosovo last year because he was too young. Characteristically, he quickly and optimistically reset his sights on the up coming tour to Afghanistan . He attacked the pre-deployment training with charisma, vigour and a keenness that was clearly visible to all. His keen eye and ability to process what he saw in front of him quickly identified him as a natural Lead Scout and he was proud to fill this vital role. "Rifleman Backhouse was a cheerful and deeply loved member of his Platoon, and the wider Company, and he will be missed greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends." Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant: "James had a demanding role within his section as the lead man. He was brave and seemed to be without fear as he led patrols in the most demanding of situations. He was always first to cross the finish line and relished leading from the front. He was keen to complete the army physical training instructors’ cadre in the future. As a young Rifleman he never forgot what it was like to join The Rifles and welcomed all new members to the Platoon with open arms - One of his strengths as a key member of 9 Platoon. He loved his fellow Riflemen and his family dearly. "As a ‘Thinking Rifleman’ he led from the front, taking the fight all the way to the enemy. He will be dearly missed and never forgotten. A Rifleman first and a friend for life – RIP. "Swift and Bold." Rifleman Kevin Holt, Fellow Rifleman: "Rifleman Backhouse was a very close friend and a fellow Yorkshireman. He was good at his job and never complained. I will miss him dearly and so will the rest of 9 Platoon. He loved his sports and his nights out with the lads. He died for his country, which he loved, and is a hero in my eyes, and should be in the rest of the country’s eyes. I’ll never forget you James and I’m proud to say I knew you." Rifleman David Kendall, Fellow Rifleman: "I first met Rifleman Backhouse in training. He was always the quiet, thoughtful one and until you got to know him you didn’t realise how switched on he really was. He was always friendly and a big, kind-hearted bloke. He will always be missed and will forever be in our hearts. Rest in Peace my brother. Kenny." Rifleman Turagbeci and Rifleman Tagicakibau, Fellow Riflemen: "Rifleman Backhouse was one of the most brilliant guys. I met Backhouse when I joined the battalion, he came to me and shook my hand and introduced himself. He was one of the guys that the blokes loved to work with. Whenever we where on Stag, he’d tell me to switch to another channel and tell jokes. Rifleman Backhouse was always a good morale boost to me. He showed good leadership and had a fine character. Everybody in his platoon is missing him but Rifleman Backhouse died doing the job he loved. He gave his life for his country.  "Rifleman Backhouse will be remembered for ever. May your soul rest in peace brother, ‘til we meet again. Your two Fijian friends."


[ Rifleman Joseph Murphy  ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Joseph Murphy  Rifleman Joe Murphy, aged 18, was from Castle Bromwich, Birmingham and joined the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles in November 2008 after attending the Army Foundation College , Harrogate and completing the Combat Infantryman’s Course in Catterick. He completed pre-deployment training with C Company and in March 2009 he deployed to Sangin as a light machine gunner in 9 Platoon, C Company. Rifleman Murphy was killed in action by an improvised explosive device on 10 July 2009. He leaves behind his parents, Brian and Jill and his older brother, Ben. Rifleman Joseph Murphy’s Family said: "He was a fine young man, a dearly loved son, Brother, Grandson, Nephew and Cousin, who will stay in our hearts forever." His Parents, Brian and Jill, said: "Joe died doing the job he loved whilst serving his country. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his comrades in Afghanistan."

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group: "Rifleman Murphy joined us in the middle of pre-deployment training and was straight into the mix – at the double - which is how he lived his life. A really bright lad; another product of the Army Foundation College , Harrogate , he soaked up new skills and thought deeply about his new profession. Out here, he was in his element, helping to bring security to Sangin and its people. He knew right was on his side and his commitment was exemplary. He loved his football and was itching for the new season. "A driven young man, he had so much going for him and his loss has hit us all hard. But our first instinct is to pray that his family will find the strength and courage to face the dreadfulness of the coming days." Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES: "Rifleman Murphy was another Harrogate trained star in waiting. Smartness was not his thing – the dust, dirt and austerity under which we lived was right up his street! He also had an infectious sense of humour which he tried on with me during my first interview with him. I am extremely proud of all he had achieved. Sadly he was snatched from us by an IED trying to rescue another fallen Rifleman. His death will not deter us from the task in hand – it is both important and urgent. Rifleman Murphy knew that more than anyone." Capt Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES: "Rifleman Murphy was an exceptional young Rifleman. He was fiercely proud of his Section and his Platoon, a passionate Villa fan and the joker of the Company. It is the mark of the man that he was selected to bear the responsibility of being one of the Platoon’s three Machine Gunners despite his relative inexperience. Rifleman Murphy was carrying his close friend and battle-buddy, Rifleman Simpson, to safety after he had been wounded in the first explosion when a second device initiated and killed them both instantly. Rifleman Murphy gave his life while trying to save that of his fellow Rifleman. "The thoughts and prayers of all in C Company are with him and his family. Rifleman Murphy, We will never forget your smile." Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant: "Joe Murphy loved being a Rifleman. He had many talents and often combined his talent for drawing with his love of Aston Villa Football Club. He was often sent to remove his ‘artwork’ from the sentry positions! With an eye on the future, he wanted to complete the demanding Rifles Sniper Cadre. Joe was close friends with Rifleman Danny Simpson whom he was helping to extract to the safety of the FOB during their last minutes together. He spoke constantly of his parents and his older brother, whom he missed and loved dearly. "Gone, but never forgotten – Rifleman Joe Murphy, 9 Platoon, C Coy, 2 RIFLES." Lance Corporal Rehan Pasha, Section Second-in-Command: "I was Rifleman Murphy’s Section 2IC only briefly (we were posted to the Battalion at the same time), but I will never forget him Typically, no-one in 9 Platoon called him Joe; it was always "Murph" or "Smurph" and a few other nicknames besides. Murph habitually made me laugh (although not always intentionally) even when I was trying to be angry with him. His semi-permanent expression of fatigue and Brummie drawl belied a sharp wit and an outstanding artistic talent. Joe, I am sorry that I was not a better friend to you. I will miss you and I will miss being greeted every morning with a cheerful, "Allroight Pash?"." Rifleman Wilson, Fellow Rifleman: "I’ve known Joe Murphy since day one in basic training at Harrogate . As soon as he turned up, he was the joker of the platoon, always with high morale no matter what he was doing. He was the funniest lad I have ever known and he loved annoying people in a funny way, which would always have everyone in stitches. We have been in the same section all the way through so I saw him as my own brother and my best friend. I don’t know how we are all going to cope without him making us laugh every day. My deepest sorrow goes to his family and friends and I wish them the best for the future. I’m going to miss you so much Murph. Rest in peace my best friend, my brother." Rifleman Jacobs, Fellow Rifleman: "Smurf the Murph. What a lad! He was one of a kind. I started Battalion at the same time as Joe and from the start we got on. I will never forget the nights we spent joking and laughing. I will miss you brother, you will always have a place in my heart. Love from big Ginge."


[ Rifleman Daniel Simpson ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Daniel Simpson Rifleman Simpson, aged 20, from Croydon, joined the Army in August 2007. He undertook the Combat Infantryman’s Course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire. On completing his training, he was posted to 2 RIFLES in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland. He was sent to C Company and subsequently to 9 Platoon. Soon after joining, he was deployed to Kosovo on Op VALERO where he was employed as a Rifleman within a section. After returning to Ballykinler the Battalion’s focus switched to its future deployment to Afghanistan. During the pre-deployment training he showed an aptitude for all things communications and was subsequently employed as the Platoon Signaller, a pivotal role. During one of the pre-deployment exercises he demonstrated potential beyond his experience and showed his Platoon Staff that he had the metal to earn a place on the next Potential Junior NCOs Cadre. His style would also have suited life in the Battalion’s Close Reconnaissance Platoon. Rifleman Simpson was killed in action by an improvised explosive device in Sangin on 10 July 2009. Rifleman Simpson’s passions in life were his family, boxing, football, Karaoke and his mates. He leaves behind his 8 month old son Alfie, his mother Debrah, his father Robert and his two brothers, Lee and Jimmy. Rifleman Simpson’s Family said: "Daniel Simpson was a larger than life character, sometimes a bit of a handful and always full of surprises. A strong team player who was fiercely loyal to his friends and could be relied on to be there whenever he was needed. Danny as he is known to his family leaves behind a son Alfie, a younger brother Lee, an older Brother Jimmy and parents Debbie and Robert Simpson. The world will be a quieter place without Danny."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group: "One of my South London geezers, Rifleman Simpson was a classic Rifleman – hardy, determined and full of fun. He had been in the Battalion since February 2008 and had already been to Kosovo on our ‘disciplined summer holiday’ last year. Good enough to have flirted with professional football, he was surprisingly fit for a man with such a large capacity for food (we could not keep up) and drink. "In Afghanistan , he had made a real difference here in Sangin and he dealt with the arduousness of this place without breaking step. His first inclination was always to look out for others. His sense of fun permeated all that he did and his stated intent was to be Regimental Serjeant Major one day. It was a wholly appropriate dream. "He leaves a desperately big hole in our lives but our first thoughts are for his adored parents, his two brothers, Lee and Jimmy and his adored son Alfie, named after his much loved grandfather." Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES: "Rifleman Simpson was my big, hard, ‘bouncer-look-a-like’ Rifleman. He had been doing such an amazing job in the most difficult of circumstances. He loved the close knit brotherhood of 9 Platoon and was liked and respected by all. He had the mark of a potential JNCO written all over him; he had the presence, common sense and robustness to go far." Captain Edward Poynter Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES: "Rifleman Simpson was the epitome of a great Rifleman; scruffy, loud and confident to the extreme. He said exactly what he thought and always called it how he saw it. A big man, he was always ready to help his fellow Riflemen. He could carry the weight of ten men and often did. Rifleman Simpson was the lynch-pin of 9 Platoon and was as steady as a rock. He had bags of potential and was full of high octane character. He would have gone a long way in the future. He was a devoted father and family man and the whole Company’s thoughts and prayers are with his family." Colour Serjeant Paul Conville, Former 9 Platoon Serjeant: "Rifleman ‘Simo’ Simpson was the loudest man in the Company - he was a one in a million character. When he arrived in C Company, it was evident that he was not just a big lad but had an even larger character. When times were hard and things were not going well, he would always pipe up with a smart remark, whether he meant it or not. He put a ray of light on any miserable situation. There was never silence in the Company whilst he was around, his distinctive accent could always be heard. Simo was a talented individual who played junior football for West Ham and was quite handy as a junior Boxer. On completion of training he became a talented shot on the ranges which earned him a place on the Company Shooting Team. "The most important things in his life were his family, his son Alfie and his grandfather Alfie. " 'Simo' will be missed by all who knew him but especially his fellow Riflemen in 9 Platoon who he fought and died alongside." Rifleman Sherlock, Fellow Rifleman: "I first met Rifleman Danny Simpson in August 2007 at ITC Catterick. On the first day it was clear he was a confident, cocky ‘cockney wannabe’ lad that loved life and lived it to the full. Anytime you felt down, Simo would soon sort that out, as it was impossible to feel miserable around such a bloke with his quick wit and cheeky smile. He was a bundle of joy, a barrel of laughs and the 9 Platoon morale maker. He loved his job and being with the lads and was intensely proud of his Battalion. He was the best mate anyone could ask for, a rock in my life. He will be sorely missed by many, never forgotten and loved always." Rifleman Obeng and Rifleman Thompson, Fellow Riflemen: "Rifleman Danny ‘Simo’ Simpson was one of a kind; a joker who always put a smile on your face when you were down. Simo always took his job seriously, was always on top of his game and was very proud to serve his country. Simo always cheered us up with his dance moves when we’d be out having a good time. He will always be remembered for the laughter he spread across the Platoon. We have lost a great friend and he will be forever remembered. "Rest in peace Simo."

[ Governor Gulab Mangal ]

Governor of Helmand Province, Governor Gulab Mangal, made this statement: "On behalf of the people of Helmand I extend to our friends in the United Kingdom our heartfelt condolences for the losses you have suffered this week. (July 2009) Your sorrow is our sorrow. We are profoundly grateful for the sacrifices your brave soldiers make for us, because we know that they fight to give us, and our children, a future free of tyranny and fear. I promise you, they did not die in vain, and it is a debt we will never forget."


[ Rifleman Aminiasi Toge ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Aminiasi Toge, of 2nd Battalion The Rifles was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 16 July 2009. Rifleman Toge was killed as a result of an explosion that happened whilst he was conducting a foot patrol close to Forward Operating Base KEENAN, near Gereshk in central Helmand Province.  At the time of his death, his platoon were attached to C Squadron Light Dragoons as part of a Danish led Battle Group. Rifleman Aminiasi 'Togey' Toge was born in Suva, Fiji, with his twin brother on 19 July 1982. He swapped the southern Pacific paradise of home for the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire in September 2007 and passed out as a Rifleman in April 2008. Posted to the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles based in Ballykinler, County Down, Rifleman Toge soon deployed to Kosovo before returning to the UK and starting pre-deployment training for Afghanistan. Rifleman Toge was a keen swimmer and an outstanding rugby player who could open gaps in a defence with the deftest of steps before accelerating through with his extraordinary pace. He also loved to travel. Rifleman Toge was thriving in the demanding conditions of an Afghan summer and hoped to attempt the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers cadre on returning to Ballykinler. Along with his twin brother, Loame, Rifleman Toge leaves behind three sisters and his devoted parents. His whole family are very firmly front and centre of the prayers of every single soldier in 2 Rifles.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 Rifles Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Toge was my fastest Fijian and was known as 'Lightning'. He was smaller than most of my South Pacific heroes but no less robust, determined and wily with an oval ball under his arm. And that was when he was at his happiest - on our (usually wet) pitch in Northern Ireland or throwing the ball around his FOB in the dust. "He was one of 35 heroic Fijians in this Battalion who add huge value, character and noise to all my companies across Helmand. "Rifleman Toge was one of the toughest Riflemen under my command and he was adored - heart-breakingly so - by all who had the privilege to encounter him. He made such light work of the heavy General Purpose Machine Gun - it was like a pistol in his hands. "He had that uniquely infectious Fijian laugh and was a godly man who knew in whom he placed his trust. We have lost a courageous man of great stature - there was no truer moral compass in the Battle Group but there was mischief too, all very appropriate and full of fun. Rifleman Toge will be sorely missed and our first thoughts are with his family at this unimaginably difficult time. "Across the Upper Sangin Valley, small gangs of brave Fijian Riflemen sang a poignant hymn as we gathered to remember what Rifleman Toge meant to all of us and bade him farewell. When the Bugle Major sounded the Advance tonight, we knew the call to arms would have been heard in Suva. Mothe….vinaka vaka levu." Major Sam Plant, Officer Commanding C Squadron Group Light Dragoons, said: "I had not known Rifleman Toge for very long – his Platoon came under my command just three weeks prior to his untimely death. Notwithstanding that, he certainly made an impression. "A big, strong man who was very much a key player within his Platoon, Rifleman Toge was comfortable on patrol with his GPMG [General Purpose Machine Gun] in hand. He was a determined and skilful soldier who clearly enjoyed the trust and affection of his fellow men. "Of particular note was his infectious smile and his positive attitude to life. This approach inspired those around him and he was ever present whenever a comrade needed help. He was an all round inspiration. "Forward Operating Base Keenan has lost a great man and a true team player. He will be hugely missed by his many friends and colleagues. We are thinking and praying for his family at this terrible time." Captain Andy Huxter, 11 Platoon Commander, 2 Rifles, said: "Rifleman Toge was a pleasure to command. He had no problems in life and faced everything, including the cold - which he hated - with the broadest and brightest of smiles. "He came to my Platoon in October 2008 from the Machine Gun Platoon, and has been at home in the dust and stifling heat of Afghanistan from the day he arrived. "He was fitter, stronger and more robust than most. He would step so lightly on patrol, belying the weight he was carrying, setting an example to all of us. "When asked by a fellow Rifleman why he went to the gym twice a day, he responded that it was so if anyone else got injured, he could carry them to safety. "He was killed carrying his General Purpose Machine Gun, the job he enjoyed most. My lasting memories will be of him running around in the FOB (Forward Operating Base) in the heat of an Afghan summer trying to warm up because it was too cold in the FOB 'pool'. "He was softly spoken, unassuming and utterly reliable. His presence made people laugh and be happy - his good cheer was infectious. "Rifleman Toge was a gentle man, he will be sorely missed and 11 Platoon will not be the same without him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family for whom he cared very much. Rfn Toge, I know, is in a far better place now." Corporal Llweyelyn Bryan, Section Commander, said: "Rifleman Toge, or 'Togey' as he was fondly known, was a larger than life character who was forever lifting the spirits of his mates. "Whenever his name was called, an almighty grin would appear on his face, swiftly followed by a mischievous giggle. "Rifleman Toge was a Section Commander's dream; he rarely had to be told to do anything. He was a natural infantryman who was very proficient and professional. He was also very robust and fit. "It will come as no surprise that he was the natural GPMG candidate. It will remain firmly etched in my mind whilst on patrol in the middle of the heat of the day, with sweat pouring down his face, he would look back at me and give me one of his monstrous grins, immediately followed by his unique giggle. "I was very fortunate to have such a remarkable Rifleman covering my back and that of the rest of the section. Rfn Toge was a much loved member of the platoon and his constant humming and singing will be sorely missed. "All our thoughts are with his family and friends in this very sad moment in time. Rest in peace my big Fijian friend." Rifleman Peter White, fellow Rifleman, said: "Rifleman Toge was the easiest bloke to make friends with and, when I was told that we would be in the same platoon, I was really pleased. "For three months we had neighbouring bed spaces and spent time in the sangars where he would tell me all about his home, his family and his faith in God. "I learnt a lot about him as a person and his family. I know that he loved his sisters dearly and he talked about home so much that I want to go to Fiji. " 'Togey' was always smiling and always had morale, but most of all he never complained, not even about his difficult job which he did as capably and with more enthusiasm than anyone. "Everyone in 11 Platoon is going to miss his giggling and soft voice. My thoughts and prayers are with his mother, sisters, brother and his father whom he talked about so much and loved so very much. Take care, Togey, miss you mate." Rifleman Kyle Kalakoda, fellow Rifleman, said: "Rifleman Toge was a shy guy whom I met when I first came to the Battalion. He showed me the ins and outs, even though he had not been in the Army that long himself. "To me he was like the big brother I never had, his advice would range from soldiering to day to day living of life. "He was a tremendous person with a big, big heart and he will be sorely missed by me, the lads and even my girlfriend whom he knew really well. "Rest in peace my friend, your smile and humour will never be forgotten." Rifleman Wilhelm Louw, fellow Rifleman, said: "Rifleman Toge, you were my Christian friend and all I can say is thanks to God for the privilege of knowing you these past five months. "There is only one verse I can read today, the one you showed me: For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18. "I know you are sitting in the presence of God and one day I will see you up there my friend. Thanks for everything and my prayers are with you and your family." Rifleman Robert Gatward, fellow Rifleman, said: "Our hearts have swollen with your loss. Without you here to sing and laugh with your mates, we will never be the same. March to heaven and help guide us through these dark times. Never forget us as we shall never forget you." Rifleman Sovita Turagabeci and Rifleman Jotame Tagicakibau, Fijian brothers and fellow Riflemen, said: "Rifleman Aminiasi Toge was a true Christian by his belief and his actions. He loved to help people and was like an older brother to Fijians joining the Battalion, ready to put an arm around them and give them advice. "He loved socialising and was friendly to everyone. He was always laughing and making the people around him laugh. "He loved his job and of course he loved rugby, which he played fast and hard. We are certain that his family will miss him very much, especially this Christmas when he was due to go back to Fiji to spend it with them. "Rifleman Toge will also be missed by many people in the Battalion, every Fijian amongst them, including us. "We called each other Naita, a Fijian greeting showing respect and friendship for each other and for Rifleman Toge's home province Kadavu and ours Lomaiviti. Aminiasi, you were a hero, see you in heaven. Moce mada Naita"


[ Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton and Rifleman Daniel Wild  ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Captain Mark Hale, Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton and Rifleman Daniel Wild (photo above of Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton and Rifleman Daniel Wild ) killed in Afghanistan. Captain Mark Hale and Rifleman Daniel Wild of the 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 Rifles) and Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners) were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 13 August 2009 ... Lance Bombardier Hatton was among three men injured when an improvised explosive detonated. Capt Hale and Rifleman Wild went to his aid and were carrying him to a helicopter landing zone when a second bomb went off. 

[ Captain Mark Hale ]

Captain Mark Hale (left)

Captain Mark Hale died in an explosion in southern Afghanistan on 13 August, 2009. He was 42 and married with two daughters. He died alongside Rifleman Daniel Wild , from the same battalion, 2nd Battalion The Rifles and Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton, of 40 Regiment Royal Artillery. Lt Col Rupert Jones MBE, commanding officer of 4 Rifles, described Capt Hale - who joined up at 16 - as "a legend". "Honourable, intelligent, utterly professional and loyal. He has touched the lives of so many people over his 20 plus years service," he said. "He had that air of self-confidence, born of quality, which the very finest soldiers have. "However, it is his wonderfully warm character that I will remember most, always a big smile on his face. He genuinely had an aura about him. It seems inconceivable that he has gone." 

‘I had the pleasure or serving with Mark Hale in Northern Ireland in 2004-2006. He was my Regimental Sergeant Major and the epitomy of a professional soldier. Last time I heard from him was in Iraq in 2006, our paths crossed and we had a laugh and a joke. Without doubt one of the most professional men I have met in my 20 years. My prayers are with his family at this very sad time.’  Peter Imray — 15.08.2009

‘My heart felt sympathy to all of Marks family I know he will be missed by so many he was a top bloke admired by all, I'm proud to say I knew him as both a friend a colleague and a true professional. Farewell Mark. Neale Adamson — 15.08.2009

Captain Mark Hale was born on 9 April 1967 in Bournemouth. He joined the Army in 1983, aged 16, as a Junior Leader and embarked on an exceptional career with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment that took him on operations to Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and then, with 2nd Battalion The Rifles, to Afghanistan. One of the outstanding soldiers of his generation, he found his calling in the Reconnaissance Platoon, where he spent much of his career. He was promoted to Company Serjeant Major in London on ceremonial duties and then had a brief spell as Regimental Serjeant Major. Selected for a commission, he managed the careers of almost 1000 soldiers in the 1st Battalion The Rifles as four regiments merged to form The Rifles in 2007. He then moved to the 2nd Battalion as the Motor Transport Officer and then became the Battle Group Logistics Officer for operations in Afghanistan this summer. Capt Hale was fiercely fit; he loved cycling, rowing and rugby. He was a genuine thinker, had studied at the Open University for a degree and then took a Masters in Psychology. He was a devoted husband adored by his wife Brenda and a loving and exceptional father to his 2 daughters. He died in hospital at Camp Bastion on 13 August 2009after being caught in an IED explosion while helping an injured soldier to safety whilst on patrol near Sangin. Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "It is almost impossible to know where to start when writing a tribute to a man as brave, huge and full-on as Mark Hale. He oozed quality, humanity and had a tremendous and mischievous sense of fun, which frequently lightened the load of this extraordinary tour. "He was 'undentable' and we in 2 Rifles have invented this new word in honour of Mark. Nothing phased him, however demanding the situation, and his ability to absorb work, pressure and other people's worries was genuinely legendary. That is what 'undentable' now means.  "As the Battle Group's Logistics Officer, Mark has been supreme on this complex, intense and dangerous tour. He sorted out big issues easily and with no fuss and he dealt with a host of annoying, CO type questions of detail, with enviable patience. "I knew when a task had his name ascribed to it that that task was as good as done already. I kept giving him more work and he kept on delivering. He has been superb counsel to me and, much more importantly, to countless Riflemen who have hunted him out for a chat. "On the ground, he breathed courage into the platoons he served alongside. Mark was an outstanding Rifleman - fiercely intelligent, always creating novel options, often well outside his logistic lane, and committed like no other. "It is entirely typical of this man that he died whilst helping to evacuate wounded soldiers. Mark understood the importance and the urgency of the work in this place in spades - one could see that from the amount he crammed into each day. "But he was more than just an extraordinary professional, he was a truly great man, a devoted husband and an adored father. He had a strong Christian faith, even standing in as the Padre for one of our church services here in Sangin. "Mark wasn't a fifth gear man, he was a sixth gear merchant. Us mortals could rarely keep up. When we rowed on ergo machines from Sangin to Pegasus Bridge in April, May and June to raise money for wounded soldiers, he led the way; on one inhuman session, he rowed 42,000 metres. To him, it was just another challenge but it gives you a feel for the mark of the man. "The hole he has left in our lives is enormous but we know that our grief is nothing compared to what his dear, beloved family is going through. "But this should be some comfort. Mark Hale, a man of true Christian faith, died doing a job he loved and was embarked on a mission that has national levels of importance and urgency. Our hearts go out to his family - we are holding them very close in our prayers. "Mark, I promise you that your baton here has not been dropped - it is held high." Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones MBE, Commanding Officer 4 RIFLES (a former Reconnaissance Platoon Commander with Captain Hale) said: "Mark was a legend - a giant of a man in every sense of the word. Honourable, intelligent, utterly professional and loyal. He has touched the lives of so many people over his 20 plus years service and there will be so very many people in the West Country and way beyond who will be absolutely devastated that a man of such stature has fallen. "He had that air of self-confidence, born of quality, which the very finest soldiers have. You always felt that he was challenging you. However, he was most certainly not arrogant. Hard to his core, he was immensely fit, strong and competitive, not least on the rugby field where his gentle manner was discarded. "Frankly, he terrified junior officers in his younger days by his presence - God only knows what young Privates made of him. I had the honour to command him in the Recce Platoon in Bosnia in 1995, during what was a highly dynamic tour - he was immense. "It was the most star studded platoon I have ever come across, but Mark was a towering presence. Always challenging to make sure that things were absolutely right, he was a complete rock when the chips were down. "However, it is his wonderfully warm character that I will remember most, always a big smile on his face, he seemed to almost envelop you with his character and presence - he genuinely had an aura about him. It seems inconceivable that he has gone." Major Darren Denning, Chief of Staff 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "I don't have worries and I don't believe in crises", that was the Mark Hale approach. He was better read, better informed, more articulate and more astute than all of us. Easy, common-sense solutions to difficult problems were his trademark and he saved us all hours of fruitless labour by being so sharp. "He knew just how far to push it and would only ever over-step the mark knowingly and armed with an instantly forgivable grin. Mark was so well-tuned, always read the mood and was genuinely witty. He could be ever-so-slightly sarcastic - unless he meant it and then he did sarcasm really, really well. "What I will miss most is his presence. This is said of many, but Mark Hale did fill a room and proved that you didn't have to be noisy to do so. He cared for his people and such was the respect in which he was held, that formality was never needed in his command. Mark was a universally popular and well-loved Rifleman - full stop. "I, and countless others, sought his opinion on almost everything. His sage advice was always on the money and we loved the way he put his arms around those having a harder time of it. Some people show an interest to be seen to do so, Mark just cared. Such good companionship is so hard to find and in a difficult place, in difficult times he was an anchor point to many. The desk, he hated with a passion, is now empty in front of us and there is an enormous void in the Battle Group. This really hurts, but is of no comparison with the grief Mark's beloved family will feel. Mark loved them deeply and they were always at the forefront of his mind. They are now held close in our collective thoughts and prayers."  Major Mark Owen, Quartermaster 2 RIFLES Battle Group: "Mark was a giant man with a giant personality, his sharp sense of humour was a real joy to be around. He had that magic touch of adding calm and a sense of perspective whilst all around would be losing their head. I recall in Iraq when he decided that it wasn’t necessary to wash his hair, ‘it would clean itself’. Of course he was right, but the first few weeks were smelly while his hair developed its self-cleaning properties. Once I tried to match him on a bike, he was 14 hours into a 24 marathon, I was wrong to try, as ever he proved too strong. I miss him as will countless others. My thoughts and prayers at this unimaginably painful time are with Brenda and his 2 daughters." Major Karl Hickman, Officer Commanding A Company 2 RIFLES Battle Group: "Mark Hale was the type of guy that you would always want next to you on patrol. Big in stature, both physically and in terms of personality, he was utterly unflappable and always dismissed any pressure or difficulty with his easy sense of humour and calming presence. He was also always there when you needed him, putting others first and ensuring the success of the mission. Mark was one of the great men of the Battalion and it was a tremendous privilege to have served with him."  Major Marc Briggs, Officer Commanding Headquarter Company 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Physical strength, compassion and a wicked sense of humour, Mark was one of the great men of the Battalion. He would never slow, whether training in the gym at midnight as that was the only time left in the day or taking every opportunity to support the Riflemen on patrol despite having a demanding job in the HQ. "Mark died as a Rifleman on patrol in the most demanding of operational environments. He leaves a large hole with me and in the Battalion. It is an absolute pleasure to have known him." Major Will Strickland, Deputy Chief of Staff 19 Light Brigade said: "Over the last year we spent most Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons rowing together on the Lagan. Other than us, we had a particularly Irish and civvy boat, to which he always provided much needed calm and understated control. "He was outstandingly fit, and was certainly the powerhouse of our boat. His humour, selflessness, and his obvious close orientation to family life – his girls rowed at the Belfast Boat Club as well – endeared him to the whole club. "The largely Irish team were and are very protective of both of us, and have been constantly emailing whilst we have been away. We were both looking forward to returning to compete, and he had been constantly training in Sangin in preparation. I will personally think of him every time I go out on the water, as I am sure the rest of the boat will. There will equally be a real sense of loss when I look at the desk he was meant to fill in the Brigade Headquarters for the next 2 years." Captain Rupert Streatfeild, Operations Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Mark was the heart of 2 RIFLES, a giant of a man, both physically and in character. His calm appearance contrasted with a fierce determination to support all he knew; whether it be his family, fellow Riflemen or even team mates on a rugby pitch. "As a father, he was deeply proud of his daughters, as a soldier he was deeply paternal towards his men. His strong and caring nature came from his close faith and relationship with God. "Having prayed together, he shared both the joys and frustrations of life out here. He wouldn’t ask anyone to do a task he wasn’t willing to do himself, a fact widely acknowledged by all who knew him and, as such, sought to live out the example of Christ. A legend of a man who will be sorely missed by all." Lieutenant Hannah Keenan, Adjutant General's Corps Detachment Commander 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Mark was a father figure to the whole Battle Group, he cared deeply for everyone here and always provided morale whatever the situation. He died doing the job he loved; for no one else does the phrase ‘Soldier First’ fit better. He was out to understand exactly what the guys on the ground were going through, so he could empathise as well as sympathise. "A huge void has been left, but we will make him proud, and get on with the task at hand, exactly as he would have done. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his beloved wife Brenda and his daughters, who have lost a truly special man."

[ Rifleman Daniel Wild ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Daniel Wild of the 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 Rifles) was killed near Forward Operating Base Jackson, in Sangin in Afganistan on Thursday 13th August 2009. Rifleman Daniel Wild was born on 18 July 1990 in Hartlepool. He joined the Army in 2007 conducting his phase one training at ATR Bassingbourne and completing his Phase 2 training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick. He joined 2nd Battalion The Rifles in May 2008. Too young to deploy to Kosovo last summer, he seized the opportunity to deploy on exercise to Canada with 5 RIFLES instead. He excelled there despite his apparent lack of experience, receiving outstanding reports from all he worked with. On his return to the Battalion he threw himself wholeheartedly into pre-deployment training, determined to excel when he finally got his chance on operations. He passed many courses with distinction including the Team Medic Cadre qualifying him to administer life saving first aid whilst patrolling in Helmand. He was an exceptional shot, both with the Rifle and machine gun. He died in an IED explosion on 13th August 2009 whilst helping another soldier to safety  in Sangin. Rifleman Wild leaves behind his loving mother, his sister, Megan, and his brothers, Dale and Christopher.  Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Wild was an epic Rifleman who has been right at the very front of our fight here in Sangin. He has been fearless and his Platoon adored him for it. He was smaller than most (smaller than everyone, if I am being honest) and, when laden, appeared to disappear under the extraordinary burden the boys all carry here. "But Rifleman Wild carried his load lightly and was in no sense a 'small man'. In a land of metaphorical giants here in Sangin, he was as tall as any of them, perhaps more so. "He was always the lead man in his patrol; he got on with facing that risk every day without any complaint. He was selfless to a fault, everyone else, whatever their rank, came first and his nature was to hunt out the funny side of life. "He has saved life here because, as point man, he was always on the look out for IEDs and it is tragic but typical that he died helping to carry a wounded friend to a helicopter landing site for evacuation. He had so much to offer - his next target was to be a PT buster in my gym and he had the lungs and legs for it. Few could keep up with him. "Rifleman Wild will be sorely, sorely missed but we will never forget his sacrifice. He has given his life for his comrades, for our nation and for the people of Afghanistan. And we will celebrate the richness of his life. "Our first prayers and thoughts must now be with his adored family and friends. We pray that somehow they can find strength in this desperately awful time." Major Karl Hickman, Officer Commanding A Company 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "I knew that Rifleman Daniel Wild was going to be a tough and resourceful soldier the moment he joined the Company. It was probably the fact that he wore jungle boots for tabbing when everyone else wore cushioned walking boots. "Small, wiry and tremendously fit, he was a man who you knew would never quit and someone that you could always rely on. Calm, professional and always with a rye smile, Rifleman Wild had been phenomenally successful as both a Rifleman and as the point man responsible for clearing the route along which his platoon would follow. "Yet he also had the spare capacity to always be there to help others, whatever the situation. He was one of the rocks of his Platoon and the Company has lost one of its most promising Riflemen. It was truly a privilege to have served with him." Lieutenant Will Hignett, 1 Platoon Commander, said: "Rifleman Daniel "Wildy" Wild was the absolute epitome of a tough and professional Rifleman. He was utterly dependable and truly loyal to the platoon, his comrades and his friends.  "He bought a sense of calm to those around him and, as the point man, clearing the route for others to follow, he was second to none. He unfailingly instilled confidence in those around him with his exceptional skill and capability, carrying out an incredibly demanding role with the platoon. "His actions throughout our time in Afghanistan, without a shadow of doubt, saved numerous lives and allowed the successful completion of all the operations and patrols we undertook. Humorous and cheerful to the very end, he was always the first to pull out his team medic pack and help those around him or be the first to put on his kit and step out the gate after a particularly trying time. "As his commander he gave me everything I could have asked of him and invariably more. He was a very talented and brave young man with an amazing career ahead of him. He had high aspirations to become a PTI on our return to Northern Ireland and I am sure he would have achieved that desire with ease. "The Platoon is a much quieter and less colourful place since his loss; he leaves big shoes to fill and his fellow Riflemen are determined to carry on with the  mission as they know, without any hesitation, Wildy would have done so for them. "Our thoughts as a platoon are with his family and girlfriend whom he loved dearly and was very proud of. He never stopped talking about his younger sister and was so excited about seeing them all during his mid-tour leave in six days time. This is a very sad time for everyone who knew Wildy; he was a star but we all can take solace in the fact he gave his life doing a job he adored, surrounded by friends who loved and respected him." Corporal Adam Newton, Section Commander, said: "Rifleman Daniel Wild was a great Rifleman and a brother to everyone who knew him. He had a great sense of humour and always put a smile on my face. He always put his mates first. He was a fearless young man. "When we first came to Afghanistan he was one of the men used to clear the route for the Platoon to follow, which he loved to do and he did it very well. I can say from my time working with him that he has saved many lives. On the day that he passed away he was taking other casualties to the helicopter and, to me, he died a hero and he will always be remembered as one. "It was an honour working with him and I will truly miss him. Rest in Peace Fallen Hero - Swift and Bold." Rifleman Dan Cayless, Fellow Rifleman, said: "Wild, you were a good mate and you were so brave. All you wanted to do was your job. If something needed doing, you would be the first person to volunteer. I'm gonna miss you loads mate, Rest in Peace." Rifleman Steve Glover, Fellow Rifleman, said: "Rifleman Wild was my best friend and my little brother. Wildy was one of the strongest men I've ever worked with and I feel so proud to have served alongside him. He would always be the first man to help anyone out both on the ground or in camp. A brilliant soldier and a best friend. Rest in Peace Wildy, you'll never be forgotten." Rifleman Matthew Meakin, Fellow Rifleman, said: "Rifleman Wild was not just a mate, he was a brother; a brother that will be missed, not just by his mates and family but by anyone who knew him. He always made sure that he put his mates first. If you were down, you always knew the Wildy would be the first person there to cheer you up. He was a hero, he will be missed and always loved by those who knew him. Rest in Peace Brother. Swift and Bold." Rifleman Rick Edgar, Fellow Rifleman, said: "Wildy, may you Rest in Peace. You were a good mate and you have done us proud. Rest in Peace Wildy." Rifleman Connor Duff, Fellow Rifleman, said: "Your unbreakable spirit and inspiring courage. Your infinite strength and immense passion. You were the one that never broke down, never showed weakness, the one we looked up to, the one we followed. Our mate, our brother, our Rifleman. Rest in Peace Brother." Rifleman Greg Edwards, Fellow Rifleman, said: "Rifleman Daniel Wild was a Rifleman you would definitely be happy to have in your team. He was a strong, courageous and fearless Rifleman who, no matter what he was carrying on the ground or what he was told to do, he would have been happy to do it. "Wildy was such a key Rifleman for so long within our Platoon, by doing what he did best - being the lead man and clearing the route for us to follow. On numerous occasions Wildy had saved the lives of his men by finding IEDs. It was a privilege and an honour to work with Wildy, a true Rifleman through and  through. Rest in Peace buddy, we will miss you so much. You were a legend, we miss you." Rifleman Joseph Nwagu, Fellow Rifleman, said: "Wildy, you left us in shock by your sudden departure but we took solace from the fact that you engraved your name in history by dying a hero. To those whom you gave your life so that they may live peacefully - you are a hero. And to us with whom you shared your joy in good times and marched with, swiftly and boldly in times of danger, you are a warrior, and in our hearts your memory will live forever. Adieu Wildy and may the heavens grant you peace. Rest in Peace." Rifleman Daniel Taylor, Fellow Rifleman, said: "Rifleman Daniel Wild was like my brother. We were battle buddies, we fought side by side for six months out here in Afghanistan . He cleared the route for every patrol and did it brilliantly. Always the first one into a compound, no whingeing, no messing around, he was a true hero. If you knew Wildy, you would understand that he put his life selflessly on the line before any of his mates. "He was always a happy little chappy, joking and taking the mick like any Rifleman does. The only difference was that he was a 'dirty Mackem' and I am a horrible Geordie; we were the best of friends but on Derby Day the greatest of enemies. Rest in Peace my little friend and a fearless hero, from me and all the fighters in 1 Platoon. Gone but not forgotten. SWIFT AND BOLD."


[ Serjeant Paul McAleese, ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Serjeant Paul McAleese, of 2nd Battalion the Rifles, and Private Jonathan Young, of The 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's), were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 20 August 2009.

Serjeant Paul McAleese, of 2nd Battalion the Rifles was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 20 August 2009 he was on a foot patrol taking place in Sangin District, Helmand Province. Serjeant Paul McAleese was born in Hereford on 18 October 1979. He began his Army training in March 1997 and joined the 1st Battalion, The Royal Green Jackets in August. A natural soldier, he rose through the ranks quickly and found his calling in the Sniper Platoon.  As a Rifleman he completed the demanding Close Observation Platoon course before going on to complete the Infantry's gruelling Section Commanders' and Platoon Sergeants' Battle Courses with distinction. A keen boxer and rugby player, Serjeant McAleese was fit and unbelievably tough. After tours of Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Kosovo, he had relished life in Afghanistan and had been outstanding as a Sniper Team Commander in Kajaki. Recently moved to take over as a Rifle Platoon Serjeant following the injury of a colleague, he had excelled on the streets of Wishtan, Sangin and had been at the centre of so many of the incidents of the last few weeks. One of the best of his generation, Serjeant McAleese was destined for truly great things. He died in an IED explosion on 20 August 2009 whilst helping to secure a key thoroughfare in the Sangin area as part of providing security for the elections. Serjeant McAleese leaves his wife, Jo, and his adored young son, Charley, born just a week before he deployed to Afghanistan.

His wife Jo said: "Mac, my husband, my best friend, my hero. You were an amazing Daddy to Charley and the best husband I could have ever asked for. We will love you and miss you for ever. We will always be so proud of what you achieved in your life and I am so, so proud to be your wife." Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Serjeant McAleese was one of the 'big men' in 2 Rifles whose military prowess was the envy of the rest of the Battalion. He had a huge rucksack full of talents - everyone looked up to him and wanted to be in his team. Militarily, there was nothing that he wasn't good at. He was fearsomely fit, a talented shot and a man who saw this campaign in its wider perspective. "He had been superb in Iraq, our last encounter with the Queen's enemies, and he had stood very tall. Here in Afghanistan he has fought in Kajaki and in Sangin and died as a Platoon Serjeant, the job of all jobs, on election day, helping to give democracy a chance in Sangin. "He had so much yet to give - he was on the track to greatness and was one of those men who was destined to promote first time, every time. The rest of us mortals could not keep up. "His energy levels were unrivalled and he extracted the best out of my Riflemen, especially when sat behind his favourite sniper rifle. In the Serjeants' Mess, he was nothing but delightful and full of appropriately insubordinate mischief - always trying to photograph his fellow Serjeants talking to me. "It was immensely satisfying to out-manoeuvre him once (I only did manage it once) and ensure he was 'snapped' with me. "We will miss him dreadfully. There is a huge hole in this Battalion now that Mac has gone. And tonight, after a mad day in Sangin, it is taking time to come to terms with his loss. But, Mac, we are back in the fight. In fact we have been in the fight all day - for you as well as for the people of Sangin. "Our first prayers now are for Joanne, his adored wife, and Charley, his precious boy of only 4 months, whom he talked about constantly. Be assured, little man, your father was a hero and we will never forget him. We will tell you all about him one day and you will be so proud." Major Rupert Follett, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "I only knew Serjeant McAleese for 7 weeks, the length of time I have been in command of C Company. "My arrival occurred at the most difficult of times; the day before 5 soldiers had been killed in action and a further 5 wounded, including the previous Company Commander. With over 3 months left of the tour, I required the Senior Non Commissioned Officers of the Company to demonstrate strong leadership through example and explanation in order to carry the Riflemen through. Serjeant McAleese provided all that and more. "He was a man that every soldier looked up to and was the first person everyone turned to for advice, which was invariably right on the money . Strong in body and in character he had an easy way with Officers and Riflemen alike. His enjoyment of soldiering was infectious and he relished being on operations. "He was a natural leader and his Riflemen adored being under his command. There is now a huge gap in C Company that Serjeant McAleese once occupied, and whilst the depths of our sorrow are deep, our thoughts and prayers are with his young family and his friends in these most tragic of times." Major Ion Hill, Officer Commanding I Company 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Serjeant McAleese was one of those irrepressible larger than life characters who epitomize the spirit of I Company. He was a Rifleman to the core; intelligent, energetic and imbued with physical courage. Blessed with an infectious sense of humour he was at ease in any company and would readily converse with generals, wives and Riflemen alike; they were all the same to him! He made regimental soldiering fun and will be greatly missed. "Serjeant McAleese was an outstanding soldier, always on the front foot and a true leader in the heroic mould. His confidence and dynamism quickly pervaded all those Riflemen in his charge. He was passionate about sniping and the quality of the Battalion Sniper Platoon is a testament to his commitment and professionalism. I sorely missed his contribution to Company operations when he moved to Sangin. "But there was also an empathetic, softer side to Serjeant McAleese. He cared deeply about the welfare of his Riflemen and was ever ready to help those in need. It was this selfless side to his character that, without fuss, he graciously accepted the need to move to C Company and take over as 10 Platoon Serjeant from a wounded friend. "Above all Serjeant McAleese was a strong family man and he was clearly elated to have become a father. Our thoughts at this time are very much with Joanne and Charley." 2nd Lieutenant Rob Hilliard, 10 Platoon Commander said: "Serjeant McAleese assumed the role of Platoon Serjeant in very challenging circumstances, with a new Platoon Commander at the reins, having seen the previous Platoon Commander Killed in Action and the previous Platoon Serjeant wounded. "Characteristically, 'Mac' brought his boundless enthusiasm, impressive physical strength, infectious energy, glint in the eye intelligence, years of front line and training experience, as well as his ever present grin and cheek to the task of steeling the platoon. Naturally, the Platoon responded well to this potent mix. "Serjeant McAleese was killed while trying to get to a fellow British soldier who had been hit in an IED strike - fearlessly fulfilling his role as Serjeant. A role he had excelled at in recent weeks in the most unimaginable of circumstances. "Working with 'Mac' was a privilege for a junior officer - his astute mind was critical in the planning stages, while on the ground his natural presence provided an all-pervading sense of calm and control in the most adverse conditions. Around the FOB his sense of humour and endless retinue of stories often saw him holding court around the table or his 'scratcher'. "Nonetheless, it was when talking about his wife Jo and young baby boy Charley that Mac truly lit up - the aforementioned energy and enthusiasm practically spilling over. 10 Platoon's, and my own, thoughts and prayers are with them." WO2 (CSM) Simon Thompson, C Company Serjeant Major said: "Sergeant Paul McAleese was a Rifleman through and through. He was keen, fit and well motivated. He said exactly what he thought and he wasn't really fussed if you liked it or not. Invariably there was a well thought out and relevant point to his side of the discussion. He wanted nothing but the best for his Platoon and brought the best out of them. "He was a Battalion asset and was exceptional as a Sniper, this was where his professional heart was and he took his responsibilities to continue training our Company Snipers very seriously. His medical skill was spot on and I have seen him save lives both here and in Iraq. He brought a lot of combat experience to the Company following a demanding tour of Iraq in 2007. He inspired confidence in his men. "As the CSM I could not have asked for a more supportive Platoon Serjeant, he gave his support to me and the remainder of Company HQ by the bucket load. He turned what was a very tough task of taking over a badly hit Platoon into a smooth transition which was a credit to him and helped his men through a dark period. "My heart goes out to his wife Jo, young son Charley and the rest of his family. "In summary I was glad to have fought with and stood next to Paul in Iraq in 2007 and here in Afghanistan in 2009. He was a bloke that you wanted by your side in a scrap, and he delivered the goods every time. His ability to command a situation here in Wishtan was astounding; he never hesitated to get involved when it counted. He was Swift and Bold and I, for one, will miss him. "Stand Down Paul, RIP." WO2 (CSM) Jock Wark, I Company Serjeant Major said: "Mac was an infectious professional soldier in everything he did. He lived by the Rifles motto of Swift and Bold and was full of life, racing around putting the effort in for his 'Geezers", always wanting them to be the best they could be in everything they did in life. Mac, would never take no for an answer and would always argue his point where his 'Geezers" were concerned.  "He would always speak his mind, and with his infectious cheeky grin, he would generally get his way. "Mac was the protective Platoon Serjeant you always want. He was brave, courageous in leading his men, and would not expect them to do anything he hadn't done himself. He was always trying to improve in everything he did, whether it was training for peace-keeping or for war. He would always have his Riflemen in the forefront of his mind and would prepare them well for all that was to come. "I had so much time for Mac. He would be in my office for a laugh and a joke, seeking advice or trying to grab a brew. His sense of humour had me in stitches at times and he would always be there to lighten the mood when things were getting a little grim. "In the Serjeants' Mess we would put the world to right's over a cold beer with the rest of the Seniors from I Company…and then Mac's grin would appear and it would be Mess Rugby time, game on! That was the time for me to get on the Chesterfield sofa and let Mac with Terry, Al, Stu, and the others crack on, and see who made it through to first parade without injury. "Mac will be sorely missed by all who knew him, especially his 'Geezers" in the Sniper Platoon, and all of I Company and 2 RIFLES. He was the model professional, a proud loving father to Charley, a dedicated husband to Jo, and a great friend. "Swift and Bold." WO2 (CSM) Pete Burney, A Company Serjeant Major said: "You will meet many people in your life but very few people will stand out and have a lasting impression. Paul was one of the few who did so with his physical presence, cheeky wit and smile and professional manner. Others looked to Paul as an example to follow, young Riflemen are inspired by him and these will be his legacy, as they grow through their careers, having him as their foundation. Paul, so long, you will always be missed, but never forgotten. "Celer et audax." Colour Serjeant Stu Chamberlain, B Company Quarter Master Serjeant said: "I have lost a true friend. A man with such great presence and a massive heart. A mate that was always there for a good bit of banter and to chew the fat about sniping, both our passion, which I will miss dearly. "A massive void has been made by your loss mate and it will always be there. I will not forget you mate, you were such a good friend to me, Kel and the kids. Gone, but never forgotten. "RIP." Colour Serjeant Dave Bell, B Company FSG Second in Command said: "A hole has been left in our lives with the departure of our brother Rifleman Paul. A true friend, who always had the time of day for anyone. Always at the front, whether being at work or at play. Quick witted, always up for the banter, even if you were on the receiving end. Tea and toast won't be the same without you, mate, your big presence and laughter filling the Mess. "The Battalion has lost one of its most professional soldiers. Paul lived and breathed sniping - it was his passion. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Jo, and their son, Charley, who Paul spent so many hours talking about. Looking at his photos from R&R, you could see his son, Charley, meant everything to him. Paul, I'll miss you mate, you're gone, but not forgotten. Rest in Peace." Colour Serjeant Danny Leicester, I Company Quarter Master Serjeant said: "Mac was an infectious man, he knew what he wanted in life and was determined to achieve the highest levels in everything he did. An example of this is when he decided to take up golf and was sure he would master the game in just a few holes. "This was not to be, as the people who had the great privilege to know him, his, shall we say, fiery temper got the better of him. Needless to say he didn't and just smashed the remaining balls into trees and rough alike. "I said at the beginning, Mac was infectious and he was. He would be the heart and soul of functions, Tea and Toast, in fact if you were lucky enough to be in his company, you would be sure to laugh for the entirety of the conversation. "RIP. Our thoughts go out to Jo, his wife, and son, Charley. What we feel now is nothing in comparison to their pain. Charley will grow up knowing his Dad, Mac, was and always will be a legend. "RIP Mac. Brother." Colour Serjeant Terry Rafferty, A Company Quarter Master Serjeant said "I have had the pleasure to know Paul McAleese for over a decade in which time we became very close friends. Both socially and at work, we have always been with each other. As a young soldier he was full of life and always confident in his own ability both at work and with his friends away from the Army. Forever the jack-the-lad, I noticed a life-changing maturity in him when he met his wife, Jo, to the point where me and the lads would rip him for being ' under the thumb '. "His big ambition was to complete SAS selection and serve at Hereford like his father did before him. After he and Jo had planned to start a family I said his outlook on life would change and when he deployed to Kajaki one of the first things he told me was that his family was the most important thing in his life. I fought alongside Paul in the back streets of Basra where he served with distinction as a Section Commander in my Platoon. "He looked forward to the challenge of this tour as the Sniper Platoon Commander, although when he was informed in Kajaki that he was going to C Company in Wishtan to become the Platoon Serjeant that had already lost their Platoon Commander and a young Rifleman, he set about his task with the utmost professionalism and he died protecting the Riflemen that he guarded over like a father. "I miss you Paul, everyone who was fortunate enough to know you will miss you. "Swift and Bold." Colour Serjeant Paul Conville, C Company FSG Commander said: "Mac, where do I start? What shall I say? Paul, when I arrived at The Rifles you were one of the first people I met and it was a pleasure. Those days were short but I shall always remember them. "In the short time I spent working with you I met a strong willed man who wasn't afraid to say what was right and what he thought, which I always admired. Again we met and a friendship was formed, words cannot explain what I want to say. My last memory is of a thinking Rifleman, leading from the front, fearless and helping others whatever the cost. Till we meet again. "Celer et Audax."  Serjeant Rob Grimes, Fellow Platoon Serjeant said: "Since rejoining the Army, I got to know Paul during our time in Iraq and during our time in Ballykinler, as each day passed we became friends and then mates, to the extent that he was one of a few that I classed as a brother. "We used to spend hours taking the mick out of each other, training in Thai Boxing everyday beating the hell out of each other, meeting for Tea and Toast in the Mess, or in Paul's case, a loaf of toast and a gallon of tea, and giggling like kids at night watching films and videos and playing Xbox. "During the years we knew each other, he proved what a determined person and soldier he was. He wanted to do Special Forces Selection at every opportunity and he wanted nothing more than to be the best he could for himself and those under his command during Herrick 10. "During this time he constantly talked about Jo, his wife, whom he loved with every beat his heart gave, and the promise of fatherhood took Paul to another level - he craved the challenge of being the best husband to Jo and father to Charley and, when we met up again in Sangin, before he took over his new platoon, he made me sit through hours of pictures of him and his new son whom he adored with all he had. "When I heard the news, I was devastated to know that I had lost my friend but also a brother and I will always remember you. Paul, you're a true hero, a word that is used too often, but you are and I will always remember you for that. I will never forget you and I promise to be there for you, Jo and Charley, as you would for me. Take care my friend, may you rest in peace! 'Only the dead have seen the end of war, but the rest of us will continue the fight. Swift and Bold". Serjeant Tony Norton, Fellow Platoon Serjeant said: "When you join the Army, people always talk about meeting friends for life. Well, Paul would have been one of mine. "Paul had too many nicknames to mention but most were about him resembling Wayne Rooney or Shrek. Paul was famous for taking the mick out of people when they messed up but, true to his personality, he could never quite take it on the chin when he messed up himself. "I know Paul's passions in life were soldiering or, more to the point, sniping and his family. He loved sniping and enjoyed every aspect of the job, no matter whether it was in camp, teaching it or on ops, where he thrived on taking it to the enemy. "But, the most important thing in his life was his new family. Paul leaves behind his wife, Joanne and his very young baby boy, Charley – who I know was Paul's world. "Paul was a natural leader also, Paul was an asset to the Sniper Platoon first, then to C Company and his Platoon there, and he will be sorely missed within the Battalion and the Serjeants' Mess. "I will miss him as a mate, I will miss him as a battle buddy, I will miss him as a drinking partner. He leaves a massive hole in all our hearts. "Swift and Bold. Gone but never forgotten." Serjeant Tony 'Pez" Perry, Attached C Company 2 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Some people are born to be led whilst others are born to lead. Few, however, are followed without question. Every so often you'll meet someone who you know possesses that 'special something'; you can't quite put your finger on it but you know. Sjt Paul McAleese was such a man. "He was an individual who inspired, not just through his words and not just by his actions, an individual who stood tall amongst his peers simply by being himself, a soldier through and through. Professional, strong, dependable, honest and forthright, he was a Commanding Officer's rock if ever there was one. "Paul was not just a proud Rifleman, he was a devoted husband and father. I know that clearly after spending many a late night listening to him speaking with love and pride of his adoring wife Jo and their beautiful baby boy Charley. "Never a man to sit on the sidelines, he led from the front, and was taken from us because of it. "You will never be forgotten, my friend, your memory will live strong. You will be sadly missed by all that had the honour to know you. Your warrior spirit grows inside us all. "Sleep well brother. We'll see you in Valhalla." Serjeant Jaime Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant said: "Paul was an outstanding soldier and an even better friend. Intelligent, fit and determined, he was just simply the best. His character is unsurpassed in any circle he walked in. A true giant of a man in body and in stature, his quick wit and sense of fun is legendary within the Mess and Battalion. He is the only man I know within the Company who had the patience to finish a crossword. "My thoughts are now fixed onto his new baby boy, Charley, and his wife, Jo, whom he adored and constantly talked about. "You will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace Brother." Corporal Edwards, Sniper Section Commander said: "Paul, you were by far the best soldier I ever worked with. From the first day to the last day, you were always a top bloke. The Sniper Platoon and the Battalion will never be the same. I know that, if you were here, you wouldn't want us to go on too much about you, and to get on with the job, but we can't. You had an impact on so many of us and you deserve the biggest send-off possible. "I wish your son Charley got the chance to know you more, as we all know you. You would have made a great Dad and seeing you each day, we knew that he was your pride and joy. "Goodbye mate, you will never be forgotten." Corporal Sean Kirkham, Section Commander said: "'Paul Mac' one of a kind! Such a shame and waste to lose such a big character and much loved friend. When Mac came to us, halfway through the tour, 10 Platoon were in a bad way, after the loss of Rifleman Thatcher and Lieutenant Mervis, and the injuries sustained to our Platoon Serjeant. "10 Platoon were looking for inspiration, we found it within Serjeant Mac. I felt a weight had been lifted as I knew what a top soldier and bloke he was and how much he loved his job. "At the start of the tour Paul became a Dad, for the first time, to Charley. His family is all he would talk about and what he had planned to do on his return with Charley and his wife, Jo. "Hopefully Charley will hear stories of his Dad as he grows up, I'm sure there will be plenty, of how strong his father was, and selfless and brave. Mac died trying to save another which is just typical of the man, in selflessly risking himself for another. "Sad to see you go my friend. Now you're up in heaven with all of our other Chosen Men. "Rest in Peace my brother." Lance Corporal Mark Farragher, Sniper Section Commander said: "Serjeant Paul McAleese was a close friend and larger than life character within the Battalion, well liked and respected within 2 RIFLES. Mac was a fearsome soldier who excelled in everything he did, one of the toughest men you would ever meet in work, yet outside of work with his wife Joanne and newborn son, Charley, he was soft as they come. "He will be sorely missed in Snipers and the rest of the Battalion except maybe what he called his 'as issue leg shakers ' or his 'li'l shin burners" as he called his tabs (loaded marches), he leaves behind a loving wife, Joanne, and 4-month-old son Charley. God rest your soul in peace. "You will not be forgotten Mac. Swift and Bold."


[ Acting Serjeant Stuart McGrath of 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES) ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Acting Serjeant McGrath was killed as a result of an explosion in Gereshk District, Helmand province, on the afternoon of 16 September 2009, dying from his wounds before he could be extracted to hospital. Serjeant Stuart McGrath, aged 28, was born in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, on 5 December 1980. He began his Army training in October 1999 and joined 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets in June the following year (The Royal Green Jackets was one of five infantry regiments which combined to form The Rifles in 2007). He made an early start to junior leadership, completing a Junior Non Commissioned Officer (JNCO) Cadre in November 2001. From an early stage he specialised in mortaring, completing both standard and advanced mortar courses with excellent results in 2004 and 2005. From the beginning he stood out as a fiercely bright and determined individual. Not being satisfied with the standard career path for a Mortarman, he put himself forward to attend the Platoon Serjeants' Battle Course following his tour in Afghanistan; he wanted to push himself into the most demanding roles the Army had to offer. An intensely energetic and fit Rifleman, Serjeant McGrath led a team from the Battalion to complete the Dublin Marathon in November 2008. Younger than all the others in his role, he had endless potential. He died in an IED explosion on 16 September 2009 near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Keenan. Serjeant McGrath leaves his wife, Emma, three sons, Ryan, Daniel, and Dylan, and his daughter, Niamh, born in June whilst he was already deployed to Afghanistan.

[ Serjeant McGrath ]

[ Serjeant McGrath ]

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Serjeant McGrath has been one of 2 RIFLES' rock-hard Mortarmen. At only 28, he was one of the youngest members of the most prized club in the Battalion, the Serjeants' Mess, and I can still clearly see the visible pride on his face when I had the privilege to promote him earlier this year. There was nothing he did not know about Mortaring that was worth knowing. It is easy to be good at Mortaring but to be brilliant at Mortaring is extraordinarily difficult. "Serjeant McGrath was indubitably brilliant at it - he could run the Mortar Line or control the mortar fire on the ground equally well and very, very quickly, which is what we have needed out here. He often dug us out of scrapes. And Serjeant McGrath was fearless. He fought in one of the most heavily IED'd areas of Afghanistan and somehow wore that challenge lightly. "Never shy to tell me what he thought, he was full of appropriate opinion, even if I did not always agree with him! I liked him dearly for that strength of character - it was what drew people of every rank to him. His Riflemen loved him because he was so good at his job and because he had an indelible sense of fun.  "He knew only one lane - that was the fast lane and he was always in it - at work, at home and at play. His target was to be a Rifle Platoon Serjeant before trying for the SAS - an entirely appropriate ambition. We have lost a star and the hole he leaves behind is huge. This hurts but Serjeant McGrath will want his baton held high and it will be, assuredly so - by all of us in this, the fight of our lives. "Mac was also a devoted and attentive husband and father. Emma was the light of his life and he adored his four children, the youngest born not four months ago. The tragedy is that they will not know first hand how great a man their father was. But, Mac, we will tell them for you - often. It is the very least we can do. They are all firmly in our prayers." Major Sam Plant, Officer Commanding C Squadron Light Dragoons, said: "Serjeant 'Mac' McGrath was an exceptional soldier in all respects. His performance under extreme pressure on Op HERRICK 10 had been first class. His task was to provide patrols in the area of FOB Keenan with indirect mortar fire support and this he did with enormous professionalism and enthusiasm – what Mac did not know about mortars was not worth knowing. He commanded his close-knit team with an abundance of flair and imagination, always putting his men first and leading from the front at every opportunity. "Mac displayed a real zest for life beyond the business of soldiering. His love of life, humour and sense of fun pervaded all that he did and this rubbed off on those that had the privilege of working with him. His contribution to the morale of the small, isolated FOB Keenan team was immense and when there was fun and laughter, Mac was never far away. "Mac was an immensely proud family man, whose 4th child was born while he was at home for R&R earlier in the tour. Whilst his untimely and tragic death has had an extreme effect on all of his friends and colleagues in FOB Keenan, this will be nothing compared to the pain that will be felt by his family at home. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are constantly with them at this most difficult time."

[ Serjeant McGrath ]

His wife, Mrs Emma McGrath, said: "Stuart was a loving husband, amazing father, son, brother cousin and a friend to many. We are all so very proud of him and what he achieved. He died doing a job he loved. He is our Hero and we will never forget him."

Captain Rupert Streatfeild, Operations Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Having worked closely with Serjeant McGrath for the past 18 months I have grown to appreciate a deeply energetic, intelligent and proud man. "Mac was not satisfied to coast through his time in the Army. He was jumping from one challenge to the next and with each step seemed to gain momentum. He had ambitions to join the SAS, something I believe was well within his reach. He absorbed the responsibility of leadership and took a keen interest in the professional development and welfare of each of his men. "As one of my mortar section commanders, he taught me a great deal and with his proactive nature took work from me, removing huge weights off my shoulders. He had a sharp wit and kept many a character on his toes and I pitied anyone who inadvertently walked into the Mortar Platoon Office, especially young officers. "His absence will be painful as he was such a large part of the Mortar Platoon. He was fiercely proud and loving towards his wife Emma, his boys Ryan, Daniel and Dylan and his baby daughter Niamh. Our prayers are with them all during this painful period.  Second Lieutenant Ed Hassard, 11 Platoon Commander: "In the few short weeks I knew Serjeant McGrath, he made a resounding impression as a lively, dedicated Mortarman, totally at ease with running an efficient and professional Mortar line. Leading from the front, he was always keen to be out on the ground with the patrols. "He was both liked and respected by all those who had the good fortune to encounter him. The tragedy of his loss brings great sadness to the Battalion and well beyond. Ever attentive to his duty, he added also a strong sense of humour, and would enjoy a joke with his fellow Riflemen at every opportunity. "He was guided by a fierce drive that was every bit as great as his ability, and in both he was uncommonly gifted. He leaves a gap that will never be filled, and his comrades are bereft of a warm leader of extraordinary devotion. "Our thoughts and prayers will be with his wife and children, the youngest of whom will not yet know his greatness. His military family also will forever mourn his loss. Captain Ross Hocking, Fire Support Team Commander, C Company 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Serjeant McGrath was a keen soldier, a good friend and a proud father. He was a credit to his cap badge and dedicated to 2 Rifles, especially to his Mortar line. We all have fond memories sitting around a fire drinking cups of tea and eating bread made in an ammo tin whilst telling stories from home. "Sjt McGrath's family was spoken of often with love and devotion; we are sure he will be missed deeply. He was a great man to have in an outpost as his character and attitude never faltered, making him one of those people who would make time fly. "Mac was a good man, a better friend and one hell of a soldier, our thoughts and prayers lay with your family and hope you rest in piece. "Never forgotten but sorely missed. From all ranks of Fire Support Team Witchcraft 27." Colour Serjeant Mark Munt, Mortar Platoon Second in Command, said: "Stu 'Mac' McGrath had only been in the Army for two and a half years when he passed a JNCO cadre. He was a bit of a flyer but wanted to try something different so joined Mortars. He was always looking for his next level of achievement and excelled on the mortars courses. He completed the SAS briefing course last year but put that career path on hold so that he could take his lads to Afghanistan. "Although he deployed as a Mortar Section Commander, he was always happy and willing to go back to what he excelled at and help out as a Mortar Fire Controller on patrol. Mac always had a mischievous grin on his face and left you with the impression that he was up to something, although he never got away with anything - he always started laughing as soon as he got up to something. "He loved life in the Army but it came second to his wife, Emma, whom he loved deeply and his kids, Ryan, Daniel, Dylan, and his latest addition Naimh, whom he adored. We often told him to get a hobby and stop producing offspring but Mac would not have it any different, he loved his kids. "The whole of the Mortar Platoon and all who know them are thinking of them and our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to them at this very sad time. "Mac, you are a gleaming Squaddie, and you would have gone a long way in the Army. I know you were after my job as the Mortar Platoon 2IC or to join the SAS (both similar types of career path; you were more than capable of achieving both. Mac, you are a good mate and a gleaming Mortarman and you died doing the job you loved. "You'll be missed, mate, but never forgotten so I'll finish by repeating the phrase you were always saying whenever you had the joy…..'bring the rain.' Serjeant Jason Bloomer, Fellow Mortarman, said: "I first met Mac when he turned up to Battalion in 2000. He soon fell foul of the rules by being caught at an un-cleared address in Northern Ireland. Ironically, that address was the home of his then girlfriend Emma, who later became his beloved wife and mother to his three sons, Ryan, Daniel and Dylan, and his daughter, Niamh, who was born during this tour in June. "Mac joined the Mortar Platoon in 2003 and we soon became good friends. It's only now that I realise just how lucky I was to have attended both the Junior and Senior Mortar Courses with him in Warminster. Without him there to help me with the more technical parts of the courses, I'm sure I wouldn't have got through it. But that was Mac all over, always ready to help anyone. "He loved his fitness and it was not unusual after a platoon run or tab to see him go off and do it all again just to get some benefit from it. He would often ask me to go on these extra miles with him but I'd reply, 'no thanks, I'm not going on selection.' That was his next goal, to join the SAS. Such was Mac's determination and willingness to give everything 200 per cent, I'm sure he would have achieved this goal. "The Mortar Platoon has lost both a great soldier and a friend. All our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this extremely difficult and sad time." Serjeant Colin Tomlinson, Fellow Mortarman, said: "When I first met Mac many years ago, he was on a Mortar Cadre training to be a Number 1. I thought he must be deaf, because no matter how many times I would repeat the orders, Mac would get them wrong. This was amusing to all of the other lads as I made run around with the Mortar rounds, which we called the 'Spit Fire'. By the end of the Cadre he was a professional at it! "Mac really proved himself to be an asset not only within the Platoon but also in 2 RIFLES. Over the years he achieved so much and was always in competition to be the best and be better than myself. Well, Mac, you were that, mate. You were very professional at everything that you did, you gained the respect of all who were around you and were always at the forefront of any craic. RIP. "You are a devoted husband to Emma and an amazing father to Ryan, Daniel, Dylan and your daughter Niamh. Mac would always, if he had the time, drop the kids off and pick them up. Even if we went on runs he would break track, just to give his kids a kiss before they went to school, proof that his family came first in everything that he did. Our thoughts are with them right now. "It was a privilege and honour to have known you my friend. You will truly be missed and will never be forgotten or replaced. I am sure you are up there with all the other brothers and be saying, 'get up now, boys, it's time to go to work'. So, my friend, we are, as you watch over us. "RIP Mac. Until we meet once again, God Rest Your Soul." Corporal Pat Cullinane, Fellow Mortarman, said: "I first met Mac in 2001 when he was a Lance Jack in 3 Platoon, and he showed me around Weeton Camp. That's when he started calling me Frodo Baggins because I was 5ft nothing with size 11 feet, ever the comedian, Mac was. "I've got many funny stories to tell about Mac but one springs to mind about him being a Hobby Chef in South Armagh. It was Mac's turn to cook the lads some food in the tower so he did them chips and pies. When the lads started to eat and cut into the pies, all this grease started to pour out. The lads turned to Mac and asked, 'how did you cook this?' Mac replied, 'with the chips.' The lads said, 'what in the oven?' Mac said 'no, in the deep fat fryer.' A few harsh words were said that day but Mac didn't care because he never was allowed to cook again! Thinking about it, he had probably done it on purpose. "Mac will be missed by all, and especially by me, but not just for his cookery skills. God rest your soul mate." Corporal Luke Hare, Fellow Mortarman, said: "I first met Mac when we both joined 7 Platoon for the Iraq tour, but unfortunately I never got the chance to work with the platoon once we arrived at Basrah Palace. I then worked with him again when I joined the Mortar Platoon in late 2007. I've always known Mac to be honest and as hard-working as they come. "Whether it was fitness or Platoon admin, Mac would be at the forefront and setting the standard. He was always a NCO for the blokes and would have gone far in his Army career without losing his touch with the Riflemen. Whenever I had a problem or a question he would always help and give me advice without complaint. He was a top man and a great soldier. "You will be missed mate and never replaced. I hope your family can take pride in what you've achieved in your life and my heart goes out to your wife and children. Goodbye, my friend." Corporal Dave Warrillow, Fellow Mortarman, said: "Mac, to his friends, leaves behind a wife, three sons and a baby daughter. I first met Mac on the Mortar Cadre in 2002. The first thing that comes to mind was that, whenever we were on the drills lessons and he got flustered calling out the bearings and elevations, he stuttered much to the annoyance of the Serjeants taking the Mortar Cadre. This quickly became a standing joke within the platoon but as well as take the rippings, he could give it. Mac had an ability like no other to rip people, and it wasn't bullying, it was character building. It didn't matter who or where you were, you would still get ripped. "If you came down the mortar line in our FOB, the first voice you would hear was Mac's saying 'you lost?' or 'what you doing down here?' Then the rippings would start. On the job, he was second to none as a Mortar Fire Controller, a Mortar Line Section Commander. He even went out as a Rifle Section Commander for the Mercian Platoon when they were a Corporal down. He volunteered without being asked. He was a keen soldier, a Rifleman through and through and looking forward to Senior Brecon next year and then selection. He had even wanted to come back as Mortar Platoon 2IC sometime in the future. "He showed faith in people's abilities even when others didn't. At home, he was a loving and devoted husband to his wife Emma and a proud and loving father to his three sons, Dylan, Daniel, Ryan and, his newly born daughter, Naimh. "His young son Dylan, was heard saying to his Mum one Friday morning whilst walking to school as CO's PT was going on and the stragglers at the back were passing them, 'Mummy do you know why they are all at the back?' Emma said, 'No' to which Dylan replied, 'It's because they are all fat!' This was the typical thing Mac would say and always made him laugh when he mentioned it. He is definitely his father's son. "Mac, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten, as a friend and a comrade, it was an honour to serve with you." Corporal Darren Whymark, Section Commander, 11 Platoon, said: "Ten years ago, we were in training. After ten years there were only three of us left. Now there are two, but you were always number one. You were first to get promoted to every rank. In every capacity you were streets ahead of the rest of us. Your determination would always make it that way. "We have lost a great, long-term friend. You will always be number one. You will be sadly missed." Lance Corporal Alexander Harvell, Section Second in Command, 11 Platoon, said: "Serjeant McGrath, or better known as Mac to his friends and family. How to describe Mac in a few simple words? Well, you can't - he was worth so much more: A beloved husband, father and great friend who was always there for a chat. "In the short time I got to work with Mac, first in FOB Gibraltar and then in FOB Keenan, I found out what a great comrade he was. Never workshy, he always offered to get out on the ground and to stag on so the blokes could get some sleep. But the one thing that will always stay with me was his great sense of humour. Whether I was walking to the shower that was right next to the mortar pit or walking past the pit in Keenan, he would be the first to jump up and give me abuse and then tell me to get the cans in. Put the sense of humour aside and you've got a great husband and father. He always spoke about his family – he was a true family man and you could tell that by the way he spoke about his kids, especially his latest - his first little girl. "He was also a great soldier. He used to talk about completing Senior Brecon and going back to a Rifle Company as a Platoon Serjeant. We used to laugh and joke about both being in the same Platoon. But don't get me wrong - Mac loved his Mortars. He taught me a lot in that short time and that will always stay with me. "Our prayers are with his family at this time: his wife Emma, his three boys, Ryan, Daniel, and Dylan, and his little girl, Niamh. "So, until we meet again, Mac; you can get the cans in and keep them cool! R.I.P. Mac." LCpl Daniel Scally, Fellow Mortarman, said: "You never expect to write something like this so it deeply saddens me to do it. I met Serjeant 'Mac ' McGrath when we deployed to Iraq in 2006 with B Company. Even though he was in a different platoon to me, he was still approachable as an NCO and as a bloke. I then got the pleasure to work with him when I joined Mortars in 2007, he showed a brilliant knowledge of his job as well as an unbelievable if what sometimes painful level of fitness. Mac throughout the whole time I knew him showed tremendous faith and trust in the platoon and there was never any difference in how he treated anyone because of their rank. He will be truly missed. Rest in piece my friend." LCpl Jope Tikoisuva, Fellow Mortarman, said: "I can't believe I'm writing this for a Mortarman well known in Mortar Platoon. Mac was keen, well disciplined, and loved his job. Everyone in Mortars calls me 'crazy legs' when it comes to playing football, because Mac gave me that name. I will miss your jokes, laughs and smile. "My prayers go out to your loving wife and kids who have lost a great dad. You can be proud of your dad; he was one of the best soldiers in Battalion and loved what he did best, soldiering. "Rest In Peace my Brother." Rifleman Phillip 'Ratty' Ratcliffe, Fellow Mortarman, said: "The first time I met Mac was in Kosovo on Op VALERO. He was my Section Commander. He was a character, one in a million, full of morale and spirit. He was a true Mortarman, who always looked after the lads; he loved his job and was very good at it. Mac inspired me to do a Mortar Numbers Cadre for Op Herrick 10, which I did and I was always put in my place when I got it wrong; he used to make us do the Spit Fire. But I did pass, thanks to Mac. I was in the Platoon then doing the training for Afghanistan; it was an honour to have worked for you, mate. "You're a massive loss to us in Mortars, you're a true friend. RIP, mate, you will never be forgotten, our thoughts are with your family right now." Rifleman Michael Edkins, Fellow Mortarman, said: "I've known Mac for six years. He was a good friend and great to work for and to stand alongside him was an honour. Mac was a true professional and gave 100 per cent into everything and was one of the platoon's characters. He was destined for a long and successful career. The Mortar Cadres will never be the same due to his love of the Spit Fire drill! "I remember on one occasion when Mac, AKA Chopper Harris, used my ankle as a football in a friendly game of Mortars football, which he claimed he had done me a favour. As a friend, he was always there to give me advice and always encouraged me to push myself in my career. Mac, you will be truly missed by me and a huge loss within the platoon and 2 RIFLES. "My thoughts are with Emma and your four children Ryan, Daniel, Dylan and Niamh, who, I know, were your life and soul and loved and adored so much. Mac, RIP mate, you are a true Rifleman and I'm going to miss you. Swift and Bold. Rifleman Ashley Green, Fellow Mortarman, said: "I didn't know Mac that well before this tour of Afghanistan as I've not long been in the mortar platoon, however, once we arrived at FOB GIBRALTAR and started to get to know each other, I realized he was as keen as they come. He loved the army and was a devoted family man. I'm sure I'm not the only one who will miss him screaming at us on the mortar line to 'get a grip' from the CP. One thing I won't miss mate are the runs you took us on - the whole mortar platoon would look like they were about to collapse. To make it even worse, you would look over at Mac and he hadn't even broke a sweat. "You will be sorely missed by all at 2 RIFLES and our hearts go out to your wife and kids. "From Greenie - See you at the re-org mate." Rifleman John Holmes, Fellow Mortarman, said: "I have known Serjeant 'Mac' McGrath from late 2001, when I met him on the Mortar Platoon Cadre. Over the years he bounced from pillar to post, doing back to back courses and appointments and flying through the ranks within the Mortar Platoon. Despite gaining promotion, he kept a 'one to one' touch with all of the Riflemen, which definitely made him the lads' favourite and someone to come to with a problem or question. "His knowledge was second to none and fitness all most too good to be true. He would carry sixty pounds worth of weight in his day sack and still grab kit off the lads who were falling behind, making him a truly great Section Commander. "You will be truly missed my friend. Our hearts go to your family at this truly difficult time. We will be here for them any time any place. Goodbye my friend."


[ Serjeant Phillip Scott ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Serjeant Phillip Scott of 3rd Battalion The Rifles was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 5 November 2009. Serjeant Phillip Scott died following an improvised explosive device explosion in northern Helmand province. His platoon was attached to B Company during a deliberate clearance operation in the town of Sangin aimed at increasing security for local Afghans and  preparing the ground for further operations. Serjeant Phillip Scott, aged 30, was born in Malton, North Yorkshire, on 9 May 1979. He joined the Army in 2001, completing initial training at the Army Training Regiment, Winchester, and the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick before passing out to join C Company, 2nd Battalion, The Light Infantry in January 2002. Just over a year later he was promoted to Lance Corporal and deployed to Iraq as Second in Command of a Rifle Section. In 2004 Serjeant Scott passed the Section Commanders' Battle Course in Brecon at the same time as his brother Robin. Promoted to Corporal shortly afterwards he was posted to the Battalion's prestigious Recce Platoon. He deployed on further operational tours in Northern Ireland and Iraq, as well as passing the Recce Commanders' Cadre before being sent back to ITC Catterick as an instructor to train recruits. He returned to 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 RIFLES) in Edinburgh earlier this year, returning to C Company as a Section Commander. He was promoted to Serjeant in July and moved back to Recce Platoon as a Section Commander. It was in this role that he deployed in September on Operation HERRICK 11 alongside his brother, a Platoon Serjeant in A Company. Serjeant Scott, known as 'Scotty' amongst his colleagues, was a natural soldier: fit, robust and with an in-built feel for the countryside. Having grown up as a game-keeper's son in Yorkshire, he was perfect for the role of reconnaissance. A career soldier, he aspired to pass Special Forces selection after the tour. Having excelled at everything in his career this would have been entirely within his abilities. Well liked and respected amongst those he worked with and for, he showed almost infinite potential and was certainly on a path of rapid promotion and excellence. Serjeant Scott leaves behind his wife, Ellen, and two children; Ellie, aged three, and Michael, aged one. They lived together as a family in Edinburgh.

 

Sjt Scott's wife Ellen paid the following tribute: "My husband was a very brave man, loved by all his family and a very dear husband and father." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Serjeant Scott was the most professional of soldiers, the toughest of men and the gentlest of friends. Naturally charming and disarmingly polite, he was considerate and compassionate to his core. Uncompromisingly assiduous at work, he was an inspiration to all and a mentor to those he led in training and on the field of battle. "Generous and unassuming, Serjeant Scott brought calm, happiness and confidence to all around him. This Battle Group has lost one of its best junior commanders; The RIFLES has lost one of its future stars. He died doing the job he loved and we are tremendously proud of his dedication and contribution. "We shall miss him, both as part of our team for the current fight and for the long term as a beloved family member. Our thoughts and prayers are firmly with his wife and young children, his family and his friends." Major Mark Melhorn, Officer Commanding Fire Support Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "Serjeant Phillip 'Scotty' Scott was a man at the very top of his game and clearly destined for greatness. Supremely fit, with an imposing physical presence and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the countryside he was justifiably confident in his ability to soldier better than anyone. "He was an awe-inspiring Senior Non-Commissioned Officer who clearly loved his job and the men under his command, and they loved him back for his dedication to them. His face would really light up when he talked about his family. "In one twelve hour journey from Edinburgh to Devon he talked me through the route card he had planned to perfection for his motor-homing holiday. My jokes about motor homes being for old men were like water off a duck's back and the time flew as he talked passionately about all the fun he was going to have with his wife and children. "The Battle Group has lost one of its stars and his death leaves a huge hole in our hearts. However, our pain is insignificant compared to that of Ellen, Ellie and Michael and our thoughts go out to them at this tragic time." Major James Richardson, Officer Commanding B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "I had the privilege of having Serjeant Scott under command for only a relatively brief period of time, but it was long enough to find out that he was both a thoroughly decent man, and a highly professional soldier. "As a section commander in the Recce Platoon his soldiering abilities were all too evident. The reaction of the platoon speaks volumes for the man, they have lost an exceptional commander and a great friend. Big in stature but gentle in manner - he was a classic case of walking quietly but carrying a big stick. "But while we may feel aggrieved at his loss, it is as nothing compared with the sense of loss that his wife, Ellen, and their two, all too small, children (Ellie and Michael) will be feeling. Our thoughts are with them and the rest of his family, especially his brother, also deployed in Afghanistan." Major Mike Lynch, Officer Commanding C Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "Serjeant Phil Scott joined C Company in January this year. In the short time he spent with us he made a big impact which is a true testament to his strength of character and personality. "A strong and robust soldier he always led from the front and we were sorry to lose him on promotion to Recce Serjeant, a promotion he truly deserved. He was utterly professional and a real team player who managed to find time to take a real interest in his men. "He has many close friends within the Company and his loss will be felt by us all. At a truly difficult time for his family, our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children." Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Jason Longmate, Company Serjeant Major (CSM) Fire Support Company, 3 RIFLES said: "Scotty arrived in Fire Support Company in May. He made an instant impact in the Recce Platoon and the Company. He was well respected by all his peers and men. "His professional attitude infected everybody around him; Scotty was the original universal soldier, destined to go on to bigger and better things. The lads will miss his gloomy outlook on life. "It was a constant talking point for the lads and Scotty was always ripped about it. I got to know Scotty professionally and found that his love in life was his wife and kids. My thoughts go out to his family at this sorry time." Colour Serjeant Paul Lucke, Second-in-Command, Recce Platoon, said: "Scotty was a well respected Senior NCO by both his peers and other ranks across the battalion. He was a soldier's soldier and his place within the Recce Platoon will never be forgotten. He will be sorely missed. "He had a great character and showed professionalism at all times. If it wasn't in the pamphlet then it wasn't meant to happen. He had two loves in his life: his mattress (he had become commonly known as the man-tress) and most importantly his wife and children. "Scotty was devoted to all he turned his hand to, but nothing could compare to his devotion to his wife and children. He was forever caught slipping them into any conversation. "A gap has appeared in the platoon that can never be filled. We have lost a good friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Ellen, his two children Ellie and Michael and his family." Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Paul Kelly, Company Serjeant Major B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "I've known Scotty since he joined the Battalion, his standards and professionalism are unquestionable, and have improved and developed throughout his career. "For a big strong man he had a calm and easygoing personality, he had an unforgettable sense of humour and laugh that would encourage anyone to join in. "Scotty was not only a Rifleman's Rifleman but he was a doting husband and father. At this difficult time our thoughts are with his family. Rest in Peace mate." Serjeant Lee Slater, Section Commander, Recce Platoon, said: "Scotty, you were a top bloke in your job and civilian life, you were everything a Recce soldier should be. "You will be sorely missed and your place in Recce platoon will never be forgotten. You were strong as an ox always. "From training recruits at the Infantry Training Centre to the battlefields of Afghanistan you were clearly on top of your game. Rest friend you will not be  forgotten." Corporal Richard Green, Section Commander, Recce Platoon, said: "Scotty was a one of a kind soldier. His diligence and work ethic made him the ultimate professional. I hadn't known Scotty all that long, but always admired his great outlook on everything, Army related or not. "He emphasised everything a Recce soldier should be and everyone looked up to him. Rest well fellow comrade, you will be missed." Lance Corporal David Kirkness, Section Second-in-Command, Recce Platoon, said: "Myself and others who knew Scotty are deeply saddened. I knew Scotty very well and I know that his place in the platoon and in our hearts will never be replaced. "I can say Scotty was the most professional soldier I've ever known and always gave 100 per cent. It still hasn't hit home that he's gone but I'll never forget him. For your tomorrow he gave his today." Lance Corporal Marcel Cook, Recce Platoon Signals Detachment Commander, said: "Scotty was a close mate, there was no job too small for him and no matter what the task was he always put in 100 per cent into everything he did. "He'd never have a bad word said about his blokes or the Platoon, he was green through and through and will be sorely missed not only in the platoon but within the Battalion." Lance Corporal Cove, Section Second-in-Command, Recce Platoon, said: "Scotty was a very professional soldier and loved his job very much. Things will not be the same without him. Our thoughts are now with his family and friends in the UK. We miss you mate." Rifleman Kurtis Parkes, Recce Platoon, said: "Scotty was the best section commander any bloke could ask for. He did his uppermost to look out for his blokes in his section never mind the platoon. He was a very strong person and one of the key figures in the Platoon. He will be missed by everyone. Our prayers go out to his wife, kids, family and friends."


[ Rifleman Philip Allen ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Philip Allen from 2nd Battalion The Rifles was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, 7 November 2009. Rifleman Allen was killed following the detonation of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) near Sangin in central Helmand province. Serving with 4th Battalion The Rifles in the 3 RIFLES Battle Group, Rifleman Allen had remained behind as continuity from a 2 RIFLES tour and was working with the Fire Support Group that was operating out of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Inkerman. His platoon was conducting a routine reassurance and ground clearance patrol providing security for local Afghans. Rifleman Allen, aged 20, was born in Dorset. He attended school in Dorchester and joined the Army in spring 2009. He attended his Phase One and Two training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick and joined 2 RIFLES Battle Group in Sangin shortly after passing out from training. He has since been involved in numerous patrols in northern Sangin as a Rifleman within a Fire Support Group. Rifleman Allen, known as Phil to family and friends, was a fit, robust and motivated young Rifleman, who had already impressed those who he worked with and for with his ability and enthusiasm. Although only at the start of his career, it was evident that he had a bright future ahead of him. 

[ Rifleman Philip Allen ]

Rifleman Allen's mother, Karen Charman-Allen, said: "I would like to thank all of the soldiers who have served with and knew Phil. He was proud to have been a soldier in 2 RIFLES and to have served on tour with them in Afghanistan."

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Philip Allen had been with the Battle Group for only a few short weeks but had already made a lasting impression. His youthful exuberance made him immediately likeable to those who he worked with and his ability made him a valued member of a tight knit team. A loyal friend, a committed Rifleman and a strong and capable soldier all made him a shining prospect for the future. "His loss will reverberate throughout the RIFLES family but our loss cannot be measured against that of the family and loved ones from whom he has been so tragically taken. Our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times." Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Philip Allen was top of the gang that joined straight from Infantry Training Centre, Catterick just three weeks before the end of the 2 RIFLES tour. He was desperate to stay on and get the medal and a day-sack of operational experience. Rifleman Allen was a front runner in this and was a dynamic, full on, tough Rifleman who made an immediate impact on all ranks in his Company. He had a huge appetite for soldiering, physically immense, and he had carried a big piece of electronic counter-measures equipment and all of the batteries for 48 hours on the last big Battle Group operation. "He is sorely, sorely missed but we know that the loss is nothing compared to his family from whom he has been so tragically taken. They are front and centre of our thoughts and prayers." Major Richard Streatfield, Officer Commanding A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "I have only known Rifleman Allen a few short weeks. I extend my deepest sympathy to his family and friends who had the privilege of knowing him far longer than I, and will feel his loss most deeply. "He was one of a number of Riflemen from B Company 2 RIFLES fostered by my company to gain operational experience. He wanted the respect of his peers and the experience to back it up. "I introduced myself to him when we took over and we sat and talked for a while. I was struck by his positive attitude and his desire to be part of the team. "He seemed un-phased by being attached to my senior platoon, the Fire Support Group; it might have been the exuberance of youth. He was not short of exuberance. But his three weeks of Afghan experience was more than enough for him to be invaluable to them.

"Rifleman Phillip Allen was a man of great courage and fortitude. We are all too keenly aware of the threat we face here, but it takes a man of particular character to take his turn as lead man on patrol. "Over the course of the last weeks Rifleman Allen has proved capable of that task innumerable times. There is no greater testament to the positive impact he has had, and the kind of man he was, than pain of the loss we now feel. He was the kind of Rifleman you want on your team."  Warrant Officer Class 2 Freddie Fryer, Fire Support Group Platoon Commander, said: "Rifleman Allen's arrival in my platoon was a blessing. He had been operating with 2 RIFLES for three weeks in Forward Operating Base Inkerman, which was 3 weeks more Afghan experience than I had. "It was clear from the start that his experience and positive attitude was nothing less than a massive bonus to my platoon in its early days on tour. Everything he did was to an amazing standard for a soldier so young. "He was such an asset to the platoon that I did spend many days trying to 'nick' him from 2 RIFLES and I spent many hours trying to persuade him to stay for a full tour and come back to Bulford as a fully fledged member of my platoon. We have lost an outstanding Rifleman, a valued and close friend, a brother in Arms. Rifleman Allen will be sorely missed but never, never forgotten." Corporal Gareth Williams, B Company 2 RIFLES Fire Support Group Commander said: "Rifleman Allen was a dream new Rifleman. He came to my Fire Support Group on the last lap of the 2 RIFLES tour. He was straight on the money, fit, superbly keen and always going the extra mile for others. He was an ideal Rifleman, a joy to work with. He loved his job, was really keen to stay on and we will miss him very much." Rifleman Andrew Mallett, Fire Support Group Platoon, said: "My first memories of Phil Allen were when I met him in training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick. We were both in the same section and became good friends. "He was a very talkative person and was always at hand if need be. He got the nickname 'Victor Meldrew' by the end of training as he did like to have a good moan about this and that. Phil will be remembered as being a bit of a poser whenever he came face to face with a camera. Phil was also one for impressions, taking the mickey out of anyone, regardless of rank. "All said and done, Phil was a top soldier, he was extremely professional in all that he did. He will be truly missed." Rifleman Liam McNulty , Fire Support Group Platoon, said: "Phil was a very good mate and good work colleague; he was both mentally fit and physically determined. He died doing what he loved and was proud to be a Rifleman. "He was a dedicated family man and always talked about his fiancée Kirsty, how he couldn't wait to get home to see her. He always spoke of how he would surprise his family by just turning up at Christmas after finishing his tour of Afghanistan. "I went through basic training with Phil and he was a good team member, always on top of his admin, but sometimes we had to admit that we thought he  was 60 years old, not 20, as he used to moan and groan! That's where his nickname 'Victor Meldrew' came from. "He was a very keen reader - he must have owned every Chris Ryan and Andy McNab book going, and he was able to do an impression of anybody. We trained together every day in the gym at the Forward Operating Base. Phil loved to play football but it was a shame that he had two left feet and most of the time looked like was playing rugby! "Phil was a proud soldier and one day wanted to join the Special Forces. A true friend." Rifleman Ben Rook, Fire Support Group Platoon, said: "The first day I met Phil Allen was back in February this year when he was a member of my section in Phase One training. He was a good lad and I remember him always being on the phone to his girlfriend. "He never seemed to have any thing to say about football but one day came out with all the facts about the game and was an Arsenal supporter, and he was looking forward to watching England v Brazil and kept reminding us it was on! "Phil loved his camera, loved taking snap shots, and he was gutted when it broke a few weeks ago. He even tried taking it apart and cleaning it with cocktail sticks to get the sand out of it - he was such a poser! "Phil wasn't one for holding back on things if he had anything to moan about, he made sure we knew about it. "He wasn't really one for reading until we went on a Battlefield tour, when he started to read and after that we couldn't get him to put the books down."


[ Rifleman Samuel John Bassett ]

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Rifleman Samuel John Bassett was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 8 November 2009 ... Rifleman Bassett, from 1 Platoon, A Company, 4th Battalion The Rifles, died in hospital following an Improvised Explosive Device explosion in the area of Sangin, Northern Helmand. He was serving as part of the 3 RIFLES Battle Group. At the time, his Platoon were conducting routine patrolling in order to provide reassurance and security to the local population. Rifleman Samuel Bassett was born in Plymouth, Devon, on 27 September 1989. He completed military training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick before joining 4th Battalion The Rifles in Bulford in May this year. He deployed as a Rifleman with A Company, 4 RIFLES, as part of the 3 RIFLES Battle Group, in October to the area around Northern Sangin. Rifleman Bassett was a capable, bright and fun loving individual who was regarded as a real character by those with whom he worked. Young, fit and motivated, he undoubtedly had a bright future ahead of him and much to offer his Company and his Regiment. Rifleman Bassett leaves his mother Coline, father Simon (who lives in Canada) and 18-year-old brother Jack.

Rifleman Bassett's mother, Coline Bassett, paid the following tribute: "Samuel was not only my son, but Samuel and his brother Jack are my best friends. Samuel was a real character, always the joker, he will be so, so missed and loved forever - our proud little soldier. XXX "During Samuel's last conversation with the Family he said he was 'having the time of his life' and even joked when he spoke to his Granddad whilst sitting on the roof watching the sun go down in Afghanistan, that he was also 'keeping his head down from the snipers.'" Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "The loss of a Rifleman brimming with so much joie de vivre and potential is a painful blow to the Battle Group. Sam Bassett was indeed such a Rifleman. A man who steps up time and again to clear such dangerous ground for his friends to pass safely is truly one to be honoured. "Those of us left here to continue in the work that he was doing will be strengthened by his example and shall revere his sacrifice and memory. The thoughts of the Battle Group are firmly with his Battalion, his friends and above all his family and loved ones." Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones, Commanding Officer 4 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Sam Bassett had so much life ahead of him and has fallen before he had the opportunity to fulfil his true potential. Naturally quiet, he did not find the transition to Army life as easy as some, but he enjoyed his new role from the outset. "Consistently thoughtful and considerate, he is remembered by those who went through basic training with him for always being there to help others. He was exceptionally proud to have passed out into The Rifles and on arrival in the battalion he quickly found a home in his new Platoon. "Like so many of the best soldiers, he caused plenty of headaches in camp. Despite being a private man, he was a natural character and his zest for life and fun saw him in more than his share of scrapes, not least after following his passion for motocross, racing around camp in the middle of the day. "However, over the last month the challenges of operations in Afghanistan had seen a remarkable transformation in him allowing him to grow in stature and mature. His strength of character came to the fore and his fellow Riflemen came to rely on him. "He regularly volunteered to lead his Section, clearing the ground for others to follow. There is no lonelier job and it takes real character and courage, but Rifleman Bassett showed that he had these traits in spades. "Rifleman Bassett was a young man and was really just getting into his stride. He was a proud Rifleman and he leaves a large hole in the ranks of his Platoon. His loss will be a devastating blow to his family and our thoughts are with them. The greatest testimony that we can all pay to him is to continue the task on which he died - his brother Riflemen salute him." Major Richard Streatfeild, Officer Commanding A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Bassett was a young Rifleman. He arrived in A Company after training six months ago. He was a youth about to become a man. I cannot pretend that he found the transition to service life easy. "The rigours of service discipline were never his strong point. There were times when I wondered whether he had what it takes to soldier in Afghanistan. He proved me wrong. Entirely wrong. "Over the course of pre-deployment training he became a professional soldier. He discovered a strength of character that he had not realised he possessed. In Afghanistan he transformed into a man before our very eyes. "In the first week after we took over, in the dead of night, and over two kilometres of ditches and fields he and his platoon supported an Afghan operation to detain a key insurgent leader. "The operation was extremely successful. He played an integral part in the success of that operation and can take a good deal of credit for making us all a little safer that night. We owe him a debt of gratitude. "He never lost his sense of fun and his appearance as a 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle' at the company party will be an abiding memory. That and the lopsided grin and his West Country burr. "We will feel his loss, we will remember him always, and honour that memory; but we cannot compare our loss to those who knew him best. On behalf of the whole Company and for my part I extend my deepest sympathy to his family and friends whose grief will be untold. "Just as he found the strength of mind and body to soldier in Afghanistan, so we will honour his memory through our determination to complete the task before us." Lieutenant Michael Holden, 1 Platoon Commander, said: "Rifleman Bassett was a true Rifleman; in camp a nightmare, always up to no good. However in Afghanistan, a real professional, a master of his trade. When Rfn Bassett first joined the platoon in May of this year, he was thrown straight into pre-deployment training. "It is full on with very little time to relax, and it is taxing on a young Rifleman and causes a lot of stress and hardship on family and friends. Throughout pre-deployment training he always gave us reasons for concern, he seemed to have the ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with, most certainly, the wrong kit. "He became a unique test of his Platoon Serjeant's patience. Outside of work he definitely enjoyed his play, at home in Torpoint; either surfing or motocross, there was always something to amuse him. "Rfn Bassett really came out of his shell, he was proud of his job and a true team player. He worked hard, continually developing his skills, thinking on his feet and taking on the task of clearing routes for the rest of his section and platoon. "This takes immense skill, patience and most of all courage. Rfn Bassett had a great sense of humour always quick to try and outwit his fellow Riflemen. Every day in Afghanistan, Riflemen are asked to do things that require a lot of nerve. "Rfn Bassett always stepped up to the challenge without a second thought. Through the ups and downs it has been my absolute privilege to have known him as well as command his platoon. My thoughts go out to his family and friends in this difficult time. He will always be in 1 platoon's hearts and mind, and he will be truly missed. Warrant Officer Class 2 Pat Hyde, Company Serjeant Major A Company 4 Rifles, said: "Always on the fringes of trouble within the Company just the way a Rifleman should be. Just before we deployed I received a phone call from an RSM: 'Why do I have a Rifleman Bassett from your company, riding a dirt bike at speed past the Brigade Commander's Office without a helmet or licence?' I had no answer, but just knew that Rfn Bassett was living life to the full. Rfn Bassett was one of the characters of the Company and will be missed by all that knew him." Serjeant Ross Jones, Platoon Serjeant 1 Platoon said: "I've known Rfn Bassett for just over six months and looking back now it is remarkable how much he had changed in such a short space of time. "Rfn Bassett came to the platoon a very quiet and shy boy, but through his pre-deployment training and being with the close-knit platoon on operations in Afghanistan, he had transformed into a decent young man with a lot of character. "Although it was still early days in his career and he wasn't perfect, he was always able to acknowledge his mistakes and learnt from them. "His time in Afghanistan really changed him and he started to come into his own. He loved his section, his job and the demands that came with it. "He volunteered on countless occasions to be point man with the mine detector, which is a very stressful and demanding position within the section and carries with it a lot of responsibility, not only because he wanted to be more proficient with it, but because he wanted to take his share of risk with the rest of his section. "I will always remember Rfn Bassett as a quiet guy that gave me a few grey hairs at the beginning but he was a character and he leaves many friends within the platoon and within A Company, he will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time." Lance Corporal Craig Knight said: "Rfn Bassett was shining out here in Afghanistan and he was enjoying his job. In his own words: 'I am in my element out here, I love it'. He was very focused on his job. He developed a new hobby 'Op Massive'. "He was going to the gym frequently; he was looking forward to going home to see his father in Canada. Rfn Bassett was a good soldier and played a vital role in the Section. He will be dearly missed; our thoughts are with his loved ones at home. Love from your second family." Rifleman Charlie Foley said: "Sam was a humble guy with a bubbly personality. He seemed to make everything a joke and cracked on. In the last few weeks our section has got close and we will be missing you and our thoughts are with your friends and family. He's now gone to a better place." Rifleman Tom Spencer said: "Sam Bassett was brilliant at his job over here, really professional and dedicated to his task. His sense of humour was really seen since deploying, he was a good bloke, an awesome bloke to have in our section. He had the mentality of work hard play hard, that every Rifleman should have. I am very proud to have been a Rifleman alongside him in 2 Section."


[ Rifleman Andrew Ian Fentiman ]

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Rifleman Andrew Ian Fentiman from 7th Battalion The Rifles (7 RIFLES), attached to the 3 RIFLES Battle Group. Rifleman Andrew Fentiman was killed as a result of small arms fire whilst on a foot patrol near Sangin in central Helmand province during the morning of 15 November 2009. Rifleman Andrew Ian Fentiman was born in Cambridge on 29 July 1986. He joined 7 RIFLES as a Potential Officer in 2007 following two years at East Midlands University Officer Training Corps. Having volunteered to serve with the 3 RIFLES (3rd Battalion The RIFLES) Battle Group, he completed an assault pioneer course in May before being mobilised in June 2009. Rifleman Fentiman attended the Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre in Chilwell before joining A Company, 3 RIFLES, during pre-deployment training. He quickly proved his mettle, earning high praise from OPTAG (Operational Training and Advisory Group) training staff for his reactions during a demanding exercise in Norfolk. In civilian life he read Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leicester before becoming a regional sales manager for Team Studio Ltd, a software firm  based in Huntingdon. He intended to return to his civilian job after he had completed his tour of duty. Rifleman Fentiman was killed by enemy fire during a foot patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan. The patrol was tasked with interdicting enemy activity and reassuring local nationals. He leaves his parents, Kevin and Lynda, a brother, Adam, and a sister, Elizabeth.

[ Rifleman Andrew Fentiman ]

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Andrew Fentiman was one of the welcome volunteers from our Territorial Army [TA] brethren, in this case 7 RIFLES, who have answered the call to come out to Afghanistan with us. It was an honour and a great act of commitment that he chose to accompany us and share the burden. "A real ambassador for the great British public that supports us so well, he was up for the challenge and gave of himself selflessly. A university graduate, he was something of a novelty to his platoon. Bright and enthusiastic, he fitted in instantly. I have infinite respect for the commitment and sacrifice of this brave Rifleman who had so many opportunities ahead of him yet chose first to serve his country and his regiment. He was liked and respected by all and will be sorely missed as he now makes his way home to his family. Our thoughts are with them and all of his loved ones at this most difficult time." Lieutenant Colonel Paul Uden, Commanding Officer, 7 RIFLES, said: "The loss of Rifleman Andrew Fentiman is a terrible shock to everyone in the battalion. My thoughts and those of the entire battalion are very much with Rifleman Fentiman’s family at this dreadful time. "He was a young man of 23 who played a full role as a TA infantryman, and was a popular and committed member of E Company, 7 RIFLES. "I spoke to him before pre-deployment training about his hopes for the future and his desire to eventually commission. He went to Afghanistan to gain experience as a first step to achieving his goal of commissioning and I have no doubt that he would have made a very good officer. He was keen, committed and determined to succeed."

 

Major Tim Harris, Officer Commanding, A Company, 3 RIFLES, said of him: "Rifleman Andrew Fentiman, or 'Fen' as he was known to us, had been with A Company since June 2009. He joined us during our pre-deployment training in Kent and was instantly liked by all who met him. During our first conversation, it was obvious to me that here was a young man brimming with confidence and oozing with charm. "Having studied at the University of Leicester he was naturally brighter than the average Rifleman, but he was quickly accepted as 'one of the boys' in 1 Platoon, who good-naturedly ribbed him for being 'posh' as they saw it. In reality, he had no airs or graces. He was prepared to endure the same privations and do the same job as everyone else - and that is why we loved him. "He made an indelible mark on everyone in A Company; we could all see that he was a man with considerable potential. A volunteer, he was a walking advertisement for all that is fine about our Territorial Army - he signed up to serve his country and, perhaps, to seek adventure. But he was a crucial and integral part of the team; I never saw him without a big smile on his face, and we are devastated that he is no longer with us. However, we know that our loss is nothing compared to the loss that will be felt by his family and friends, and I hope that in time they can find a crumb of comfort in the knowledge that he died with his friends around him doing a job he relished. "Rifleman Fentiman will be sorely missed by A Company, but his loss will only serve to deepen our resolve to succeed in our mission. It will not be easy, but we will take inspiration from his courage. We will never forget his sacrifice." Major Michael Scott-Hyde, Officer Commanding, E Company, 7 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Andrew Fentiman was a highly committed member of E Company, 7 RIFLES, travelling a considerable distance to attend training and setting an example to his fellow Riflemen. His determined and friendly manner ensured that he was a popular member of the company. His aspiration was to be commissioned, consequently he took every opportunity to develop himself as an infantry soldier in preparation for Potential Officer training and continuing that which he had started whilst at East Midlands University Officer Training Corps. "However, he believed that participation in an operational tour would enhance his suitability for commissioning and he put his civilian career on hold to achieve this. He was so determined to deploy with 3 RIFLES that he completed a challenging assault pioneer cadre to ensure his acceptance. "E Company has a notable record of operational service and we were proud of Andrew when he volunteered to continue that tradition and we are proud of him today. He will be sorely missed by all members of E Company. He was one of ours and he will never be forgotten. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who were close to him, his family, his friends and his fellow Riflemen. "Swift and Bold." Lieutenant Ben Heap, 7 RIFLES, paid this tribute: "A likeable young man who had made a clear decision that he wanted to complete an operational tour by committing to train as a Rifleman by giving up his job. On the face of it an unlikely character to become an infanteer, he was very focused on serving in the Army and worked hard to reach the standard required in order to deploy with 3 RIFLES. "He had a kind, gentle and cheerful manner and showed great consideration for others in everything he did. He was obviously happiest most when working alongside his section in the most challenging of circumstances, while still remaining to be a source of morale in the face of adversity. He died alongside his friends doing a job he loved." Second Lieutenant Connor Maxwell, 1 Platoon Commander, said: "I can remember my first talk with Rifleman Fentiman. He was in a bad way after having a really good night out before joining us. This was him all over. Always up for a laugh, a cheery character who always remained upbeat, he simply made it easy for everyone to like him. Although he was not a regular soldier, I only ever saw him as one of us. He was always professional and was a true asset to the platoon. He paid the ultimate sacrifice doing something he loved. I have complete respect for him. My heart goes out to all of the loved ones he left behind." Serjeant Steven Smith, 1 Platoon Serjeant, said: "As a Platoon Serjeant it was my responsibility to get people ready for the tour and even more so for the lads who joined so close before we came here. This included Fen, who had the extra pressure of coming in late and fitting in with the platoon. From my point of view it was easy with Fen because of his enthusiasm and willingness to leave his job to come to Afghanistan with us. Even though Fen’s background was different from most, he was always eager to fit in, took all the banter a Rifle Platoon dishes out, and it did not take long for him to fit in. I have the utmost admiration for him."  Corporal Phillip Cree, Section Commander, said: "Rifleman Fentiman had only been with me for around five months, after making the huge jump from being a civvie to a full time soldier on tour. He found the transition hard at first, but really started to just become one of the lads. He must have had a great passion for this job, after leaving his office chat to be with us. He was always upbeat and provided good morale for the blokes. So long Fen, you will be missed." Lance Corporal Mathew Davies, Section Second-in-Command, added: "To come to Afghanistan as a soldier takes courage, to volunteer takes more so. A constant source of morale for the lads, with his cheerful and unique demeanour. He will be sorely missed." Rifleman Connor McDarby said: "Fen put the effort in to mix with us all from day one. He was always positive even when things were bad. If you asked for help he would always be there for you, and would give his own input and innovation. See you later mate, you will never be forgotten.”


[ Lance Corporal David Leslie Kirkness and Rifleman James Stephen Brown ]

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Lance Corporal David Leslie Kirkness and Rifleman James Stephen Brown killed in Afghanistan both from the 3 RIFLES Reconnaissance Platoon, they were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 15 December 2009. Lance Corporal Kirkness was killed following a suicide improvised explosive device blast on a route into central Sangin, northern Helmand, Afghanistan. Rifleman Brown died on his way to hospital in Camp Bastion from injuries sustained in the incident. At the time their platoon was manning a vehicle checkpoint alongside an Afghan National Army section in order to provide reassurance and security to the local population.

[ Lance Corporal Kirkness ]

Lance Corporal Kirkness was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on 11 December 1985. He was an air-conditioning engineer before joining the Army and, following training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, he joined 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 RIFLES) in Edinburgh in March 2004. He attended the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' cadre in 2005 and was promoted to Lance Corporal in March 2006. He completed a close protection course in 2008 and, earlier this year, a two-month course to learn Pashto, the native tongue in much of Helmand province. He completed the highly demanding two-month sniper course before deploying to Afghanistan with the 3 RIFLES Battle Group in October and has since been a key part of the numerous patrols and operations that are bringing security and prosperity to the population of Sangin.

Lance Corporal Kirkness's parents, Christopher and Margaret Kirkness, and his daughter Brooke Kirkness, aged three, made the following statement: "We would like to thank family and friends for their support over these difficult times. If you knew David, you had to love him - it was impossible not to. And in David's own words, 'If you didn't know me, hard luck'. He will always be in our hearts." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Lance Corporal Kirkness was a Rifleman of the highest standard, talented, highly motivated and with boundless energy. He was a first class leader, one who put the thoughts and needs of his men first. "To the younger Riflemen he gave inspiration and guidance, earning their respect and instilling in them the confidence and understanding to guide them through their current challenges. He balanced courage and grit with compassion and consideration, winning trust, admiration and friendship wherever he went. "Tragic as his loss is, we take comfort and pride from the fact that he and the soldiers who died with him, both Afghan and British, averted a much larger tragedy. "Their sacrifice prevented two suicide bombers from reaching their intended target, the bustling and ever more prosperous Sangin bazaar, packed with local Afghans going about their daily business. "The Battle Group has lost a talented young leader at the heart of the fight and we of The Rifles have lost a brother. He died doing a job for which he was the keenest of volunteers; a job he loved and for which he was made. "His memory, commitment and selflessness will be forever revered. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends; we all have much of which we can be truly proud." Major James Richardson, Officer Commanding B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "The death of Lance Corporal Kirkness is a terrible blow to our Company Group and to the Recce Platoon in particular. "He was a multi-talented Rifleman - recce soldier, badged sniper, Pashto speaker - typical of the flexibility and quality we seek in our best people. He was a core member of the tight-knit gang that the Recce Platoon is. "He featured strongly in the future plans of the platoon because he was integral to the way the platoon ran and operated - quietly professional, undoubtedly capable, experienced, level-headed and driven by a desire to see things done properly rather than through any ambition. "He was always at the centre of things, not because he craved attention or the limelight, but because people naturally gathered around him, such was his warmth. I suspect he was something of a father figure to some of the Riflemen. "He had a massive heart which was all too often worn on his sleeve and, perhaps unusually for someone in his profession, was never afraid to show his emotions. "His death has hit us all hard, for the hole that his personality has left cannot truly be filled. That said, our thoughts are with his family who will feel his loss even more keenly than we do." Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Kelly, Company Serjeant Major, B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "I have known Lance Corporal 'Kirky' Kirkness ever since he joined the battalion nearly seven years ago. He was a trained sniper and a Pashto speaker and held a vital role within his section. He was a professional young man with a clear career path in which he would have excelled. "His love for rugby and football was a source of banter within his platoon, and he always struck me as a larger than life character. He will be irreplaceable among his peers and his mates. Kirky was not only a Rifleman but a son, brother and father, and at this difficult time our thoughts are with his family."  Colour Serjeant Paul Lucke, Recce Platoon Commander, 3 RIFLES, said: "Lance Corporal Kirkness, 'Kirky' to everyone who knew him, was one of my Section 2ICs [Second-in-Commands] but, more importantly, I truly counted him as a friend, someone even I would seek advice from. People talk about someone being the life and soul of a party. Well Kirky was the life and soul of Recce Platoon. "Also a qualified sniper, he excelled during his time here, hoping to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. He even volunteered to complete a three-month language course just so he could interact with the local population and talk freely to them, which he did every hour of every day. "You could not ask more from anyone within the platoon, he delivered. My thoughts remain with his family at this difficult time. There is always a standing joke with the Rifle Platoons that the reconnaissance symbol is a Christmas tree - well if this is true Kirky would be the star on top, shining bright forever." Serjeant Slater, Recce Platoon Serjeant, said: "Kirky was a soldier of excellence, a future star of the battalion, a practical joker in the best possible sense. You were the life and soul of the party. "He made Recce Platoon the platoon it is today; he was a vital member of the platoon - loved by all. Kirky was professional at all times. You were also a friend which I could talk to any time. A hole in our hearts will never be filled. Best Friend." Corporal Richard Green, 1 Section Commander, said: "A true friend and a hero is how I remember Kirky. A born joker one minute, but the most serious and diligent soldier I have had the honour to serve with. Nothing would be too much for him, from patrolling the areas of Afghanistan to relaxing with a beer back in Edinburgh. "A natural character, he belonged in Recce; 'it was the way he did business', he used to say. He will be sorely missed by us all, more so me. My thoughts go out to his family, especially his younger brother at this difficult time." Lance Corporal Cove, 2 Section Commander, said: "Lance Corporal Kirkness was a true friend to the platoon and to me. It will not be the same without him, he was a really funny lad and the life and soul of the platoon; he loved his job so much - it was one of the things he would always say. He was the man who you would look up to as he was so good at what he did and just seemed to know everything about the Army. "I know that he will never be forgotten. He loved his family and Recce Platoon so much, as we all did him and always will. My thoughts are now with all of his family. Goodbye mate. True to the platoon motto - 'We lead, you follow'." Lance Corporal Cook, Recce Platoon, said: "David, Kirky, or known in the Platoon as the BUSH-PIG for his outrageous snoring, was a close mate and was liked by everyone who met him. I've worked with him since he joined the battalion, first B Company, then Recce Platoon. "In all his work, and everything he put his mind to, he did it with diligence and complete determination. Even when he commanded his men he always led by example and from the front. "He was the practical joker and always had the lads in hysterics and laughter. Within the platoon, there is now a gap, as there is in my heart where he will never be forgotten! My thoughts go out to his family, mum, dad, brother, girlfriend and daughter. Goodbye mate: 'We lead, you follow'."  Rifleman Humphrey-Lomberg, Recce Platoon, said: "Kirky, as he was known, was a good commander and a friend. I had the privilege of working with him since I have been in Recce. He was liked by everyone in the platoon and throughout the battalion. "He always had time for people and if he could help he would. Always helping new lads fitting in anyway he could. There is no other way I can say this: you will be missed like mad.  "My thoughts go out to your family. For family and friends, the ones we care about and the ones we lose. 'We lead you follow'. Goodbye mate - missing you already."


[ Rifleman Brown ]

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Rifleman Brown was born in Farnborough Hospital, Orpington, Kent, on 9 January 1991. He joined the Army in 2009, completing initial training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick before passing out to join 3rd Battalion The Rifles in October 2009. He attended the individual reinforcement course for Operation HERRICK and deployed as a battle casualty replacement in late November 2009 where he joined B Company Group. The Brown family said: "James Stephen Brown, a son, brother, uncle, boyfriend, and a friend. You were a true hero and will be dearly missed. We all love you so much. You died a hero living your dream and you will always be in our thoughts. Your actions will always speak louder than words ever could." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Brown was a young man only just embarking on his chosen career with the Army and The Rifles. He had been with the battalion for a desperately short time but was showing the promising signs of a soldier with a bright future. He had already made a lasting impression on his fellow Riflemen with his immense courage, infectious confidence and talent for making people laugh. "Amid this tragedy, we take some small comfort but immense pride in the fact that he and the soldiers who died with him, both Afghan and British, averted a much larger tragedy. "Their sacrifice prevented two suicide bombers from reaching their intended target, the bustling and ever more prosperous Sangin bazaar, packed with local Afghans going about their daily business.

"What he lacked in experience he made up for in enthusiasm, young yet keen to please and with a voracious appetite for work and fun in equal measure. It is all the more difficult to come to terms with the loss of one so young and we are all deprived of the joy of watching his promise unfold. "Few will ever rival his commitment and sacrifice. We remain fiercely proud of his all too brief but lasting contribution to our current challenge. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends." Major James Richardson, Officer Commanding B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "The death of Rifleman Brown is, in many ways, particularly cruel. He had arrived with the company less than two weeks ago and had been very quickly integrated into his platoon and deployed to one of the patrol bases. "He had made a really good first impression, typical of the high quality Riflemen that are coming to us from training and that I am so lucky to command. He was already making his mark, and not just for his insistence that he should be known by his rather unflattering moniker of 'Fat Head'. "He was beginning to show all of the hallmarks expected of the thinking Rifleman and was testimony to the generation of guys who are willing to take on the challenges that we face out here. "While he did not have a chance to forge the closest of relationships with his new battle partners his loss weighs heavily because of the unrealised potential and the strength of the initial signs. Our thoughts are with his family for whom this will have been the bitterest of blows." Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Kelly, Company Serjeant Major, B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "I have known Rifleman 'James' Brown only a short time, he joined us approximately midway through the tour so far. He joined us at a difficult time but this did not faze him, he wanted to join his platoon and get started. "Apprehension is something we all have to deal with daily but James seemed to take it in his stride. His loss has hit us all hard but our thoughts must be with his family at this very difficult time." Colour Serjeant Paul Lucke, Recce Platoon Commander, said: "Rifleman Brown sadly only joined the platoon a week ago. Importantly he fitted straight in. He found making friends easy and showed enough even from the first patrol that he could deal with the rigours of Afghanistan. "This was shown with him being appointed as one of our Vallon metal detector operators, an incredibly important job after such a short time with the platoon. He definitely had a bright future ahead of him within The Rifles. "Unfortunately he never will be able to show us his full potential. My thoughts remain with his family during this difficult time. He is truly worthy of the platoon's motto: 'We lead, you follow'." Serjeant Slater, Recce Platoon Serjeant, said: "Rifleman Brown, known as 'Brownie', you were sadly only with us for your short time of a week. What I saw of you, you were a professional young man with a fearless character which singled you out from the rest. "You had an appetite for soldiering which was seen by all. You had all the tools for being a good recce soldier but sadly you were taken away. Rest! 'We lead, you follow'." Rifleman Atkinson said: "I only knew Rifleman Brown for a few months but he made a lasting impression on me and all others who met him. He looked to help everyone when he could and was very much a 'team player' whether in the field or even on the football pitch. "He was a very outgoing person and it did not take him long to make good friends. He made everyone around him laugh and always saw the positive side of life. "Rifleman Brown was someone who always spoke about his family, especially his dad, mum and girlfriend who he missed very much. His loss is felt massively within the platoon. He was and always will be a true Rifleman. Rest in peace, mate."


[ Lance Corporal Christopher Roney  ]

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Lance Corporal Christopher Roney of A Company, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan on Monday 21 December 2009. Lance Corporal Roney died of his wounds following an engagement in Sangin, Northern Helmand, Afghanistan. At the time, his platoon was working out of Patrol Base Almas, providing security, reassurance and freedom of movement for the local population in support of the Government of Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Roney was born in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, on 3 February 1986. He worked as a Drayman before joining the Army and, following initial training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, he joined 3 RIFLES in Edinburgh in May 2006. He qualified as a Class One Infantry soldier in October 2007 and was promoted to Lance Corporal in March 2009, following successful completion of the Junior Non Commissioned Officers' Cadre. He deployed to Afghanistan with the 3 RIFLES Battle Group in October 2009 and has since played a key role as a junior commander during the numerous patrols and operations that are bringing increased security and prosperity to the population of Sangin.

LCpl Roney's wife, Lorna Roney, and family have issued the following statement: "Born a legend, died a hero. Loved always and sadly missed by his son William (5 months), wife Lorna and family. We're all so proud of you."

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, CO 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Lance Corporal Roney was an utterly professional Rifleman who was held in the highest regard by all around him, his seniors, peers and subordinates alike. A strong, robust, tried and tested soldier, his mission was to serve the regiment, the battalion and his mates. "New to command and responsibility, he was not one to shy away from the unpopular decisions and was respected all the more as a result. Such was his quality, compassion and depth that he was loved as much as he was respected. "A fighting soldier who would fight to be at the front, he died doing exactly that. Despite having recently stepped onto the first rung of the promotion ladder, his men unhesitatingly looked up to him. "His confidence, knowledge and sense of humour inspired them to do their very best. His loss is a tragedy. His talent, commitment and contribution live on in his men and their unstinting determination to carry on from where he left off. "The Battle Group has lost a brave warrior for the current fight and a talented prospect for the future. He would undoubtedly have gone onto bigger and better things all too quickly. "Here in Helmand he was doing what he enjoyed most: soldiering as part of a team, a team that he commanded expertly. His memory will be revered and celebrated by us all in the battle group and in this proud regiment. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Lorna, his son William, his family and his friends."  Major Tim Harris, Officer Commanding A Company 3 RIFLES said: "Lance Corporal Christopher Roney joined the Army in 2005. He was a tough, experienced and professional soldier and I was glad that following his promotion to Lance Corporal he came to A Company. A true grafter, he was the kind of man you knew you could throw any task and he would do it well. "He had a dry sense of humour and a razor sharp wit. He was loved by his platoon and the whole Company are devastated by his loss. He was a strong contender to attend the Section Commanders' Battle Course in Brecon in 2010, which would have seen him begin to realise his enormous potential. Sadly, that is not to be. "Christopher Roney was a bright and engaging man; even at his relatively junior rank I trusted his advice. He was a proud family man; his new born son William was his pride and joy. He doted on him. That he was taken from his family so early in his son's life is particularly cruel. "I see, in the eyes of my men, just what his loss means to them; they are hurting badly. But they are now even more determined to take the fight to the enemy and to free the local population from their intimidation. "While we mourn Christopher's loss, our pain can only be a fraction of that felt by his beloved family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time." Lieutenant Palmer Winstanley, Platoon Commander, 2 Platoon, said: "Lance Corporal Christopher Roney was one of the strongest characters in the platoon. His example was second to none, inspiring his platoon to achieve ever higher standards. "He has been a rock that in any given situation the platoon and I could rely on. He was never shy or withdrawn. During the most dangerous situations when most would dig with their eyelids, I found myself having to pull him back. "He was extremely proud to be serving next to his mates and in the end paid the highest price doing just that. During a fierce attack, some of the riflemen were injured when he immediately leapt into the Sangars to man the weapons with his mates. "I know from fighting beside him he would not have wanted to be in any other place. When all was quiet, he was not. Given half the chance he would steer the conversation onto his beautiful first baby boy, William Roney, born only months before deployment and his incredibly supportive  wife Lorna. "Both the platoon's and my own thoughts and prayers are with them both and his family. We will miss you but rest assured your passing is not in vain. The platoon remains even more resolute to achieve our mission. We will hold you in our thoughts, knowing you will be looking over us." Serjeant Dean Holgate, Platoon Serjeant (note Serjeant is spelled with a J in the Rifles), 2 Platoon said: "Where do I start? Lance Corporal Christopher Roney was my section 2IC and was one of my right hand men. Roney was a professional soldier and a top lad, hard working and full of morale. "He was a very funny lad always making me laugh and joking around. Roney will be missed and there is a gap that will never be filled. On the night that he was wounded he was fighting the enemy doing something he loved, always one of the first to get stuck in. He will be missed." Corporal Ben Hall said: "Being asked to describe Roon in writing automatically becomes an impossible task but certain words will always spring to mind when I hear his name. "Such as extremely funny, sarcastic, morale, quick witted, professional and highly motivated. Our section would not be as strong as it is without his input and leadership. "The lads looked up to him as both a friend and commander I am sure the lads will never forget when Roon fired up a smoke shermuley as I was talking to some locals who immediately hit the deck and began to dig in with their eyelids, or winding him up about not being there when the pipe burst. Our hearts go out to Roney's family, I will never forget you mate." Lance Corporal David Hopkinson said: "I first remember when Roney, or as all the lads knew him, Road Dog, came to the Battalion and joined 5 Platoon, B Company 2 weeks before we all deployed on Op TELIC 8/9 and he fitted in straight away and was liked by everyone. "He will always be remembered because he loved his job and was a 22 year old man but he also liked to have a moan about his job. We both went  on the Junior Non Commissioned Officer's Cadre together and we were really close and helped each other through it. "The memory that will stay with me forever is when we were in the Falkland Islands and it was a Friday night and we had been down to the NAAFI and had a few beers. When we came back to the block we decided it would be a good idea to do a full section attack on Lance Corporal Pendall and Lance Corporal Rees and our ammunition was issued talc and because of all the dust it set all the fire alarms off. "He will be missed by everyone and all thoughts are with his wife Lorna and their little boy William." Rifleman Sam Glasby said: "A tragic loss to all of us, he will be missed so much by all the lads and our thoughts will always be with him and his beloved wife back home. He loved his job and everything about it, basically getting down and dirty but most of all the morale. "If any joking was going on he was always in the middle of it. I will always remember the nickname he gave me "flybot" and it still sticks now. If you were feeling down he would always come and cheer you up. What a lad he was, he will never be replaced, rest in peace mate. Love and miss you." Rifleman Justin Grevatt said: "Lance Corporal Roney was a fantastic NCO, always on the ball and always keeping morale up. I will miss him so much. "I always called him road dog because of his aggressive fighting; a true soldier. Lance Corporal Roney would always talk about his family and how much he missed them. My heart goes out to William and Lorna. His family will miss him so much." Rifleman Paul Fisher said: "Roney was a born leader always at the top of his game, nothing seemed to faze him. Amongst other things he was a good friend and I will always remember when he first joined A Company, always pushing the blokes hard. He will be deeply missed." Rifleman Daniel Coop said: "In loving memory of Lance Corporal Roney, he was a well loved member of the platoon who kept morale going throughout the tour. "Roney was always thinking of funny names for the platoon members and it is a tragic loss and our thoughts are for all of his loved ones, especially his little one and his wife. "He always talked about his young one and said he would grow up to be just like him. Lance Corporal Roney will be missed throughout. RIP Lance Corporal Roney AKA Road Dog."  Rifleman Thomas Robson said: "Lance Corporal Roney's death is a tragedy. He was an awesome soldier and an excellent Junior Non Commissioned Officer. "You noticed straight away that he had a promising career within the RIFLES. We have lost a great soldier and a great friend. Our thoughts are with his wife Lorna and his son William." Rifleman Jerome Cupid said: "Lance Corporal Roney was a good section commander, a leader and a friend. He was very keen when he joined his section, he told us ‘Lads, kit inspection, you better have all your kit or you will be banging them out', but he knew we were all over it. "He loved the Army and he loved being in charge and I am proud to have had him as my section 2IC. He will be sadly missed."


[ Rifleman Aidan Howell ]

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Rifleman Aidan Howell of 3rd Battalion, The Rifles. Rifleman Howell was killed as a result of an explosion that happened near Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge, in the Kajaki area of Helmand Province, during the afternoon of 28th December 2009. He had been on patrol when an improvised explosive device detonated. Aidan Howell was born in Sidcup, Kent on 25th June 1990 and went to the Montsaye Community College in Rothwell before enlisting to join the Army in 2006. He was selected to attend the Army Foundation College in Harrogate before completing his training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick. In March 2008 he joined C Company, 3 RIFLES based in Edinburgh. Known to friends as 'H', he completed his Pre- Deployment Training with C Company as part of the specialised Fire Support Group, a role normally reserved for more senior Rifleman. An extremely fit and active young man he was an avid Leeds United supporter, travelling far and wide to cheer them on whenever he could.

Rifleman Howell's family paid the following tribute: "We can not begin to express the total and utter devastation we feel at the loss of our beautiful son Aidan. He may be recognised as a hero now, but to his family and everyone who was lucky enough to know him, he was already a hero. "Aidan was a big Leeds United fan and even met the players, his heroes, before he left for Afghanistan. He was known as 'Sunshine Boy' to his family and he was a loving son, grandson, and a cheeky and cocky brother. "He loved his mates both at home and in the Army and he was so proud to be a soldier as we were utterly proud of him."

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Howell, at the age of 19, was already established as a man of promise. His infectious humour and engaging personality had quickly endeared him to his Company and his Platoon. "Despite being a relatively new arrival to the battalion, he was already operating with the C Company Fire Support Group which demands the experience and ability of our older Riflemen. In this he found no difficulty and held his head high, belying his tender years. "His loss is a tragedy and he goes to join a line of gallant Riflemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country and their mates out here in Afghanistan. Those who remain here will take strength from his courage and dedication and will honour his memory always. "At this most difficult of times our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. We know that they, like us, will find some comfort in the knowledge that he died doing the job he loved and whilst bringing peace and stability to this troubled region." Captain Ben Morgan, Fire Support Group Commander, C Company Group, 3 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Aidan Howell joined the Fire Support Group in March 2009 for the hectic six months Pre-Deployment Training and threw himself into it whole-heartedly. "A very social young Rifleman he always had a smile on his face that made you wonder what he'd been up to the night before! Other soldiers were drawn to his confidence and he was part of a tight knit band of brothers eagerly making holiday plans for when the tour was over. "A tall man, he used his height to look out for others, a trait that made him a leader amongst men and stayed with him right to the very end. "On the day of his death a British newspaper arrived with messages of Christmas wishes from loved ones back in the UK. Where most people had one or two messages Aidan had more than anyone else. He leaves a gaping hole in the lives of many and our hearts go out to his bereaved family at this terrible moment. "To have served alongside him in Afghanistan was an honour and he will be remembered by us all as a hero." Rifleman Toby Graham, fellow Rifleman, said: "'H' was an all round good soldier, the only thing that let him down was the moustache he failed to grow on tour! We were really good mates and went through some tough times out here but that's when you really get to know someone and Aidan was a friend for life. "The good times we shared back in the UK were always full of banter and it was never a dull moment when we went out together. He will be missed amongst the Fire Support Group and the Battalion, gone but never forgotten." Rifleman Dean Jackson, fellow Rifleman, said: "'H' will be sorely missed amongst all the blokes. He was a good squaddie and an even better friend. I'll miss his jokes and his banter. I'll miss his talks about Leeds United and the things he got up to. I'll miss our gym sessions and talk of next summers plans. "Dearly missed and never forgotten. RIP Aidan."


[ Corporal Lee Brownson (left) and Rifleman Luke Farmer (right) ]

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Corporal Lee Brownson and Rifleman Luke Farmer, from 3rd Battalion The Rifles, were killed in Afghanistan on 15 January 2010. The soldiers were killed as a result of an IED explosion while on patrol near Sangin, in Helmand Province.

[ Corporal Lee Brownson ]

Corporal Lee Brownson was born in Bishop Auckland on 15 September 1979. He went to King James the First Comprehensive School prior to enlisting in the Army on 30 August 1996. He attended phase one training at the Army Training Regiment in Winchester before attending the Infantry Training Centre Catterick in November 1996. He completed training and was posted to the Second Battalion, the Light Infantry based at the time in Palace Barracks, Northern Ireland. During his time in the army Corporal Brownson has served in Sierra Leone, Cyprus, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. He completed the Platoon Serjeants Battle Course in Brecon in March 2009 gaining the highest possible grade. Corporal Brownson assumed the role of section commander with 2 Platoon, A Company 3 RIFLES and it was in this role that he deployed on Op HERRICK 11. He leaves behind his wife Leeanne, two daughters Ginalee and Morgan and his unborn child. 

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES BG said: "Corporal Lee Brownson was the very best of Riflemen, brimming with energy, cheer, modesty and resourcefulness. Such was his self confidence and inner strength that nothing was too much trouble for him in understanding and caring for the needs of those around him. Whether for his beloved wife and daughters at home or for his brothers in arms here in Afghanistan, his first priority was to take care of others. "His loss leaves a gaping hole but we shall close ranks and continue the fight, a fight at the forefront of which he was always to be found. We honour his brave sacrifice, saluting his commitment and example. "He played a massive part in our work out here, proving himself in combat on countless occasions and giving untold strength to his men through tough times. With spirit and compassion in equally copious measure, he was a beacon of inspiration to us all. "He was a leader in every sense; commanding the respect not only of those who worked for him, but also of those for whom he worked. Representing the bright future of the army and his loss is a heavy burden to bear. "There will be no shortage of Riflemen willing to share stories of his life with his children in the years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We know that they will draw strength, as do we, from the finest of examples he set in life."  Major Tim Harris, Officer Commanding A Company said: "Corporal Brownson was truly phenomenal. He was loved by his men: they all wanted to be just like him, their hero. He was kind and caring, taking new arrivals under his wing and giving them courage during the darkest of hours. "He was outstandingly brave: if there was a fight to be had he was always at the front. On one occasion, like the all-action hero he was, he was hit by a piece of shrapnel in his shoulder, but refused medical treatment, dealing with it in the morning once the enemy had gone. "What I loved most about ‘Browny' was the mischievous twinkle in his eyes: I always suspected he was up to something but like all the best loveable rogues I could never quite pin anything on him. He was a consummate professional, as proved by his award of a distinction on the elite Platoon Serjeants' Battle Course: he was ready for promotion and I am convinced that he could have done the Platoon Serjeant job standing on his head. "I spoke to him about his career the day before he died and I am so grateful that I got the chance. We discussed his hopes, fears and ambitions. I got the chance to thank him for his exemplary bravery during a previous attack at Patrol Base Almas, and for his fortitude which helped see his Platoon through the hardest of times. "The Battalion has lost a fine soldier, a compassionate human being, a cheeky chap and a dear friend. But our pain can be nothing when compared to the loss felt by his beloved Leeanne, Ginalee and Morgan. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and his wider family at this time. "Corporal Brownson's legacy is the clutch of young Riflemen who continue to endeavour to complete the task set before us: they have learned from the best and they – we - will not let you down. ‘Stand easy' Browny." Lieutenant Palmer Winstanley, Officer Commanding 2 Platoon said: "Words cannot begin to tell you what kind of a man Corporal Lee Brownson was. One of the most inspiring men I have had the honour of serving with. He was relaxed but efficient, friendly but ruthless when needed, but his best asset was his ability to inspire all those around him to do better. His men looked up to him for leadership, friendship and inspiration. "He loved his job. He would sit for hours coming up with ‘out of the box' plans to catch the insurgents out. He applied 100% of his energy to serving his men. I will never forget his bravery when a sentry position collapsed during a battle with the insurgents. "The two lads in the sentry position were buried outside the compound, so without thinking twice for his own safety, Browny leapt out of the base without his helmet and body armour under heavy enemy fire (from only 100m away) to recover the two men to safety. He was a truly brave and compassionate man. "While he loved his job, this only accounted for 1% of his life. Another 1% was spent dreaming up yet more fantastic money making schemes. The majority of his life, however, was spent talking about his childhood sweetheart and wife, Leeanne, his two beautiful daughters Ginalee and Morgan, and his unborn baby due this summer. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this terrible time. "Browny, you were an incredible commander and friend; you were and always will be, one of a kind, with enough character to carry the whole Platoon. You will be truly missed, a gap that can never be filled, but you leave memories that will always remain."

Colour Serjeant ‘Suggs' Sugrue, acting Company Serjeant Major, A Company said: "I first met Browny just short of two years ago in Kosovo when I first came to this Battalion, and I enjoyed many hours of banter with him about which was the better regiment – The Green Jackets or The Light Infantry. The more I got to know him, the more it became apparent that he was a true Rifleman in every sense of the word, he was keen and loved what he did for a living, this showed in the way he performed his duties. "His selfless commitment to his lads and his platoon was awe inspiring, the word ‘no' was not part of his vocabulary, and he was always willing to lend a hand to any one who asked, and I did many times. He was a truly respected and loved member of the Company who epitomised all that you could wish to achieve as Rifleman. "He leaves a big gap in A Company, which will be hard to fill. Browny's love for his job was only second to that of the love for his family, and my thoughts go out to them at this sad time. A true hero." Corporal Thomas Cook, Mortar Fire Controller, said: "I first met Browny when we were deployed to Cyprus. In an instant I recognised he was a soldier of the highest quality. He was a man with a razor sharp wit and an endless list of people who regarded him as a really good friend. "He always took on any task and always needed to be involved. As a commander, he passed these qualities on to his men, who he moulded into a group you knew you could rely on. Our thoughts are with his family and friends; he will be sadly missed by everyone whose lives he touched." Corporal Frankie Mason, section commander, 1 Platoon, A Company wrote: "I have known Browny for over ten years and can't even begin to describe the numbness felt due to his loss. He was a man who was outstanding in everything he set out to do, be it his job or otherwise. The part of him I will miss most was his sense of humour, which was always mischievous and, among the blokes, was infectious. I'm sure the gaping hole left by his loss will be filled with the happy memories of all who knew him. "The Battalion has lost one of its most promising stars, and I and others have lost a great friend; my thoughts are now with his family. Safe journey and God bless mate, Frankie." Corporal Kevin Ball, section commander, 3 Platoon, A Company wrote: "Corporal Lee Brownson, Browny to mates or known to myself as Lee was a friend, a true friend. My best friend, a brother I would look up to. As a soldier he was, who I wanted to be. I looked to take inspiration from his work: in my opinion he was the best soldier and the best section commander this battalion had to offer and he was the man everyone wanted to be. When he led a patrol the rest of his section felt safe knowing the best of the best was at the very front, leading by example. "Browny joined the army to do what he knew best: to soldier, to serve his country, and to serve his comrades well. A Company has been dealt a massive blow due to the loss of Corporal Brownson, a gap that can never be filled. Browny has gone but will never be forgotten. "You'll always be in my thoughts, my prayers, my heart; the 15th of January will never leave me. My thoughts are with his wife Leeanne and his daughters Ginalee and Morgan and his unborn child. Goodbye mate, love you and thinking of you always." Corporal Emma Henderson, Combat Medic said: "I am not quite sure what to write, as I feel that none of this is real. I still keep expecting you to burst through the ops room door asking "What's happening?" with that grin on your face like you were up to something, or had already done something! Or you were coming to see me with one of your ‘minor injuries'! I will always remember the cooking sessions you, Cass and I had going. "My thoughts go out to your wife Leeanne who you always spoke so fondly of, and also your two daughters Ginalee and Morgan. You were so full of life Browny, you will be deeply missed by everyone. R.I.P. (P.S. I am sure it was your turn for the brews!)." Lance Corporal Johnny Cassell, 2 Platoon said: "I first met Lee in 2004 when I joined Sniper Platoon 2LI. We instantly became solid friends, as we shared similar interests and lived near each other in Co Durham. He was known as a bit of a ‘Del Boy' in Battalion and never failed to make me laugh with stories of his latest money-making schemes. "We used to spend many a night at the car auctions where we would dream about being able to afford a posh ‘Beemer' or Merc. He was an awesome soldier, relaxed but professional at the same time, he never flapped and always knew exactly what he was doing. He attacked jobs that needed doing with the strength of ten men and in so doing inspired both those under and above his command to do the same. "As well as being an awesome soldier, Lee was also a fiercely devoted family man, and my thoughts are with his wife Leeanne, his two girls Ginalee and Morgan, and his unborn child due this summer. "All-in-all no words I've written here can ever sum up what an incredible man Lee Brownson was; I feel privileged to have known him for the time that I did. I'm totally gutted that he's gone, and I think that everyone will agree with me that men like Lee don't come round too often. He's irreplaceable. I miss you mate, and I'll never forget you." Rifleman Jerome Cupid, 2 Platoon A Company said: "To write this eulogy is hard for me. Corporal Brownson, "Browny" was a motivator and successful at what he did. He always made us work hard in all that we did, because he knew what the Army was about, he also wanted us all to be a success in this regiment. If you ask anyone about "Browny" they will tell you he is one of a kind. Corporal Brownson will always be in our hearts. We will always remember him." Rifleman Sam Glasby, 2 Platoon A Company said: "In memory of Corporal Lee Brownson: words can't even describe how tragic Corporal Brownson's death is; he was my section commander and a well-known face to everyone. He always led by example and wanted us to be as good as him one day. "When I was on patrol with him I always felt safe, he just used to say "Take your time mate, no rush". My heart goes out to his wife and kids, we will do as much as we can to help. Rest in peace mate, you will always be in our hearts and always on our minds." Rifleman Lamin Sanneh, 2 Platoon A Comany said: "Gone but not forgotten. Browny was a good and kind man who everyone looked at like a father figure. He was funny, caring and always looked after the lads, making sure we were ready for anything out in the field. "He motivated us and gave us all courage. Every time I looked at him I smiled, and I used to say to him "Browny I really love you" to which he would always reply "I love you too Sanneh and I will look after you all the way to the end of the tour." Rifleman Eddie Foster, 2 Platoon A Company said: "Corporal Brownson, known to his friends as Browny, was my section commander. He wouldn't tell anyone to do anything he wouldn't do himself, and he led by example. He always had a smile on his face, and I always looked to him if I needed help. I remember when we were confirming an IED that I had found and all this smoke started coming out of the ground, so Browny shouted "Run!" and we all scurried away, before bursting into uncontrollable laughter. "That's the kind of man he was, a bubbly person who always saw the bright side during the worst of tasks. This is why I respected him, not just as my commander but also as a friend. He will be bitterly missed and my thoughts are with his family. Rest in peace mate, we'll all remember you." Rifleman Tom Robson, 2 Platoon A Company said: "Browny, where do I start? I first met him when he came to A Company before Kosovo in 2008. He was an awesome soldier and an even better commander. He would always look out for his section and put us before himself. "It is a terrible loss to us as a Platoon but we know that he will always play a part in our lives as he made us the way we are now. It's devastating but even more so for the family he left behind. Our thoughts go to Leeanne, Ginalee and Morgan."


[ Rifleman Farmer ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Farmer was born in Pontefract, West Yorkshire on 27 July 1990. He went to Minsthorpe Community College before joining the Army in 2008. He attended training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick from October 2008 to April 2009 before joining A Company 3 RIFLES in their pre-deployment training for Op HERRICK 11.  Mark, Luke's father said: "I was the proudest dad at his passing out parade. I felt 20 feet tall the day Luke received the award for the fittest soldier within his intake. He could have one day gone to the Olympics as a 100m metre sprinter, he was that fast." Angela, Luke's mother said: "Luke was a young man who didn't cause us any problems. He was well loved by us and his extended family and friends. He was a good rugby league player who played for Upton Amateur Rugby Football Club. His favourite Rugby League team were The Castleford Tigers. He will be missed by all including the friends and his cousin who he joined up with." Scott, Luke's eldest brother said: "He was simply the bestest brother." Derek, Luke's paternal grandfather said: "Luke was a brilliant grandson. We'll always remember the times we took him and his brothers on holiday."

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES BG said: "Rifleman Luke Farmer was everything I could ask a Rifleman to be; fit, robust, capable, determined and loyal. His dedication served as an inspiration to his fellow Riflemen and his selfless commitment was an example to all. "Rifleman Farmer is a shining example of the young men who are serving in this place for the benefit of all. His sacrifice is as humbling as his commitment is inspiring and we shall take strength from his memory. "Our pain is no less for him being quite new to our band of brothers; indeed the loss of such blinding potential, and one so young, is a bitter pill to swallow. We lost a top quality young Rifleman, so much so that he had most definitely made his mark during the very full months he had been with us. "The thoughts and prayers of this whole Battle Group go out to his family at this tragic time. We know that they too will find comfort in all that he had achieved and the great promise which he showed."  Major Tim Harris, Officer Commanding A Company said: "Rifleman Luke Farmer was a typical Yorkshireman: tough as granite, quietly self-assured and as brave as ten men. He was a man who ‘spoke softly but carried a big stick'. There was no front, no bluff, just honest endeavour and extraordinary maturity for one so young. "Physically fit and dedicated he was a formidable foe in the unofficial wrestling arena and he carried this strength and courage into his work. "It was no surprise to me that when he died he had just been fighting the enemy, and that he was the front man, clearing the route in the dark with a metal detector for his mates so that they would be safe. He saw this as his sacred duty – and he was damned good at it. "Time and again during this tour, he found devices which were subsequently made safe, saving countless lives and limbs. He was proud of his achievements, and I hope his family can take comfort from the fact that Luke died doing an important job, and one that he cared passionately about. "He may have appeared to outsiders to be reserved, quiet and possibly shy. This was not the case at all. He was simply weighing you up. Once you had earned his trust you would see what a warm, engaging, funny and loyal man he was. He was utterly selfless in defending those he considered to be his mates – and there were many of those. "A Company will miss him dearly, but we are now doubly determined to continue the work he begun, helping to bring security to the area and deny the insurgents the space to intimidate the local people. At this time, my thoughts and prayers are with his dear family, who I know were so proud of his many achievements. They are right to be proud: he was one of a kind."  Lieutenant Palmer Winstanley, Officer Commanding 2 Platoon said: "Rifleman Luke Farmer was not your average Rifleman. He had a real depth of character. He was confident, strong, and kind. He was a quiet man with a quick wit. "For such a young man (only 19½ years old) he was mature beyond his years. He stepped up to the mark as our lead man, responsible for finding improvised explosive devices with a metal detector. This is an incredible undertaking for anyone, and it is certain that he saved many lives, (British and Afghan) through his sheer resilience and bravery. "He loved his job right from the start. He made an impact on everyone in the chain of command. He never ‘jacked' on his fellow soldiers, and was always the first to volunteer for tasks. He was an exceptional Rifleman, who showed considerable potential for promotion within the Army even at this early stage. He was a brilliant young man with a bright future ahead of him. "His loss is felt sorely by the whole Platoon, but his death will not go in vain. Only minutes before he died he was suppressing the enemy, refusing to budge an inch. His death has left a large hole in the Platoon that cannot be filled. "Young, strong, brave and utterly loyal to his mates. Luke Farmer you will never be forgotten." Corporal Ben Hall, section commander, 2 Platoon said: "‘Farms' was the ‘Directing Staff' answer to a Rifleman – in other words he was exactly what every section commander would hope for. Fit, robust, bright, tough, always happy, and a legend on the lash. He was a real character in the Platoon. It was an honour to have worked with him. You'll be sorely missed mate, Ben." Lance Corporal Kai Phillips RA, Fire Support Team said: "Farmer was a hard working, strong and gifted soldier who was utterly professional but was also a bit of a prankster as I found out to my cost on more than one occasion. He loved his rugby and was mad keen on fitness; most of all he was a good friend to me – I will miss him so." Rifleman Danny Coop, 2 Platoon A Company, said: "Rifleman Farmer was one of my best mates in the whole world. He always put other people before himself. He will be missed loads by the Platoon: none of us will ever forget him. I always remember he used to make us all laugh by doing his famous ‘Rocky' impression. Missing you, you will be a big loss in the platoon xx" Rifleman Sam Glasby, 2 Platoon A Company said: "In memory of Rfn Luke Farmer. Farmer was a great lad and an awesome friend. He lived fairly close to me and we had loads in common: sports, chasing girls and nights out on the lash – what a legend. He always used to talk about home and what he was going to do when he got back. "Farmer was known as the "Iron man Yorkshireman" because no-one could beat him at wrestling. It was so funny watching him wrestling and boxing with all the lads; he was pure morale and we all miss him so badly. I hope and pray that everyone will stay strong after this tragic loss of a brilliant young man, Luke Farmer. Rest in peace mate; love you to bits and will miss you loads." Rifleman Jerome Cupid, 2 Platoon A Company, said: "Luke Farmer was a friend to me, someone I could talk to if I felt a bit downhearted. To class him as a friend is not enough, he was rather like a brother to me. To start with he was a really funny guy, and was always boasting about his wrestling skills. He always spoke fondly of his Mum and Dad, and how he couldn't wait to get back home to see them. It is with tears in my eyes that I write this as I realise I will not see him again in this life, but I will always remember Luke Farmer." Rifleman Daniel Cooper, 2 Platoon A Company, said: "On meeting Farmer during our Pre Deployment Training I realised I had met a really easy going man with a good nature. He had broad shoulders and was able to take any pressure to do any job. Given time he would have been the Almas UFC champion – Luke was a strong man with a kind heart." Rifleman Tom Robson, 2 Platoon A Company, said: "When Farmer first joined us he moved straight into my room. He was a quality mate, funny, always up for a laugh, and would never jack on the lads. He settled into the Platoon straight away and quickly proved himself as an awesome Rifleman. "Strong, fit and switched on, his loss is a tragedy but we know that he died doing a job which he loved and he was proud of what he did and what he had achieved in his short, bright career. My thoughts go out to his family and friends – we will never forget him – RIP mate." Rifleman Eddie Foster, 2 Platoon A Company, said: "Me and Farmer used to have a right old laugh. He was from Yorkshire I am from the south so we used to have a bit of friendly banter, and used to do north v south competitions. I remember we had a 1 on 1 basketball match in FOB NOLAY, neither of us were any good but I smashed him 5-4!  "He used to call me a ‘southern fairy'! He was a real grafter and you could tell that he just loved being a soldier. Everyone in the Platoon got on with him and we all enjoyed watching him make Kai ‘tap out' in a wrestling match. He enjoyed drawing and he was very good at it too. You will be missed mate but not forgotten. My sympathy goes to your parents who we all knew you loved. Rest in peace Farmer, I'll never forget you." Rifleman Jonnie Rowlands, 3 RIFLES BG, said: "Luke was my best friend and I never had anybody I could get on with so well, people used to laugh in training because they used to call him Farmers, the NCOs used to insist it was Farmer, not Farmers. Whenever we went home I always used to ring him and ask him to come for a drink. He probably thought I was stalking him. "When we passed out of training we went on holiday to Spain together before we went to Scotland to join 3 RIFLES. We were in different companies - I bet he was glad to get rid of me but we still did most things together when we were in Scotland. He was a first class soldier, he loved it and he loved to be first all the time which was in most things. You will be missed mate." Rifleman Kevin McDelling, 1 Platoon A Company, said: "This has been a sad day for the Company having lost a good soldier and more than that a true friend. Rifleman Farmer was always smiling and eager to help out others wherever he could. "He used to be teased for his ‘pretty boy' looks but he shoved that aside by proving he was not just a pretty boy but a pretty good soldier. The job he has done in Afghanistan will never be forgotten. My condolences to his family and friends. He leaves a big gap in all of our hearts. R.I.P. Pretty Boy." Rifleman Justin Carter, 3 Platoon A Company, said: "I first met Luke Farmer when we were both in training in Catterick. We were in the same Platoon and even the same section. At first he came across as reserved and quiet, but after going out on the lash (which he was good at!), and spending time with him I realised he was a right laugh. "He was a bright, mature lad with plenty of ambition. He loved his fitness – he was even awarded the prize for best fitness in Catterick. Luke was a great soldier, an awesome Rifleman, and a brilliant friend who will truly be missed."


[ Rifleman Peter Aldridge ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

 

Rifleman Aldridge’s family made this statement: "Our Son died a hero, he lost his life doing what he believed in. Peter said, "If I'm going to die I want to die a Soldier." Our son joined the Army as a Rifleman in the Royal Green Jackets and he didn’t want to be anything else. He was determined to get his first tour of duty under his belt. He believed in the Army and was proud of his job and we are so proud of you Peter. "We would like to thank our family, friends and the Army for being there to support us in our time of need. "Peter leaves behind his Girlfriend, Jem, and his Brother, Matthew, who he loved with all his heart. "We love you sweet pea. Swift and Bold Forever."

Rifleman Peter Aldridge of 4th Battalion The Rifles, Killed in Afghanistan on Friday 22 January 2010. Rifleman Aldridge, a soldier from A Company 4 RIFLES, serving as part of 3 RIFLES Battle Group, was killed by an explosion near Sangin in Helmand Province. He was on a foot patrol, part of a larger operation to provide security for the local population in Sangin, when the explosion happened.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones, Commanding Officer 4 RIFLES, said "Rifleman Peter Aldridge was just 19 – still very much a young man, but having gone to the Army’s Foundation College in 2006, he had a great deal of experience despite his young age. Indeed he was one of the longer serving Riflemen in his platoon having joined their band almost 2 years ago. "He made a mark from the outset and was already one of the natural leaders in his platoon. The less experienced Riflemen respected and looked up to him as a role model. He was genuinely dedicated to being a Rifleman and took great pride from it. Looking the part was important to him and he spent plenty of money on making sure that he did. "He fully embraced The Rifles mantra to be a Thinking Rifleman and was never backward in asking 'why'. Indeed, he will be remembered affectionately for having something to say about most things. He was always in the thick of events and being such a central character in the platoon, he was a regular subject for their jokes. This only encouraged him more as he was a man with a great sense of humour and an infectious ability to laugh at himself. "It was clear from when he first arrived in the Battalion that he was more comfortable in the field than in barracks and in Afghanistan his character really came to the fore. Early in the tour he was his Platoon Serjeant’s wingman as the 60mm mortarman, but later took over as a section lead man. There is no lonelier task and it demands real depth of courage and selflessness. Rifleman Aldridge had plenty of both. Deeply loyal to his brother Riflemen and with maturity beyond his years, he volunteered for the task after his predecessor was killed. "Rifleman Aldridge's section has had a particularly tough tour and his loss is a cruel blow to them, but also to all who knew him. The most fitting testimony that can be paid to him is that we all continue the task on which he died – he would want nothing less. All his brother Riflemen in 4 RIFLES salute him. "His loss will be a devastating blow to his family and loved ones; our thoughts are with them. The last thing Rifleman Aldridge said to the medic treating him at the scene was to tell his mother that he loved her." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "This Battle Group mourns the loss of Rifleman Peter Aldridge, a great soldier and a true companion. So cruelly taken in his prime, having proven himself time and time again in the toughest of fights out here, he leaves us just as his promising military career was really getting underway. He has been at the forefront of a fierce, complex and highly taxing battle to provide security to an oppressed people, living in constant fear of abuse and intimidation by a ruthless, ignorant and self-centred enemy. "Rifleman Aldridge’s commitment and selfless determination has been exemplary throughout and stands as a shining testament to his memory, which we now honour. He was a Rifleman of the highest quality and a true individual – a man in which our whole regiment can take great pride. The loss of one so young and promising is a real blow. But it serves only to redouble our determination to continue his fine work, spurred on by the inspiration of his selfless sacrifice. "The thoughts of every member of the 3 Rifles Battle Group are with his family, friends and loved ones. We pray that they, like us, may find comfort in his memory and draw strength from the example that he set in life." Major Richard Streatfeild, Officer Commanding, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Peter Aldridge was a mighty fine Rifleman. He had joined the Army straight from school and trained for a year at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate . He had brains as well as brawn. Fit, strong and brave he gave his life trying to make sure that the path was safe for his section. He had been trained in specialist weapons. He wanted to be a Sniper. Like all those who had been trained and educated at the College he was a future leader. He aspired to be a section commander. "He will be sorely missed, and the Army will be much the poorer for the passing of his talent. But it will be his family and friends that will feel his loss most deeply and our thoughts are with them. He had all the qualities of a true Rifleman. He held no fear of rank; admirably direct; an appetite for adventure; a quick tongue; an easy laugh and broad shoulders. I have enjoyed his company on adventure training tearing down a Welsh hillside on a mountain bike and on operations over a brew putting Afghanistan to rights. "On operations he carried the fight to the enemy but was mature enough to understand the requirements for restraint. In England he shared his room with his mountain bike and all his extra kit. He was always to be found at the front. Trusted by his superiors and his peers in situations where only those with his qualities can be trusted. We trusted him and he would now trust us to live up to his example." Captain Benedict Shuttleworth, Company Second in Command, said: "Rifleman Aldridge's death comes as a deep shock. He was one of the real characters of not only 1 Platoon but of A Company as a whole. Already a senior Rifleman in a fairly young platoon, Rifleman Aldridge’s maturity beyond his years meant that he was close to both the senior ranks and his fellow Riflemen. "He was a very professional soldier who understood the value of training and rehearsals at the lowest level. He could often be found in camp practising his drills or trying out new fire positions. Just like all the best Riflemen in the ages before him, Rifleman Aldridge was not afraid to ask the question "why?", though his loyalty to his chain of command was never in question."  Lieutenant Michael Holden, 1 Platoon Commander, said: "Rifleman Aldridge is an example of what we expect of fellow Riflemen; strong in nature and kind in heart. He was a real character amongst the platoon. During pre-deployment training he really began to show his true potential even though he was still very young. He showed maturity and knowledge that you would expect from a senior Rifleman. "However Rifleman Aldridge was guilty of one thing - that was selective hearing. This phenomenon used to land him regularly in the Platoon Serjeant's "wanted book", despite this he was one of the most genuine guys I have met and he would show true kindness to all who came across his path. "Rifleman Aldridge was a very strong individual, which he proved on many occasions. On one particular occasion he joined Rifleman Spencer in the 'Infamous Iron man' competition. Never wanting to accept second best he would be seen racing around the perimeter of the patrol base with two full jerry cans. Rifleman Aldridge particularly enjoyed martial arts and mountain biking and I had many a conversation with him about rugby, which he assured me he wanted to take up on return from Afghanistan . "The fondest memories I have of Rifleman Aldridge is a conversation I had with him in one of our many random chats putting the world to rights, when he tried to convince me that his fear of spiders had been passed down through many generations. The origins of which apparently were born in pre-historic times when spiders were larger than humans! "Rifleman Pete Aldridge will be sorely missed. The comfort I can take from his loss is that he loved his job, had so far enjoyed every moment of his time in Afghanistan , and had showed what a fantastic soldier and person he was. He will never leave the Platoon's thoughts and hearts, and prayers go out to his family and friends at this time." Warrant Officer Class 2 (RQMS), Gary Case, added: "When Rifleman Aldridge joined A Company I could see that he was a determined young man with a lot of prospect. He was young, fit, with a great attitude knowing exactly what he wanted to do in life. It was clear to me from the start that he wanted to be a soldier of the highest possible standard. He was your typical Rifleman; if there was something going on in the Company you could be sure that Rifleman Aldridge (Aldo as was my nick name for him) wouldn’t be far from the bottom of it. "He was a true Rifleman he always had something to say (not always the right thing) and always wanted not just him but everyone around him to do well. He had a great Regimental sprit, a young man that you could rely on to set the standards for new Rifleman arriving in the Battalion. "If there was a need for a chosen man and someone to lead then he would be at the top of my list, he was a man to watch for in the future. He was a massive supporter for the Company and Battalion in sport, Rugby was his game and he did like a tackle. One of his goals was to represent the battalion at Rugby on his return from Afghanistan . The regiment has lost a son, I have lost a brother. Aldo you were and always will be a legend, sleep sound ‘Swift and Bold’." Warrant Officer Class 2 (CSM), Pat Hyde, said: "Rifleman Pete Aldridge was the sort of Rifleman that would let nothing stand in his way, always up for and up to, the challenge, a real asset to his platoon and company. His true character started to show through while preparing for the tour; honest, generous and courageous but most of all a real team player especially for 1 Platoon. Rifleman Aldridge was truly army barmy and loved nothing more than reading and talking about the military his real lust for everything military was truly fulfilled in Afghanistan. "He will be sorely missed by all those that knew him, our thoughts are with his family and friends in this very difficult time, A Company 4 Rifles have lost a very dear friend."  Serjeant Ross Jones, 1 Platoon Serjeant, paid this tribute: "I have known Rifleman Aldridge for just under a year now and have watched him grow from a shy timid rifleman to a confident and dependable one. Rifleman Aldridge has always been a colourful character within the platoon and was never far away from mischief and extremely bad at hiding it, with his cheeky grin always giving the game away. After putting him straight I would always have a sly giggle in private or with the boss at his latest exploits … a true rifleman. Rifleman Aldridge was an excellent soldier and projected himself as a natural professional. "On Operations he was in his element, acute senses and ready for anything, and when we got back he was always seen squaring away his kit ready for the next thing before hitting the gym. If there was something to be done he would do it to the best of his ability and if there any criticism given he would take it on board and learn from it. He definitely had a bright future ahead of him, he always tried extremely hard and was 100% devoted to his platoon, the Regiment and the Army as a whole. "He was always keen to put himself forward to the more important jobs and when Rifleman Basset was killed, he was first to put himself up to take over his job as lead man and was seen practising over and over in the made up training area perfecting his skills at finding IEDs. "Rifleman Aldridge was not all about the army and was eager to share with me about his family back home and his girlfriend who he cared a lot about. If there was something on his mind he would always seek advice and hated keeping things build up in his mind. He cared a lot about what people thought of him but he was not short of friends. He even managed to start a few friendships among the American Marines on our RSOI package. "Rifleman Aldridge was an absolutely great bloke and brought a lot of joy to the platoon. He will be missed especially by me. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his girlfriend who he leaves behind." Lance Corporal Paul Sapsford said: "Rifleman Pete Aldridge or "Fat back" as he was affectionately known was the epitome of a true Rifleman. Both loved and opinionated, but most of all a true professional. Amazingly capable he showed no fear leading the section through tough and dangerous terrain, and for that I will always be truly thankful. I found a true friend in Peter and he will be sorely missed by the Platoon, Company and Battalion. R.I.P. Swift and Bold." Rifleman Craig Hitchins said: "Aldridge was known to most of us as "fatback". He was a bloke full of emotion, who had time for anyone. Fatback would spend most of his time on camp either spray-painting his kit or with his girlfriend. One story has always stuck in my mind about him, from when we spent a long cold night on a lurk, with little warm kit and the odd shower of rain. Neither of us could get any sleep until he turned to me and asked me if we could spoon! Very quickly we were spooning and fighting for the comfy ground. When first light broke he woke me up and whispered, "Everyone is looking at us!" I opened my eyes to find our platoon staring and sniggering. The banter very quickly started. Fatback was a key member of the platoon who will be dearly missed." Rifleman Chris Turvey said of him: "Pete Aldridge was a good mate of mine. He was one of the first people to talk to me when I got to Battalion. He was a funny, kind person and, the same as most soldiers, liked a good moan. He liked looking different in every way, and that’s what I will remember most about Peter. He was just a brilliant soldier and will be remembered by everyone." Rifleman Richard Reading said: "Peter was an awesome individual and an amazing Rifleman. He was so devoted to his job and fellow Riflemen brothers. Peter was one of the keenest Riflemen I knew, his kit was always as 'ally' as it could possibly be and he never seemed to switch off from being a Rifleman. "Peter was a fun, witty guy who used to have a laugh and joke with everyone. He, like all Riflemen, loved a good moan. I remember was I was on driver training with Peter, we were learning to drive for free on the Army and we were getting out of boring Company training. So it was all a bonus, yet Pete seemed to moan like mad - LOL. He was a Rifleman through and through. I would use only three words to sum up Pete - funny, cheeky and most of all 'ALLY!' Swift and Bold." Rifleman Stephen Preece said "Pete loved his job and loved spending all his money on kit to make himself look ally as you like. All he talked about was getting home to his girlfriend and family. He was not far away from his camera always taking pictures of himself. Nothing fazed him always up for a challenge. True friend now and forever, will be sadly missed RIP mate Swift and Bold." Rifleman Vayani Mnguni added: "I knew ‘Aldrey’ for about a year before tour, we got on really well, but I must admit he did bite and snap easily, but always gave as good as he got. Life goes on but it’s hard to take this in. RIP Brothers in Arms, 1 Platoon for Life." Rifleman Reece Terry recalled: "I met Pete when I first moved to 1 Platoon. Pete was a lively character and always took pride in his appearance. He called it looking ‘ally’. I got a lot closer to Pete when we were at FOB INKERMAN. We started talking a lot about things we were going to do when we had finished this tour. Pete said he couldn’t wait to get back and get a house with his girlfriend. He said it was going to be awesome. He was going to have his own chair and everything. "Pete always used to speak his mind and was a top lad. Always made people laugh if they were down and if you were in a bad mood you could always rely on Pete to cheer you up. Pete spoke lots about his girlfriend about how much he missed her and how much he loved her. He was an outstanding rifleman and I am proud to say I served with him in Afghanistan . He will be sadly missed. Swift and Bold forever." Corporal Kevin Baglin said: "I didn’t really know Pete that well, but in the month of working with him we became friends. He was part of my section and I enjoyed working with him. He will be missed by me and all of 41 Delta ‘rogue’ section as he called it. Myself and Pete had a few good chats together, as he was my room mate in PB Bari. He was the story-teller of the section and that man could tell a story- actually he never shut up, the loud one of the section. He was known as Fatback. "Also every time you looked at him he would make you laugh. We used to watch films at night together and most of the time he would watch it just to get some of my heater. I think when Pete put his mind to it he was one of the best Rifleman in the platoon but sometime he didn’t know when to talk or shut up- but that was just Pete. And if he wasn’t talking, telling a joke or telling a story then he was asking for something. "Pete used to talk about his girlfriend a lot. He loved her and wanted to marry her someday. The lads said they made the perfect match. Pete was liked by most people and everyone will remember him. The platoon will miss you brother. Swift and Bold." Lance Corporal Jodie Hill, Company Medic described him: "Rifleman Aldridge was a true friend. He was funny and always wearing a smile. Truly soft at heart. He is missed by all of us. We are very proud to have been his friends and even prouder to have served alongside such an excellent soldier. Rest in peace my friend." Corporal John Dalton said "Pete was a big strong lad, mad as hell. His version of religion relating to aliens will always make me smile. A big softie at heart. God bless." Rifleman Rob (Bertie) Shaw said: "Pete didn’t have a bad bone in his body, He always meant well and made light of any situation. His sense of humour was loud and he was a real asset to the platoon. In both senses his keenness and eagerness to learn about anything infantry was infectious. I will always remember Pete for these reasons and for the random things he used to buy. According to Pete, looking good was half the battle. My thoughts go out to his family and his girlfriend, Jem, as they were always in conversation." Corporal Mark Charlton said: "As a Rifleman, he was becoming one of the best. He always wanted to be better and enjoyed learning new skills and improving the ones he already had. Having started the tour in the Platoon Serjeant’s group he quickly adapted to the new responsibility of lead man in 2 Section after a serious incident. With confidence and maturity beyond his years - he excelled. Anyone behind him felt safe. 1 Platoon will mourn the loss of a friend and a rifleman. Sleep well my friend." Rifleman Toby Samways said: "Pete was one of my best mates. He always used to say that looking good was half the battle. He always had a joke to tell or a story. We had our own tent in the FOB - he kept it clean, I made it a mess. He even tried to take me to the gym - he failed on that. I am going to miss you so much, but not that stupid cat you had. Love you man. 41 Rogue forever mate." Rifleman Charlie Foley, said: "Pete man I don’t really know what to say. When I first joined Battalion you were the first person I met along with Brownie. I am going to miss those times in the room, those funny times. Anyways, one good thing about you was that you were always yourself – no matter what. One thing I am not going to miss is your sulking. Pete you are a good mate and you are going to be missed very much. I am proud to have known you. Miss you mate."


[ Lance Corporal Daniel Cooper ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Lance Corporal Daniel Cooper from 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 RIFLES). Lance Corporal Cooper died from wounds received as a result of an explosion near Sangin, in Helmand province, during the morning of 24 January 2010. Lance Corporal Cooper was born in Hereford on 10 March 1988. He went to Whitecross High School before enlisting and going to the Army Training Regiment in Bassingbourn in 2005 for his Phase One training. He received Phase Two training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick and joined 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry in Edinburgh in 2006. Lance Corporal Cooper deployed with A Company, 3 RIFLES, to Afghanistan in October 2009 and was operating in southern Sangin. Following the injury to his section second-in-command he was promoted to Lance Corporal in the field on 21 December 2009 and stepped up to fill this role. On 24 January 2010, he was leading a re-supply patrol when an improvised explosive device detonated, critically injuring him. He later died of his wounds.

Lance Corporal Cooper's parents, Karl and Caroline Cooper, said: "A caring son, brother and partner. He was not just a brother but a best friend who will be sadly missed by all that knew him. Daniel, we were proud to be your parents from the day you were born." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Lance Corporal Daniel Cooper was one of the great characters of the battalion; his sense of humour and zest for life were topped only by his ability and determination. The consummate soldier, he was the complete package; fit, bright and dedicated to his work. Ever cheerful and irrepressibly positive, he shone as an example to the more junior Riflemen on how to act and what to aim for. "Lance Corporal Cooper was cruelly taken from us while doing the job he loved. He had survived numerous brushes with danger in this tough fight alongside colleagues and mates who respected, trusted and loved him. The loss of a Rifleman brimming with such talent and potential leaves a real gap in the Battle Group for the here and now and in this his battalion for the longer term. "The thoughts and prayers of this whole Battle Group go out to his family and loved ones. We know that they, like us, will take comfort from fond memories of a man who truly loved life and made every second of it count. We shall continue with the noble task for which he laid down his life, steeled by his unhesitating sacrifice and in the certain knowledge that this is what he would expect of us. "A proud son of Herefordshire, he will be sorely missed by us all." Major Tim Harris, Officer Commanding A Company, said: "Lance Corporal Cooper was something of a legend in A Company. I had the pleasure of being his Company Commander for nine months and I have been amazed at the warmth and depth of affection within the company for this modest young man. It is a testament to his quality that my platoon commanders have fought over who got to keep him in their platoon - he had such a positive impact on those around him. "He was an excellent soldier with incredible stamina - he wanted to become a Physical Training Instructor [PTI] and at the same time wanted to do a Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' cadre for promotion to Lance Corporal. Knowing his energy and enthusiasm, I don't doubt he could have done both courses at the same time. "I remember fitness training sessions in Edinburgh, when the company would run up into the Pentland Hills and 'Coops' would quite literally be running rings around the rest of the company in preparation for the PTI course. He had clear and unequivocal potential for a long career in The Rifles. "I have fond personal memories of him here in Sangin, whether leading on patrol, or driving the platoon re-supply quad bike. He did all of these things with utter dedication and concentration. He was one of the exceptional breed of men who volunteer to search the ground for improvised explosive devices so that their mates might be safe. If you want to know real bravery, walk a mile in their shoes.

But with Coops, when the time was right, he was never far from a well-judged practical joke or two. "Unusually for a Rifleman, he also made an indelible mark on people outside the company and always stopped to talk to people in the battalion - a true Rifleman, with time for others. "His passing is a sad loss to the company but this can only be a fraction of the loss felt by his beloved family and friends. I only hope they can take a crumb of comfort in the knowledge that he touched so many lives, and made so many people happy - he will live long in our memories. "We are even more determined to follow his example of positivity and pursue our mission in the same way that he did. Rest in peace, Coops." Lieutenant Palmer Winstanley, Officer Commanding 2 Platoon, said: "Lance Corporal Cooper was one of the most vibrant men in the platoon. I cannot remember a single moment during the two-and-a-half years of knowing him where he was not smiling. He was the epicentre of platoon morale. "Unlike many men, he wore his heart on his sleeve. I remember when he had cleared with his metal detector past an improvised explosive device which a local Afghan later pointed out to him. Despite the fact that it was nowhere near the route he had cleared, I found him hours later worrying about having let his mates down. That was the kind of thoughtful man he was, more concerned for his mates' safety than his own. "In the end, Coops died clearing a safe path through what we knew to be a dangerous area. He had enough heart and courage to share around the whole platoon, even during the most desperate of times. The platoon has had its bad days but he was always there in the centre of things. I had the privilege of talking to him at length the night before he died; we discussed his future plans and his life in general. I am honoured that he shared with me his hopes, dreams and aspirations. "Coops was a fiercely loyal man who loved his mates. But this love for his mates was exceeded only by his love for his family, about whom he spoke regularly and with deep affection. My heart goes out to his mother, father and sister; my thoughts and prayers are with you. "Rest in peace, Coops, you were a legend and a friend to everyone whose life you touched." Second Lieutenant Connor Maxwell, Officer Commanding 1 Platoon, said: "Lance Corporal Daniel Cooper was a young, energetic and extremely entertaining man who would always have something positive to say. Even when the chips were down, Coops would always know what to say to get the others going again. He was a true source of morale for his friends, peers and myself. "The last conversation I had with him was joking about a local man, who probably under the influence of some intoxicant, found Coops to be fascinating, and sat down next to him, refusing to budge (despite Coops' protests!). "Although he was definitely a joker, he was an excellent soldier who took pride in what he did. Although young, others looked up to him and he often set the example for how the Riflemen should behave. The qualities he had are rare; he was a shining star and it is cruel that he is no longer with us. "We miss him terribly and our thoughts go out to his friends and family he has left behind. I only hope they can take some comfort from knowing what an outstanding individual he was and what he meant to those of us privileged to have served with him." Serjeant Dean Holgate, 2 Platoon Serjeant said: "I first met Coops 4 years ago when A Company were deploying to Iraq ; Coops was in my team and I spent six months with him. I was then lucky enough to have Coops sent to join 2 Platoon at Patrol Base Almas. "He was such a hard working lad; funny, eternally happy and a top, top Rifleman. He was an exceptionally fit lad – all he wanted to do was be a Physical Training Instructor in the Army. He was never far from a football, showing off his skills and going on about his beloved Hereford . Coops was one of the best: he will be sorely missed." Serjeant 'Smudge' Smith, 1 Platoon Serjeant said: "Lance Corporal Cooper, or Coops as he was known, was an honest, hard working Rifleman who had a promising Army career ahead of him. He was one of the lads I would always give jobs to, which I am sure annoyed him at times. But I did this because I knew I could depend on him to do the job to the best of his ability and without complaint. "When the Boss and I wrote up our Platoon order of battle before coming to Afghanistan , I greedily snapped him up as my 51mm mortar man. But it soon became apparent that out here, our very best Riflemen were needed to carry out the demanding and dangerous job of being the lead men who would use a metal detector to find improvised explosive devices. So Coops was an automatic choice for the heavy responsibility of finding IEDs to protect the troops on the ground. He did this without a murmur of complaint, and got on with the job with the utmost professionalism which we have come to expect from him. "I've known Coops since he joined A Company on our Iraq tour of 2006 and then through a tour of Kosovo and now Afghanistan. He would often give me lifts home as we were both from Herefordshire, and they were journeys I won't ever forget. Perhaps driving like a mad man was his way of getting his Platoon Serjeant back for all the jobs I made him do during the week! "He will be missed by all members of 1 Platoon, and my thoughts are with his family. He has done his county of Herefordshire proud." Corporal Frankie Mason, Section Commander 1 Platoon said: "I have known Coops for a few years, since he arrived in Battalion. I will always remember him for his sense of humour and his enthusiasm, which never faltered. "In Afghanistan, Coops spent some time in my section and I knew I could rely on him to carry out his job; I completely trusted him. This was carried on when he moved to 2 Platoon, where his skills and courage were invaluable. He is sorely missed by all who knew him. God bless mate." Corporal Charles Taylor, Section Commander 1 Platoon said: "I remember the first time I saw Coops. He was about to go on parade with of A Company, laughing and messing about, which is what most lads do, but what really caught my eye was just how much noise he was capable of making, and how he had everyone in stitches. That was his gift: to keep everyone laughing, and morale high, even at the worst of times. "Coops, my abiding memory of you is when I fired a LASM (Light Anti-Structure Munition) rocket during a firefight, and you shouted through the noise, "T! That was awesome but maybe next time you'll hit 'em!" With you watching over me next time, I know I will do better; one day we will meet again and get the beers in. "We are all going to miss your random outbursts: "Alriiiiiiiiight!", "You what! You what!" and especially "You're good…. You're like, the best!" I've never met a man like you and I know I never will again. Hard as a nail, nearly as funny as Lee Evans! "There is a gap in the Company and in our hearts that will never be filled. You will be in our hearts forever mate. My thoughts are with your beloved family and friends back home." Corporal Phil Cree, Section Commander, 1 Platoon, said: "Coops was an excellent soldier. He was always one to depend on when you wanted something done. He would often lead the pack when jobs, now matter how dirty or dangerous, needed to be done and always with the same eager spirit and enthusiasm. I was always happy when he was in my section and when he wasn't I would always try to persuade 'the rank' to let me have him on my team. Coops was pure morale. "He would always lift our spirits even in the hardest of times, and he just took everything in his stride. His loss is a massive blow to 1 Platoon – he was such a big character. We are all thinking of his family at this time and send them all our best wishes. "He has left a lasting impression on me and everyone who knew him. I'm glad and proud to say that I knew him. Coops lad, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten. R.I.P. mate." Lance Corporal Johnny Cassell, 2 Platoon said: "Coops was the first person I got to know in 1 Platoon, I was attached for a patrol out of NOLAY, and Coops and I were at the rear. We clicked straight away, as he was forever making me laugh with his razor-sharp wit and quick sense of humour. "I remember feeling really disappointed the next time I was with 1 Platoon as I was looking forward to catching up with him again but he wasn't on patrol that day. It was therefore great when, 2 months later, he came to Almas to join us in 2 Platoon permanently. He always had a smile on his face, and could always be heard laughing and joking, lifting everyone's morale, no matter how bad a day it was. "Although he liked a laugh, Coops knew when to be serious and whenever I saw him on the ground his face would be tense with concentration as he knew how vital his role was. I'm really pleased that I got to know Coops on that first patrol, things just won't be the same around here without him. I miss my new friend. Rest in peace, mate." Lance Corporal Joe Studley, 2 Platoon said: "There are some people you meet in life who make an impact that's impossible to forget. Daniel Cooper, Coops, was one of those rare few. "I got to know him at Patrol Base Jamil when he returned from R&R and I remember being struck by how much he had been missed by the rest of the lads, even though he had only been gone a few weeks. But that was Coops all over, Mr Morale. If you were bored you only had to look for Coops and you would either find him half asleep or singing along loudly and out of tune to whatever was on his ipod, or you might find him beasting someone in a half-nelson, with them shouting "release!" And I don't think anyone will forget the way he used to wake you up for stag! "Aside from the pranks he was an excellent soldier, bold and courageous but also diligent and cautious where required, especially with his metal detector, protecting his mates, which was a great source of pride to him, right up to the end. Coops always looked out for everyone. In fact the only time you would see him upset was when somebody else got hurt; he truly cared. "Through all the hard times, though, he never lost his sense of fun, on the night before his last patrol I found him standing next to Rifleman Miller's body armour and helmet, which had been ‘decorated' with the liquid from about seven multi-coloured cyalumes and when I asked him why he had done it he just smiled and replied "Well, I dunno Studders... I think it needs more red though, don't you?"! "Thanks for everything mate – you will be sadly missed and always remembered fondly." Rifleman Josh Atkinson said: "Daniel Cooper, or Coops as he was known to his friends, was the first A Company lad I met when I arrived. I could tell straight away that he was a top lad with a keen sense of humour; if there was any joking about you could guarantee that Coops would be at the centre of it. "It saddens me to imagine the thought of not seeing him again but the best thing we can do is keep our heads held high and be proud of the things he achieved. My prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time. "Rest in peace mate you'll always be remembered as a true hero – love you." Rifleman Ben Buckles said: "Coops was a great mate to all he met. He was always up for whatever was thrown at him and he strived to be the best at whatever he did, whatever the task. It is a shock to all of us now that he is gone, but I'm proud to say I knew him. My thoughts are with his family in this time of great sadness. Coops you will always be with us in our thoughts and you will never be forgotten mate." Rifleman Sam Ellis said: "Coops was not only a good soldier but also a good friend. He always made me laugh, he always got everyone's morale up when we were feeling down, the best squaddie I knew. You will never be forgotten Coops – 'For their tomorrow we gave our today'." Rifleman Tom Robson said: "I still can't believe you've gone. It is a heavy blow to the platoon, who will forever miss your humour and your constant energy. It's hard as we both used to talk about doing NCO cadres, girls and how much we couldn't wait to get home. You will forever be in my heart. My thoughts go out to all your family and friends. Rest in peace, mate, I know you are watching over us." Rifleman Daniel Ian Cooper said: "Well mate, I still can't believe you've gone. You will always have a place in my heart after 10 years of being mates. Do you remember the day I named you Mr Bean and you called me Nesquik; only your nickname stuck Bean! "Well one thing is for sure, I now have a massive hole in my heart which will never be filled. Rest in peace mate, I know Nathan Prince (Princey) will also be gutted you're gone. R.I.P. mate xxxxx" Rifleman Chris 'H' Hancock said: "Where do I start, you and me were always good mates, really good mates. It just doesn't seem real that you're gone. You will never be forgotten mate, and will always be in our hearts. "My sympathy goes to all your friends and family back home. R.I.P. mate." Rifleman Jason York said: "Coops – one of the best lads going, I always liked play-fighting with him, even though he always kicked my ass. I remember I hit him with a ball of mud once and that was it – he had me face down in the mud eating dirt. Such a competitor! "He was strong in the head and in the heart, and always cracked on with the job; I'll never forget his strong character and the way he walked  with such confidence – he will never be forgotten – R.I.P. mate." Rifleman Matthew ‘Smithy' Smith said: "Coops was one of those lads that you will never forget – he was a good lad and was easy to get on with. I will always remember Coops for being the lad that was always in the middle of things. I used to love just walking with Coops and watching him – he could never just walk anywhere without doing anything daft. He would always run up to someone else and ambush them for a bundle. He was a legend, and if you were play fighting you could hit him but it wasn't worth it; you had to let him win or else you would be there all day. "He was always there to put a smile on your face if you felt down, so thanks Coops mate for being a great lad – we will never forget you mate, and will always think of you. R.I.P. – love you always." Rifleman Josh ‘Corky' Cawkwell said: "Lance Corporal Cooper was a good friend, a good soldier and was very brave. It is hard to describe in words what this fine individual was like. He was one of the lads through and through, his high morale helped push the lads through the worst of times. 'Coops' as his friends knew him, was never down and always up for a laugh. Coops was one to give his all, and ask for nothing back. "He helped me through the tough times, and when I needed cheering up. We were always on stag together, joking and laughing about good times in the past. He always spoke about his future. It is my belief he would have made an excellent, if not the best, section commander in the company. I will always remember Lance Corporal ‘Coops' and he will always be in my heart. "My thoughts go out to his family and friends and to anyone who had the opportunity to meet this fine, brave young man. Rest In Peace, mate." Lance Corporal Lamin Sanneh said: "When you talk about bravery, he will stand out. Lance Corporal 'Coops' was a hardworking lad, who was always smiling, you never saw him angry, or angry with anyone else. He always spoke about how he loved to play football, and could not wait to play again for the Battalion when we get back. He will be with us forever, even though he is gone." Lance Bombardier 'Arnie' Arnold , 1st Royal Horse Artillery (attached) said: "Coops was always a hard worker, a lad who could always be relied upon and one who always gave his all. I had only known him for 3 months when I was moved to the patrol base where we worked together. I remember watching him have a kick around and was in awe of his skills. "He was definitely a young man who had so much potential within the Army, but he was also a pleasure to be around. He was someone who I found easy to get to know and someone I could always have a laugh with." Corporal Emma Henderson, Combat Medic, said: "Lance Corporal Cooper, known to everyone as Coops, was such a big character in the platoon. He was always smiling and was liked by everyone. My favourite memory of Coops was on pre-deployment training in STANTA where he decided to strip off naked and drive around the FOB on his quad bike! "Coops was professional at his job and was one of the best men in the platoon. He will be a big loss to 2 Platoon and will be missed deeply by everyone. Rest in peace Coops." Lance Corporal Simon Miller said: "I first met 'Coops' out on the town as he knew one of my mates and we both got on very well. The next time we met was when I was sent to 1 Platoon. We then both moved down to join 2 Platoon, where our friendship grew. He was always pure morale when out on patrol, and no matter how bone the job, he would crack on with the matter in hand. "We did a lot of sandbagging together – we did the cadre! When we felt snapped he use to get us going again, and the time use to fly on stag with him. Words can't describe him properly, he was one of those people, who was just a morale boosting bloke, who was always there. I hope we meet again someday. We will all miss you mate. "My condolences go out to his family, he was a brave lad


[ Rifleman Mark Marshall ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Mark Marshall from 6th BATTALION, THE RIFLES, serving with 3 Rifle's Battle Group was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 14 February 2010. Rifleman Marshall was killed when an IED detonated while he was on a routine foot patrol providing reassurance and security to the local population near Forward Operating Base Inkerman to the north east of Sangin in Helmand province. Rifleman Mark Marshall was born in Exeter on 24 March 1980. He went to Saint Peters Church of England High School in Exeter where he gained a BTEC in Public Services before joining the Police as a Community Support Officer. Rifleman Marshall joined 6 RIFLES, a Territorial Army Battalion, in October 2007 and attended training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick in October 2008. He completed an Assault Pioneer Cadre prior to mobilising to serve with the 3 RIFLES BG on Op HERRICK 11 in June 2009. Rifleman Marshall was posted to C Company 3 RIFLES with whom he completed pre-deployment training before deploying to Kajaki in Northern Helmand. He served in Kajaki for two months before his Platoon was sent to occupy a Patrol Base in the northern part of the town of Sangin. Throughout this time Rifleman Marshall was employed as the point man in his patrol, charged with the clearance of the ground of Improvised Explosive Devices. He leaves behind his mother, Lynn, his girlfriend, Hayley, and his brother and sister, Alex and Jo.

[ Mark Marshall, ]

ARMY comrades and cop pals saluted a brave police community support officer killed serving with the Territorial Army in Afghanistan.  Mark Marshall, 29, was blown up on patrol with 3 Rifles in Helmand Province after volunteering to go ahead and seek out hidden bombs. Around 500 friends and colleagues packed the Methodist Belmont Chapel in Exeter as Mark's coffin was led in by his younger brother Alex, holding the hero's PCSO cap.

His mother, Mrs Lynn Marshall, paid the following tribute: "I am hugely proud of my dear and beloved son; he lived life to the full and will be sorely missed by all." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Rifleman Marshall was one of the willing band of volunteers who signed up to join the Battle Group on what they knew would be a most challenging tour. From the moment he arrived with his Company he had the respect and friendship of them all. "A policeman by day and talented soldier by night, he epitomised everything that is great about our Reserve Forces and the men and women who serve in them. He displayed all the characteristics that I look for in a Rifleman; courage, selflessness and humour, and for these things he was treasured by those who worked alongside him. "The dedication he showed in protecting his fellow Riflemen by diligently scouring the ground for devices, all the while working towards a better future for local Afghans, gives us great cause for pride and a real source of inspiration. "The Battle Group will feel his loss most keenly as he provided a depth and colour to our ranks that will be difficult to replace. Our grief however will be as nothing compared to those closest to him. The thoughts and prayers of the Battle Group are with his family, friends and loved ones at this most difficult of times." Lieutenant Colonel Tim House, Commanding Officer, 6 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Marshall joined 6 RIFLES in October 2007. Already a thoroughly rounded, mature and thoughtful man with plenty of experience of life when he joined the Army, he quickly learned the skills necessary to become a highly effective and inquisitive soldier. "He was a man who was typical of the modern Territorial Army Riflemen: committed, highly professional, intelligent and loyal. He was already showing clear leadership potential and his tour of Afghanistan would have made him a front runner in the Battalion for promotion. "Indeed, his personal qualities and strength of character meant that he was always punching well above his weight and achieving far more than one would expect from our most junior ranks. "For those of us who new him as a friend as well as a fellow Rifleman, Mark was a popular, sociable and highly regarded member of a close knit community within 6 RIFLES. He stands out as a man who was humorous, considerate of others and incredibly helpful. "Rifleman Marshall was a great role model for younger, less experienced members of his platoon and was universally admired by us all. His death is a great loss to us all and his memory will inspire us to carry on where he left off. "Finally, I would like to say that our thoughts and prayers are first and foremost with Mark's family and friends at this dreadful time." Major Mike Lynch, Officer Commanding, C Company 3 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Marshall joined C Company at the beginning of Pre-Deployment Training from our sister Battalion, 6 RIFLES. He swiftly found a home here and you would have been forgiven for thinking that he had been with us for so much longer because he fitted in so well. "During his initial interview Mark made it clear that he had signed up for the tour for the following reasons; ‘to test myself, to meet new people and to face a new challenge'. I firmly believe that he achieved all these and much more. "Throughout training he never stopped asking questions, always inquisitive and never satisfied until he fully understood every lesson in detail. He was a consummate professional, intelligent, highly motivated and not afraid of dragging others forward with him. Mark was a conscientious and selfless Rifleman and one of the kindest men I have ever had the pleasure to serve with. "Nothing was ever too difficult for him and he always went out of his way to help others even when tired and under pressure himself. His maturity and modest nature helped him very quickly to become a strong and popular character within 7 Platoon." "I spoke to Mark earlier in the tour about his future plans and he made it very clear that wanted to consider pursuing a career in the Army after his recent experiences and I am in no doubt that he would have had an outstanding career. His drive marked him out as a future leader of men and he was keen to put himself forward for the forthcoming JNCO cadre which I fully supported. "The loss of Mark has left a huge gap in a very tight knit unit and we will all miss him dearly. He had such a big impact in a short space of time and his memory will live on with us all. All our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time." Lance Corporal Brent Meheux said: "Mark, or ‘Marshy' as he was known to his mates, and I met when we joined the TA together in 2007. As I got to know him he told me more about himself, how he'd always wanted to join up, but had somehow got sidetracked into working as a baker in a supermarket. After a few years he was made a department manager, but still felt unchallenged so left to join the police as a Community Support Officer. "Yet still he had the nagging feeling that he had to join up and see if he had it in him to do the job, and so he joined the TA with the firm plan to go on the first tour he could. It became clear that Marshy had real strength of character. He wasn't the most athletic of people, but he never quit and always passed whatever test was put in front of him. On the coldest, wettest nights he never snapped and his humour would lift all around him. "Straight out of Catterick, all were keen for him to go on the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers cadre, and again just before joining 3 RIFLES he was pushed to go on the course, but Marshy was adamant that it could wait until he had got an operational tour under his belt. All who worked with him were left in no doubt as to just how good an NCO he would have made. "Before we left to join 3 RIFLES I remember 6 RIFLES putting on a welfare morning in Exeter and afterwards Marshy, his mum Lynn, sister Jo, myself and my wife spent a lazy summer afternoon sat in a local pub garden. "His brother Alex couldn't make it, but from the chat and way they were together you knew how close he was to his family, and he was without a doubt the apple of his mum's eye. I know how devastated they will be by his death, but I also remember his mum saying that she always knew he'd do this, ever since he was a child he'd always wanted to join up, and how although she hated the thought of him being away they were all really proud of him for following his dreams. "Outside of the Army Marshy had a real love for speed; from his BMW to his Superbike; anything that was fast. When last winter he got a chance to go skiing for the first time with the Army it became clear he was fearless, flying down the nearest black runs on his third day. Mind you, I think the instructor would have been happier had he learned to turn first. "I remember how worried he was about the lads finding out that he was a copper. He made us promise not to tell anyone, but he needn't have worried as it became the worst kept secret in 3 RIFLES and as usual by the time people found out his personality and keenness to work hard had already won them over. "I remember the last time I spoke to Marshy was the night before his R&R, just before Christmas. He spent the evening talking about his section, his mates and how much they meant to him. After a while he asked me what I thought about him staying with 3 RIFLES after the tour. I started laughing and told him that him wanting to stay with 3 RIFLES was a worse kept secret than him being a copper in civvie street, and how if I was 10 years younger I'd be joining him. As usual Marshy had a comeback – ‘Godders, don't you mean 20 years younger?' "Marshy was, in my mind, the very best that the TA can bring to the party; the wisdom of someone a little older, the tenacity to always give it his all, the openness to always be willing to learn from all those he met and the ability to become so good at his job that no one any longer knew he was TA. The TA and the RIFLES have lost a truly gifted man, and I have lost a true friend that I will never forget. "A few months from now, when I've left 3 RIFLES, I'll be propping up a bar in Exeter TA Centre and some young recruit is bound to ask me how ‘Marshy' died, I'll smile, raise my glass and tell him; He died how he lived, my son, as a RIFLEMAN, SWIFT AND BOLD."  Captain Ben Shuttleworth, Second in Command, A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Marshall was a deeply popular character within 7 Platoon. As is so often the case with Territorial Army soldiers, with his arrival came a fresh perspective and zest for soldiering that infected his brother Riflemen in the Platoon. "For many Marshy became an instant surrogate big brother, a good listener but also a fountain of advice. He volunteered and took pride in being one of the lead members of his section, taking on the burden of the enormous and dangerous responsibility of trying to find improvised explosive devices at the front of the patrol. All members of the Company now mourn an inspirational Rifleman." Lieutenant Rob Fellows, Officer Commanding, 7 Platoon, said: "Rifleman Mark Marshall was a highly intelligent, brave and determined soldier who could be relied upon to rise to any challenge with a smile on his face. It was typical of his stoic approach that he took to keeping his colleagues safe by clearing IEDs. This is one of the most dangerous, and most important, jobs in a rifle platoon. This was typical of his selfless commitment and bravery. "Rifleman Marshall had recently assumed the additional responsibility of Platoon Intelligence Representative. He showed a natural flair for analysing the ‘human terrain' of the local area and used his policeman's eye for detail to good effect. I have no doubt that through both his sharp eye and steady hand he helped to keep the Platoon and the locals safe. "Rifleman Marshall was a popular member of the platoon, with a natural maturity which made him easy to get on with regardless of rank. He had been considering joining the regular army permanently and he would have been a great asset to the Battalion, with a promising future. He had an equally bright future ahead of him with 6 RIFLES and the Police. "He will be sorely missed by everyone in 7 Platoon. However our grief is as nothing compared to that of his family, in particular his mother Lynn and girlfriend Hayley. Mark was devoted to both of them and wrote a constant stream of letters home. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time." Serjeant Billy Bain, 7 Platoon Serjeant, said: "I first saw Rifleman Mark Marshall at a farm complex at Lydd where we were conducting Pre-Deployment Training. My first impression was of a posh, slightly overweight Rifleman who was a bit old. Well, they say never judge a book by its cover. "This was certainly true in his case as he could hold his own on a run, his military knowledge for a TA lad was second to none; the one thing he could do nothing about was his age and he kept saying ‘I'm getting old'! "He definitely added to the platoon from the very start, becoming a father figure to the younger lads, and was always about for advice. He was never a man to shy away from things when they needed doing and he was a man you could rely on. He became a massive character within the Platoon and he will be truly missed and will remain in our hearts. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and girlfriend who he leaves behind." Corporal James Down, Section Commander in 7 Platoon, said: Mark Marshall, or Eminem as his civvy mates knew him, joined 7 Platoon during the funny farm at Lydd. He was so well spoken, he should have come from Sandhurst. Mature and educated, he was definitely the granddad of the platoon, and he would always be around to offer advice to the lads when needed, doing everything for others, expecting nothing in return. "Marshy, you were the most selfless bloke I have ever known. I know I always wanted you on patrol with me. I felt safe. I'm sorry I made you come along on every patrol we did. For the little time I've known you, I've known you so long. I'll miss the hours we passed away talking about home, holidays and motors. You were to me an older brother I never had. I know you'll be up in heaven telling the other lads interesting facts. "My thoughts are with your family and girlfriend, you talked about them non-stop. We all miss you so much mate, there is so much I want to write. We will see you when we get home. Goodbye Marshy I'm never going to forget you, sleep tight." Corporal Donna Gent, 7 Platoon, A Company, 4 RIFLES, 3 RIFLES BG "Marshy was a true gent; the way I found this out was by being stuck up some ladders in the sentry post due to my fear of heights. He was my stag partner. Once I let him know, he came to my aid without laughter and talked me down. Then he had to endure the ladder on my behalf for the rest of the stags without complaint. "When our tasks involved ladders Marshy was there for me calming as ever. When I come to ladders without you I shall try and show no fear like you always demonstrated to us. RIP Marshy, you've left a big imprint on 7 Platoon's hearts. My thoughts and prayers are with your family." Lance Corporal David Nicol, Section Second in Command, 7 Platoon, said: "Rifleman Marshall was a very smart and professional Rifleman, always there when you needed him to have a chat, no matter how minor it was. Mark never had any dramas with doing what you told him, he would just get down to it. He had a very good sense of humour and wasn't scared to speak his mind. I will miss him dearly and it's a great loss. Mark and his family will be in our thoughts. RIP mate." Lance Corporal Stefan Rees, 7 Platoon, said: "When Marshy joined us on Pre-Deployment Training, it was obvious he was going to be a popular character amongst the platoon. Never short of a joke or a laugh, he quickly became the granddad of the blokes as Marshy never hesitated and took everything in his stride. An excellent Rifleman but a better friend. RIP Marshy." Rifleman Jonathan Rowlands, 7 Platoon, said: "Rifleman Marshall was a good friend to me he would always cheer you up if you were feeling down. Marshy was always good for morale and we got to realise how professional he was about his job after a couple of months. My thoughts go out to his family and friend. The platoon is going to miss him dearly. RIP mate you're going to be missed." Rifleman Antonio Couch, 7 Platoon, said:  "Marshy was the daddy of the platoon. His maturity and knowledge combined with enthusiasm and camaraderie made him an exceptional squaddie to work with and I believe an outstanding friend. His character made him unique and approachable. "He always had a thing with keeping me on stag on handover even though I wanted to sleep; being on stag with him was always entertaining. He always told stories about his experiences as a policeman and it always ended in laughter, he kept going on about Pre-Deployment Training being extended, he was looking forward to that. Having met Mark I can say with pleasure that he was a hero. In fact, that is an understatement: in my eyes he is a legend and will not be forgotten by me or our platoon. May he rest in peace now and always. Mrs Marshall, you can always be proud of your son." Rifleman Christopher Lue, 7 Platoon, said: "A good mate, I always enjoyed his little education talks. He was my morale, always putting a smile on my face when we are on stag and in the room. He was the bread maker whenever we got off stag. He would always have bread for breakfast. I will miss you Marshy, we will remember you. Swift and Bold!" Rifleman Jim Hills, 7 Platoon, said: "Rifleman Marshall (Marshy) was a true friend to us all, even though we didn't know him for long it felt like we knew him forever. He was a proper Devon boy through and through, he brought his professionalism from the police force to the army and we all admired him for coming out with us as one of the boys, he will be greatly missed by all. Rest in peace brother." Rifleman Roy Patterson, 7 Platoon, said: "Rifleman Marshall, one of the boys. He was always morale, part of the team. Always chatting about random stuff on stag, never a dull moment. He'll be missed massively by me and everyone else. RIP Mate." Rifleman Josh Smith, 7 Platoon, said: "My first memory of Mark was when he first moved into my room and was shocked at the mess there was. Mark was quiet at first but it didn't take long for him to show his real self. I realised how mature and knowledgeable Mark was, he possessed a gift that enabled you to speak to him about any problems you had and give you advice on how to deal with them. "As well as his mature nature he possessed a wicked sense of humour; he was always telling stories about funny nights out and was always a good laugh to go on the town with. Overall Mark was a true Rifleman who did everything to a high standard, he was a loyal friend that would go out of his way to help you out. RIP Marshy - you will not be forgotten." Rifleman James Jackson, 7 Platoon, said: "Rifleman Marshall (Marshy) who joined us on Pre-Deployment Training was taken in by the Platoon straight away. He turned out to be a soldier who was full of knowledge and professionalism, not to mention a great sense of humour. He will be surely missed by the platoon and me. Rest in peace Marshy, God Bless." Rifleman Aaron Barry, 7 Platoon, said: "I met Marshy at the start of Pre-Deployment Training. After working alongside him for a few days I knew he was a true professional and loved his work. Even if it was just part time, he was a true squaddie at heart. When we got back to Edinburgh he was put in the bed space next to me. I will never forget the endless nights we sat talking about anything and everything. "When I found out that he was going to be in the same section as me, I was glad to be working alongside such a gleaming bloke. I remember him coming to relieve me from stag at six in the morning and I would still be on the position come half past six or quarter to seven. We would just get lost in conversation. Marshy, you were a top bloke you will be sadly missed and never forgotten. My thoughts go out to your friends and family, sleep tight mate there is a star in the sky for you." Corporal James Morgan, 6 RIFLES, said: "I first met Rifleman Mark Marshall last June, when a number of us Territorial soldiers formed up at RTMC Chilwell to embark on pre-deployment training for Herrick 11. I understand that he had already impressed in a number of ways on his training prior to that, and that he showed all the signs of a promising Rifleman. "Young and fresh faced, one couldn't help but warm to his engaging personality. "Indeed, that time at Chilwell was one of the most enjoyable of my career to date and it was people like Marshy that made it so. "He was based in Exeter, and will be sorely missed by the lads down at Wyvern Barracks. He worked as a Police Community Support Officer at home, which was often the subject of some good humoured banter which he always took well. "I know he believed passionately in what he did, and will always remember when, whilst we were heading out for a pint or two one evening, he taught some youngsters the error of their ways. That epitomized him to me - keen to make a difference when others might have walked on by. He brought exactly those sorts of qualities to his soldiering. "Good for morale, and selfless in his support of others, you knew you could always count on him to be where he needed to be, ready for the job in hand. As on the streets back home, he was keen to come to Afghanistan and to try to make a difference here as well. Rifleman Marshall was all you could ask for in a West Country soldier. His loss will be felt keenly by both 3 and 6 Rifles, his family, his girlfriend, and his many other friends. May he rest in peace."


[ Rifleman Martin Kinggett ]

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Rifleman Martin Kinggett from A Company, 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 RIFLES), part of the 3 RIFLES Battle Group, was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 25 February 2010. Rifleman Kinggett, a 19-year-old soldier from A Company 4 RIFLES, serving as part of 3 RIFLES Battle Group, was killed by a gun shot wound in Sangin, Helmand Province. He was on a routine foot patrol, part of a larger operation to provide security for the local population in Sangin. During the patrol he and his comrades were required to provide covering fire for the evacuation of an injured colleague and Rifleman Kinggett was shot and killed. Rifleman Kinggett, from Dagenham, joined the army in 2007 but left for a short while, before re-enlisting in 2009. He attended the demanding Combat Infantryman’s Course at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick before joining 4th Battalion, The Rifles in April 2009. Very soon, he was involved in Pre-Deployment Training for Afghanistan. He deployed with A Company in October 2009 as dismounted Rifleman (foot patrol based) on his first operational tour to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 11, as part of 3 RIFLES Battle Group. 

Rifleman Kinggett's family paid the following tribute: "Martin was a loving son, brother, grandson, uncle and boyfriend. He will be missed by many, many people who know him and loved him. He gave his life doing what he loved, he always wanted to be a soldier. He will always be our hero." Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones, Commanding Officer 4 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Martin Kinggett was nothing if not a character and his friends loved him for it. "He was a young man enjoying life and brightening up the lives of those alongside him. Things were never going to be dull with him around and his mischievous streak saw him push the boundaries regularly and get him into a fair few scrapes. "There is no doubt that he could be exasperating, but everything he did was good natured and conducted with integrity. Like the best Riflemen, he had plenty of edge and he liked to operate on a long leash. "He joined 4 RIFLES as a member of the 'big 3’ – friends from Essex who went through training together at Catterick and then joined the Battalion. "He was a young man that his mates could absolutely rely on. Indeed, through training he was the man that others naturally went to for assistance. He had a very good heart and was deeply loyal to his friends; loyalty that was repaid without question. "As so often, it was in Afghanistan that he really found his calling. His strength of character and values proved a rock to those around him. His brother Riflemen drew strength and comfort from his confidence. He was fearless as the lead man in his section, clearing the ground for those that followed. "There are few lonelier jobs and it requires inner steel and calm maturity. "Rifleman Kinggett took this in his stride. He was proud to be a Rifleman, indeed he left Catterick the first time at the thought that he might not be sent to The Rifles. "The Regiment excels because of young men like him and he was a true Rifleman – highly professional, with no shortage of attitude, but always steadfast. "It is typical of him that he fell giving covering fire while his comrades extracted a seriously injured friend in contact. "His family who he loved so openly and talked of so frequently will be devastated at his loss, but will take great pride that he fell as he had lived, helping his friends.  "His legacy will be the enduring progress that is being made in Helmand and the changes that are being made to the lives of the Afghan population – something of which he would be very proud." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Rifleman Martin Kinggett has been a truly valued member of this Battle Group as it fights tirelessly, day by day, for a better future for the population of Sangin and this region. "His enthusiasm and lust for life were infectious. He had on this tour clearly shown the makings of a promising career. He epitomised the selfless commitment and wholehearted engagement of our country’s young men in this most complex of political and military challenges. "The classic feisty Rifleman, he was blessed with a quick wit, a disarming smile and a mischievous temperament balanced by an inquiring mind, a hard sense of professionalism and an unmovable devotion to friends and his duty. "Brave as a lion and selfless until the end, he fell to enemy fire while protecting the evacuation of a wounded comrade shot minutes before. "The loss of one so young and full of promise is a great blow to the Battle Group and to our proud Regiment. We shall steel ourselves further as we continue the noble work for which he gave his all too brief life. "We shall not falter in our efforts here but draw strength and inspiration from his humbling example. The thoughts and prayers of us all in this Battle Group go out to his friends, family and loved ones." Major Richard Streatfield, Officer Commanding A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Martin Kinggett was impossible not to like. He arrived in A Company in April 2009. "He had completed the full repertoire of mistakes one might make as a young Rifleman and even added a couple for good measure before we got to Afghanistan in October. Honest mistakes; borne of exuberance, confidence, and a solid belief that he could talk himself out of any scrape.  "Soldiering in Afghanistan was the making of him. On operations he performed outstandingly well. He gained maturity, professional pride, trust, a keen sense of responsibility and a whole load more soldierly qualities too numerous to mention. "He volunteered for the most demanding of tasks leading the section through the fields, compounds and alleyways of the Upper Sangin Valley.  Rifleman Kingett was brave and quick thinking. It was these qualities that saved my hide on one occasion and I owe him a personal debt of gratitude. "He never lost his quick wit. He was always to be found in the thick of the banter as well as the action. He was very good for morale even under the most stressful conditions. "I know, from the many conversations that I had with him on the subject, that he was extremely fond of his family. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them. He was at the start of a career that was full of promise. "A Company will be the poorer but we shall continue to run the race that has been set before us. He would expect nothing less." Captain Ben Shuttleworth, Second in Command A Company 4 RIFLES "Rifleman Kinggett transformed from boy to man before our very eyes. Before deployment he got himself in to so much trouble I often thought that he would not be allowed to deploy. In retrospect he was simply a young boy having fun. "Since his arrival in Afghanistan, Rifleman Kinggett has thrived on responsibility, grasping every chance to lead. First he became the lead man of the section tasked with finding road side bombs and clearing a safe route for the remainder of his team. Then, when his section second in command was away, he stepped up to the post, working tirelessly to administrate his section and support his commanders. "In his final moments, Rifleman Kinggett placed himself in the view of the enemy so that he could return fire as the remainder of his team attempted to evacuate a wounded friend. Those who met him will never forget his infectious laughter."  Lieutenant Tom Foulkes–Arnold, Officer Commanding 3 Platoon "Rifleman Kinggett was an essential part of the Platoon. He consistently displayed a dry wit and confidence that inspired and motivated those around him. "When I first joined 3 Platoon a considerable amount of time was devoted to reining in Rifleman Kinggett and trying to shape him into the Rifleman that he knew he could be and get him to focus. On operations however Rifleman Kinggett bounced from one difficult situation to another with an effortless professionalism and a self assured confidence that proved innate. "He was given the opportunity to act as Section Second in Command during the tour and it was a chance he did not waste. In the environment he worked in and the scenarios he faced, hesitation would have been understandable but never once did I see Rifleman Kinggett falter. "He was very much a man of action who relished being away from camp life. He proved a leader by example, and this is the highest accolade I can give him, people would follow him and would draw strength from him. "He was a diligent and hardworking individual on operations, he was also forthright and frank, he told life how it is and this proved a useful trait. "His youth was revealed by being endlessly cheeky and this brought him to the attention of all, but it was his loyalty and effort that endeared him to them. "Rifleman Kinggett grew in to the Rifleman he promised to become during our tour, and achieved even more than he could have hoped. "The finest elements in his character shone through and to lead him was a pleasure. He had become an outstanding prospect and I have no doubt that he had a great future ahead of him. "It has been fantastic to have had the opportunity to witness the rapid progression and personal development of Rifleman Kinggett and to have had the chance to work with him, he has taught me a great deal and he will never be forgotten." Second Lieutenant Mark Shawyer, 3 Platoon Commander, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Kinggett served with me for only two weeks but in that time he left a lasting impression. "A confident Rifleman, he did everything with enthusiasm and skill. Until the end he put others first and was everything I could hope for as his Platoon Commander at the time. "It is clear to me how deeply he will be missed by all his colleagues, friends and family." Warrant Officer Class 2 Pat Hyde, Company Serjeant Major, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Martin Kinggett joined A Company just over a year ago while we were preparing for this tour of Afghanistan. "Martin was a confident and witty character, fun loving and always with a little cheek. "Often never far away from the Serjeant Major’s door on a Monday morning, Martin had become well known within the Company, for all the wrong reasons, but Martin knew what was important to him and that was putting his family first. "On Deploying to Afghanistan Martin was given the responsibility to find a clear route and avoid Improvised Explosive Devices for his section, one of the most demanding tasks in a patrol. "During the tour Martin proved himself time and time again, we have seen Martin grow from a young man into a true Rifleman. Martin was a true character within the company and will be sorely missed by all that knew him, A Company have lost a very dear friend. "Our thoughts go out to the family and friends at this very difficult time. Rest in Peace Kingy" Serjeant Jimmy Houston, Platoon Serjeant, 3 Platoon A Company 4 RIFLES said: "There is much talk about everything that is wrong with the youth of today. Martin Kinggett however exemplified everything that is right about the young people of Great Britain. "Ever since I have had the pleasure of knowing him, Martin has shown nothing less than absolute dedication to his job and friends. "The 'Classic' Rifleman, his cheeky sense of humour and sharp wit always gave way to his hard-nosed professionalism whenever the situation demanded. "In Afghanistan, Martin matured extremely quickly always looking for ways to improve his skills. "He had become an exceptional lead Vallon man and had virtually turned this difficult drill into an artful one. So impressive was Martin’s development he even assumed the duty of Section Second in Command which he carried out with diligence that would put a Lance Corporal to shame. "I will remember Rifleman Kinggett for his jokes, for his mischievous smile and for his ability to confound me with his quick replies. Most of all I will remember him for his love of life and his absolute loyalty to his friends and colleagues. "My Platoon has lost an outstanding Rifleman but the world has lost an outstanding individual. My thoughts are with his family and friends and to all who knew him." Corporal Daz Penk, Mortar Fire Controller, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Kinggett, your selfless commitment saved the sections’ lives and mine and for that I will always be in your debt. I was proud to call you my friend. Swift and Bold."  Corporal Brett Campbell, Section Commander, 3 Platoon A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Kinggett was everything a Rifleman should be, forthright, cheeky but most of all extremely professional and proud to be a Rifleman. "He showed a great deal of courage and selfless commitment when the patrol was hit, by exposing himself under fire and suppressing the enemy firing points whilst the rest of the section was dealing with the casualty. "His action no doubt saved his fellow Rifleman in the section. Swift and Bold." Lance Corporal Strype, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "A true soldier; giving us covering fire whilst doing a CASEVAC. We all owe him dearly." Rifleman Daniel Babbidge, 3 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Martin Kinggett is a true hero in my eyes and probably to everyone that knew him. He was a funny, smart and charming lad. His part in our Platoon was second to none and he will be so deeply missed. My heart goes out to his family and girlfriend who he was always talking about. He’s one soldier I’d have working by my side because I knew he was switched on, no matter what was going on. RIP." Rifleman Guy Murray, 3 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Martin Kinggett, there are two types of people in the army, colleagues and mates. Kinggett was neither, he was my best friend someone to talk to and joke with. He was my wing man. You are and always will be in my thoughts mate. I love you man and I will never forget you." Rifleman Edward Morgan, 3 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Kinggett I am going to miss you loads, stag won’t be the same. I’m going to get the shop sign made soon. It is going to be the best in Afghanistan. My heart goes out to your family. Swift and Bold." Rifleman Chris Turvey, 3 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Kinggett was a real good lad and good mate, always laughing and joking but loved to moan. He always boasted a fine line between arrogance and confidence and he said he had it just right." Rifleman Tommy Townsend, 3 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "It’s hard to put into words how the section feels about losing such a character and such an amazing mate. He was funny, cocky and a joker but a true professional when needed. It’s left a big void in 3 Platoon and these few words will never do Kinggett justice. Rest easy my comrade and friend." Rifleman Danny Rider, 3 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "I knew Martin well; he was a quality lad and a top squaddie. He was always the joker of the Platoon and that’s what everyone loved him for. From day one to living with him in the PB, there’s not one thing anyone could say bad about him. He was a strong lad and a reliable man on the ground. He never used to like doing it but when he was doing it he’d give it 100%. He saved lives doing it. Rifleman Kinggett will be sadly missed; he was like a brother to us. RIP mate Swift and bold." Rifleman Geoff Stanley, 3 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "Martin Kinggett joined 3 Platoon in the early part of 2009, just in time to catch the full swing of A Company’s Pre Deployment Training. He soon established himself in the Platoon and became one of the boys with his witty banter and good sense of humour. "Through PDT he proved his skill as a Rifleman and it soon showed when coming to Afghanistan. He proved himself and on top of this he was a morale booster for the Platoon and could be looked at to raise the boy’s spirits at the lowest of times. "I know he was a key figure in the Platoon. He was acting Second in Command of his Section for a while and again proved his skills. Rifleman Martin Kinggett was a much loved member of 3 Platoon he will be missed. He was an outstanding Rifleman and a friend to everyone, he will be missed deeply by friends and family. RIP Mate." Rifleman James Shaw, 3 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES said: "My mate Kinggett is a man I’ll never forget. The morale he brought to the Platoon and I, through his laugh and his sense humour is something I’m thankful for, in the short time I knew him. "He was able to leave an impression, I was always looking up to him as a soldier and I know that his family and mates have lost a great man. He wouldn’t back down from anything and was always in the thick of it. "My deepest sympathy goes to his family and girlfriend of whom he always spoke of with such love and fondness. Take care mate." Rifleman Wem Walters, 7 Platoon, C Company 3 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Kinggett was one of my best mates ever since I joined the army until now. I became friends with him on the first day; the first day we met was the 14th September 2008. "I will truly miss Rifleman Kinggett, I will never forget him. Neither will I forget all the times we worked together. "I’m sad that Rifleman Kinggett’s family will be mourning now, I want them to know he was a good mate and all his friends including me, will be mourning for him. I can remember the last words he said to me at FOB INKERMAN ‘Look after yourself out there, it’s dangerous’ I replied the same. "On behalf of the rest of the Rifles 6 Platoon and training staff we had at Catterick, I would like to say we will all truly miss Rifleman Kinggett and I will never forget him and to let his family know he was a good mate to us all."


[ Rifleman Carlo Apolis ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Carlo Apolis of 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 RIFLES), serving as part of the 3 RIFLES Battle Group, was killed in Afghanistan on 1 March 2010. Rifleman Apolis was killed by a gunshot wound resulting from small arms fire in Sangin, Helmand province. He was on a foot patrol about 700 metres east of Patrol Base Blenheim, taking part in a wider operation conducted by the 3 RIFLES Battle Group to expand security around the district centre. Rifleman Carlo Apolis was a South African who came to the United Kingdom in 2004. He worked in a hotel in Exeter before joining the Army, a little older than most recruits. Rifleman Apolis initially enlisted in 2007 but left the Army for a short while before re-joining six months later. After attending the demanding Combat Infantryman's Course at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, Rifleman Apolis joined 4th Battalion, The Rifles in November 2007. He was posted to A Company, training with them throughout 2008 and then attended Pre-Deployment Training in 2009, prior to deploying on his first Operational tour to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 11.  Nicknamed 'Apollo' by friends within his platoon, Rifleman Apolis was 28 when he died. He leaves behind his mother, father, two sisters and his long-term girlfriend Rebecca.

 

Rifleman Apolis's girlfriend, Rebecca Williams (from Cardiff), paid the following tribute: "Most people will have known Carlo as fun loving and highly entertaining, someone who could make you smile and motivate you when you were feeling down. But outside work he also had a much quieter and more reserved side that not many people would have seen, and he liked to keep his personal life private. "Carlo was my best friend and we shared everything together, I miss him so much and he will always be with me in my thoughts. He will be sadly missed by everyone that knew him." Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones, Commanding Officer 4 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Carlo Apolis was something of a big brother figure to the younger Riflemen. He was older than most and others naturally looked up to him and sought his guidance. But it was not just his age that stood him apart, but his natural maturity and wisdom. He was generous to his core and was always ready to share his experience and offer a word of guidance to his friends. "He had fully mastered the soldier's art of lifting morale with an ever ready sceptical comment on the rollercoaster ride of being a Rifleman. He understood the power of a good moan to lift the gloom and was not cowed by anyone in sharing his views on events. He could appear gruff, but his comments never had a side to them and he was nothing if not kind. "He was very much an individual as well as a keen chess player. This is not normally a hazardous hobby, but earlier in the tour he was injured by a grenade while playing. He recovered from his wounds and returned to the line – a sign of real courage. "He had travelled a long way from home to be a Rifleman, but remained fiercely proud and loyal of his native South Africa. They, in turn, should be very proud of him for he was a fine ambassador for his nation. His loss is the high price for progress and his brother Riflemen salute him – a courageous young man who has fallen in his prime. "His family, far from our shores, are very much in our thoughts and prayers. They should take great pride that he fell with his friends at his side and helping to improve the lives of ordinary Afghan people. This is a fine legacy and we will remember him." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Apolis was an outstanding soldier and a truly dedicated member of this Battle Group. Wounded previously in this tour of duty, it was a mark of his determination and commitment that he wasted no time returning to his team and continuing with the important work that they are doing here in Sangin. He fell to enemy fire at the forefront of an important move to enlarge our security footprint for the benefit of the local population. "His loss comes at a time when real progress is being made, largely thanks to the efforts of Riflemen such as him, working tirelessly day and night to bring security and a better future to the locals of Sangin. As a senior Rifleman, his personality and experience was woven tightly into the fabric of his Platoon, Company and as such this whole Battle Group. His loss will be felt most keenly across all ranks. "At this most difficult of times, we take inspiration from the man that he showed himself to be and from the excellent example that he set in life. The thoughts and prayers of the whole Battle Group go out to his family in South Africa and to his girlfriend Rebecca. We hope that they, like us, may draw some strength and comfort from his memory and all that he had achieved. We shall continue his noble work with renewed steadfastness."  Major Richard Streatfeild, Officer Commanding, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Carlo Apolis was a South African and a Rifleman. He has been in the Company for over 2 years and as such was a relatively longstanding member of A Company and very much a senior Rifleman. He was a calm authoritative figure, relatively short in stature but big hearted, very determined and utterly reliable. "This was no ordinary soldier. He had come a long way to do his job; half way round the world. He was a Rifleman because he wanted to improve himself. He had been trained in specialist weapons. He was doing a part time accounting course. "Whilst he was a British soldier he never lost his identity as a South African. I first met him when playing for our company cricket team. A lover of cricket and rugby, the highs and lows of various matches have peppered our conversations in the last two years. He was saving hard on this tour so that he could buy a house with his long term partner Rebecca in Cardiff. "Rifleman Apolis and I travelled home together three weeks ago for our rest and recuperation break, one could tell where his heart was. Ours go out to Rebecca, his parents and sisters, whose grief we share. Yet our loss is not comparable to that of his family. They have every reason to be proud of him. "He made a considerable and positive impact in Afghanistan. He was amongst the first group in our area to partner the Afghan National Army so that they could develop the skills and professionalism that came naturally to him. He will long be remembered by those who operated alongside him, we will miss his reassuring presence. We shall now muster the gritty determination he showed to see the job through." Captain Ben Shuttleworth, Second in Command, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "The initial impression received from meeting Rifleman Apolis was disarming: quiet, polite and thoughtful, he did not immediately come across as a typical soldier. He was, however, a steely fighter and made of much stronger stuff than the rest of us. He had already bounced back from countless extraordinary incidents including treating and evacuating close friends and brother Riflemen. "The enormity of his inner fighting spirit was shown when he fought to return to his front line Patrol Base as quickly as possible after he was himself injured by an insurgent grenade. His Platoon will miss his wise words of advice, his chain of command will miss a future leader but none of us will feel his loss as much as his family and girlfriend Rebecca of whom he often spoke fondly." Lieutenant Charlie Winstanley, 2 Platoon Commander, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Apolis was not your standard Rifleman. He may certainly have had many of the key qualities: an easy going and relaxed approach to life, a great sense of humour and an absolute loyalty to those fighting alongside him. There is no doubt that he was unique. "As a more mature member of the platoon he brought a thoughtful and more deliberate pace to proceedings. He was known for his considered insights into life – mainly based on a South African heritage which ran through every thing he did. He had a fantastic ability to put things into perspective when everyone else was getting over excited. "Rifleman Apolis was one of the easiest men to chat to, always good natured, he would happily spend hours talking about bits and pieces, but more often than not it would be about the future and his dreams to settle down to a more sedate life with Becks. "I always looked forward to seeing Rifleman Apolis. He was always smiling and even when times were tough he would make us laugh. He was the type of person that you would do anything for because you knew he would do the same for you. Rifleman Apolis was a cornerstone of the Platoon. He leaves a void that will never be filled. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who loved him." Serjeant Graham Henry, 2 Platoon Serjeant, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Apolis has been in my platoon for the last 18 months and definitely gave me a run for my money as to whom was the oldest within the platoon; the guys looked up to and respected him, he was always giving out pearls of wisdoms to all who listened. Rifleman Apolis was more focused than most having been there and done that and would give advice to the younger lads. "From the outset his attitude has been positive towards the deployment and would give 100 per cent to everything he did. For myself it has been a pleasure to have someone of his stature within the platoon. He is, and will always be, in all our thoughts, a true soldier in every sense, he will be sorely missed by all." Corporal Lee Johnston, 2 Section Commander, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "I only knew Carlo for a short time since arriving in 2 Platoon but what struck me straight away was his happy and cheerful nature. I watched him around the lads in our brief time together noticing his grin as he was always having a laugh and a joke. It was a pleasure working with him and having him in my team. His work was always of the highest standard which was what I needed to get the job done effectively. He was a model Rifleman and will be sadly missed by all." Lance Corporal David Hall, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "A strong-minded Rifleman who will be sorely missed by all that he ever encountered. Your personality and spirit shone through within the Platoon. We were all privileged to have known and served with you." Lance Corporal Brett Murphy, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Carlo Apolis was a character with too many nicknames to put on paper. Known for his sense of humour and quick talking, he always kept morale high. 'Apollo' was always talking about his Becks and how he loved going home to his flat at weekends to chill out with her. Everyone in the Platoon will miss you badly." Rifleman Richard Reading, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "'Apollo' was, in a word, 'Morale'. There's not one Rifleman, NCO or Officer that didn't love his extremely opinionated sense of humour. As well as being the Platoon's joker, he was a really close friend of mine. His loss is utterly dreadful and has come as a huge shock. Apolis and I shared hundreds of different experiences together, from playing practical jokes on other Riflemen to having a good old scrap with the Taliban. "No matter what the situation, with him it always ended with a break out of laughter. Apolis was a man full of knowledge and as he liked to say he was "going to drop some knowledge on us young ones". Nine times out of ten he was right. He was such a pleasure to work with, especially when he was the man stood next to me in battle. "Apolis was a thinking Rifleman through and through and always came up with cunning plans to solve problems. My thoughts are currently with Becks, his girlfriend and with his family. I could talk all day about how Apolis would always crack me up and what a pleasure it was to have him as a pal but it really would take all day. Apolis, you will never be forgotten and will always remain a chosen man. Swift and Bold." Rifleman Aaron Cox, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "There was a lot I can say about Apolis. He was a kind and friendly individual who was well respected in the Platoon and within the Company. He always had time to talk to anyone if they were at a lose end. Apolis didn't have a bad bone in his body. He was a good friend. Rest in Peace my friend." Rifleman Jamie Davis, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Like everyone there are so many good things I could say about Apolis but at the end of the day he was a great friend and a brother to me. If ever I was near him he would always say hello and if ever I had a problem he would always offer his opinion, whether I wanted it or not. I have so much respect for him and am so sad to see him go. Rest in peace my brother." Rifleman Tony Needham, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Carlo was the type of bloke who was just pure morale. If anyone was feeling down he would be there and make you laugh and feel better. Carlo was always there if you needed to talk and he always spoke his mind. He will be missed dearly and I feel honoured to have known him." Rifleman Daniel Spence, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Apolis was a character of the platoon who was always laughing and joking and in high spirits. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten." Lance Corporal Luke Payne and Rifleman Hussain Panchbahaya, 2 Platoon, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Carlo, the man with all the wisdom, knew more about life than any other person in the Platoon. Always telling us how we should invest our money instead of spending it all on socialising. He also taught us to plan for the future. Well, Carlo fought hard, lived a good life and will be missed by everyone, especially Becks. Our heart goes out to her."


[ Corporal Richard Green ]

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Corporal Richard Green from 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 RIFLES) was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 2 March 2010. Corporal Green died as a result of small arms fire near Sangin in Helmand province. Corporal Richard Green was born on 4 September 1986 in Reading. He attended Little Heath Secondary School, gaining a GNVQ in Leisure and Tourism before joining the army on 4th August 2003 at the age of sixteen. He attended phase one training at the Army Training Regiment in Bassingbourn, before reporting to the Infantry Training Centre Catterick in January 2004 for his infantry specific training. Corporal Green successfully completed a Junior Non Commissioned Officers Cadre within a year of arriving at 3 RIFLES and, a year after that had completed the demanding Section Commanders Battle Course to qualify him for promotion to Corporal. Corporal Green deployed to Afghanistan in September 2009 with 3 RIFLES Recce Platoon. Following five months of patrolling and operating in the town of Sangin, he was sent with his team to a patrol base to work alongside his Afghan National Army partners to bring stability and development to local Afghans. He leaves behind his father Chris, his mother Eileen and his brother and sister, Daniel and Charlotte. Cpl Green's family made the following statement: "Richard was a larger than life character who packed so much into his short life. In his own words he was the Greenmeister, a true legend. He wouldn't want any of us mourning his death, rather he would want us all to celebrate his life. On his recent R&R Richard said 'If anything happens to me know that I've lived life to the full, have no regrets, and love my job.' "We are so proud of him and will miss him more than words can ever say, but we do take comfort from the thought that, if there is a heaven, he is now having a laugh with his friends whose lives have been taken, just like his, over the past year."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Corporal Richard Green was a man at the very top of his game. Having breezed through courses that test even the best of young Riflemen, he showed himself, at the age of 23, to be up to any challenge that the Army could throw at him. "Out here the Reconnaissance Platoon has constantly been in the thick of it. Corporal Green has never faltered nor taken a backward step, leading others selflessly, both by his example and his compelling personality. "In the field and on operations he has been in his element, setting the highest standards and excelling in every way. "The Battle Group has lost one of its most capable young commanders and his sudden absence leaves both a large gap and a heavier burden. "We shall continue his work with renewed vigour. Cut down by a gunman hiding in the shadows, Corporal Green died whilst standing firm and proud alongside the Afghan Warriors who are increasingly taking security responsibility from the British troops here. "Running a vehicle check point as morning traffic headed into the vibrant bazaar, they were there for no other purpose than to give the locals of Sangin, and this region, a better future. Chosen for this mentoring role precisely because of his ability, maturity and breadth of vision, his enduring contribution in supporting and developing the local security forces cannot be overstated. "The thoughts and prayers of this entire Battle Group go out to Corporal Green's family and loved ones. We know that they will remember him, as we do, with nothing but pride, drawing comfort and strength from this revered memory." Major Mark Melhorn, Officer Commanding, Fire Support Company, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Corporal Richard Green was simply an outstanding Rifleman who was flying through the ranks and destined for the top. Anyone who can complete the demanding Section Commanders' Battle Course within three years of joining the Army is exceptional, yet Corporal Green not only completed the course but was outstanding on it. "His appetite for soldiering was simply insatiable and he was determined to push himself at all times: he had already completed the tough Light Role Recce Commanders' Course to qualify him for promotion to Serjeant and had attempted Special Forces selection once - coming off with an injury but the desire to go back and try again as soon as the tour was over. "In the high pressure environment that is Sangin, Corporal Green was in his element. He was tough as teak and an inspirational Section Commander mixing compassion for his subordinates with a ready supply of banter and a desire to take the fight to the enemy. "He really was Swift and Bold. Never afraid to stand up and be counted, his opinion was hugely valued and always grounded in reality apart from when talking about his beloved Spurs and how they would qualify for the Champions League this season. "The news is devastating for the whole of Fire Support Company but our pain can be nothing compared to that of his parents Eileen and Chris and siblings Dan and Charlotte. Rest in Peace 'Greeny' you will never be forgotten." Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Kelly, Company Serjeant Major, B Company, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "I have known Corporal Green only since Recce Platoon were attached to the Company for the tour, his keenness and professionalism were there for everyone to see. He had aspirations to go all the way in the army and from what I saw in the short time that I knew him, nothing would have stood in his way. "Not only a Recce NCO through and through he was a football nut, and this is where I take my fondest memory of him from. The banter that went on in the TV room was second to none, no one could have a pop at his beloved Spurs because he would defend them to the end, you would nearly miss the match itself listening to the to and fro of banter. "His loss has hit Recce Platoon and the Company very hard, but it won't compare to the pain his family and friends will be feeling at this devastating time. Our thoughts are with them all."

Warrant Officer Class 2 Jason Longmate, Company Serjeant Major, Fire Support Company, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "I have had the pleasure to serve with Corporal Green for four years. He is a great character and will be missed in a very tight group. His men looked up to him and would follow him to hell and back because he is Greeny their section commander. "He epitomised the Recce Platoon Motto 'We Lead You Follow'. He led by example and set high standards for his men and himself. He was full of life and would motivate them around him and infuse them with their own self belief. "There is a hole as big as a black hole left in Recce Platoon that will never be filled. My thoughts go out to his family and friends at this sad time." Serjeant Lee Slater, Reconnaissance Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Greeny you were a first class leader. You were afraid of nothing, always leading from the front. You were a true Recce soldier, your skills and Recce talents were second to none. "We know the army and Recce were everything to you as you were everything to us. Not only a Section Commander you were a true friend to the lads and myself. I can't imagine how lonely life is going to be without you. My thoughts are with your family and friends I know you loved them dearly." Corporal Cove, Reconnaissance Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Greeny was one of my best friends not just in the Army but in civvy street too, he was by far one of the best soldiers I have ever seen and was the one who always set the standards high for Recce Platoon: 'personal pride' he always used to say. "Someone like Greeny is such a big loss to the Army. One thing I can honestly say is he lived his dream and died doing what he loved best. I will never forget you; you will be at the top of the Recce tree forever and always." Rifleman Parkes, Reconnaissance Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Greeny was one of my best mates in Recce Platoon. Always full of jokes and banter, there was never a dull moment when Greeny was around, one of the strongest persons in the Platoon, someone to look up to. "He was the best of his game. Greeny will never be forgotten and the Platoon will never be the same. Rest mate, miss you." Rifleman Humphery-Lomberg, Reconnaissance Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Greeny, I've truly enjoyed the time I've known you, always there to help and give advice on anything you could. Recon Baby always remember the good times mate. New Year's eve 08-09 and the plans we had when we got back. I'll miss you mate. Freddie." Rifleman McKie, Reconnaissance Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Richard Green was an impressive young man. At 23 he was a Section Commander, had passed the arduous Section Commanders and Recce Section courses. "He was good and he knew it but at the same time he bore no sense of self importance, nor a shred of arrogance. He was a down to earth guy with a slightly twisted sense of humour. "On the battlefield he demanded respect and wouldn't hesitate to punish slackness at the same time he would reward the hard working soldiers. His passion for soldering was only matched by his other passions, his friends, music and Football. He was a staunch supporter of Tottenham Hotspurs. "I am proud to have been able to call this man my friend. My life will never be the same knowing that he is no longer with us. Onward RPG, go easy brother."


[ Rifleman Liam Maughan ]

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Rifleman Maughan’s family said: "Liam was a tall, handsome six-footer, with looks to melt the heart of any girl and make men envious, but he was also a son and a brother, a fiance and a father to his own son who he will now never meet. "This cruel and premature departure from us leaves dreams unfulfilled, potentials unrealised and a massive irreparable hole in the lives of everyone who knew him."

Rifleman Liam Maughan of 3rd Battalion The Rifles. Rifleman Liam Maughan died from wounds received as a result of small arms fire which occurred near Sangin, in Helmand Province, during the morning of 6 March 2010. Liam Maughan was born in Doncaster on 6 July 1991. He attended Hatfield Visual Arts College before joining the Army on 6 January 2008 when he was sent for initial training at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate. Upon completion of his course, he was sent for phase two training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, completing this in March 2009. Rifleman Maughan arrived with 3rd Battalion The Rifles in Edinburgh on 30 March 2009 and joined B Company for their pre-deployment training. He deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan with 5 Platoon in September 2009 where he was employed as a sharpshooter in his patrol. His Platoon are based out of a new Patrol Base in central Sangin and have been conducting regular patrols and operations to bring reassurance and security to the local population. Rifleman Maughan was shot and killed while in a position of overwatch, providing protection to his platoon as they engaged with the local population. He leaves behind his parents, girlfriend and new born son.

[ Rifleman Maughan ]

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "The loss of such a keen, dedicated and promising Rifleman is a devastating blow to the Battle Group. Rifleman Maughan, at the age of eighteen, had already ably demonstrated his clear potential. Capable, enthusiastic, courageous and loyal, he had all the attributes of the best kind of Rifleman. He has been an absolute credit to his family and our nation, typical of the young men of today who are putting their lives on the line in the service of their mates, their country and a better future for this region. "Selfless and committed, he died working tirelessly to provide security and hope for the local people of Sangin who may never know nor understand the great sacrifice that he has made on their behalf. Rifleman Maughan was loved by those who stood alongside him and will be sorely missed by us all, his comrades. "Our thoughts and prayers are very much with Rifleman Maughan’s infant son, as they are with the rest of his family, and we hope that he may grow up to understand just how great a sacrifice his father made in the service of his country. We pray also that both family and loved ones may find comfort in the memory of such a selfless, courageous and dedicated Rifleman. We shall carry on his good work undaunted as he would wish."

Major James Richardson, Officer Commanding, B Company 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Maughan arrived with the Company at the end of March last year, just as we started pre-deployment training in earnest. He was a little daunted by the prospect of the training and the upcoming deployment. During the summer it became clear that he was to become a father, another daunting prospect. The combination, after the initial shock, appeared to galvanise him and he steadily progressed both in terms of his professional confidence and his all round maturity. "Both belied his tender age, and by the time we deployed he was really starting to show the hallmarks of a Rifleman with a bright future. A development that continued in Afghanistan and that saw him forge the type of friendships in his Platoon we all join the Army for. "It is particularly tragic that his son, Jaden, was born last month and that he has not had a chance to get to know his father. He, undoubtedly, would have made him proud. My thoughts and those of us all are with Jaden and his mother Michaela, and the remainder of Rifleman Maughan’s family who will be feeling his loss keenest of all."

 

Lieutenant Tom Vila, Officer Commanding 5 Platoon B Company 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "I always thought that Rifleman Maughan seemed a bit stunned, but from the year that I have known him, I now know this was down to his un-flappable composure. "Thrown into the most extreme situations on Operations after only five months with the Battalion he oozed contagious serenity indicative of one far more experienced. He always be-calmed his fellow soldiers. His ability to shoot straight was quickly picked out (for he rumored that he could shoot straight often enough) such that he was chosen to be the Platoon’s sharp shooter. In this role he exemplified everything that was best in a thinking rifleman, selecting his own targets and timelessly hunting down a fleeting enemy through his scope, this man required little leadership. "His boy band good looks led the rest of the lads to nick name him 'Princess'; on the battlefield he was anything but. He thrived on soldiering and was proud to be a Rifleman. "I was lucky enough to 'chew the fat' with Rifleman Maughan over a brew the day before he died. He was telling me about his new born son Jaden, of whom he had not yet even seen a photo. He had a look in his eye that said that he was a man that any son would want for a father. That he himself was barely out of childhood mattered not a bit. This quality was inspiring but unsurprising as time and again in Afghanistan he put the needs of others before his own. Ultimately he placed himself in the line of fire, giving his own life for those of his comrades. "Intelligent, naturally fit, fearless and sickeningly handsome, Rifleman Liam Maughan has been robbed of the opportunity to make the most of his endless talents, and only 8 months after his 18th Birthday. This is a tragedy with no comparison. His brothers in arms will bear his loss, not lightly, for ever. "This has been a dark day for 5 Platoon but our thoughts are firmly with his girlfriend Michaela, son Jaden and his parents Andrea and David. "The bravest of the brave, Swift and Bold." Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Kelly, Company Serjeant Major, B Company, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Maughan was a Rifleman’s Rifleman, confident, professional, diligent with a great sense of humour, the evidence of this is was with the acceptance of his nickname 'Princess'. He stood tall not only in height, but in stature amongst the Riflemen in his platoon. "He had specialist training as a sharpshooter and took the responsibility of this task in his stride. He was an ambitious young man who wanted the responsibility of command which in time he would have achieved. We have lost a bright star of the future to the insurgents but we as a company  will be strong together as he would have wanted and will continue with the courageous work that he and his Platoon have achieved so far this tour. "His loss has hit every one very hard but we will be thinking of his family who have lost a proud loving son. Our thoughts go to his family at this devastating time." Serjeant Ian Lamming, Platoon Serjeant, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Liam Maughan, known as princess by the platoon due to his good looks was always saying "that I’m better looking than you". Rifleman Maughan was a grade one soldier whose passion was to become a sniper once back in the UK. He was professional in everything he did and he always put his mates first before himself. "Sadly Rifleman Maughan has never seen his newly born son and he will be missed by the Platoon, but most of all his loved ones at home. Rest in Peace mate." Corporal Jonny Walker, Section Commander, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Liam Maughan was a great, top quality soldier who took his job very seriously. He took great pride in being my section's sharp shooter, and one day would have been an excellent section commander which he aspired to be. His soldiering skills were of the highest standard and he loved the job he was in, he always remained calm when under pressure. "He had an excellent sense of humour and was known as the Platoon princess, he was a father to his new born baby at only a few weeks old but which he loved something true. It is a great tragedy that Rifleman Maughan was taken from us, when he was so young. "I offer my condolences to his girlfriend and parents, who have lost a great son and boyfriend and would have been an excellent father to his son. He will be sorely missed, father, son, boyfriend and friend." Lance Corporal Joe Petrie, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said of him: "Rifleman Maughan was a good hearted friend with his pretty boy looks. A good soldier with a promising career in what ever he chose to do. Keen to get his hands on the sniper rifle he was chuffed to bits to be 5 Platoon’s sniper which showed in his enthusiasm to do the tasks he was given. "Always up for a joke and a laugh with the rest of us and took it well when the joke was on him. "He was also a proud father of a baby boy although he hadn’t seen him yet. Without a doubt he would have been a good dad, and my heart goes out to his fiancée, son and the rest of his family and friends. He has left a mark on all of us that will stay forever." Lance Corporal Jonathon Robson, of 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Rifleman Liam Maughan was without a doubt one of the best soldiers I have worked with, he was a keen LMG Gunner but even more keen to become a sniper. When he passed his sharpshooter’s course he was over the moon. I would like to say I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and command such a soldier and also know him as a friend. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time. "I would just like to say goodnight princess he will know what I mean, well mate rest in peace and one day we will be reunited." Lance Corporal James Taylor of 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Maughan was a true legend within the platoon his confidence and banter made him stand out. He was a true professional and always at the top of his game whilst out on a patrol or any task he was given. "My thoughts are with his girlfriend and son who he was so proud of and also to his family. I will miss him when I return home to Doncaster as the town has lost a legend." Rifleman Kyle Allison, also of 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Maughan was a top bloke, a great friend and father to his son. Anything he was asked to do he would do it no questions asked. This is how committed he was to his job and I’m sure he would be as committed if not more to being a father. RIP mate." Rifleman Niall Carter, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, paid this tribute: "Although I knew Maughan for a short time he was a gleaming lad. I got on very well with him. My heart goes out to his family and girlfriend and new born son. Rest in Peace mate." Rifleman Lee Clarke, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Maughan was a brilliant lad he always had a smile or cracked a joke. He always helped if someone was in need and put others before himself. He will be missed and our thoughts are with him and his family, RIP mate." Rifleman Jean De Clerk, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Rifleman Maughan was a young good spirited man, he was one of the best liked lads in the Platoon because of his friendly character. He was always in high spirits because of his job as Platoon sharpshooter and I am confident he would have been a fine sniper which was his aspiration. "I truly count him as my friend, my heart breaks for his girlfriend and his son which he was so excited to see for the first time, but he never will. I will always remember the good banter between both me and him, but most of all I will remember him." Rifleman Christopher Handley, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said of him: "Rifleman Maughan always used to say "I’m better looking than you" I used to say this to him too, he would simply say "but you aren't though are you?" Rest in Peace mate." Rifleman Gavin Hardman, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "We have lost a true warrior, friend and soldier. Maughan 'princess' you will be missed by us but never forgotten. Liam was a mans man and always up for a good laugh, he never shied away from a task, we have lost a great soldier." Rifleman Lee Hodge, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "I only knew Maughan for a short period of time but in that time he was always there if I needed help with anything and was always happy to do so. A true friend who will be sadly missed, sleep peacefully mate." Rifleman Ian Pearson, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Maughan or princess as we called him was an awesome person who thought of the lads before himself. He will be missed loads; our thoughts go out to his family and child, RIP mate." Rifleman Robert Rees, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Rifleman Maughan known as princess, when I first rocked up to the Battalion he was the first lad I had spoken to, I also shared a room with him. He was always full of laughter and had a heart of gold. My thoughts go out to his family and his fiancée and his new born son." Rifleman Luke Slater, 5 Platoon, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, added: "Rifleman Maughan was a good lad. He was my room mate in Edinburgh and we always had a good laugh. Things we did were good fun and I’m going to miss not doing them things with him. He was a good soldier who took his job seriously. I send my greatest regards to his family because we have lost a great soldier they have lost a great son.  "Rest in Peace mate, obviously God needs you more."


[ Corporal Stephen Thompson ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Corporal Stephen Thompson from 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES), serving as part of the 3 RIFLES Battle Group, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 7 March 2010. Corporal Thompson died as a result of an explosion in an area 3km south of Sangin district centre, Helmand province. Corporal Stephen Thompson, from Bovey Tracey, in Devon was born in Cleveland on 11 August 1978. He enlisted in the Army in January 1997 and was sent to be trained at the Army Training Regiment in Lichfield, completing his course in October that year. He joined the 1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment where he successfully completed a Junior Non Commissioned Officers' Cadre earning him promotion to Lance Corporal. Corporal Thompson then completed the Section Commanders Battle Course before being posted to the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick to train recruits. He returned to 1 RIFLES in January 2010 before volunteering to deploy as a Battle Casualty Replacement for 3 RIFLES. Corporal Thompson joined A Company (A Coy) 3 RIFLES in February and was working with 2 Platoon out of Patrol Base Almas in Sangin when he was tragically killed while on patrol by an improvised explosive device (IED). He leaves behind his mother and father, Carol and Peter, brother, Philip, sisters, Claire and Helen, and his son, Ewan.

 

His parents have made the following statement: "We are so very proud of our son Stephen and all that he achieved. He lived life to the full and died doing the job he loved. "He will be sorely missed by his mum and dad, brother and sisters, his son, Ewan, and all of those who had the pleasure of knowing him. Always in our hearts."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Corporal Stephen Thompson joined us just over a month ago, thirsty for operational experience having spent two years instructing recruits at Catterick. I couldn't have asked for a better Non Commissioned Officer to come out and take command of one of my sections. Enthusiastic, professional and brave, he was a great influence on the section he was commanding, and on his new platoon. "Go-getting and committed, he embraced the challenge of operating in one of the most demanding environments, within this most demanding of operational theatres. Dedicated to his job, his only thoughts were for the effectiveness of his team in bringing a better future for the oppressed people of Sangin. "In the short time he was with us, Corporal Thomson had made a lasting impact. His loss is another blow to this Battle Group and our nation but we shall continue his noble work undaunted. He will be sorely missed by those in 2 Platoon but also across the whole Battle Group. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his son Ewan, his parents and his loved ones. We know that they will remember him as we do, with pride and nothing but admiration." Major Tim Harris, Officer Commanding A Coy 3 RIFLES, said: "Corporal Thompson was only with A Company for a short while, but such was his quality that he made an instant impression on everyone he met. He came to us from 1 RIFLES, via a posting at the Infantry Training Centre, where he was responsible for training many fine young Riflemen. "In my dealings with him I recognised the qualities that mark out an outstanding soldier and leader of men: he was courageous, intelligent, compassionate and fiercely loyal. It is a mark of the man's abilities that in only four weeks he had shaped his new section into a well motivated  and balanced fighting unit. "Having already passed the demanding Platoon Serjeants' Battle Course in Wales he was already qualified for promotion to Serjeant, a job he was supremely suited for. I have no doubt that he would have had an illustrious career with 1 RIFLES. "Although I cannot claim to have known him well, I feel privileged to have served with him and I hope that his family can take some consolation from the knowledge that he died a soldier, leading his men as only he knew how, and doing an important job which those of us he leaves behind are committed to finish. "He will live long in our memories: he is a part of RIFLES folklore, leaving as he does friends across the Regiment who will dearly miss him. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends in 1 RIFLES and most importantly his family at this difficult time." Second Lieutenant Peter Cay, 2 Platoon Commander, said: "Corporal Thompson arrived in Patrol Base Almas having volunteered to come out as a battle casualty replacement at the beginning of February. From the first time I met him, Tommo came across as a highly professional soldier who was dedicated to his job. "As I got to know him better during the following weeks I could see this dedication and knew that if I asked him to do something he would crack on and get it done to a high standard. As well as this aspect to his personality, he also had a great sense of humour, which he often used to liven up my evening briefings. "I think it was this side of Tommo which made him a well-liked section commander by his blokes, and his loss has left a gap in the Platoon that will be hard to fill. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time. I hope it is some consolation that he will be remembered forever by the lads for his great leadership throughout his time here." Serjeant Kevin Foxton of A Coy 3 RIFLES said: "I first met Stephen Thompson at the beginning of last year, during my time at ITC [Infantry Training Centre] Catterick. We were Section Commanders in different Platoons, but we'd often meet during our weekly RIFLES Instructors' breakfast in the Vickery Club or in passing around Vimy Barracks. "On these occasions Stephen and I would swap notes on the other cap badges we working with and laugh at each other's tales of woe. Stephen's theory was that exercises run by other 'chippy' cap badges were never as good as if The Rifles were running it! "In my view, Stephen was a 'Grade A' instructor for his recruits; he constantly strived to make them better, not just within his Platoon but to be the best of the Rifles and ITC. He gave up his own free time to enable his weaker recruits to get that extra bit of training. "Looking back it was for the best as his pass out rate was high. A thing I noticed about his recruits wasn't just the amount he passed out but the quality he was giving the Rifle battalions, which in itself is a testament to his character. "His attitude towards the training of recruits, how he went about his business and his general personality were things all other Instructors of all cap badges could look towards for guidance. In essence, he was the Instructor's Instructor and a template for others to strive to be like. His peers respected him and his recruits looked up to him as if he was God himself. "I was therefore pleased to see Stephen arrive at Nolay along with Andy Hill; I'd just come off duty and was walking towards the cookhouse, as I walked past the accommodation block I heard two voices shout, 'OI OLD MAN,' and I saw Stephen and Andy stood at the top of the steps grinning like two cats with cream! The three of us stood for about 30 minutes catching up in general and I was quizzed about 2 Platoon who they were going to join. "I knew that 2 Platoon were gaining two excellent section commanders, especially as Stephen was 'seniors qualified' and would help carry the responsibility of patrolling out of PB Almas. He's the sort of bloke who, even if his Platoon Serjeant had said, 'No I'm okay thanks mate,' he'd still go and do something to make things go easier, smoother. "He was simply the type of bloke who'd happily take someone else's burden to make their lives easier. "My thoughts go to his family right now and I will sorely miss Stephen." Serjeant Dean Holgate, 2 Platoon Serjeant, said: "Corporal Thompson (Tommo) came to 2 Platoon A Company 3 RIFLES from 1 RIFLES; he was only with us for a short time. He was a Rifleman of the highest quality very funny and a top lad. My thought goes out to his family. He will be missed." Corporal Andrew Hill of 2 Platoon said: "Having known Corporal Thompson 'Tommo' since Christmas of 2007 whilst being posted at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, it was good to see him at Brize Norton waiting to fly to Afghanistan as an Individual Reinforcement for 3 RIFLES; it was even better to find out we were to be placed in to the same Platoon, he always had a good crack about him whilst in Patrol Base Almas, no matter what was going on. "He was a highly-skilled section commander who got the best from his team. He was a good friend and earned the respect of all of 2 Platoon in the short time he spent out here. It was an honour to have served with Tommo operationally; he will be severely missed by all." Corporal Ben Hall of 2 Platoon said: "In the short period of time Tommo was with 2 Platoon, I got on with him like a house on fire. He was always coming out with one-liners that had us in clip laughing. He was a great bloke and fitted right in with our Platoon. It was a privilege and an honour to have served and fought side by side with you, mate. Ben"  Lance Corporal David Hopkinson of 2 Platoon said: "In memory of Corporal Thompson AKA 'Tommo' he was an awesome section commander and a very funny man with a great sense of humour. "I only knew him for a few weeks but in the time I did know him we got on really well, even though he was not 3 RIFLES a space has appeared in the Platoon because he was a great bloke and was liked instantly. You will be missed mate and all my thoughts are with your family." Lance Corporal Thomas Robson of 2 Platoon said: "Corporal Thompson or 'Tommo' as he came to be known to us, came to us as a Section Commander from 1 RIFLES. I only knew him for a short while but in that time I got to know him, and I realised he was a gleaming bloke. "We were both in the Devon and Dorsets before the amalgamation so straight away we had something in common. It's a devastating loss to our Section. I will always miss his wicked sense of humour, sarcasm and his ever chilled out attitude to life. "My thoughts go out to his loved ones and to his Battalion who have obviously lost a key member of their team. You will forever be remembered in this Platoon for your professionalism and bravery. RIP Tommo." Lance Corporal Daniel Ritchie, 2 Platoon Medic, said: "I only knew Tommo for a short while and have to say he was about as genuine as they come and one of the funniest people I have ever met. I always enjoyed having a chat with him as he was always so chilled out and approachable. "We made some mean bread together too, even if it was a bit burnt! It's been a devastating blow to lose him, and I speak for every one that he  will be sadly missed. We will remember him." Lance Bombadier Nicholas Arnold, A Coy Fire Support Team, said: "I had only known Tommo for a month, however we got on well together instantly due to the fact that his parents live in the town where I grew up. "We knew some of the same people and I remember meeting him in the Thatch Inn, which was the local pub back at that time. We often found ourselves speaking about home and were planning to meet up and reminisce about our time out here together. He was a good man and will always be remembered by me." Lance Corporal Thomas Cook, Mortar Platoon, said: "I had only known Tommo a short time; barely three weeks. In that time I spent many hours in a Sanger talking and getting to know him. I found that he was a man who had completed PSBC and then volunteered to come out on Op HERRICK 11 to help lads he had never even met. "He fitted straight in, getting the respect of the lads instantly, leading his Section on what can be extremely dangerous patrols. That was Tommo, brave, caring and a man I only knew a short time but will never forget. My thoughts are now with his family. RIP Tommo."


[ Lance Corporal Tom Keogh ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Lance Corporal Tom Keogh from 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 RIFLES), part of the 3 RIFLES Battle Group, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 7 March 2010. Lance Corporal Keogh was killed by a gunshot wound during a small arms engagement in Sangin, Helmand province. He was in Patrol Base Bariolai when he was killed. Lance Corporal Keogh originally enlisted in 2003, serving until 2008, including a tour in Iraq on Operation TELIC 10. After a year's break, he rejoined in 2009. Immediately upon rejoining, he was posted to the Recconnaissance Platoon, 4 RIFLES. Very soon thereafter, he started pre-deployment training for Afghanistan with R Company, Fire Support Group, who were due to deploy as part of the Election Support Force. He was injured in an accident just before deployment, and remained in the UK to recover, before training for and completing a potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officer (JNCO) cadre with 5 RIFLES. He gained the coveted top student award on the course before deploying to Afghanistan with A Company, 4 RIFLES, on Operation HERRICK 11. Lance Corporal Keogh was born on 25 August 1985. He was from Paddington in London and leaves behind his parents and two brothers.

 

His parents, Lawrence and Marion Keogh, have made the following statement: "Tom was our eldest son and we all loved and admired him greatly. He loved the Army life and lived his life to the full. He brought laughter and happiness to our home and all who knew him. "Our family has been left devastated by Tom's tragic death, but not a day will pass without us remembering the happiness and pride he gave us. We love you Tom." Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones, Commanding Officer, 4 RIFLES, said: "It is sometimes tempting to get carried away in extolling the virtues of the fallen, but with Lance Corporal Tom Keogh there is no danger of drifting towards exaggeration. He was quite simply one of the very best soldiers in the battalion and proves yet again the sad adage that it is the best that die young. "The Reconnaissance Platoon is a haven for the best and most motivated Riflemen, as they are always very keen to tell us. Lance Corporal Keogh was totally at home there and was one of their real stars - a natural soldier who just got it. Highly fit, dynamic, and extremely professional, but always there for those less capable and experienced than him. "The younger lads were drawn to him by his example and kindness. He was a genuine role model to them and they aspired to his standards. "Devastated to see his Recce mates deploy without him last June after he was injured, his moment came recently when he joined A Company as a battle casualty replacement. In the meantime he came top of 130 Riflemen on his Junior NCO promotion cadre; a particularly difficult accolade to secure coming as it did when he was a guest on a course being held by one of our sister Rifles battalions. "Those who have gone before him as top student have fast-tracked up the promotion ladder. Like them, his trajectory was set and his future very bright. "He is the third to fall in A Company in ten days and his loss will be felt deeply. Likewise, back in Bulford, his great many friends will mourn the loss of a loyal brother Rifleman, an exceptionally decent man and one of our finest warriors. His family are in our thoughts and prayers. "They have so much to be proud of in what he achieved. His sacrifice is the tragic price being paid for the deliberate but concrete progress being made in Helmand to improve the lives of the Afghan people. Those that were touched by him will never forget him. His memory will only give us all yet more determination to deliver improved security as a fitting and enduring legacy." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Despite arriving only a few weeks ago, Lance Corporal Keogh had, true to his highly impressive reputation, already made a significant contribution to the work that the Battle Group is doing out here. "The patrol base from which he was working is one of our newer locations, established to provide added security to the people of Sangin whilst also restricting insurgent freedom of movement. "As such it has very much been in the thick of it over the past few months. Lance Corporal Keogh's arrival reinforced what was already a very effective platoon, helping them to reach new heights in this very tough and complex counter-insurgency battle. "With increased insurgent activity of late, the past week has seen some hard fighting. It is typical of such a dedicated warrior that he fell whilst unhesitatingly fighting off an enemy attack with selfless commitment and determination. "Lance Corporal Keogh joins a list of heroic Riflemen, of whom we are immensely proud, who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country, alongside their friends, so that the people of this troubled region might enjoy a better future. "The thoughts and prayers of the whole Battle Group are very much with his family and friends at this most difficult of times. We know that they, like us, will find solace and inspiration from his revered memory." Major Richard Streatfeild, Officer Commanding, A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "Lance Corporal Tom Keogh joined A Company four weeks ago. He came with a strong reputation. When we chatted on his arrival he told me that he had rejoined the Army for this tour; to soldier in Afghanistan, to prove himself. He has done all of that in the short time he has been here. "I cannot pretend to have known him well but his commitment and desire were immediately apparent. Platoons strove to have him on their team. 1 Platoon was the happy recipient and he has done them proud after the difficult circumstances that prompted his deployment. "He brought a good sense of humour with his professionalism and unbridled enthusiasm in the most austere conditions. Recently promoted he was a natural commander, amongst the best of his generation. He found immediate respect and comradeship amongst the company. "We mourn his loss but not as much as his family and friends. Our thoughts are with them. He died a soldier's death, defending his friends and the civilian population from those who would seek to deny them freedom. His was an example to follow, we will do our best." Major David Godfrey, Officer Commanding, S Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "In the short time that I had the pleasure of knowing Lance Corporal Keogh, he made a distinct and lasting impression on me. An impressive and talented soldier, it seems that whatever he turned his hand to he aced; he was wholeheartedly committed to striving to be the best he could. "Trustworthy, thoughtful and motivated, he was the epitome of a Reconnaissance Platoon soldier. He blended a keen sense of purpose and ambition with a compassionate heart, wonderfully warm character, and disarming smile. It is perhaps indicative of his character that he was keen to deploy to Afghanistan. "He knocked on my office door almost daily to see if his flight confirmation had come through; though this could be mistaken as youthful exuberance, it was clear to me that he wanted to test himself fully doing a job he clearly loved. "Whilst the loss to S Company and Recce Platoon is great, it is incomparable with the loss to his family, loved ones and friends, and my thoughts and prayers are with them through this difficult time." Captain Ben Shuttleworth, Second-in-Command, A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "There is no doubt in my mind that Lance Corporal Keogh died doing what he loved. Tom Keogh was born a soldier and died a soldier. He had once tried to leave the Services behind, briefly entering civilian employment. "Even there he could not stay away from the action; we all fell about laughing when we found him in the tabloids chaperoning a Rolling Stones' young girlfriend merely weeks after leaving but still proudly sporting his Recce Platoon T-shirt. "Civvy street was not for him and he was soon back in the battalion, as if he had never left, desperate to join us for our upcoming deployment to Helmand. Initially, however, he had to stay behind. The then Rifleman Keogh had remained in that rank for too long. "He attended another battalion's promotion course and surprised none of us when he returned as the top student. He was then able to join the company for the second half of the Afghanistan tour as a section second-in-command. "Most of us arrived somewhat nervous of the country. Lance Corporal Keogh arrived full of confidence, sorry only that he had missed some of the company's earlier adventures, and thriving on the excited anticipation of the action that he hoped was still to come. "He was a natural leader of men and the sort of professional soldier that everyone wanted next to them on patrol. Barely a week had passed after he had moved into his platoon patrol base and he had already grown the favourite moustache and looked every part the seasoned veteran. "He listened to his comrades, attempting to learn from all that they had already experienced. In turn, Riflemen who had served the whole tour naturally looked up to him. In Afghanistan he had found his calling. "As such a popular character, he leaves behind so many who were proud to be called his friend. We will all remember him with nothing but fond memories and hope that similar thoughts will help soothe the loss his family now feel." Captain Tom Cairncross, Adjutant, 4 RIFLES, said: "It is the irony of this conflict that the best always seem to fall first, and Lance Corporal Keogh was the best. He stood out in an extraordinary platoon. Due to deploy with my Fire Support Group [FSG] to Afghanistan last year, his performance during pre-deployment training was exceptional. "He was so naturally talented he could do the job in his sleep. That he was very capable is remarkable, but what is so rare is that he balanced this ability with compassion and maturity. He was a very kind man and had time for everyone, especially when under pressure. "He sustained a serious head injury in an accident just before the FSG deployed in April 2009. When I told him in hospital that he could not come with us he was devastated. The fact that he not only recovered so quickly, but in a matter of months had been judged the best student on an external JNCO cadre to gain promotion, is breathtaking. "One can only marvel at the determination and strength of character this must have required. He was screaming to be promoted from the moment he arrived back in the battalion. The Rifles has lost a superb junior commander. My thoughts are with his family." Captain Andrew Boardman, Operations Officer, 1 RIFLES, said: "Lance Corporal Keogh was an exceptional Rifleman in the best traditions of the Reconnaissance Platoon. He had the highest of personal standards and could always be relied upon to carry out any task to the best of his ability. "His charisma, confidence and charm made him hugely popular and he was always the centre of any social gathering. Having rejoined the Army last year, after a short break, he immediately re-established himself as a quality soldier and proved himself to be utterly worthy of the respect of his peers. "His skills, experience and character made him an ideal Recce soldier and I was delighted to welcome him back into the platoon. A top-class performance on his JNCO cadre in late 2009 saw him finish as top student and he received a very well-deserved stripe. "He was desperate for the opportunity to deploy to Afghanistan and I have no doubt that he will have been a tremendous asset to A Company and shown an impeccable example to those around him. He will be very sadly missed." Second Lieutenant Jessie Leach, Officer Commanding, 1 Platoon, A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "I have only known Tom Keogh for a couple of weeks but in that time I have learnt two things about him. He was a good soldier but had a bad stomach for chicken! Having shared a small room with him here in Patrol Base 'Bariolai', I will remember the couple of chats about home life and women we had in the evenings. "He spoke passionately about both subjects. I knew Lance Corporal Keogh was a battlefield casualty replacement who volunteered to come out following a number of casualties sustained by A Company. "This takes quite a bit of courage and deserves the utmost respect. Prior to his deployment he completed a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer cadre in Germany; he got best student which was the icing on the cake. "An experienced and intelligent soldier who has spent most of his time in Recce Platoon, I knew he would be an asset to 1 Platoon as section second-in-command and section commander when needed. "Although Lance Corporal Keogh has spent a little over a month with the platoon and myself, I have noticed how his warm personality and nature has had an effect on the Riflemen. We are all proud of serving alongside such an example of a true solider and Rifleman. The guys will miss him I know." Warrant Officer Class 1 Lee Roberts, Regimental Serjeant Major, 4 RIFLES, said: "Lance Corporal Keogh was the typical Recce soldier in every aspect - fit, professional, loyal and trustworthy. No job was too hard for Lance Corporal Keogh. He would crack on and get the job done to the best of his ability and he had immense ability. "In The Rifles, we breed the thinking Rifleman and he was all of this and more. It takes a special kind of soldier to go to another battalion and to come away with their top student on a NCO cadre, but this is exactly what he did. "He was a pleasure to be around and we will miss him massively. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time." Warrant Officer Class 2 Pat Hyde, Company Serjeant Major, A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "Lance Corporal Tom Keogh joined the company only a few weeks ago but was a well-known face within 4 RIFLES as a member of the Reconnaissance Platoon. Ever since early last year Tom had been knocking at my door asking to deploy with the company to Afghanistan but was unable to due to him attending a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer cadre with 5 RIFLES. "Tom was fit, experienced, professional and confident; all-in-all raw infantry talent which enabled him to become top student on the cadre. Tom loved being a Rifleman and loved soldiering; a true legend, he will be missed by all that knew him. Rest in peace mate." Colour Serjeant Kevin Gaghan, Reconnaissance Platoon Second-in-Command, 4 RIFLES, said: "I have had the pleasure to have known Tom for a long time. When he rejoined the Army last year I was delighted to learn that he was returning to the Recce Platoon. Tom had an infectious appetite for soldiering which brings everyone else's game to a higher level. "We recently won an inter-platoon competition in which Tom was massively influential. He then went away and completed an external JNCO cadre which he came top, which was no surprise to anyone who knew him. Tom will never be forgotten. I've lost a fantastic soldier and a great friend. Rest in peace mate." Serjeant Ross Jones, Platoon Serjeant, 1 Platoon, A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "I have known Tom for a few years now; he has always been a close friend to me. We served together in COP [Close Observation Platoon], Northern Ireland, and Recce Platoon in Iraq. He was one of the finest soldiers I have known, constantly trying to better himself. "He was dedicated to the regiment. It was no surprise to me when he won best student on the last Junior Non-Commissioned Officer cadre. When rumours were flying around he was coming to Afghanistan as a BCR [battlefield casualty replacement], I was first in line to try and get him in my platoon; luckily I did and he made an impact from the start. "He took over Second-in-Command of Number 2 Section which had already been hit hard. Tom was a very confident and intelligent bloke, his sense of humour was infectious. His outlook on life and politics regarding the Army always had me in stitches. "The way he played the part on patrols and operations, tooled up to the max with his moustache. He would have a complete transformation in his downtime to look as ridiculous as possible; 'Rock and Roll' as he put it. "One example would be wearing boots with really short shorts or wacky thick rim sunglasses which he thought made him look retro. Back in England you would probably think he was from Camden market. "Tom was by no means a poster-boy soldier, although he worked hard on exercise and tour. There was always a mischievous side to him, and when nothing was happening and boredom got the better of him, then he was a nightmare to hierarchy. "I will always remember Tom as a brilliant and proud solider who I saw firing back at the enemy till the moment he died, and the close friends who were taken away in his time. He won the respect and admiration from everyone he met. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all his friends everywhere." Serjeant Jimmy Houston, A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "Tom Keogh was truly a soldier's soldier - opinionated, articulate and intelligent. He never shied away from putting across his own views no matter what the topic. Highly professional, he looks the modern front line soldier with a hint of old school. A true Green Jacket, he died doing the job he was born to do. RIP." Corporal Gareth Evans, Reconnaissance Platoon, 4 RIFLES, said: "He was a friend and a true Recce soldier; he had not long joined back up from his short break on 'civilian street' and walked straight back into Recce Platoon when we started PDT [pre-deployment training]. "Tom was in my section as a Rifleman, and one who any section commander would have wanted to have. Even after his short spell in civilian street, Tom's drills and skills were on the ball. "He was a keen and enthusiastic soldier; he joined back up to do the job that he loved and died doing the job he loved. He was an achiever and this showed when we won the Tarleton Trophy. "He then came top on his JNCO cadre - he would no doubt have progressed massively in his career. Tom was a character and a very good friend. He ran the race that was set before him. He will be dearly missed and never forgotten. Rest in Peace, Swift and Bold." Corporal Daniel Ord, Reconnaissance Platoon 4 RIFLES, said: "Tom came to Recce in 2005 from his selection. He was selected to come to my call-sign as my driver. From then whilst in Canada I remember he had done nothing but tick and whinge. This is where our friendship started. "After returning from Canada we started our training for Iraq; he was my driver this is where our friendship became stronger. Tom was a natural Recce soldier and brother. On returning from Iraq he remained in my team as a gunner and was unfortunate not to deploy with the Platoon to Afghanistan in 2009. He will be sorely missed." Corporal Alex Lee, Reconnaissance Platoon 4 RIFLES, said: "Tom was a fit and ambitious Junior NCO. He was the perfect role model for any Rifleman. He will be sorely missed by Recce Platoon and by 4 RIFLES. RIP." Corporal Bobby Charlton, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "I only knew Tom for a short time but he made a big impression on the platoon. He was a chosen man and died fighting. CELER-ET-AUDAX." Corporal Danny Pearson, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "Tom wasn't just a work colleague; he was a good friend and an awesome buddy. Tom was a legend in and out of work. In work he was a very well liked, fit, robust, professional and also a great leader of men. "Easily one of the best. Out of work he was a rock star, so he liked to think. When he left the Army after Iraq, I can remember he said to me 'Trust me one day I'll be famous', then about a month later we all saw him in the paper falling out of a club and hanging out with some random celebrities. "So that was Tom sticking up his fingers to all that doubted him. Mate I am going to miss you loads and never going to forget you. RIP Swift and Bold." Lance Corporal Ned Tawake and Lance Corporal Joni Wakavonono said: "Tom Keogh was a chosen man at his best, great honour to have fought with one of the best Rifleman of 4 Rifles. Patrol Base Bariolai will never be the same without him, we have lost a brilliant soldier and a great man. "Tom died doing what he loved best, trying to give cover to mates whilst in contact. Our thoughts are with his family. Once a Rifleman always a Rifleman." Rifleman Jofrey Pepler, Reconnaissance Platoon 4 RIFLES, said: "I only met Tom last year but can remember feeling so comfortable around him from the start, I had only experienced that before with a handful of friends, and can honestly say that there's only a few people who have walked into my life and changed it forever. I felt like I could tell him anything, like he was a brother and for me he was indeed. "He was a consistent figure in my life I could turn to at any time for friendship and support. From the first time we met I've always admired Tom's optimism and professionalism and looked up to him without ever admitting it. "I wish I could have said this to him while he was still here but would never forget his shining example and commitment. The thing I'll miss most about Tom is how we could just start a conversation on the most boring subject and bring it around to be one of the best, he was always a very good conversationalist and always kept people captivated with stories of what he got up to on weekends, sometimes even jealous. "Good men will die, but death cannot kill their names and Tom's will forever stay a monument in my thoughts and actions." Rifleman Peter Choy, Reconnaissance Platoon 4 RIFLES, said: "I've not long known Tom as I only joined Recce Platoon last year; however Tom is by far the kindest and politest person I have ever worked alongside. "Tom would come to my room often asking me if I needed any assistance on anything that I'm weak at military wise, and made sure that we all knew that he was always there for us. What a great person to be with in times of trouble, especially for us young Riflemen. "We looked up to him as he was one of the keenest and diligent soldiers; I know he'll be sorely missed by all his mates who knew him very well." Rifleman Charlie Foley, A Company 4 RIFLES, said: "I hate writing these things because you never know what to say, like you're having a laugh with each other then the next thing you're gone. "Tom I'm happy you came to the Platoon and my Section, you were a good person and a good Second in Command. You will be missed much." Rifleman Steven Preece, A Company, 4 RIFLES, said: "Lance Corporal Tom Keogh was a great friend, I didn't know Tom long but he came into two Section as the Second in Command. "He was always helping out from doing stag to helping out on the ground. He was a great laugh and a good drawer and will never be forgotten. True Rifleman and will forever be looking over us. Swift and Bold."


[ Serjeant Steven Campbell ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Serjeant Steven Campbell, from 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 RIFLES), was killed in Afghanistan on Monday 22 March 2010. Serjeant Campbell, aged 30, was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was patrolling with his platoon around 3km south of Sangin district centre. Serjeant Steven Campbell was born in Durham on 9 May 1979. He joined the Army on 28 April 1998 at the age of eighteen, completing Phase One training in December that year before joining 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry. Serjeant Campbell completed the required courses to be promoted through the ranks to Corporal before being posted as an instructor to the Army Foundation College in 2003. In 2005 he returned to the battalion, now based in Edinburgh. He passed the Platoon Serjeants' Battle Course and was promoted to the rank of Serjeant in October 2006. He worked as a Platoon Serjeant in B Company, 3 RIFLES, after formation, before again being sent to instruct recruits at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick in 2008. Serjeant Campbell returned to 3 RIFLES during the battalion's current deployment to Sangin in Helmand province. He was originally sent to B Company to assist the Company Headquarters but on 10 March he was sent to A Company to take on the role of Platoon Serjeant. He leaves behind his wife Lisa, son Brandon, and his parents.

His family have made the following statement: "Serjeant Steven Campbell was born on 9 May 1979; he lived in Pelton, Chester-le-Street, in County Durham. He was a loving husband to Lisa and a loving father to Brandon, and he will be missed by all his family and friends."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Serjeant Steve Campbell was one of the Army's rarest treasures. So positive and energetic, it was truly an honour and a pleasure to know him and to have him with this Battle Group. He returned to the battalion from Catterick just under two months ago, full of enthusiasm to get stuck in. Initially disappointed with a headquarters post, he nonetheless happily put his shoulder to the wheel, immediately adding tremendous value. "When the opportunity arose, Serjeant Campbell jumped at the chance to get back out on the ground. A warrior to his core, he was delighted to return to real soldiering, relishing the opportunity to be in the thick of things alongside his fellow Riflemen. It was our good fortune to have such a man to bring his infectious enthusiasm and inspirational leadership to the younger men of a hard-pressed platoon on the front line of this most tough fight. "His boundless energy, positivity and vivacity reinvigorated his men and it is the cruellest of tragedies that he was taken in his prime. Such was his impact, though, that nothing will erase the indelible mark he had made there in just a few days. "Serjeant Campbell epitomised selfless commitment and everything it means to be a Rifleman. Nothing was too much trouble for him; his needs always came last. He has been held in the highest regard; his memory remains a beacon of light as we continue building on the success to which he has contributed much. Fit, capable and versatile, he was a Commanding Officer's dream, guaranteed to complete any task in any sphere and to do it to the highest standard. He had such a promising future, it is impossible to quantify what this regiment has lost. He will be sorely missed by us all. "We take comfort from the fact that he died doing a job he loved, with people who cared deeply for him. He thought of nothing but the welfare of his men, the success of our mission, and a better future for this troubled land. His loss is a devastating blow but we shall steel ourselves all the more, remaining true to his exemplary energy and determination. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and son, but also to his wider family, friends and loved ones." Major James Richardson, Officer Commanding, B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "Serjeant 'Stevie' Campbell arrived with B Company straight from Catterick, where he had been a Platoon Serjeant. He took over as Company Intelligence Officer, a role that many thought he would not enjoy or be suited for. However, such was his professionalism and enthusiasm, that within minutes of talking to him it was clear that he would put everything into it and he was just delighted to be involved in operations with B Company again. "He was dedicated to the Army and he joked about the Army coming a close second to Newcastle United, with his family in third. When I asked about how his wife and son felt about this, he merely said, with his gap-toothed grin, that she knew what she was getting into. As I got to know how much he loved his family, it gave me some idea of what soldiering meant to him too. "His enthusiasm was infectious and he brought a buzz to Company Headquarters, giving as good as he got in the daily 'O groups' and breathing new life into the intelligence community at a critical point in the tour. You would never have known that he did not enjoy the role, such was the energy he put into it. "Sorry as I was to see him go to A Company, he couldn't have been happier when the opportunity came to be a Platoon Serjeant again and it came as no surprise that he had an instant effect, bringing the same levels of enthusiasm and professionalism to that job. He was loving life with A Company, his catchphrase was often heard whenever someone bumped into him or heard about how he was doing. "His death is a cruel blow. The Army has lost a very bright and capable SNCO [Senior Non-Commissioned Officer]. The regiment has lost someone who has influenced so positively a whole generation of young Riflemen at Catterick. B Company has lost an old ally. "Many of the battalion will feel they have lost a friend because he was such an inclusive man. His new colleagues in A Company will be feeling his loss extremely keenly. But it is all as nothing compared with a wife and son who have lost the centre of their existence and who are foremost in our thoughts. It was a joy to have worked with him." Major Tim Harris, Officer Commanding, A Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "I regret not having had the pleasure of knowing Serjeant Campbell for long. He came to A Company at short notice to fill a gap, and he came with glowing recommendations. In the tragically short time he was with me, I could see that his reputation was entirely justified. "I would be lying if I said that 2 Platoon have had an easy tour; he knew he was taking on a difficult and dangerous job, but he relished the challenge. He recognised that the job was vital to the continuing success we are enjoying in providing a secure environment in southern Sangin. I sat with him for an hour or so, trying to get the measure of the man - and it did not take long before I knew that he was precisely the right man for the task. "He was up for it, brimming with confidence and positive energy, and determined to make a difference to his platoon. He was such a positive man; I would imagine he was one of those blokes who never wasted a single day of his all too short life. "I distinctly remember being impressed by his professionalism - although he had worked in another company's area of operations, he was already familiar with my area and had read extensively into everything that had happened here. He did not do this because he knew he would be coming to me, but because he was dedicated and had a voracious appetite for operations. "I gave him a couple of days to settle in before I visited his patrol base, and when I did I realised just how fortunate I had been to have a man like him on my team. He had already made such an impact that I doubt any of the men of 2 Platoon will ever forget him. "He encouraged them to be better, and he filled them with courage, and in the evenings he filled them with good food. He made them feel ten feet tall - all within days of his arrival. Most of all, he possessed an infectious smile that lifted us all, no matter what the situation. He was a proud family man, and I remember him speaking with pride of the love he had for his wife Lisa and son Brandon. My thoughts and prayers are with them at this terribly difficult time. "His loss is felt widely - he was one of those characters who just seem to make the battalion a happy and productive place to be. He leaves friends in all of the companies, who will miss him dearly. Serjeant Campbell was proof that good people do not need a long time to leave a lasting impression on others. A born leader, we will follow in his footsteps and finish the race that is set before us." Captain Alex Kealy, 3 RIFLES, said: "I have had the privilege of knowing Serjeant Campbell for my whole Army career. Fresh out of Sandhurst, I did not quite know what to make of the grinning, gap-toothed Geordie standing in front of me - the Section Commander who everyone simply referred to as 'Stevie'. "He was already something of a legend in the company, respected and admired by the Riflemen and chain of command alike for his professionalism, energy, love of his job and his men, and perpetual good mood. I thought he must be either the product of a scientific experiment to lock the entire energy of the sun into a human body and watch it try to get out, or simply high on life. "One could not help being dragged along in this torrent of positivity, uplifted by his mere presence. We got on particularly well as the youngest guys in the company with prematurely receding hairlines, much to the amusement of the Riflemen who would 'twin' us at every opportunity. "With promotion and time came wisdom, but no drop in pace. As a Platoon Serjeant, Stevie was everything and more that any Platoon Commander could ask for; professional, diligent, utterly motivated and dynamic. "A more honest and loyal man you will never meet. His lads meant everything to him - there is nothing he wouldn't do for the men under his care, including gripping them when he needed to. He would back his Platoon Commander to the hilt - even if he made a bad decision - and would follow the platoon through hell and back, but given half a chance he would lead them from the front all the way. Above all, he was always happy, always smiling, positive to the end, and made soldiering fun for everyone around him. "Like most keen soldiers, he was a keen football supporter. He was constantly updating me on how Newcastle were getting on in the league, which had recently started to dent his relentless good mood, while dishing out as many jobs as he could to all the Sunderland supporters in the platoon. Done with humour and good nature, this typified his bond with his men. "The more I got to know Stevie, the greater my respect for the man grew. He balanced his military career with spending as much time as possible with his beloved wife and son in Newcastle. "The biggest smile I ever saw on his already permanently grinning, boyish face was while his son Brandon, aged five with cam cream smeared all over him, fired a GPMG [general purpose machine gun] balanced on the back of Stevie's fellow Platoon Serjeant at a demonstration day. The same passion and dedication which he showed at work was a fraction of that which he felt for his family. "If I could sum him up I would describe him as the family Labrador. He was full of boundless energy and fun, mischievous if he could get away with it, totally honest, adored being around those close to him, utterly loyal, and truly a man's best friend. "I will treasure many memories of this great man, as will all who knew him. His cruel loss is huge for his company, our Battle Group and The Rifles. But our loss is nothing compared to that of his family, his wife Lisa, and son Brandon. My thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult of times." Captain Chris Dadd, Operations Officer, 3 RIFLES, said: "When looking for a word to describe Serjeant Stevie Campbell many came to mind - brave, genuine, determined and inspiring - but I think indomitable describes him best. "I first met Serjeant Campbell when he returned from a posting training recruits in AFC [Army Foundation College] Harrogate; he was full of life and his eagerness to pass on his knowledge was only surpassed by his desire to learn and be better at his job - his genuine nature ensured that he was well liked and respected by all who met him. "His enthusiasm was a theme that ran through his career; as a Platoon Serjeant in Iraq his dedication to both his men and the mission was unrivalled, so obviously revelling in the challenges laid before him. He returned to 3 RIFLES having completed a posting as a Platoon Serjeant training infantry recruits at ITC [Infantry Training Centre] Catterick where he had once again imparted his knowledge and enthusiasm for soldiering to another grateful generation of Riflemen. "Upon his arrival he initially worked with B Company HQ in FOB [Forward Operating Base] Jackson, Sangin. It was a pleasure to see that he had not lost any of his enthusiasm which had motivated so many in the past. Whilst on a company operation in the complex Green Zone north of Sangin he immediately threw himself into the thick of the action with his usual dynamism. "I saw him the day he was leaving to take up another challenge as a Platoon Serjeant with A Company in the southern Green Zone, supporting the security of the locals to the south west of Sangin. He was undaunted by the challenge he faced; in reality, quite the opposite, as he spoke about how he relished the opportunity. Unsurprisingly, upon his arrival his contagious enthusiasm and commitment raised the spirits of the whole patrol base; his commitment to doing things right and doing them well will be his legacy. "We are poorer for the loss of a great friend and Rifleman but our loss is nothing compared to that of his family. Serjeant Campbell was a truly dedicated family man and all of our thoughts are with his wife Lisa and his son Brandon of whom he would speak so often." Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Kelly, Company Serjeant Major, B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "I've have known Serjeant 'Stevie' Campbell since he joined the battalion. His standards and professionalism were unquestionable. He was enthusiastic, diligent, and also always looked to improve and develop in any way he could. "With his military prowess, infectious personality and his great sense of humour, Stevie was bound for the very top without doubt; he excelled on every course that he did and wasn't shy in telling people, such was his confidence. He was a fierce 'Toon' fan and even defended their horrible away shirt they wore this season. "A very proud and loving husband and father, we talked sometimes about family life and how lucky we both were to have such supportive families. Stevie was definitely 'chosen to be swift and bold' and the void that he has left will never be filled. "This is a very dark day for us all, but it won't compare to the pain his family will be feeling at this crushing time. I hope they can take a little solace in the knowledge that he died doing what he loved and what he did best. Our thoughts are with his family now. Rest in peace mate. 'SWIFT AND BOLD'." Colour Serjeant Gavin Paton, B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "I have had the pleasure of serving with Steve for the last 10 years. My fondest memories of which were as Platoon Serjeants together in B Company, 2 LI [2nd Battalion The Light Infantry]. Steve was a great leader, had a fantastic way with military banter, and broke the mould with everything that a Rifleman should be. But, more importantly, Steve was a loyal friend, a loving husband and a caring father. "When I returned to Brize Norton from R and R [Rest and Recuperation], feeling sorry for myself, I was checking my bags in, when I heard this infectious Geordie tone. 'Alreet Pyat' was the way that he had always greeted me. "It was a total surprise to look up and see Steve there with his big grin and even bigger gap where he was clearly missing a tooth. It was our first meeting in over two years. We sat together on the plane on the way back to Afghanistan and he was telling tales of his Platoons at ITC, family, and plans to get a new dog. However, he made the most of how excited he was to be getting back with the battalion on operations. "Initially crushed with the intelligence job he was given within the company, Steve took to it like a dog with a burst ball and injected life and substance. He did a cracking job and I am sure that the company and the Battle Group had certainly benefited from his dedication, professionalism and ability to give as good as he got when it came to banter. "Then the news came he was to go to Patrol Base [PB] Almas as the Platoon Serjeant; he was like a kid at Christmas, bouncing off of all the walls. 'It is what I came here to do' was the common phrase. He was euphoric. "His leaving the company for PB Almas had left a big hole. It just wasn't the same, but we knew he would be back, to see him in Edinburgh and to have a beer and chew the fat. "The news this morning has been devastating for us all, on so many levels. My thoughts have to go to his wife and son of whom he always spoke so fondly. I hope that they can take some comfort in knowing that Steve was an outstanding soldier and died doing what he was the very best at, being a Rifleman. Steve, life has dealt you a cruel card, but you will never be forgotten mate." Serjeant Rob Williams, B Company, 3 RIFLES, said: "It has been a pleasure working alongside such a distinguished member of 3 RIFLES. Serjeant 'Stevie' Campbell was a mate, a colleague, and above all a true professional in all he did. Since joining the battalion he quickly made a lot of friends through his humour and the way he conducted himself. "I met up with Stevie again in Brize Norton having not seen him for two years. He was typically enthusiastic about coming to Afghanistan. We also spoke about our beloved club Newcastle FC, which we were planning to go and watch together on leaving Afghanistan. My condolences go out to his wife and son and all the members of his family. We will all remember him."


[ Rifleman Daniel Holkham ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Daniel Holkham, from 3rd Battalion The Rifles, serving with 3 RIFLES Battle Group, who was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday 27 March 2010. Rfn Holkham, aged 19, died in an explosion that was caused by a suicide bomber, who detonated a device near to the Sangin Bazaar. Rifleman Daniel 'Danny' Holkham was born in Chatham on 2 August 1990. He attended Minster College in Sheerness achieving an NVQ in engineering before enlisting to join the Army at the age of sixteen. He lived in the Isle of Sheppey. Rifleman Holkham gained a place at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate where he completed his phase one training prior to going to the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick for his Infantry specific education. On completion in April 2008 he joined 3 RIFLES in Edinburgh and was posted to 4 Platoon, B Company. He took part in the Battalion exercise in Kenya later that year and then the pre-deployment build up training for operations in Afghanistan throughout 2009. Rifleman Holkham deployed to Afghanistan in September 2009 and was working with his Platoon from a patrol base in central Sangin to provide security and development to the local people. He was killed on 27 March 2010 when he stopped a suicide bomber who then detonated a device just outside the Sangin Bazaar. Rifleman Holkham leaves behind his parents, Rodney and Tracy, his girlfriend, Nikki, and his two brothers, Andrew and Matthew, who are both serving with 3 RIFLES. 

[ Matthew and Andrew ]

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Rifleman Daniel Holkham, 19, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles is carried out of All Saints Church, in Eastchurch, Kent. 23 April 2010 The 19-year-old's brothers, Matthew and Andrew, (facing Left & Right) acted as pallbearers alongside four comrades at the service at All Saints' church, Eastchurch, on the Isle of Sheppey.

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After please click here to watch Daniel's funeral.

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Rifleman Holkham's family said: "The loss of our son Danny has left a huge hole in our lives and that of his brothers and friends that can never again be filled. He served his country faithfully and with great pride." Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said: "Daniel Holkham was a model Rifleman; robust, bright and dedicated, he was everything a commander could hope for and more. Joining us a year before our build up training for this deployment, he had ample opportunity to show that he had both quality and potential in abundance. "There is no doubt that a bright future lay ahead of this young man and it is a tragedy that he has been robbed of the opportunity to fulfil it. "Rifleman Holkham was well established as the lead man in his patrol, responsible for searching the ground for buried explosive devices to allow his patrol to pass safely. "The selflessness and professionalism required to carry out this task, day after day, in the most challenging of environments, is one of the most humbling things to witness. "Rifleman Holkham carried out this task diligently, willingly and with plenty of professional pride, such was his dedication to his fellow Riflemen. He died at the head of his patrol, another unquestioningly courageous Rifleman intercepting a crazed suicide bomber before he could cause havoc in the Sangin bazaar. "The loss of a Rifleman so full of promise is a devastating blow to the Battle Group but we will draw inspiration from his example and continue undeterred in carrying out the valuable work for which he laid down his life. "The thoughts and prayers of this whole Battle Group are very much with his family at this most difficult time. We know that they remember him, as we do, with happiness and pride. We all and draw comfort and inspiration from his honoured memory." Major James Richardson, Officer Commanding, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman 'Snake Eyes' Holkham had arrived in the Company only a short time before me. It was obvious that he was very new, still slightly 'caught in the headlights', by the transition from Catterick to 'real life' in the Battalion. "Over the months and the journeys to the Falklands, Kenya, through pre-deployment training and into Afghanistan, the experiences he had alongside the people who were now his friends gave him the kind of confidence that I, as a commander, need my Riflemen to have. "It is a confidence, on the edge of cockiness that says I now know my craft, am pretty good at it, and am surrounded by people I trust and who trust me. "It wasn't necessarily an easy journey for him. Not a natural athlete, he was often to be seen puffing and groaning his way up 'Brown Track' bent strangely double under his bergan thinking that such an awkward position was preferable to standing up straight and sucking in the Scottish air. "But there came a moment, I cannot recall it exactly, when he was walking past and his Platoon Serjeant, Serjeant Bowe, said 'hey, Snake Eyes …. (and gave him some typically robust instruction).' I knew then that he had turned the corner, he had made it. "No longer was he the junior Rifleman, lacking in confidence. He must have made it, he had a nickname, and not a derisory one either. We heard more and more of his wit, adding his two pennies' worth to the banter more and more – Kent biting through the less spiky tones of those from the North East and Yorkshire. "His progress thereafter was always upward and by the time we deployed to Helmand, he was one of the 'go to' Riflemen in 4 Platoon, a 'Vallon man' no less, trusted with leading his mates through the maze of alleyways searching out the IEDs that were a persistent and consistent threat, a role requiring extraordinary physical and mental endurance and courage, and which he had fulfilled for nigh on six months unbroken. "He will be missed terribly by those in his Platoon. I will miss him, because he grew up in the two years of my tenure and I have clear images and fond memories of the changes in him as time went on. But our sadness pales into insignificance alongside that of his two brothers serving with the Battalion in Afghanistan and his parents. Our thoughts are with them now." Lieutenant Dan Brown, 4 Platoon Commander, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Dan Holkham joined the platoon just as I assumed command and in the two years I have had the privilege of working with him I have seen a young, unostentatious, individual grow into a confident, courageous soldier who epitomised what it means to be a Rifleman. "Initially reserved, he soon found his feet within the Platoon and as his confidence grew, so did his cockiness; he always had an answer for everything, even when one was not required! "But it was his cockiness that would stand him out as one of the most trusted and courageous men within the Platoon. As a Barma man he was always at the forefront of every patrol, clearing the way for his fellow men to move through. "During our six months out here he found numerous IEDs that undoubtedly saved the lives of many others; his latest find only hours before his tragic death. "Such was his eye for IEDs that he became the most trusted Barma man within the platoon. Whenever he would say 'IED find' everyone knew it was definitely an IED. "His jovial character coupled with his cheeky streak marked him out as one of the characters of the Platoon with a bright future ahead. Utterly professional and extremely capable Rifleman Holkham was the kind of person that every soldier would want by their side. "His selfless commitment, courage and cheeky grin will be a lasting memory. We have lost an outstanding soldier but our loss is nothing compared to that of his family and girlfriend, my thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult of times." Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Kelly, Company Serjeant Major, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "I've have known Rifleman 'Snakes eyes' Holkham for the few years he was in the Battalion, I called him snakes eyes because of the light coloured piercing eyes he had, the nick name did stick with him which he didn't seem to mind. 'Snakes eyes' was a quiet, and reserved Rifleman when he first joined which I found strange because he was a 'cockney' and I always associated cockneys with being loud. "That quietness didn't last for long, as his confidence grew, so it seemed did his personality and his character. He was one of the Platoon's characters without doubt, always ready and up for a laugh and that laughter will be bitterly missed. "The biggest testament any one could give him was that he was trusted amongst the Platoon to lead and clear safe routes through the dangerous alleyways and tracks in the Sangin AO. "He stood strong and took this task on with out fear, but happy in the knowledge that he was making this safe for not only his mates but for the wider Afghan people. His loss has hit us all very hard but our thoughts must be with his family at this very difficult time." Serjeant Paul Bowe, 4 Platoon Serjeant, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "I have known Rifleman Holkham (Holks) since he arrived at the battalion. From the start I could see he was a bright star for the future, with a very cheeky personality, he had always had something to say in his wide boy accent. "I didn't realise how brave young men of today's society are, until I deployed to Afghanistan and saw Rifleman Holkham at work. "He was a lead member of 3 Section and showed great courage everyday. He had cleared four IED's in one area of Sangin, without hesitation showing nerves of steel. "Rifleman Holkham loved his family and girlfriend very much and will be sorely missed by those who were lucky enough to meet him." Corporal David Stroud, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "I can remember Holks turning up to the Battalion and as a Section Commander in 4 Platoon, I thought what a breath of fresh air he was. "Never had to be told to do anything and was always on top form just as you would expect from a top Rifleman. "Always had something to say, 9 times out of 10 being one of his cheeky comments. "As a Section Commander he was always one of the blokes you would like to have in your Section, nerves of steel and slick drills as he proved to the Platoon on several times in contact and confirming numerous IEDs. "A big hole has been left in the Platoon he will be greatly missed." Lance Corporal Ryan Le-Masurier, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Holkham was a very lively character who liked to torment his peers, in a good way of course. Danny AKA Dave was always up for a laugh and was always winding us all up. "He was the most trustworthy Rifleman in the Platoon, hence the reason for him being the first man. "A very straight talking and no nonsense type of guy, he wasn't too shy to voice his opinion should he disagree with something. He always spoke highly of his family including his brothers and his girlfriend back home." Lance Corporal James Ashley, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "I have known Rifleman Holkham since I joined B Company, he was a top bloke and he will be missed by all, our thoughts are with his brothers and family." Lance Corporal Liam Raine, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Can't believe Holks is gone, he was a good friend and an excellent squaddie, and my thoughts go to his family." Lance Corporal Daniel Ward, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Holkham, known as Dave with the lads, was just one of them lads you loved best. He tried to make himself scary but you know he was soft, he will be missed, my thoughts go to Matt and Andy his brothers and the rest of his family and also Nikki his girlfriend. RIP Dave." Rifleman Daniel Stead, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Holkham (Danny) was the joker in the pack. He was always very loud with that distinctive Kent Cockney accent you'd always associate with the Holkhams." Rifleman Ben Lennon, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Holkham was a very gobby and energetic character who always spoke his mind. He was a good lad who was always up for a laugh. He had a mint nickname "Evil" because of his eyes that would stare and generally look evil, not in a menacing way of course. He always played a lot of jokes on people." Private Natalie Newton, Platoon Medic, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "I have known Rifleman Holkham since the start of this tour. Holks always had banter where ever he was out on the ground or in the PB, he was the life and soul of 3 Section. It's been a pleasure to have known such a brave Rifleman. He will be missed by everyone who knew him." Rifleman Martin Dawson, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Rifleman Holkham was one of the top blokes in the Platoon, full of character always up for a laugh but on the ground a true professional. I would have followed him anywhere, gone but never forgotten." Rifleman Galandou Goode, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Holkham was one of the best lads in the Platoon, he loved his job very much. He will never be forgotten in our hearts or thoughts. We are going to miss you big Holks. RIP." Rifleman Damien Hines, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "I remember Dan first arriving at the Battalion, I gave him a lift home, the whole three hour journey drive he never spoke a word, but now shutting him up was the problem! Dan was a truly great soldier, brave, professional just a top lad in general, I will miss our little chats about home, RIP mate." Rifleman Joshua Martin, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "You were a great Rifleman and a good lad. I won't forget your courage, you will be missed mate." Rifleman Michael Painter, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Gutted you're gone mate, the Section is not going to be the same without you, missing you already." Rifleman Luke Pawson, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Daniel 'Dave' Holkham was one of the best, most switched on blokes I've ever met. No-one ever had a bad word to say about him. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his brothers and family. Rest in Peace mate." Rifleman Alexander Plant, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Top bloke and an outstanding soldier / Barma man. 4 Platoon have lost another great warrior. You will be sorely missed - RIP mate." Rifleman James Reeves, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Holkham was a good man and a great soldier, the heart of the Platoon, he will be missed." Rifleman Ryan Scott, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "One of 4 Platoon's finest blokes a Barma man through and through, gone but never forgotten." Rifleman Jem Smale, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Holkham, you will always be with us in our hearts, never forgotten, a truly brave soldier and a fine bloke to have known. Rest in Peace mate." Rifleman Kevin Spicer, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Holkham was a top bloke a true wide boy, always up for a laugh. But when it came down to business he was one of the best soldiers I knew and was professional; also he was one of the best Barma men out there. I would have followed him anywhere. Rest in Peace you will be truly missed and never forgotten." Rifleman Leon Van Wyk, 4 Platoon, B Company 3 RIFLES, said: "Holkham, you were a good Rifleman that was always up to the job. You'll be missed and never forgotten about."


[ Rifleman Mark Turner ]

[ Rifles Cap badge ]

Rifleman Mark Turner from 3rd Battalion, The Rifles was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 4 April 2010. Rifleman Turner was killed as a result of an explosion that happened while he was on a foot patrol against insurgents near Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge, in the Kajaki area of Helmand Province. Rifleman Mark Turner was born on 11 October 1988. He grew up in Gateshead and was educated at Thomas Hepburn Community School and then went to work as a panel beater before joining the Army. Rifleman Turner joined the Army in January 2006 at the age of eighteen, completing phase one training before joining Second Battalion the Light Infantry in the summer of 2006. Rifleman Turner was a trained Assault Pioneer and Team Medic and had been on several overseas exercises including Kenya and Belize. He had already been on one previous tour of duty in Afghanistan from September 2006 to April 2007 during which he was injured in a road traffic accident. Rifleman Turner was killed on 04 April 2010 when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was patrolling with his platoon to the north of Kajaki, in Helmand, Afghanistan. He leaves behind his family and fiancée.

[ Mark ]

Rifleman Turner's family made the following statement: "Mark was a proper Mammy's boy described by his loving family as being ‘daft as a brush'. He was a fanatical supporter of Newcastle United who looked forward to their imminent return to the Premier League, boasting about the fact that he had managed to watch the recent match against Nottingham Forest whilst out in Afghanistan.  "Mark loved to play poker and he also enjoyed listening to all types of music, having a distinct like of Dean Martin songs. He loved his food and regularly took up his passion of devouring cheese pizzas; however in food terms, nothing could surpass his desire of yellow Telly Tubby biscuits, sent out to him by his family.  "His fiancée said that he always insisted on perfection and referred to their affection when Mark said they were both like ‘peas and carrots'. Mark will be dearly missed by his mother Anne, fiancée Liesha, stepfather Joe, brother David and three sisters Lisa, Joanne and Julie."

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group said: "Rifleman Mark Turner was a remarkable young man who took in his stride the toughest and most dangerous job available here in Afghanistan. Daily he took responsibility for the lives of his friends by putting himself out in front and clearing the ground of the deadly devices left by insurgents with nothing to call on but a metal detector and his own instincts. It typifies the selfless can-do, the unflinching get-on-with-the-job attitude of our Riflemen to see young men such as he carrying out this task willingly, without thought for their own safety, merely for that of their friends and comrades. "Rifleman Turner was a much loved and respected member of his Company and of this Battle Group. His conduct and talents were nothing short of exemplary and he was blessed with a smile and a joke for every occasion. The kind of stoicism, humour and determination he showed on a daily basis is something of which our nation can be very proud. He has made an invaluable contribution to the marked achievements of his Company around the strategically crucial area of the Kajaki Dam in the very north of Helmand. "Rifleman Turned died doing a job he loved and for which he had a prolific talent. His brothers in arms will miss both the security and confidence he provided and the warmth of his wit and friendship. His loss is a tragedy and is felt most keenly by all in the Battle Group. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his fiancée Leisha at this terrible time. We know that they will remember him as we do;  as an exceptional soldier and a loving, loyal friend."  Major Mike Lynch, Officer Commanding C Company, 3 RIFLES said: "Rifleman Turner, Turtle to his mates, was one of the bravest men I have ever had the pleasure of working alongside. He had an inner bravery which made it even more humbling. He epitomised everything you could ever ask for in a Rifleman: selfless, warm hearted, and extremely professional. "Quiet and unassuming by nature, he always led from the front clearing safe routes on every patrol. From the outset he proved himself to be exceptionally thorough spending painstakingly long periods of time lying on the ground finding countless IEDs by intuition alone. "I am in no doubt that he saved the lives of many of his fellow Riflemen – his mental and physical endurance were truly remarkable. We all felt completely safe and confident following his cleared routes because he was so meticulous and methodical. He never sought recognition for this tough job; he never grumbled or complained, he just got on with the job at hand with dogged determination and a complete disregard for his own safety. "On more than one occasion Rifleman Turner cleared safe routes, whilst under fire, knowing full well that he was putting his life in danger in order to secure a safe route into cover for his comrades – a true testament to his courage which never faltered. "His cheeky grin and sense of humour were infectious even after long and demanding patrols. Everyone wanted to be his friend and he was always surrounded by fellow Riflemen: it would be very rare to see him on his own. His short term aspiration was to become a JNCO by the end of the year and I have no doubt that he would have made a first class NCO and an excellent role model for the young Riflemen. "He died saving the lives of his comrades. We will all miss him dearly and the only thing left to say is thank you Rifleman Turner for keeping us safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fiancée at this difficult time." Lieutenant Will Melia, 9 Platoon Commander, C Company 3 RIFLES said: "I first met Rifleman Mark "Turtle" Turner while I was still in officer training, a fact that he would never let me forget, claiming that the only reason that I ever made it into the Army was because he carried all my kit and wrote all my orders. Turtle represented all that is good about soldiers in the Rifles. He was selfless, resolute and courageous and, at the same time, remained a funny, cheeky young man with a mischievous sense of humour. It was a rare occurrence to see Turtle without a grin on his face and he was one of the most popular Riflemen in the Company. "This was Rifleman Turner's second tour of Afghanistan, having been seriously injured during his first. It is a testament to his strength of character that he returned so willingly. Rifleman Turner was not fearless; he knew fear yet chose to overcome it, and in doing so is the bravest individual I have ever had the pleasure of serving with. "He knew that he was putting himself into harm's way by leading patrols and searching for IEDs, but he continued to do so, proud in the knowledge that he was keeping his mates safe. On one occasion, under sustained heavy enemy fire, Rifleman Turner put himself directly into the line of fire in order to clear a bunker for his fellow Riflemen to occupy. Acts such as this epitomised Turtle; a man who was always looking out for his friends, always putting their safety before his own.  "Rifleman Turner was exceptionally good at his job and every man in my Platoon, myself included, is keenly aware that it is due to his hard work and dedication that we are still alive today. On the day of his death, Turtle had already found one device and was clearing his comrades into a position of cover when a second IED struck. Rifleman Turner was one of the stars of my platoon and, on returning from Afghanistan, was due to attend a JNCO cadre, and I have no reservations in predicting that he would have made an excellent leader of men. "Turtle had three loves in life: his family, his fiancée Liesha and his beloved Newcastle United. He was probably most vocal about the third of these and was often to be found in the small hours of the morning in the cook house following the Magpies' charge for promotion. It is not an exaggeration to say that Turtle was the most liked member of the platoon, a close friend to all, with never a bad word said against him, and to have him torn from us so late in the tour has been heart-wrenching. "My thoughts are with Liesha and his family in this time of bereavement and I offer my heartfelt condolences. Rifleman Turner was an outstanding soldier and a terrific young man. I cannot stress enough how sorely he will be missed by his platoon. " Lieutenant Robert Fellows, 7 Platoon Commander, C Company said: "Rifleman Turner was a popular and respectable member of C Company. In the words of the men ‘he was pure morale' and could always be counted on to lift spirits with a joke or a prank. "With the Company split up I had not seen turtle for many months but have fond memories of him. "The thoughts of the whole platoon are with our brother Rifleman in 9 Platoon, his family, friends and loved ones." Warrant Officer Class 2 Steve Watts, Company Serjeant (Note - Serjeant in the Rifles Regiment is spelt with a j) Major, C Company, 3 RIFLES said: "When I look back on this tour there will be one group of people that will standout above all that took part, BARMA Men. In Kajaki there was one real legend when it came to BARMA, Rifleman Mark Turner or "Turtle" as the lads knew him. Rifleman Turner was the epitome of a Rifleman, cheeky, fit and robust and above all brave. Moments before he died he had found an IED, which he did regularly, saving countless lives throughout the tour in the process. "He had found more IEDs than any other BARMA man in Kajaki during the tour. Turtle had been injured before on a previous OP HERRICK in a road traffic accident, and had come back to Afghanistan recovered and raring to go. "As one of the old sweats he was a real example to the younger Riflemen. In barracks he was never in trouble, always well dressed and on time, making him as unique in barracks as he was on operations amongst the other Riflemen. He was on the list of volunteers for the Battalion JNCO Cadre in the summer but sadly the Battalion and Regiment as a whole have lost a future leader of men who had so much potential. "The loss has hit the Company hard and he will leave a gap that can't be filled. Our loss is nothing compared to the loss his family must feel and all our thoughts are with them at this terrible time."  Colour Serjeant Jamie Rufus, C Company, 3 RIFLES said: "I did not know Rifleman Turner as well as some. However, I do know that whenever following the routes that he had personally cleared, you had this warm and confident feeling that it was safe. He had found dozens of devices in our time in Kajaki no doubt saving countless lives – we all owe him." Serjeant Jonpaul Greenwood, Platoon Serjeant, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "Rifleman Mark Turner was, in my eyes, a true friend and a fantastic soldier. On my arrival to the Platoon, taking over as Platoon Serjeant in 2007, he was the first one to come up to me and show his disgust that I supported Leeds United. At first, not knowing how to take a chirpy Geordie lad like himself, I realised he had true character, grit, determination and potential to one day be a true leader of men. "During my time with the Platoon we've become very close. He did a lot of 2IC's jobs under my command and he did them with an outstanding ability, proving to me that he was not just a cheeky character, he was an excellent soldier. Throughout HERRICK 11 he has been to the forefront of everything we've done. He has BARMA'd without fear, finding different types of IEDs then turning round with his Geordie accent to say "Sarge, I've got something". "Whenever he turned round to me and said this I knew nine times out of ten it was an IED. This man, throughout this tour, has saved a lot of his comrades' lives within the Platoon and also the Company. Even up to the point of his unfortunate incident, when I was stood next to him, he reminded me that I owed him £50 for Newcastle getting promoted to the Premiership next season. "He turned round and laughed, showing his cheeky Geordie grin and he carried on leading from the front, which he has done all the way through (Turtle, in my eyes you are a true hero, Rest in Peace my friend, you will be missed not just as a colleague, but as a true friend.) My heart goes out to his future wife Liesha and all his family. Rest in Piece Turtle. You will never be forgotten." Corporal Damien Gray, 1 Section Commander, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "Turtle was a Rifleman that every section commander wanted as their BARMA man. He showed great courage leading the platoon whilst under fire. I am proud to have called him one of my friends. My thoughts go to his family. RIP mate." Corporal David Kavanagh, 7 Platoon, C Company said: "Rifleman Turner (Turtle) one of the strongest brothers C Company had, loved by all who worked with him. Always led from the front showing immense courage, this is the type of man he is. I remember the first time I met turtle it was training for Op Herrick 6 where he was stood there looking ready for what ever would come his way. We soon gave him the name turtle due to the fact he had a long neck and small head. "He lived up to his name by never hiding under his shell though which made him a strong character. This made him well respected by all. All my thoughts go to his family at this hard time." Lance Corporal Mark Reynolds, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "I am proud to have served with Mark Turner (or Turtle as we all call him). He was a good friend to everyone and always ready to have a laugh and a joke, to lift the atmosphere. I have lost a best friend and a colleague. I will never forget you, a true legend loved by all his mates, love you always." Lance Corporal David Carlton, C Company Snipers said: "I have known Rifleman Turner aka Turtle since he joined C Company. As soon as he spoke I knew him to be a Geordie supporter, with me being a Mackem supporter we had some heated debates about football. It was an honour to have served with him and have him as my friend. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. RIP mate." Lance Corporal Michael Flanagan, C Company Snipers said: "When Rifleman Turner first got to the Battalion I was section Second In Command. He was very quiet and reserved to begin with however it didn't take long for him to establish himself as a humorous person, not to mention a top class soldier. He always managed to boost morale with his wit especially when everyone else was snapped. "It's hard to believe he is no longer with us and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this difficult time." Lance Corporal David Nicol, 7 Platoon, C Company said: "Rifleman Mark Turner was an exceptional Rifleman, he was fit, confident and fearless always bringing a smile to the blokes with his smart humour. From the worst exercise at the Infantry Training Centre to Afghanistan, Turner was never short of morale and was happy to do any task put in front of him. "He was a rifleman that the younger rifleman should aspire to be. Turner will be a great loss to the Company and Battalion, I will never forget him, my thoughts go out to his family and girlfriend that he leaves behind. RIP Turtle, you will always be in my thoughts. Rifleman Turner like many who fell before him a prime example that the good die young." Rifleman Ollie Smith, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "Turtle was there for me since day one. He was a courageous soldier and an amazing friend. Words can't explain the devastation within the platoon. I owe my life to T and I just want to say thank you mate and you will be greatly missed. RIP mate." Rifleman Mickey Harris, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "To Turtle, "I'd like to say a massive thank you mucker. One for being such a good mate and an absolute legend. Two for always being there for people when they needed anything and caring so much about them. And finally a thank you from all the blokes and myself for without a doubt saving everyone's life with your actions by being such a caring bloke and a top notch squaddie. Love ya and gonna miss you mate." Rifleman Jason Seymour, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "I only knew Turtle for a year but in that year I always knew he was a quality bloke. During this tour I've had some good laughs with him. Whether it was up on the Peaks or down on the ground his morale never dropped. I will never forget him and we owe our lives to him. RIP mate." Rifleman Salima Ragogo, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "Turner: A brother, a friend and a brave soldier. We wouldn't have made it this far if it wasn't for you. It is sad to see you leave us this way. You will be sorely missed around here bro. Rest in Peace mate." Rifleman Dave Jones, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "Turtle, I know we've only known each other nearly a year, but in that year we've done so much and had a lot of laughs. Since we've been out here, I've been patrolling right behind you, with you always leading the way for us and I wouldn't want to be behind anyone else. You're gonna be truly missed by everyone. RIP mate." Rifleman Scott Basnett, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "Mark, I am one of the many people who were lucky enough to know you. You were one of my closest friends in the platoon. I knew I could come to you with any problem and you would take time out to listen to me. I can never thank you enough for all the good times we had together. "You inspired a lot of people with your professionalism and enthusiasm in everything you did. That cheeky smile of yours was quality and you could get away with anything with it. You were an outstanding soldier and an even better friend. My thoughts go out to you fiancée Liesha and all of your family in this tragic time. I love you mate and I will never forget the time we spent together. You will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace mate." Rifleman Thomas Saldanha, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "Turtle was a truly inspirational man; never one to shirk when a job needed doing, and always there for advice and to keep morale high. These qualities were truly shown in his ability as an exceptional BARMA man, always point man, he'd never shy away when a dangerous tasking was ahead. He'd just give a cheeky grin and, with a "let's get it on" was off clearing a safe path for the platoon. "This natural confidence always gave me the encouragement and motivation to follow on behind him. There is no doubt that he has saved many lives within the platoon, including my own and for that I am forever grateful. The platoon won't be the same without your wisdom and composure. I am glad I had the pleasure to serve with you and you'll never be forgotten mate. My thoughts go to your family and beloved girlfriend. Rest in Peace mate."  Rifleman Aaron Gaskell, 9 Platoon, C Company said: "Mark, you were what everyone needed in 9 Platoon. I knew Mark for almost three years and he was one of my closest friends. I enjoyed the laughs that we had together; there was never a quiet moment when you were in the same area as me. You will be sorely missed, not just by 9 Platoon but by everyone who had the privilege to know you. "My heart goes out to Mark's family and his beloved fiancée Liesha at this time of sadness. In everyone's eyes he was a true hero and saved countless lives. I will miss the laughs, jokes and all the good times we had. You will always be in our thoughts and prayers and will never be forgotten. RIP Mark. Love you loads mate." Rifleman James Hills, 7 Platoon, C Company said: "Rifleman Turner was an asset to the company. As one of the more senior blokes he was a friend to everyone. He was about to do the JNCO Cadre and he would have made a brilliant NCO at that. You will be missed mate RIP." Rifleman Christopher Hooker, 7 Platoon, C Company said: "Rifleman Turner known by all as ‘Turtle' a strong and experienced Rifleman. His second tour of Afghanistan, he led form the front. Every one of the lads looked up to him. After completing basic skiing together in Germany, Turtle got the chance to go to Norway on advance skiing course leaving the rest of us. Turtle always excelled at everything he did, he will be truly missed." Rifleman Aaron Barry, 7 Platoon, C Company said: "Rifleman Mark Turner or Turtle as he was known to his mates was an outstanding Rifleman and an even better mate. I first met turtle just after two years ago when I came to the Battalion. He wasn't the type of bloke that wouldn't talk to you because you were the new lad, he was the type to be the first to guide you in the right direction. I think that's why turtle grew to be one of my best mates not only at work but on Civvy Street too. "I will never forget times we spent together or the things he taught me. Turner was a model rifleman and the younger lads of the  Company and Battalion should aspire to be like him, like I did and continue to do so in his memory. "My thoughts and prays go out to his family, friends and girlfriend at this difficult time RIP Turtle, you will always be in my thoughts. ‘Gone but not forgotten' Sleep tight mate, there is a star in the night sky for you."