The Royal Welsh

The Royal Welsh Association

The Royal Welsh MOD

Corporal Paul Joszko

Corporal Paul Joszko, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales), aged 28 from Mountain Ash, Wales, together with Privates Scott Kennedy, aged 20 from Oakley, Dunfermline and James (Jamie) Kerr, aged 20 from Cowdenbeath of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device attack. The device detonated at approximately 0100hrs local time against the soldiers, who were dismounted from a Warrior patrol in the Al Amtahiya district in the southeast of Basra City.  The soldiers were serving as part of the British contingent of Multi-National Forces in southeast Iraq. A further British soldier was very seriously injured and is currently receiving treatment at the military field hospital in Basra.

Paul Joszko, 28, from Abercynon was described as "doggedly loyal" in a eulogy written by his commanding officer and read at the service. His partner, 18, who is expecting their second child, was joined by more than 400 friends and family for the funeral. His coffin was carried by soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh. Hundreds of people lined the streets of his home town of Mountain Ash for the service at St Winifred's Church in Penrhiwceiber before he was buried in Abercynon cemetery.  A floral tribute from his 11 month old son Dylan, reading "Daddy," was next to his coffin in the hearse, which was draped in the Welsh flag with his medals on top.

Corporal Paul Joszko - 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh  Lieutenant Colonel James Swift MBE, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh paid the following tribute to him: The death of any soldier, whether on operations or by accident is a tragic loss, but when three young men are killed in the same incident it amplifies the impact. Yesterday Corporal Paul Joszko, aged 28, from Mountain Ash in Wales, and two of his soldiers were killed by an insurgent's explosive device in the Mutashfa district of Basra. They were all professional soldiers doing their duty in the dangerous conditions that pervade in Iraq. They will be very sorely missed. Paul's company, B (Rorke's Drift) Company of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh, was assisting with the security for the move of a sustainment convoy from Basra Palace to the main British base in southern Iraq. These convoys are essential to maintain the force and they are by their very nature large and ponderous. Thus they require protection in depth and B Company was clearing the route ahead of the convoy when the bomb struck. Paul had dismounted with his men, leading from the front as normal. He was killed instantly. Paul was an excellent soldier; he was amongst the best of his generation. He was particularly strong in the field even as a private soldier, and he passed the Section Commanders Battle Course with ease. He had recently returned from training recruits in Catterick and was a very strong contender for promotion to sergeant. He had a cheerful, warm character and was loved by his men and respected by all those he met. He always looked scruffy, had a cheeky smile and a cigarette in his hand, but he never failed to deliver the goods. He had a wicked sense of humour and was always in the heart of any practical jokes. He was doggedly loyal, acutely professional and led his men firmly but also with style and enormous compassion. There was nothing complicated about him; he loved soldiering, looked after his men, and led by example. Being such a character and future star he was very well known across the Battalion and throughout his Battle Group in Iraq, 4th Battalion The Rifles, and he leaves behind a huge hole. Whilst in Iraq, Paul played a full part in the Company's tasks. He has successfully provided security for several sustainment convoys, he has been part of the cordon for strike operations, and he has helped to defend his base in the heart of Basra. On all these tasks he has been outstanding. He led his section superbly and they were always ready for what was asked of them. He anticipated both their needs and the intent of his superiors. His subordinates looked up to him, his peers sought his advice and his superiors respected his knowledge, professionalism and determination; they all liked him. He was a truly excellent Junior Non-Commissioned Officer; if only all soldiers were as good as he was and such a genuine pleasure to know. We were very lucky to share in Paul's life, his energy, his dynamism and his positive spirit, but at this terrible time our thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his parents Linda and David and his sister Maria. Tragically his son Dylan is nearly 11 months old, and his girlfriend Kayleigh is carrying their second child. Paul was a loving son and was, I am sure, an exceptional partner and father. He loved his job and he died serving his country. We are all devastated by his death and will miss him enormously. Corporal Joszko's Company Commander, Major Steve Webb, said: "Corporal Paul David Joszko, 'Josk', was one of the most professional soldiers and junior commanders I have had the privilege of serving with. He had a dedication to his role both as a soldier and as a leader of men that inspired confidence and he was deeply respected throughout the Company. It was this dedication that motivated him to volunteer to deploy early to Iraq in order that he could gain a deeper understanding of operations in time for the Company's deployment. He loved his job and was the epitome of what a Section Commander should be.  "It is difficult to fully understand the 'X' factor that Corporal Joszko brought to his Platoon and the Company. He was part of the glue that bonds any tight-knit organisation together, right at the heart of all things good, whether it be adapting and learning new skills or simply providing a positive outlook in difficult situations. He was a soldier's soldier. There was no 'other' side to him and he was acutely aware of the privilege of command and the burden of responsibility that came with it. He welcomed new soldiers into his platoon and ensured that they were fully integrated. It was because of this that he took it upon himself to train all new soldiers into theatre to make sure that they were prepared to deploy onto the streets. This training, as with all things he did, was calm, assured and infused confidence in those around him. He was also always cheerful and constructive. He was just like that. He didn't complain or whinge, he adapted and overcame, always bringing those for whom he bore responsibility with him. He coupled all this with a great sense of humour. He was genuinely funny with plenty of practical jokes – and yet it was always done in a positive, constructive way.  "Paul Joszko was also a family man, deeply committed to his girlfriend and son and keenly anticipating the next arrival to the Joszko clan. He often spoke of how much he was looking forward to the birth of his second child and he was clearly besotted with the family he already has.  "Corporal Paul Joszko was a valued member of his platoon and the Company. In addition to losing a fine soldier, the Company has lost one of the most genuine, honest and affable people I have met. His loss is tragic and deeply felt." His Company Sergeant-Major, Mark Kretzschmar, said: "Corporal Joszko was truly an outstanding soldier and Junior Non-Commissioned Officer. He always led from the front and was everything you would look for in a Junior Commander. He had few airs and graces and what you saw was what you got. He was loved and respected by all those who served with him. I had the honour to serve with him as a Platoon Sergeant and Company Sergeant-Major and you would not want a better man by your side." Captain Ed Wilcox, a former platoon commander, said:  "Paul was a streetwise and robust individual who genuinely enjoyed infantry soldiering in its most low-level form. Soldiering for him was all bund lines and fire positions; the Warrior Platoon really just being the means of delivery for him and his Section. He was a Warrior driver once upon a time but was loathe to admit it, as if that knowledge somehow diluted his dismounted expertise. He was at his happiest on exercise in Canada I think; endless Section attacks and a month of the camaraderie of his Section in the back of the Warrior. He was a talented soldier who led by example – and who was very happy when posted to depot to have the opportunity to train the next generation of dismounts in his own mould." Private Rhys Thomas said: "A professional team commander and also one of the boys. All the boys respected him and he always looked after the younger lads when they needed help."  Lance-Corporal 'Jock' Fowler (3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, attached to 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh) said: "His communication skills were second to none. He was a favourite among the boys from 6 Platoon not just because he was a magic ambassador for his Regiment but also because he was just very funny. My thoughts are with his girlfriend, son and family." Lance-Corporal 'Patsy' Palmer said: "He always had such a positive attitude. He was a friend, brother and father to me when I first joined the Battalion."

[ Lance Corporal Ryan Francis ]

Lance Corporal Ryan Francis 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh during was killed during a large scale operation in the early hours of the morning, Saturday 7 July 2007. LCpl Francis was killed when an Improvised Explosive Device detonated, just after midnight local time, against a Warrior patrol in the Tuninah district in the north of Basra.

Lieutenant Colonel James Swift MBE, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh, paid the following tribute: "Lance Corporal Ryan Francis, 23 from Llanelli, known as "Franky" by his friends, died instantly when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb attack in the Hay Al Mudhara district of Basra early on Saturday morning. He was part of a Brigade operation to defeat insurgents who had been attacking British and Iraqi security forces. Franky was in the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh and was based with their Battle Group just outside Basra. "Franky was the driver of a Warrior armoured fighting vehicle and a member of the Battle Group’s elite Recce Platoon. He was a professional, brave and committed soldier who was the heart and soul of his Platoon. He had a fantastic sense of humour and was always at the centre of fun. There is no doubt that the Recce Platoon will be a quieter place without him. He was genuine, honest, frank but always witty, and he was much liked and respected by all. "Franky had already had a challenging and interesting career. This was his third tour in Iraq. Last year he went to Canada for a long field training exercise at the Army’s premier facility called BATUS, where he was an integral part of the Sniper Platoon. He was then promoted to Lance Corporal on Battalion Christmas Day 2006 at lunch in front of the whole Battalion – a very proud moment for him. He happily accepted this extra responsibility, had an easy leadership style, and was developing into a very good junior leader. His strongest quality was that he was always a team player; he was the very centre of the team. "In Iraq this time he had been involved in almost all types of operation. His Platoon is one of the best in the Battle Group so it often finds itself with greater responsibility. Franky thrived on this and was keen to get stuck in. He escorted convoys in order to make sure other soldiers had food to eat, he conducted successful cordon and search operations to arrest insurgents and make Basra safer, and he deployed over 100km to provide protection for another part of the Battle Group coming home from a difficult trip. He was always helping others. "Franky will be sorely missed by his team, his Company and the Battalion. He will be fondly remembered and we will honour his example. He gave his life serving his country and helping his mates; there can be no greater testament to a man. All our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, especially his mother and father, and his girlfriend Joanne; our loss is their tragedy." Major Mark Williams, his Company Commander said: "Lance Corporal Ryan Lee Francis, ‘Franky’ to all who knew him, joined the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Wales in August 2003. A Llanelli man through and through and a proud Welshman, Franky served as a member of Sniper Platoon, deploying with A Company on Operation TELIC 10 as a Warrior driver. When he was killed Franky was deployed in Basra as part of a search and detention operation into the centre of the city. "An utterly genuine man with a strong and wicked sense of humour, Franky would always tell you what he felt in a way that would make you smile. He could always be relied upon to pick up morale when his Platoon was at its lowest. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and was always willing to lend a hand to a friend in need. He lived by a hard-working ethos, never shy of putting in the hours on the tank park. "His principal motivation for soldiering was being part of a team. He was a quiet young man who was transformed in the Platoon environment. Often the life and soul of the party, he was a generous and warm-hearted individual. He liked nothing more than the company of his peers and took a great deal of enjoyment from the camaraderie of soldiers. "He was also deceptively single-minded. When given a task he would pursue it relentlessly to the very best of his ability. Not loud or brash, he would quietly go about his business with the discipline to persevere and the motivation to succeed. He took real pride from being a soldier and was fiercely loyal. "An ardent follower of Liverpool FC, Franky would never miss an opportunity to watch them play or argue the merits of his favourite team with his friends. His other great passions were hip hop and R&B music, which all members of his Platoon had to listen to. "A devoted son to his mother and father, Franky was counting the days until he returned home. All our thoughts and sympathy go to his family in Llanelli and to his girlfriend, Joanne. He will be sorely missed." Captain Gareth Evans, his Platoon Commander said: "There is no way of replacing Franky. One of 3 (Recce) Platoon’s 'grafters', Franky never missed an opportunity to crack a joke, make us laugh and lift our spirits: we could really use him now. A tremendously friendly soldier, Franky was comfortable talking to anybody, regardless of rank. He was able to communicate the feelings of our platoon, couched in a humour that could not fail to amuse.  "A core member of our platoon, he will be sorely missed by all ranks. His infectious humour, honesty, integrity and friendship will be 3 Platoon’s lasting memories of Franky. Sadly, the Platoon will be a much quieter place without him. All of 3 Platoon’s thoughts are with his family and girlfriend back home." Lance Corporal Spencer 'Spence' Beynon said: "Where do I begin? 'Franky' was a legend in his own right. His manner and the way he came across were second to none. Funny, caring, understanding, loyal and always happy-go-lucky regardless of the situation, he would always raise a smile, and his character and personality were undoubtedly unique.  "Having known him outside of his professional life in the Regiment is something I will cherish. I am honoured to have been regarded as a friend, and friends are something that Franky had in abundance in Llanelli. I, like many, will truly miss him. As I said, there is only one word I can find that best describes "Franky"…. LEGEND." Lance Corporal Steven 'Wally' Walters said: "Franky was a great friend, like a brother to me. He was always one of the boys, always laughing and joking, lifting people's spirits without a care in the world. He had a tattoo on is arm "I shall fear no man but God" and that summed up the way he lived his life. I will miss him hugely." Lance Corporal Stuart 'Tom' Thomas said: "Franky was an amazing friend; he could always bring a smile to my face. He shared my passion for the gym, he would always push himself until he could do no more. I will miss the way we used to wind the boys up, and we could use that humour now. I miss him tremendously and am truly lost without him." Lance Corporal Neil 'Hughesy' Hughes said: "Franky was more than just a friend, he was someone I shared so much with. He was always there for me and always willing to help. When you'd least expect it he'd pop up with his character and charm, and turn frowns to smiles. He would always dedicate his time to making sure we were happy, even if it meant putting himself out. Franky was close to all our hearts, like a brother to me, and he will never be forgotten

[ Private Craig Barber ]

Private Craig Barber 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh killed in Iraq 8 Aug 2007 Private Barber, aged 20, was taking part in a night operation to counter indirect fire attacks on Basra Palace in the Al Fursi district of Basra City. He was driving a Warrior vehicle when he was killed by small arms fire at around 2320 hrs local time. Private Barber was from Ogmore Vale and joined 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh in 2004. He leaves behind his loving family, including his wife Donna and son Bradley. Lieutenant Colonel JFP Swift MBE, Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, paid the following tribute: "Craig joined the Battalion in 2004 and deployed to Iraq for the first time 12 months later; this was his second tour here. He was a dedicated soldier who was keen to deploy on operations in support of his mates, and earlier this year had qualified as a Team Medic in order that he was better able to do so. "He had also recently qualified as a Warrior driver and he had never been happier. It appeared that he had found his role. He loved his vehicle and looked after it diligently. He was fiercely protective of it and would never let anyone else drive it. Why? Because he understood how important a fully functioning vehicle is to operations in Basra, and that it was his responsibility. If it worked it would save lives; if it broke down he would be putting his mates' lives at risk. He was justifiably proud of the part he played in the Platoon and wanted to do it to the very best of his ability. This was characteristic of a man who was very professional, courageous and who never wanted to let his comrades down. "Craig had taken part in the whole spectrum of operations on this tour. He had patrolled by day meeting the locals in rural areas, he had secured cordons on detention and search operations, and he had helped escort convoys to sustain other soldiers in the Brigade. Last night Craig's company, C Company 2 Royal Welsh, was attached to the Basra City Battle Group for a detention operation. Their aim was to disrupt the insurgents who have been launching rockets and mortars at their base in Basra and thus increase the safety in the base. Craig died as he lived; working for others and helping to protect them. "Craig married Donna in August last year and was looking forward to their first anniversary; he had arranged his leave in order to be there. He was a caring, loving father to Bradley who turned three only last month. He has always been a physically imposing guy and had a larger than life personality. He was one of the characters in his platoon and was much liked by all his colleagues. We will miss him badly but our thoughts and prayers are with Donna, Bradley and Craig's other family as they cope with this tragedy." Private Barber's Company Commander, Major Steve Mannings, said: "Craig Barber first came to C Company in 2006 after recovering from a long term injury. He was keen to get himself back into the swing of soldiering and soon found himself learning to be a Warrior armoured vehicle driver in 9 Platoon. Driving a Warrior suited him to a tee - both shared the same characteristics, large, powerful and occasionally loud; it was sometimes difficult to tell where Craig ended and his Warrior began. He was a huge physical presence in his platoon but was the epitome of the gentle giant, always ready for a chat, always eager to please - he was an extremely popular young man. "He loved practical jokes, but was never malicious in their execution and never angry at being the victim of someone else's prank." "He was fully aware of the dangers of operating in Iraq; on his first operation into Basra, his Warrior was struck by a roadside bomb, yet he did not shy away from going on patrol. Some of his greatest battles in Iraq came from the environment rather than the enemy, he really didn't like the heat at all, but still could be found working on his vehicle to ensure it was ready for the next mission.  "He was heard to claim on more than one occasion that 'it's so hot, my eyes are sweating'! It is a measure of the man that Warrior drivers operate in the most cramped and hot conditions, yet this was his job and he drew great personal pride from it. He was very much a team player and would help out any of the other drivers whether as a favour or simply to improve his own knowledge. "Above all else, Craig was a dedicated family man. He was looking forward to his leave which he had managed to arrange to coincide with his first wedding anniversary. He talked often of Donna and Bradley and how much he enjoyed married life and was looking forwards to getting back to Tidworth. He loved practical jokes, but was never malicious in their execution and never angry at being the victim of someone else's prank.  "In many ways, he enjoyed being the centre of attention, but never hogged the limelight. He was in all respects a thoroughly decent man who enjoyed a laugh and loved his family and his mates. My abiding memory of him is seeing him sitting in Saddam Hussein's palace, a massive smile on his face, beating yet another hapless opponent at chess. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him and our thoughts and prayers are very much with Donna, Bradley and with the rest of Craig's family." 2nd Lieutenant Olly Pope, his Platoon Commander, said: "Private Craig Barber was a key member of 9 Platoon who had many friends. Always a gossip and joker, he tried hard to wind up those around him to keep his mates' morale high. Craig had an eye for card games and chess, and loved to confuse people with his tricks and riddles. He was also a devoted family man, who decorated his bed space with pictures of his wife and young boy and talked about them constantly. "He was one of the best Warrior drivers in the Platoon. Fiercely proud of his vehicle, he worked hard to maintain it and would not let others drive it. He especially liked driving fast and putting the vehicles through their paces. Craig will be greatly missed by the Platoon as he was a man who could be trusted to do his best by others and always bring a smile to people's faces." Corporal Glen Watts, Private Barber's room-mate, said: "Craig will be remembered to me as a gentle giant and someone who loved to put a smile on people's faces. He will be missed in the Platoon and also greatly missed as a room-mate." Private Luke Berni said: "One thing that Craig enjoyed doing was playing chess. He would always compete with someone and come back with a grin on his face knowing he had won." Private Niall Warren said: "Craig was a happy lively lad who cheered us all up when the times were tough. He will be sorely missed."