The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters

 


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The Wall plaque (Right) is placed in the Warrant Officers & Sergeants Mess, Mercian Regiment, Palace Barracks Holywood Northern Ireland, each bayonet is inscribed with the Name of the Soldier Killed in Action.


[ Lance Corporal Paul "Sandy" Sandford ]

Lance Corporal Paul "Sandy" Sandford from 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters killed in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, Wednesday 6 June 2007.

LCpl Sandford was killed at around 0645 (local time) while taking part in an offensive patrol with his company aimed at disrupting Taliban forces in the Upper Gereshk Valley area of Helmand Province, eight kilometres north east of the town of Gereshk.  The company was moving forward to clear a Taliban compound when they came under fire and LCpl Sandford was shot. He was taken to an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrol base. From there he was flown by helicopter to Camp Bastion for medical treatment where, sadly, he was pronounced dead on arrival. Lance Corporal Paul "Sandy" Sandford Lance Corporal Paul Sandford, aged 23, was born in Nottingham and joined 1WRF as a junior soldier in Chester in 2002 serving continuously with B Company. He saw overseas service with the Battalion in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan on Op Herrick 1 in 2004, Kenya, Belize and Canada. His intelligence, courage and confident leadership were apparent to all who met him. Already selected for promotion, LCpl Sandford was in the top of his peer group and had a bright future. LCpl Sandford volunteered to take part in the Regimental Inter-Company Boxing Competition in November 2006. He was instrumental in the team's strong performance, consistently punching above his weight and training and fighting hard. This was characteristic of the man, always leading from the front. He had been married a year and had recently celebrated his first wedding anniversary. He spoke to his friends of starting a family and was counting down the days when he would be home again with his wife.  Lieutenant Colonel Richard Westley MC, his Commanding Officer, said of LCpl Sandford: "LCpl Paul 'Sandy' Sandford was killed in action whilst fighting enemy forces in the Upper Gereshk Valley in Helmand Province. He has died as he had lived, fearlessly leading his men from the front. We have lost a good friend and an exceptional fighting man and we send our thoughts to his wife, Gaynor, and his family. Whilst the loss of LCpl Sandford weighs heavy on our hearts it strengthens our resolve to pursue our goals here and we strive to uphold the standards that he set and maintained."  Major Simon Butt, Officer Commanding B Company said: "LCpl Paul Sandford's death is a tragedy to his family and to B Coy. LCpl 'Sandy' Sandford was enormously popular amongst the Coy and our loss will be keenest felt amongst his Section and Platoon where he stood tall and was full of life. Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Gaynor and his family at this difficult hour. "All who met him knew him to be a brave and highly professional soldier who had earned the respect of those who fought alongside him. Nothing can replace this loss, Sandy has made his mark on our lives and will never be forgotten."  Captain Jeff Lee, Boxing Officer said: "LCpl Sandford showed his professionalism, grit and determination not just on the battlefield but also whilst boxing for B Coy, memorably in the Inter Unit Finals. He became a focal point for the Company training programme and helped in numerous ways to bring others on. "He was a robust and enthusiastic figure, who befittingly used his JNCO qualities to assist his team in their fitness and technical preparation. He demonstrated his resolve when he made the Bantamweight finals, he was an example to all, exuding confidence, courage and determination."  Fellow soldier and friend, Private Kieron Braggington, 6 Platoon, B Company said: "Sandy was an excellent NCO and a good lad, always up for a laugh, if there was a joke to be played he was in on it. He could be trusted, always somebody you could talk to in confidence. It never mattered how upset he was, he always had a smile. He was morale for all of the blokes. He is irreplaceable and will be sorely missed."


[ Drummer Thomas Wright ]

Drummer Thomas Wright, aged 21, from the 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment, Killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 24 June 2007.

Drummer Wright was died at around 1000hrs local time, roughly six kilometres outside of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province. His armoured 'Snatch' land rover was escorting a military team surveying the site for a new road project linking several Afghan villages in the Babaji area when it was caught in an explosion. Four other soldiers were also injured in the explosion and they are currently receiving medical treatment for their injuries at the ISAF hospital at Camp Bastion.

Drummer Wright's dedication, courage and professionalism were all of the highest measure. He was a young but outstanding and committed soldier. Drummer Wright's natural ability, zeal and motivation marked him out as a soldier who had a long and rewarding career ahead of him. He had clear potential to reach the highest ranks. Drummer Wright was a true team player in all sports; he had recently trained and competed in the Regimental Inter-Company boxing competition where with skill, aggression and accuracy, he had battled through to the finals. Born on 2 November 1985 and from Ripley, Derbyshire, Drummer Wright joined his local Infantry Battalion with his mates from school. They were the soldiers who served alongside him throughout, and who were alongside him when he was tragically killed. "‘Wrighty’ was larger than life, loud, outrageous, quirky, a joker and inspirational. Widely respected and admired he was a key member of a tightly knit company. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, girlfriend and mates in this difficult hour."

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Westley MC, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, said: "Drummer Wright stood tall within the Company such was his character, skill and ability. He will be best known for his razor sharp wit, numerous tattoos, quirky dress sense and practical jokes. Never shy in coming forward, always in the thick of the action, either in the boxing ring or in the field, on parades or in the block, he was a true regimental character who can never be replaced. "Drummer Wright was part of a patrol that was delivering Civil and Military Aid to needy people in remote districts when he was killed. He was a talented young soldier who was an accomplished musician, a determined boxer and, first and foremost, one of my fighting men. The tragedy is deepened in that he was killed by people from an area that he and his colleagues were protecting and developing, through the provision of security and reconstruction. "His courage and professionalism serve as a reminder of the commitment of young soldiers across Afghanistan, who set a fine example to the Armies of the World and to whom society owes a huge debt. 'Wrighty' died in the service of his country, defending a foreign land with vigour, valour and vigilance and it is a terrible blow to us all that he will not make the trip home with us. My sincere condolences go to his family, girlfriend and his many friends in the Battalion. This is a dreadful loss." Major Paul 'Shove' Gilby said: "'Wrighty' was larger than life, loud, outrageous, quirky, a joker and inspirational. Widely respected and admired he was a key member of a tightly knit company. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, girlfriend and mates in this difficult hour. The loss of Wrighty is a horrendous blow to all that knew him; nothing can replace the gap that he now leaves. He will always remain in our thoughts, lives and never be forgotten." "His memory will forever be remembered within the Battalion, but in particular within the Corps of Drums, an extremely close-knit platoon. Today we have lost a friend, a colleague, and a piece of our heart. God bless you mate." Drum Major Bryn Knowles 

The Officer Commanding Drummer Wright's Company, Major Max Wray, said: "Drummer Wright was an outstanding character. Highly professional and totally committed, he was an exceptional soldier who inspired everyone around him. A strong team player who gave his all to those around him, Drummer Wright's infectious enthusiasm and brilliant sense of humour will be sorely missed. It was a privilege to know him." Colour Sergeant Gaz Singleton, who served with him, said: "Drummer Wright was an upstanding soldier in leadership and skills. His professionalism was without question and he was an example to us all. His humour was unique and always lifted the morale of the troops. He was a friend to all and will be sorely missed by his friends, colleagues and all in the unit." Drum Major Bryn Knowles said: "Drummer Thomas 'Wrighty' Wright joined the Corps of Drums in Chester in 2004. From the moment he joined the Platoon he showed natural aptitude for the role of a drummer; smart, plenty of tattoos and a very strange sense of humour. Wrighty was immensely likeable and was one of the lynch pins of the Corps of Drums. "Whatever he did, he carried himself with pride and confidence, and as such became a natural drummer carrying out public duties at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. He was incredibly fit and motivated, which he showed in abundance at the Battalion Boxing Night, when he fought another drummer and his best friend, Drummer Farrell. "His memory will forever be remembered within the Battalion, but in particular within the Corps of Drums, an extremely close-knit platoon. Today we have lost a friend, a colleague, and a piece of our heart. God bless you mate." Drummer Wright's close friend, Lance Corporal Les Barker, said: "'Wrighty', words can not describe this soldier. As a friend he was a cheerful person, always laughing, joking and professional in every way. He loved the Army, always striving to be better than everyone else- if there was a ragging or joke being played, he was always in the middle of it. He will be sorely missed by all of his mates."


[ Captain Sean Dolan  ]

Captain Sean Dolan of the 1st Battalion, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment killed as a result of a mortar round in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Saturday 30 June 2007. Captain Dolan was taking part in an operation aimed at maintaining the pressure on the Taliban - focusing on the Sangin Valley area. He was acting as a Liaison Officer between the battalion and a joint US Task Force and Afghan National Army operation. Captain Sean Dolan, 1st Battalion, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters (29th/45th of Foot)

Captain Sean Dolan was described as the finest of his generation by the Ministry of Defence after he was killed in Afghanistan was laid to rest with full military honours. Captain Sean Dolan, an avid Wolves fan, was laid to rest as the Molineux anthem Hi Ho Silver Lining played out at Chester Cathedral. His coffin arrived at the gates of the cathedral just before 11am. It was draped in a Union Jack and carrying his regimental cap and belt. His coffin was carried into the cathedral by his brother Andy, 17-year-old son Ashley and members of his regiment, the 1st Battalion, the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.

Captain Dolan, and the forces that he was attached to, were observing a substantial force of Taliban fighters from the edge of a vantage point, when they came under fire from Taliban mortars. The first mortar round severely wounded Captain Dolan and a US soldier. Both were medically evacuated to ISAF medical facilities at Camp Bastion where Captain Dolan was pronounced dead on arrival by medical staff. Captain Sean Dolan was born in 1966 and joined the Army in 1985 as a Junior Leader, his leadership qualities having been identified from the early age of 16.  Captain Dolan had a long and illustrious career serving on multiple tours of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, as well as serving in the USA, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Kenya and Belize. This was his second tour of Afghanistan. It was during his tour of South Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1994 that he was awarded a Mention in Dispatches. At the time he was a Platoon Sergeant operating from a military observation post. His platoon came under mortar attack and, rather than take cover, he reported what he saw over the radio and guided other patrols to the mortar firing point. This led to the arrest of a number of terrorist suspects. Captain Dolan was undoubtedly regarded by all who had the honour of serving with him as the finest soldier of his generation. He had recently been awarded a Meritorious Service Medal (MSM), a unique award in that it is given by gift of the Army to a selected soldier who has performed good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service with conduct judged to be irreproachable. Captain Dolan, known as 'Dollar' during his Warrant Officer and Senior Non Commissioned Officer career, spent the majority of his career as a member of the Battalion's Reconnaissance Platoon (Recce Pl). The Recce Pl is the Battalion's senior platoon and in order to join its ranks, the Battalion's best soldiers undertake an annual arduous selection cadre.  He joined the platoon as a Private soldier in 1985 and finished his time in the Platoon in 2002 as the Reconnaissance Platoon Second in Command, holding the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. This period was broken only by his selection to instruct at the Platoon Commanders' Division as a Colour Sergeant, training new officers. Many an officer will testify to being considerably better for having been under his wing. Captain Dolan was selected for a commission from the ranks after serving as the Regimental Sergeant Major in the 1st Battalion, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment. He was commissioned in April 2006 and ably undertook the appointments of both Families Officer and Regimental Careers Management Officer.  Despite being a 40-year-old Late Entry (LE) Officer, Captain Dolan would not allow his LE fraternity to convince him that it was now time for his pipe and slippers - as they had jokingly tried to only weeks ago. He was a highly capable, multi-talented soldier and an exceptional LE Officer from the outset, hugely respected across a number of generations and across the spectrum of ranks. He was married in 1988 to his wife 'Mitch' (Michaline) and has one son, Ashley. Captain Dolan was a devoted and private family man, he was particularly proud that his son was due to start university this September. Originally from the West Midlands, his family established their home in Chester where the Battalion were previously based. Captain Dolan was, and his family subsequently became, massive Wolverhampton Wanderers fans. On his last day as a Warrant Officer - before he commissioned from Regimental Sergeant Major to Officer - his peers played him a video message from Wolves Manager and former England player Paul Ince. They had arranged for Mr Ince to send Captain Dolan a personal video message and a signed team shirt to congratulate him on his achievement.  Captain Dolan had recently returned from a short work visit to the UK, managing to spend a couple of days with his family.  Lieutenant Colonel Richard Westley MC, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment, said: "Captain Sean Dolan was killed in action whilst carrying out his duties as a liaison officer to US Forces in Hyderabad, Upper Gereshk Valley on 30 June 2007. This is simply the biggest blow that I have suffered in 23 years service and I know that all ranks of 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment and all that knew Sean, will be feeling the same.  "He was the complete man and an unsurpassed military talent. Strong, intelligent and immensely fit, he was the consummate professional and had a work ethic that served as a model for everyone who was privileged enough to serve with him.  "As my Regimental Sergeant Major he was invaluable and a source of support and advice; as my Regimental Career Management Officer he was wise, committed and innovative; as my friend he was irreplaceable. He was genuinely loved and respected throughout the Battalion. Officers, Warrant Officers and the youngest soldiers alike looked up to him and sought his approval.  "Our hearts go out to Mitch and Ashley, for whom he was the world and indomitable. The rest of us can only remember with pride the finest soldier and best bloke we had ever met. If ever anyone in our generation was the epitome of the Worcester Forester, FIRM to the end, it was Sean Dolan. A great man and so sorely missed." Major Gary Cotterill, Quartermaster Main, 1st Battalion, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment said: "Sean was in my section when I was a Section Commander, throughout his career he was nothing but professional, his glittering career speaks for itself. He always wanted to do nothing else but soldiering. "He died doing what he loved. He was a good friend to so many people, a funny guy, I'm absolutely gutted."  Warrant Officer Class 1 Neil Cresswell, Regimental Sergeant Major, 1st Battalion, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment said:  "It is hard to express in a few short words the immense loss that will be felt by the Battalion and myself at the loss of a great soldier, mentor and friend. "He was a thoroughly professional and diligent soldier throughout and my thoughts and condolences go out to Mitch, Ashley and his family with the reassurance that he died doing what he loved. We will all miss him." "I have had the honour and privilege to have served with Capt Sean Dolan from private soldier to Regimental Sergeant Major over a span of 23 years in many theatres, much of this time serving with him in the Reconnaissance Platoon. Sean would always offer advice and guidance to both myself and others which is why the role as Regimental Careers Management Officer was so well suited to him. Cpl Nigel Cope, Capt Dolan's Driver and Gunner in Bosnia 1996, said:  "Captain Dolan could be dogmatic, doing something tomorrow was never good enough - it had to be done today. He didn't do this to mess us around, he did it because he was a professional.  "He wasn't fazed by anything, always thought things through, never rushed into making a rash decision. You had to understand his sense of humour, he was a funny man. I served with him for 17 years, he will be sorely missed." Capt Dolan's brother, Andrew, paid the following tribute to him:  "We all lost something exceptional as a result of Sean's tragic death. Our mother and father have lost a special son, I and my sister have lost a brother, but to me he was more than that, he was my best friend. Our loss is painful enough, but my heart and feelings are more so for his wife Mitch and their son Ashley. "Sean had two families, the Army and his personal life, and those close to him knew that. Mitch and Ashley always knew how much they meant to him. It is tragic that Sean will never get to see his son Ashley start at university in September, but we know that Ashley will succeed in what he does, that will be his dad Sean coming out in him. I know how proud Sean was of you Ashley and how much he loved you and your mom Mitch. That love was always reciprocated by you both and I know how proud you were to have a dad like Sean."


 

On Saturday 1 September 2007 a new Regiment entered the order of battle of the British Army. That Regiment is THE MERCIAN REGIMENT and was formed by the merger of all regular and territorial elements of three (historically four) famous Infantry Regiments: The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment and The Staffordshire Regiment.

 

The new Regiment comprises three regular battalions, based on the three existing Regiments and a Territorial Battalion which draws together all of their affiliated Territorial Army companies. Thus 1 MERCIAN is based on The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment, 2 MERCIAN on The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment and 3 MERCIAN on The Staffordshire Regiment. The Territorial Battalion, 4 MERCIAN with its headquarters in Wolverhampton and companies in Birmingham, Widnes, Mansfield, Crewe, Shrewsbury and Burton on Trent. There are also independent platoons in Stockport, Stoke, Wolverhampton and Kidderminster. The Army Cadets and Combined Cadet Forces affiliated to the present Regiments will re-badge to become Mercians.  The Heart of England's Infantry From the lands between the three great rivers ... SEVERN, MERSEY and TRENT


Private Damian Wright and Private Ben Ford ( below right) who were killed in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on Wednesday 5 September 2007.

[ Private Damian Wright ]

[ Private Ben Ford  ]

Private Damian Wright ... Above Left The soldiers, both from "The 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment" (Worcesters and Foresters), were taking part in a routine reassurance patrol 17 kilometres north of Lashkar Gah when, shortly after 9.15am local time, the WMIK Landrover vehicle they were travelling in was caught in an explosion. Sadly they were both pronounced dead at the scene. Another soldier and an interpreter who were injured in the explosion were flown by helicopter to the ISAF medical facility at Camp Bastion for treatment. The interpreter later died of his injuries. Private Ben Ford and Private Damian Wright are the first fatalities from the newly formed 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), formerly known as the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th of Foot). Private Damian Wright Private Damian Wright, aged 23 from Mansfield, joined the Army on 13 November 2002, and completed his training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick before joining C Company, 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters on 2 June 2003, whilst it was stationed in Chester. During his time with the Battalion he served in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 1 and Bosnia. He also took part in exercises in Kenya, Belize and Cyprus. Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters) said: "Private Wright was one of the key characters in our Battalion. Full of life, a natural comedian and a man guaranteed to lift the spirits of the most down hearted. He was devoted to his son, Joshua, and our thoughts are with him at this desperate time. Private Wright will not be forgotten by anyone who had the pleasure and privilege of meeting him." Major Paul "Shove" Gilby Officer Commanding C Company said: "Private Damian "Wrighty" Wright was a proud Mansfield lad who joined his local Infantry Battalion, The 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment. He joined for adventure, travel and excitement and served in Cyprus, Belize and Kenya. He saw active service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and was on his second tour in Afghanistan.  "Small in stature but mighty in character, spirit and life, he was never far from the action, jokes or dramas. He embraced all customs of the Assault Pioneer Platoon with delight and was at his best on a Thursday night out! His main love of his life was his 4 year old son Joshua, who our heart goes out to at this hour. His other key passions, which he will always be remembered for are his addiction to his X BOX, PSP, a good smoke and his cars. "Quick witted, able and professional he had already been selected to attend promotional courses where he would have excelled as usual. He was a true soldier, fit, determined, able and keen. Always ready to stand ‘FIRM’ and be counted, he was a young man who could be relied on in the tightest of situations and will never be forgotten by those who loved him, worked with him and fought with him. God bless." Second Lieutenant Jack Bellfield, his Platoon Commander said: "As the senior soldier in my platoon, Wrighty could be trusted to get the job done. His experience occasionally gave him a sarcastic edge which I will miss greatly. As a role model to younger soldiers, a huge gap will be left which will be difficult to replace."  Private Jack Hawksley, his friend said: "Wright was a loyal friend whose lively nature shone through everything he did. His son Josh was the light of his life and his fatherly role within the platoon will be missed. He was a constant source of advice for all newcomers and his lack of expressed opinion will leave a void for us all."


[ Private Ben Ford, ]

Private Ben Ford, aged 18 from Chesterfield, joined the Army on 29 July 2005, and completed his training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick before arriving at the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment on 20 February 2006, in Hounslow, West London.

During his time with the Battalion he conducted public duties and pre-deployment training for the current operational tour. This was his first overseas deployment with the Army. Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) said: "Private Ford was a tremendous young soldier. Fit and enthusiastic, hardworking and committed to his comrades and a career in the Army. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten by all those who had the honour to serve alongside him." Major Paul "Shove" Gilby, Officer Commanding C Company said: "Private Ben "Fordy" Ford joined his local regiment the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters in July 2005 in his home town, Chesterfield. A proud "Chessie Boy" he served alongside his school friends, New bold mates and Midland lads. This was his first operational tour of duty in Afghanistan and one that he relished. He was proud to be member of a close knit team, company and family regiment. "Young on paper, at the age of only 18; however in life he was mature beyond his years in attitude, bearing and ability. On initial impressions he could come across as a quiet individual but to those who knew him, he had a keen sense of humour and was always willing to get stuck into the action. He proved this by volunteering to compete in the Battalion boxing competition where he fought with skill, style and dogged determination.  "With his pale skin and fair hair he always battled to avoid sunburn in the scorching heat of Afghanistan but would generally end up looking like a lolly pop. Forever on his mobile phone in Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow, he was a friend to all with a constant smile and always up for the crack and practical jokes. Fordy’s main passions were driving, games, big beers and boxing. "The lines and company are quiet with thoughts and prayers for Fordy who will be missed for his professional attitude and practical jokes. A close friend to some, a great lad to many, he will not be forgotten. God Bless."  Second Lieutenant Jack Bellfield, his Platoon Commander said: "Ben was a very capable member of my platoon who had the ability to go a long way in the Army. Due to his age he had bounds of enthusiasm for anything the platoon embarked on and this quality will be missed by everybody who served with him." Private Scott Barber, a close friend said: "I first met Private Ben "Fordy" Ford when we returned from Cyprus in March 2006. We all went out for a drink and we've been mates ever since. At weekends we would go out around the town in Chesterfield and almost instantly all my mates were Fordy's mates, he was such a likeable bloke. He was always up for a laugh, the life and soul of any party. "My thoughts are with his family and girlfriend Tasha at this sad time. Fordy was a close friend and a career soldier in a job he loved, he will be missed by me and all that knew him." Private Michael Verney, also a good friend, said: "Fordy was a constant source of morale and the instigator of all platoon pranks. As one of the younger blokes in the platoon his fun loving personality along with his ambition and determination made him a friend who will be greatly missed." Private Ford's family said: "We are immensely proud of our son and know that he lost his life doing something he was proud to be a part of and that he loved".


Sergeant Craig Brelsford MC and Private Johan Botha, both from The 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), in Afghanistan on Saturday 8 September 2007. Sergeant Craig Brelsford (posthumous) MC was awarded a posthumous  Military Cross

[ Sergeant Craig Brelsford ]

[ Military Cross ]

A number of other soldiers were also injured in the incident, two are in a serious condition. Sergeant Brelsford ( posthumous) MC and Private Botha were taking part in a pre-planned operation to disrupt Taliban activity, south of Garmsir, southern Helmand Province, when their patrol was attacked by enemy fighters shortly after 0045 hours local time. Sadly Sergeant Brelsford ( posthumous) MC and Private Botha were both killed during the subsequent heavy firefight to repel the enemy. A number of Taliban were also killed.

Sergeant Craig Brelsford (posthumous) MC of A (Grenadier) Company, 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), was born on 16 September 1981; he was days away from his 26th birthday. From Nottingham, he was enlisted into the Army on 6 April 1999 and joined 1st Battalion, Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters (29th/45th of Foot), just as the Battalion deployed to Omagh, Northern Ireland, in December of the same year. Sergeant Brelsford (posthumous) MC, served in Northern Ireland on three operational tours and had previously served in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 1 in 2004. Additionally he had deployed with his Battalion to Belize (on two occasions) and Kenya on arduous exercises.

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Sergeant Craig Brelsford (posthumous) MC was a hugely popular man and a superb senior non-commissioned officer; fit, strong and robust, he led from the front. It is unsurprising that he fell while attempting to rescue wounded soldiers under enemy fire. Junior soldiers were inspired by him and aspired to follow the example he set. He was assured a bright future and had an enormous amount of potential. His death is keenly felt across the Battalion. He will be sorely missed." Major Jamie Nowell, Officer Commanding A (Grenadier) Company, said: "Sergeant Craig Brelsford (posthumous) MC served as a Platoon Sergeant in No 3 Platoon and was a rising star in the Regiment. Despite his relative youth he was incredibly talented and possessed potential and maturity beyond his years. Sergeant Brelsford (posthumous) MC was one of the most dedicated, professional and highly focused Infantry commanders I have been privileged to work with. He died maintaining the incredibly high standards he lived for and protecting his soldiers' lives – his troops always came first. "Charismatic, intelligent, tough and robust; Sergeant Brelsford ( posthumous) MC was the perfect Infantry commander. I am convinced that if he had been given the opportunity to choreograph his own death it would not have been dissimilar to the heroic circumstances in which he died. Sergeant Brelsford was killed in action attacking a well defended Taliban position in an attempt to protect and evacuate his wounded comrades. He repeatedly fought through tenacious enemy fire to extract casualties and was hit on his final attack to find Private Botha, also killed in action, who had fallen behind enemy lines - this exceptionally courageous act of bravery and selfless commitment personified the character of Sergeant Brelsford. "Sergeant Brelsford was not only the consummate professional, he was extremely popular with a friendly, outgoing and mischievous sense of humour which endeared him to everyone. He was idolised by his troops and held in high esteem by his peers. The loss of Sergeant Brelsford is a deep wound to his Company and the wider Battalion. He will be missed by all of us and forgotten by none – it will take some considerable time for the wounds and sense of loss to heal. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends who have lost an exceptional young man." Company Sergeant Major Pete Lewis, A (Grenadier) Company, said: "'Brels' arrived in the Company a year ago and took over 3 Platoon where he immediately stamped his authority and leadership style on the Platoon, turning it into an excellent team. From the first time I met Sergeant Brelsford he was a pillar to me and somebody I could trust and rely on. In the field he was second to none; one of the best soldiers I have had the honour of working with. There will be a void in the Company where he stood, alongside his soldiers to the end. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten." Lieutenant Simon Cupples and Second Lieutenant Andy Bell, his Platoon Commanders, said: "Sergeant Brelsford was an extremely professional soldier. He was respected and liked a great deal by the Platoon – something which is not an easy task for a Platoon Sergeant considering the nature of the job. His impressive rise through the ranks and the wealth of knowledge he possessed were reflected in his actions on the ground throughout the tour. His sense of humour led to a natural rapport with everyone he met. Throughout the whole tour Sergeant Brelsford, time and time again, demonstrated calm and considered leadership under pressure and incredible bravery in the face of the enemy. The night he died was no exception to this. "His death has left a huge gap in both his Platoon and Company and he will be remembered not only for how he served his Platoon, but also as a friend and talented military commander."  Corporal Rocco Zecca, Section Commander and close friend, said: "I first met Sgt Brelsford when I arrived at the Battalion and he was placed in my Platoon. He had arrived five days before me which basically made us the 'new blokes'. "As a soldier Sergeant Brelsford was very well respected because, despite having only served eight years in the Army, he was recognised as a flyer. He had managed to promote quickly and the amount of courses he had completed in his eight years far exceeded what most would accomplish in their full twenty two. Sergeant Brelsford will always be remembered by 3 Platoon for being a great leader of men as well as a true friend." Private Paul Bood and Private Samuel Murray, soldiers in Sergeant Brelsford's Platoon, said: "Sergeant Brelsford will be missed by us all, as he was an excellent Platoon Sergeant and a great friend to everyone. He was a funny man and we will all miss his stories, especially the one about the 'armpit'. His death has hit us all in many different ways. He will be missed not just by the Platoon but by everyone who knew him. He will always be in our hearts and minds."


Private Johan Botha of A (Grenadier) Company, 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), was born in South Africa and enlisted in his home country on 8 June 2005. From Pretoria, he joined 1st Battalion, Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th of Foot), in January 2006. This was his first operational deployment and his first deployment overseas with the Army. Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Private Botha was a mountain of a man; fit, strong and robust. He was a model soldier and a proud citizen of South Africa. A keen and talented rugby player, he was eagerly looking forward to this rugby world cup. Devoted to his wife and young daughter; our thoughts are with them at this terrible time." Major Jamie Nowell, Officer Commanding A (Grenadier) Company, said: "Private Botha was the archetypal South African – incredibly proud, strong, tough, robust and an excellent soldier. His natural talent for soldiering was obvious and I would have difficulty picturing him working in any other environment. On the flip side he was a devoted family man; the strong bond and sense of responsibility he held for his wife and daughter were humbling. Private Botha was fortunate enough to have two important families; the one he left at home and missed each and every day – and the one he lived and fought with in Afghanistan. He made incredible sacrifices for each of these family units and fought for them both with passion, pride and devotion. "Private Botha was killed in action at the very front of an intense battle on the Taliban front line in southern Afghanistan. He had been amidst tenacious fighting on many occasions and was a courageous and brave soldier. He provided support and example to the younger soldiers around him; especially under fire where his calm, professional leadership and aggressive, robust response to enemy action were a testament to his character. "Private Botha died as a soldier fighting with his friends. The loss of such a fine soldier, friend and colleague will live with the Company forever – he will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, daughter and family at this time of intense loss." Lieutenant Simon Cupples, his Platoon Commander, said: "Private Botha was a larger than life character. With a physically dominating frame and a loud personality he always had a presence wherever he was. He was a confident soldier who helped and guided the younger soldiers. Private Botha was South African and had moved to the UK with his wife four years ago. He joined the Battalion in September 2005 and soon became one of the main characters in the Platoon. He had a real passion for soldiering and nothing would faze him. He was looking forward to the Battalion moving to Northern Ireland as that would allow him more time for training, sport and family after two years of public duties. I had also just recommended him for a junior commander's cadre as it was clear that he was ready for promotion after his exceptional performance on operations. "Private Botha's performance had been excellent throughout this tour. He always worked hard and was never afraid to get into a fight with the enemy. He was also a devoted family man and constantly thought and spoke of his wife and daughter back home. It was clear that even though he loved his job, they were the main priority in his life. He died a true soldier and our hearts are with his wife and baby girl." Private Kevin Latham, friend and colleague, said: "Private Botha was a well loved and energetic man who loved his family, his mates, his job and his South African heritage. Private Botha died the way a true soldier should. Our section was engaged heavily by an enemy position with intense and accurate fire used to pin us down. In the thick of this was Private Botha ... Private Botha was injured and he went to ground. He continued to fight, although he was very seriously injured and despite his severe injuries he was still able to engage the enemy until the very end, ensuring the safety of all his mates. That's what Private Botha was like, always up for the scrap. Private Botha leaves behind a wife, a daughter and his mates. He will always be with us and his family in spirit and will never be forgotten." Private Kyle Smith, friend and colleague, said: "Private Botha was a hard working, professional bloke who always set a great example to his younger peers. He was a character that everyone respected and also loved. He would put his friends first in any situation. There will be so much that will be missed about Private Botha but he will never be forgotten."


Colour Sergeant Phillip Newman of 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment and Private Brian Tunnicliffe of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) died in a tragic accident in southern Afghanistan on Thursday 20 September 2007.

Both soldiers were deployed on Operation Palk Wahel with A (Grenadier) Company 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) and were conducting an essential re-supply during a pause in the fighting. 

[ Colour Sergeant Phillip Newman ]

They were travelling in a Pinzgauer 4X4, 5km south west of their patrol base in an area north of Gereshk, on their way to a rendezvous point as part of a two vehicle replenishment patrol. The vehicle over-turned and tragically landed on its roof in an irrigation channel. One other passenger was able to escape without injury. Despite all of the efforts of the patrol, a medical officer, engineers and a quick reaction force who were on the scene within minutes, sadly Colour Sergeant Newman and Private Tunnicliffe were unable to be saved.

Colour Sergeant Phillip Newman, aged 36, enlisted into the Territorial Army in Coventry in August 1994 as a member of the 5th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, later to become the West Midlands Regiment, and as of 1st September 2007, 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment. Throughout his Territorial Army career, Colour Sergeant Newman showed true commitment to operations having deployed to Afghanistan previously and Iraq on a further occasion in support of the regular Army. Due to his natural talent and hard work, he rose quickly through the ranks and became a formidable Colour Sergeant who was an outstanding model for the current day Territorial Army soldier

Colour Sergeant Newman volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan and had previously served with 1st Battalion, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (now 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment) on Operation HERRICK 1 in 2004/5 as an operations senior non commissioned officer and watch keeper. He had recently requested to stay with the Battalion for the next two years on a full time reserve service contract. He was going to be employed as Officer Commanding Machine Gun Platoon, an area where he had a specific expertise. Whilst on Op HERRICK 6, he was employed once again as an operations senior non commissioned officer and assisted with the Company Quarter Master Sergeant party. He had recently returned from a demanding deployment with A (Grenadier) Company to Garmsir in southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  Colour Sergeant Newman will be sorely missed by both his regular and Territorial Army colleagues and will be remembered as a professional, dedicated soldier and loving family man. His loss will be immeasurable for the Army but his love of the job and the love and pride he showed for his family should never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with his wife Stephanie and his children Mackenzie, Josh and Tia at this very difficult time. Commanding Officer – 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Yardley said: "Colour Sergeant Phillip Newman joined 5th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in August 1994 at his local Territorial Army centre and was extremely proud of his Fusilier heritage. He was a mainstay of the West Midlands Regiment, later 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment. Phillip was a highly experienced and professional member of the Territorial Army having served in Afghanistan on two previous occasions in support of the regular Army and also in Iraq with a Territorial Army company comprised of soldiers from the West Midlands area. Using his knowledge and leadership he provided a strong role model for many young Territorial soldiers who were experiencing operations for the first time. Phillip volunteered again to deploy to Afghanistan and it was during this deployment that he was tragically killed.  "As a member of the Territorial Army he was well known throughout all ranks of the Battalion as a larger than life character and his thirst for adventure was infectious for so many of those who were close to him. Phillip touched many people's lives, here and abroad; he personified all that was good in a soldier, he led from the front and protected those who could not protect themselves. A tragic loss, but far from a wasted life, I, like so many people who served with Phillip feel extremely privileged to have known him. This hugely experienced and popular soldier will be missed by all ranks of this Battalion and also the wider Mercian Regiment which he served so well. He will be remembered as a professional, dedicated soldier and loving family man. His loss will be immeasurable for the Army but his love of the job and the love and pride he showed for his family should never be forgotten.  "Phillip was a dedicated family man; he took great pride in his children's achievements and was devoted to Stephanie, his wife. It is Stephanie and his three children Mackenzie, Josh and Tia that our thoughts and prayers are with at this difficult time." Permanent Staff Administration Officer A (Fusilier) Company - 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment, Captain Steve Hopkinson said: "Colour Sergeant Phil Newman was a first class, staunch Fusilier who wore the hackle with pride and was admired by all in A (Fusilier) Company. A veteran of four operational tours he provided knowledge, experience and realism into all aspects of Territorial Army life. A colleague, a confidant and great friend, I will miss his sense of humour and his outlook on life. A man who placed family first, he will be sadly missed. A true Fusilier!" Colleague and friend, Sergeant Billy Henry 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment said: "Colour Sergeant Phil Newman, a professional, dedicated soldier respected by all who knew him, Phil served for 13 years in the Territorial Army as a part of 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and West Midlands Regiment. He also undertook full time reserve service operational tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq in his time. A harder working or dedicated senior non commissioned officer you could not find. I served with Phil during training, Recce platoon and Sustained Fire platoon 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and as a part of A (Fusilier) Company, West Midlands Regiment. He was a close genuine friend, with a great sense of humour and a loving family man he will be sorely missed by all who knew him." Colour Sergeant Newman's wife, Stephanie said: "Phil was a loving husband and a brilliant father of three to Josh, 12, Mackenzie, 11, and Tia, 8. He took great pride in all of his achievements. His great sense of humour made the most of any situation. We are very proud of him. He died doing what he loved and we will all miss him very much."


[ Private Brian Tunnicliffe ]

Private Brian Tunnicliffe, aged 33, from Ilkeston, was enlisted into the Army in Derby and commenced his training at the Army Training Regiment Lichfield followed by the Infantry Training Centre Catterick in January 1997. He arrived at the Battalion in the summer of 1997, whilst it was based in Tidworth. He deployed soon after to Bosnia in 1998. He later deployed to Omagh, Northern Ireland in 2000 for a two year residential tour of duty and again to South Armagh in 2003. Additionally he had deployed to Belize and Kenya and exercised on HMS Nottingham.  As a senior Private soldier, Private Tunnicliffe had been employed in various roles over the last 10 years. He spent most of his career as a store man in A (Grenadier) Company, assisting many an Officer Commanding and Company Quarter Master Sergeant. His varied other tasks included a spell as Ram Orderly to Private Derby, the Regiment's Swalesdale Derbyshire Ram mascot. Private Derby too was thankful for the companionship, never had he been exercised so much or cared for so diligently. More recently Private Tunnicliffe was employed in the motor transport platoon. Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton said: "'Private 'Tunny' Tunnicliffe was a true Regimental character known to every officer and soldier alike who has served with the Battalion over the past decade. He would always go the extra mile, ensuring those around him were looked after, whether it be his Company Commander or the soldiers in the Company. All he ever wanted was to make others happy; a thank you and pat on the back was always sufficient reward.  "As soldiers past and present will testify, there isn't a single man who has served in 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters/ 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) who won't have a collection of 'Tunnicliffe stories'. Private Tunnicliffe reflected the archetypal county infantryman, fiercely loyal to his regiment and his friends. A truly big hearted Ilkeston man through and through, our lives are darker now that his bright light has gone out."  Captain Adrian Garrett – Adjutant 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) said: "Private Tunnicliffe was one of the first soldiers that I met when I joined the Battalion. As the Company store man he always gave 100 % effort to the guys deploying onto the ground. His natural strength was renowned, although in true contrast you would never meet a warmer spirited individual with always a kind word. All Worcesters and Foresters, past and present have lost a close friend." Captain Richard (Fred) Slaney - Quarter Master (Technical) 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) said: "Never afraid of hard work, Private Tunnicliffe would always get stuck in and offer a lending hand no matter what the task. He had two sides; on one side he was as strong as an ox, he could dig a trench and have brews on in no time. On the other side he loved baking cakes which he would proudly share with the lads, quite clearly he was very popular within the motor transport platoon. A real lively character who was full of chat, he will be truly missed."  Sergeant Brian Burgess - Motor Transport Platoon Sergeant 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) said: "Private Tunnicliffe was as strong as an ox, with a large heart to match. He went out of his way to help you, all he wanted was praise. Everyone knew 'Tunni', his character and that familiar voice." Private Tunnicliffe's wife, Lindsey said: "Beloved Husband and Best Friend. Loved the Army, always reliable and the worst cook in the world. We'll miss you "Tunni""


[ Lance Corporal Kieron Hill ]

Lance Corporal Kieron Hill from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) was killed in Afghanistan on 28 May 2009. Lance Corporal Hill died as a result of an explosion that happened whilst on a deliberate operation near Garmsir in Helmand province.

Lance Corporal Kieron Hill, aged 20, was born in Nottingham where he grew up, attending Fairham College in Clifton. He was single with no children.  After completing infantry basic training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick he joined C Company, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), in 2006 at the age of 17. He was true to his roots by being an ardent Nottingham Forest Football Club fan and true to his regiment with the pride he displayed in being a Mercian soldier. He started his Army career in the Army Cadet Force where his larger than life character will be remembered by more than most; the story goes that the map and compass room was named after him! On arrival in the battalion, LCpl Hill deployed to Belize for a jungle training exercise in preparation for the Operation HERRICK 6 deployment to Helmand province. That deployment was a true test for all members of the battalion and it was a tour in which LCpl Hill distinguished himself. Shortly after the tour he attended and passed the Assault Pioneers Course followed by the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' Cadre to achieve promotion to Lance Corporal. This was after an unusually short time which is testament to the ability of a relatively junior soldier. He was a very keen footballer who was regularly chosen to be in the company and battalion teams. Operation HERRICK 10 has seen the battalion deployed in the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team role, which seeks to build the capability of the Afghan National Army by living, working and fighting alongside the Afghan Army Warriors. Soldiers are part of eight-man teams living in isolated locations in austere conditions. This requires a mental toughness which LCpl Hill had in spades; he was a true leader in the making. He always volunteered to deploy on operations and felt disappointed to be left in the patrol base. Most of all 'Hilly's' sense of humour will be missed; true to the nature of a British Army soldier he would often play jokes on his mates. LCpl Kieron Hill will be remembered by all as a brave and tough soldier who was a pleasure and inspiration to work with. He was an all-rounder who had everything required for a promising career in the true traditions of the British Army.

 

[ LCpl Hill ]

The family of LCpl Hill said: "We are fully supportive of Kieron being in the Army; fulfilling his ambitions since 13 years of age. He confidently thrived on the military environment, hitting his first promotion target as a 20-year-old. "He was also very proud of his three brothers; Aaron at Nottingham Forest FC, Liam at Notts County, and his younger brother Joshua. Kieron will be terribly missed by his whole family, relatives and friends."

Kieron's uncle Graham Boam said: "He was always my hero and now he's everyone's hero. I'll miss him so much."

Kieron's mum Vicki Holmes said: "He was a soldier through and through. "He got promoted from private at 19 and he was being watched for higher things."  Hundreds of mourners lined the city streets to pay a final salute to Kieron,

Speaking before his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, Kieron said: "You're always conscious of dying but it's your job - if a situation happens there is nothing you can do about it."

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, his Commanding Officer, said: "Kieron Hill was a charming and funny man. He was always ready with a joke and his sense of fun was irrepressible. His twin passions were the Mercian Regiment and Nottingham Forest Football Club. "He was a talented sportsman and played football to a high standard. He was exceptionally fit, strong and capable and destined for a life in uniform. He was an Army Cadet and exceptionally proud of being from Nottinghamshire and of serving his country; his family were in turn wonderfully proud of the path he had taken and the example he set to others. "Whenever someone needed help Kieron would be there to lend a hand; he was a team player and thought of others before himself. "This was his second tour of Afghanistan and it is a measure of the man that despite a hard fought tour in 2007 he went forward again with a smile on his face and a hand extended to help his brothers. He is sorely missed." Major Bob Moorhouse, Officer Commanding C Company, said of him: "I was aware of LCpl Hill before I took over command of C Company; that is how strong his reputation was. As a soldier, his sheer motivation was enough to overcome the challenges that a Junior NCO [Non-Commissioned Officer] faces every day; however, he possessed so many more qualities. "He was professional, knowledgeable and commanded respect from every level. LCpl Hill would have gone far in the Mercian Regiment. As a comrade, he was the one that kept everybody smiling and where no job was too much trouble. "With so many characters in C Company it is difficult to stand out from the crowd; LCpl Hill achieved this with ease. "Although we are spread across a number of locations in Helmand province, every man from C Company will be thinking fondly of LCpl Hill's smile tonight and will be back out on patrol tomorrow hoping to emulate a fine Junior NCO and an even finer friend." Warrant Officer Class 2 (CSM) Nobby Clark, Company Sergeant Major, C Company, said of him: "LCpl Hill was one of the finest Junior NCOs in C Company. Always with a smile on his face, he was one of the most popular members of the company. His enthusiasm and likeable nature made him a real character within a tight-knit team. I, like many others, will miss him dearly and our thoughts are with his family at this tragic time." Colour Sergeant Ben Cox, Company Quartermaster Sergeant, C Company, said of him: "LCpl Hill was a fantastic soldier who loved his job and his family. He always was a very smart soldier who always had a smile on his face. He will be truly missed by his company, but never forgotten." Corporal Rigley, Section Commander C Company, said of him: "LCpl Hill will always be remembered for his distinctive laugh, smile and joy. I had worked with him on HERRICK 6. He had high aspirations and could always be counted on to raise the morale within the team. "He was the envy of the team for receiving endless amounts of mail and parcels from his loved ones. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him." His Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Commander, Lieutenant Henry Stow, said of him: "LCpl Hill was a larger than life character with an infectious sense of humour. He was a soldier who took great pride in his work, never shunning his responsibilities. "Although young, having just turned 20, he was an experienced soldier with two tours of Afghanistan behind him. His maturity beyond his years was an example to those around him and the soldiers under his guidance always looked at him intently. "It has been an honour and a privilege to have a dedicated and fun loving soldier on my team and he will be greatly missed by all that had the privilege of knowing him." His Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Sergeant Major, Darren Aley, said of him: "LCpl Kieron Hill was a fit, young Junior NCO with lots of potential. He had the respect of all ranks and would never shy away from carrying out his job as a mentor. A keen footballer and an avid fan of Nottingham Forrest. He will be sorely missed. Stand fast the City Ground!" His friend, Acting Sergeant David Bates, said: "LCpl Kieron Hill was part of my platoon on HERRICK 6, he was one of the younger lads in the platoon but always willing to do anything you asked of him. On more than a few occasions his age and willingness to fight went hand-in-hand. "We were in a compound when the enemy attacked at night. One of the lads got to the firing post first but 'Hilly' stood at the base of the ladder exclaiming that it was his gun and he wanted to fire it. "When we came home we went to a Forest game and were able to go on the pitch. He went mad and tried to jump the crowd until one of the lads got hold of him." One of his mentoring team members, Corporal David Wilson, said: "LCpl Kieron Hill was a key part of our team. He was always at the front when needed, never shy to go out on the ground, always volunteering to be on an operation. He felt cheated to have stayed behind to man the patrol base. "He was a keen Forest fan and had a wicked sense of humour. He managed to get hold of a water pistol and decided that it would be funny to squirt me in the ear for the next half-an-hour. "He was a good person and a good soldier. He will be a great loss to all his civilian and military friends who knew him." A good friend, Private Clamp, said of him: "LCpl Hill was not only a good soldier but a very good friend; he was always up for a laugh and a joke. He fitted right in with the company boys and we enjoyed many nights out. 'Hilly' was the best friend a man could ask for, I will miss you mate, I will never forget you."


Lance Corporal David Dennis (Top Left) from The Light Dragoons and Private Robert Laws (Top Right) from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment were killed in Afghanistan on 4 July 2009. Both soldiers died in separate incidents while taking part in Operation PANCHAI PALANG, an operation involving around 3,000 soldiers, to improve security in the area north of Lashkar Gah, clear the Babaji and Malgir areas of insurgents and restore government control before the national elections. Lance Corporal Dennis was killed by a contact explosion from an improvised explosive device whilst on foot. Private Laws was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Private Robert Laws, aged 18, joined 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) [2 MERCIAN] during Op HERRICK 10. His basic training started at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, which prepares young men for the rigours of the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick. After completing the Combat Infantryman's Course in March of this year he passed off the square at Catterick and deployed to Helmand province to join B Company. Known to friends as Robbie, Private Laws was killed alongside his mates in B Company while they were operating under command of The Light Dragoons Battle Group during Operation PANCHAI PALANG.

Thanks to the "Sun Newspaper" for the two photos below

Private Laws, from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, was a popular member of his platoon during training and achieved 'Best Shot' on the Light Machine Gun. When Robbie arrived at 2 MERCIAN he quickly became known for his mischievous sense of humour and a cheeky wit which endeared him well to his Platoon Sergeant. To undertake basic training and be on the front line in Afghanistan within a year is a tremendous undertaking, especially for someone who is 18 years old. Private Laws rose to this challenge by embracing all the best qualities of being a soldier: ability to adapt and learn; strength of character; and determination.

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Robbie only joined 2 MERCIAN (Worcesters and Foresters) a very short time ago but had already begun to make his mark. He was excited and eager to deploy to Afghanistan and this only a few days after his 18th birthday. "He was a warm and cheerful young man who mucked in when there was work to be done and quickly made friends. Robbie's falling has taken a good soldier from us; a man who was not afraid to move forward, endure hardship, and he had the courage to fight the enemy alongside his brothers. "Robbie died alongside his mates in B Company, 2 MERCIAN, and his death has rocked them - they will hold him in their hearts as they fight on. The entire regiment's prayers are with Robbie's family who are devastated by his loss."

Private Laws' family issued the following statement: "The parents and close family are immensely proud of their popular and loving son. They would like to thank all their friends for their loving support at this very difficult time." Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair, Commanding Officer, The Light Dragoons Battle Group, said: "Private Laws had only been in the Battle Group a short time, but had already made an impression on his company as a bright, keen and enthusiastic soldier. He died going forward, taking the fight to the enemy and helping to free the local population from the tyranny of the insurgents. His loss is felt deeply through the whole Battle Group, and we will ensure that he is not forgotten." Sergeant Major Paul Muckle, the B Company Sergeant Major, said: "Private Robbie Laws joined B Company on the front line south of Garmsir, a town in Helmand province. From the outset he settled well into the platoon and became known for his mischievous sense of humour. Robbie showed great potential during his short time with B Company. My thoughts go out to his family and friends at this very sad and difficult time." Major Richard Johnson, Officer Commanding Anzio Company, Infantry Training Centre Catterick, said: "Private Laws developed noticeably throughout his time with Anzio Company. Although initially of a quiet nature he became popular and influential with his platoon as his ability developed. Excelling in shooting for a soldier of a slight build, he was commended for achieving the award of 'Best Shot' on the Light Machine Gun. "Private Laws was the epitome of a recruit whose heart was set on a military path. It was a childhood dream that he  could see developing steadily in front of him; he achieved his ambition of joining his chosen battalion. He is remembered by all the military and civilian staff within Anzio Company for his quiet but determined nature." Private Daniel Eaglesfield, fellow MERCIAN soldier from battalion and recruit training, said: "Private Robert 'Robbie' Laws and I both joined the 2 MERCIAN after completing training at Army Training Regiment, Harrogate, and the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick. We deployed on Op HERRICK 10 on 11th May both not knowing quite what to expect. Robbie enjoyed his snooker and swimming. "We used to talk a lot about our girlfriends back at home and how much we loved them; he was planning to take his girlfriend to Paris when the tour was over. "Robbie was like a brother to me and we always looked out for each other, we shared many stories and laughter together. I will never forget the smile he always had on his face. Robbie, you were a pleasure to train and work alongside and I am proud to say you were my friend. My heart goes out to your family, friends and that beautiful girlfriend of yours. May you rest in peace Robert Laws." Private Jacob Cherry, fellow MERCIAN soldier and friend from training, said: "I first met Robbie when we were both at Army Foundation College, Harrogate. Our friendship grew even closer when we found out we were going to the same regiment and then the same battalion. "Robbie was a great person to be around and certainly one of a kind. As we progressed through training we ended up in the same section and the same room. In the ten weeks we spent together there was some easy times and some hard times, but we overcame them. Robbie used to make the section laugh; whether it was him sleeping all the time, his giddy sense of humour or his random taste in music. "As our time finished at Catterick we moved on to join the battalion. Robert and I, together with another close friend  Daniel, bonded as three in a huge way. We had some fun times and we were good mates and he will be deeply missed. I send my deepest sympathies to his family and friends at home. I am very sorry." Trooper Curtis Clifton, a childhood friend serving with The Light Dragoons, said: "I remember when Robbie was seven years old. He was stood in the school playground by himself, a small shy lad reading a book. We became very good friends. We did everything together. We decided to join our local swimming team at the age of 13 and from then on you could see that he was a talented swimmer. "At the age of 16 we both went to the Army Foundation Centre in Harrogate and went on a trip to Malta with the army swimming team. My best memory of him has to be when we both brought Hallowe'en masks and went around Sliema in Malta asking people for pictures with them. Robbie was a true friend. He would always put his family and friends before himself even if that meant him going without or getting himself into trouble."


[ Private Jason George Williams ]

Private Jason George Williams from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday 8 August 2009. Private Williams was killed following an explosion while on patrol just east of Gereshk in Helmand province on Saturday afternoon. On the day of his death, Private Williams' platoon was securing the site of an attack which had occurred earlier that day during which three Afghan National Army Warriors were killed.

Private Jason Williams, aged 23 from Worcester, joined 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) [2 MERCIAN] in November 2008 after completing the Combat Infantryman's Course at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick. He deployed to Afghanistan with A (Grenadier) Company of 2 MERCIAN on Op HERRICK 10. The company operates with The Light Dragoons Battle Group. His platoon is detached with C Squadron of The Light Dragoons working with the Danish Battle Group. In Helmand province Private Williams' platoon has operated from Forward Operating Base (FOB) Keenan at Zumbelay in the Upper Gereshk Valley. The platoon plays a crucial role providing security to the local population, enabling the reconstruction and redevelopment of the area. Private Williams played his part to the full, deploying daily on routine security patrols and taking part in many deliberate offensive operations to rout insurgents operating in the local area. These operations were carried out with the threat of improvised explosive devices and ambushes ever present. Private Williams and his platoon patrolled and fought alongside a platoon of Warriors of the Afghan National Army (ANA) who share the FOB. It was commonplace that they would be fighting side-by-side in their joint efforts to build the ANA's fighting capability and provide security to the people. They fought as brothers and as equals. On the day of his death, Private Williams' platoon was securing the site of an attack which had occurred earlier that day during which three ANA Warriors were killed. One of the three ANA dead could not be found and Private Williams' platoon was securing the area in order to prevent insurgents seizing his corpse. During this security operation Private Williams initiated an improvised explosive device and was killed. Private Williams' family said in a statement: "Jason was a loving and caring son and brother. The Army gave him a sense of purpose and enthusiasm for life which stretched beyond the boundaries of his work. We are so proud of Jason and we will miss him every day." Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "No task or mission was too great for Jason and any request for help would be met by 'Yes, Boss' and a broad smile. He remained cheerful in spite of any hardship. During his short time in the Army Jason had been part of so much and his actions have made a tangible difference to the Afghan people of Zumbelay. "For his selfless sacrifice, ANA Warriors now refer to Jason as a hero." "On the day he died Jason was taking part in an action which adhered to every soldier's oldest code: leave no man behind. His brave determination and commitment to his brothers-in-arms ensured that the Afghan Warriors family are able to pay their proper respects to their own fallen son. "Pte Jason Williams turned up to A Company at the start of pre-deployment training for Afghanistan. He had an eagerness and enthusiastic approach to the Army. No matter what he did he always had a smile on his face. He loved socialising around his hometown of Worcester, and was always keen to share his tales of his nights out with other members of the company. "He was part of 2 Platoon, A (Grenadier) Company, based at FOB Keenan. He quickly adapted to this new challenge and was an important part of the team. He was well liked and proved to be a very popular member of the company. "He was a constant source of morale and always lifted the spirits of others, no matter what the situation was. He died doing the job he loved and he was killed while helping in the recovery of other casualties. He will be sorely missed and will always be remembered. "He was a true Grenadier and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends throughout this very difficult time." Major Sam Plant, Officer Commanding C Squadron Group, Light Dragoons, said: "In Pte Jason Williams, the FOB Keenan team has lost a true star - he was an all-rounder. What was most striking was the high regard in which he was held by his peers and seniors alike. "As a soldier, he was forward-leaning and dynamic and he showed a depth of understanding of the bigger picture in Afghanistan that belied his relative lack of experience. This maturity and intelligence helped him undertake tasks, both exciting and mundane, with equal determination and an unquenchable desire to succeed. "He was also a great friend and support to everyone. His cheerful and positive approach to life was infectious and he quickly became central to the morale of his platoon. Pte Williams was synonymous with laugher and happiness. "Pte Williams was a shining star with an exceptionally bright future. He was a natural soldier and a leader of the future, possessing intelligence, common sense, team spirit and courage in abundance. "His untimely death leaves a hole that will never be filled but we have great memories that will always make us smile. It was a privilege for all of us in FOB Keenan to have worked with him and to have been his friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time." Warrant Officer Class 2 Rich Page, A Company Sergeant Major, said: "I will always remember Pte Williams as having a smiling face and a beaming smile through our build-up training no matter how wet, how cold or how arduous the task was at the time. "I will miss our Sunday night chats returning to Belfast as we usually returned on the same flight. My thoughts and heartfelt sorrow go to his family, friends and fellow Grenadiers. We will miss you greatly." Lieutenant Duncan Hadland, his Platoon Commander, said: "Pte Jason Williams joined 2 Platoon, A Company, in November 2008. From the moment he joined us his amazing cheerfulness and friendliness stood out. He had no problems settling in, helped greatly by his huge character and good nature - the fact that it was impossible to put him in a bad mood became evident early on. "In addition to his outstanding personality Pte Williams was also an excellent soldier who could be relied upon totally. He never said no to any task and would always perform any job, no matter how mundane, with an ever-present smile on his face. "More impressive than this though was the manner in which he managed to pass this enthusiasm on to others who may not have been as keen on the job as him! He was relatively inexperienced but I was more than happy that he would have made the grade as a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer [JNCO] and I was ready to put him on the first available JNCO Cadre after the tour." Corporal Jason Birch, a Section Commander in 2 Platoon, said: "Pte Williams was an outstanding soldier. Always up for a challenge whatever that would be. You could never ask anything more from Pte Williams; he would put 100% into everything. He brought morale to the platoon and section - every section would benefit from a Pte Williams, never without a smile on his face. You will be enormously missed. "Always remembered, never forgotten." Lance Corporal Glenn Swann, 2 Platoon, said: "These are just a few words about a very good comrade but most of all a very good friend. Jason Williams was an outstanding friend, always smiling, always laughing and always joking. However, when it came to doing his job, he took it very seriously and professionally. "A silent thought, A daily tear, A constant wish that your smile was here, An empty space that only your humour could fill, We miss you so much and always will. Always remembered, never forgotten." Trooper Bull, and Privates Browne, Birch and King, friends in 2 Section, said: "Pte Williams may be gone but he can never be forgotten. When in his company you would instantly feel happier and his personality would win over any bad day. 2 Platoon has lost a good soldier but an even better friend. "This message is from all of 2 Section, 2 Platoon - Pte Williams' section. We can't find any words to describe what Pte Williams was like. He was a self-confessed 'happy chappy'. He was the section's morale, keeping us cheerful all of the time. "When we were down, he was always the first one to pick us up. We cannot remember any occasions when Williams was feeling down or unhappy because he always had a smile on his face. We will all miss you and you will always be in our hearts no matter what. May your soul rest in peace. "From all your close mates in 2 Section." Private Dominic Carraher, 2 Platoon, said: "Jason Williams, the 'daddy of us all', was one of the nicest men you could ever meet. In the whole time I have known him, I have never seen him down or distraught because he was too busy keeping everyone else happy. He had one of those smiles that would make you smile no matter where you were or what you were doing. "We used to have little arguments about who was best at volleyball even though we were both shocking! Williams was one of those people who had a good presence about them and someone who you could look up to and tell anything. The things I will always remember Pte Williams for are his constant happiness in all situations and that he was always so kind and generous to everyone he met. I will never forget him as long as I live. He is a true hero. "Here's what Pte Williams wrote on one of the FOB Keenan sangar walls - 'A man is not finished when he is defeated. A man is finished when he quits!'" Private Aron Davis, 2 Platoon, said: "Williams was the best type of friend. He made you feel good no matter what. He would always be smiling and you could not help but smile with him. He didn't have a bad bone in his body - a top bloke and he would go out of his way to help if he could. "He was always up for a laugh and that's what made Williams, Williams. Nobody ever had a bad word to say against him; he was part of the Worcester Gang and I will always remember him for the soldier he was and an absolutely great friend." Private Jason Fletcher, 2 Platoon, said: "Pte Williams was a good friend of mine. We first met in Catterick whilst we were enjoying a conversation about the weekend ahead. Williams and myself were both from Worcester and lived very close by, with just a row of houses between us. "Although Williams was a few weeks ahead of me in training, we regularly saw each other in the smoking shelter and laughed and joked about that day's training. Every time I saw Jason, there would be an awesome smile on his face whilst nodding his head and grinning. I always knew that we were about to have a funny conversation. "Jason was definitely a future NCO [Non-Commissioned Officer] and many of us knew him as a hardworking caring person. He would always laugh and joke and he would never turn away when I asked for advice. He would always be prepared to help everyone as much as he possibly could. "Pte Williams. Gone but not forgotten and will always be in our minds and in our hearts."


[ Private Gavin Elliott ]

Private Gavin Elliott of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 3 September 2009. Private Elliott was operating with The Light Dragoons Battle Group when he died as a result of a gunshot wound sustained whilst on a foot patrol in Babaji district, central Helmand province. On the day he lost his life, Private Elliott was in his familiar position as point man on a clearance operation when his call sign came under close quarter attack from insurgents. Private Elliott was shot and fatally wounded. Despite the best efforts of his platoon to quickly extract him from the scene for subsequent evacuation by helicopter, the injuries were too severe and he passed away en route to hospital. Private Gavin Elliott joined A (Grenadier) Company, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters), in October 2007 after attending basic training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick. Having been voted 'Soldiers' Soldier' by his peers, he was honoured with a sailing trip around the Canary Islands for this worthy achievement. Private Elliott joined the battalion whilst on public duties in Hounslow before moving to Northern Ireland. It was from Belfast that he deployed to Jamaica on Exercise Rum Punch where he earned his spurs as a Mercian soldier in the testing jungle environment. After moving to B Company he began build-up training for the battalion's deployment to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 10, attached to The Light Dragoons Battle Group. Private Elliott was known as 'Billy' Elliott to his mates across the battalion with whom he shared many good times. He was renowned for always being the first one on the dance floor and always up for a laugh; but when it came to the business of being a soldier he would always stoically work hard for his comrades. Just as he was known during basic training, he was known in the battalion for all the traits that distinguish a thoroughly professional soldier. During their tour of Afghanistan, B Company were instrumental in all major operations, in particular Operation PANTHER'S CLAW. Private Elliott found himself tested by some of the fiercest fighting the British have experienced since deploying to Helmand province. In every respect this tested the mettle and bravery of everyone involved and Private Elliott in every respect remained the soldiers' soldier. He regularly insisted on going ‘point man' to act as the eyes and ears of the patrol and always took the lead in the search for improvised explosive devices. More than any other, in spite of the relentless and harsh climatic conditions of the Green Zone, Private Elliott would lie on his stomach tenaciously carrying out nervous fingertip searches of the dust and dirt, uncovering countless numbers of these malicious explosive devices buried in the ground. His bravery was an inspiration. Private Elliott lived by the phrase 'Learn from yesterday; Live for today; Hope for tomorrow'. Born on 30 October 1989, in Woodsetts, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, Private Elliott had a younger brother, Joshua, and older sister, Rebecca. He spoke of his family very fondly and regularly travelled home from Northern Ireland to spend time with them. He leaves behind his mother and father, Jayne and James, as well as brother and sister Joshua and Rebecca. Private Elliott's family paid the following tribute: "Gavin was a much loved son, grandson, brother, nephew and friend. For all those who knew Gavin, there will be a void that will never be filled. In our  eyes, Gavin was a hero and the best son and soldier we could have ever wished for. Quite simply, Gavin, we love you and we will never forget you."

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (2 MERCIAN), said: "The austere conditions in which soldiers in Helmand live and work are enough to test the resolve of any man; to endure these conditions with the zest for life and good humour for which Gavin was known are testament to a great man and a great soldier. Gavin was professional, hardworking and a man in whom you had the utmost confidence. He never shied from danger and in the fiercest of battles you took comfort from knowing he was with you, side-by-side, and sharing the danger. "Gavin was developing as a leader of men and I have no doubt he had a successful career ahead of him. The British Army is lucky that men of Gavin's calibre are among us. We will miss him greatly but our loss is nothing to the devastation of his family. Stand easy brother, your duty is done." Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair, Commanding Officer of The Light Dragoons Battle Group, said: "Private Elliott was the epitome of a professional soldier. Quiet, hardworking and loyal, he was an asset to his Platoon, Company and the Battle Group. Despite being a junior soldier, he possessed both maturity and intuition; characteristics that were both appreciated and respected by those who were lucky enough to be in his company. Throughout Op PANCHAI PALANG, he never waned in the face of the enemy; as a underslung grenade launcher gunner and point man, he knew the risks which came with that role and yet never complained, simply cracking on with the task at hand, demonstrating his bravery, courage and skill to the end. "The Battle Group is less for the loss of this remarkable young soldier and his memory will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends and members of his platoon at this very difficult time." Major Jez Jerome, Officer Commanding B Company, said: "Gav Elliott was one of the brightest stars in B Company. He was universally liked and respected by all. His ability and pride in his own professionalism were clear to all those who met him. He was the kind of soldier you enjoy having under your command and I will remember him fondly. His professionalism was exemplary and will endure in the company as we enter the last phase of our tour. "It was evident to all that Gav was especially proud of what he achieved whilst in Afghanistan and his personal achievements and growth during the tour were a privilege to witness. All of the company's thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time, he will be missed by all. We, as the men of B Company, 2 MERCIAN, are proud to have known him and are proud to count him as a brother soldier." Platoon Commander, Captain Johnny Paulin, said: "Gav Elliott was, without exception, the most professional private soldier that I have had the privilege to command in my six years of Army service. His enthusiasm proved infectious throughout the deployment. He was loved by all his comrades and his sense of humour and positive attitude made him a pleasure to work alongside. I have no doubt that some of his actions saved the lives of his comrades over the recent months. His loss is a significant blow to the company and the battalion. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family and friends. Company Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Muckle, said: "In my 16 years of service I have never met a soldier like Private Gavin Elliott; professional to the last, always smiling and never backing down from the tasks he was set. He was a real character who lifted the sprits of people around him. He will be very sadly missed but never forgotten. Mine and the thoughts and prayers of B Company go out to his family and friends at this difficult time. RIP." Platoon Sergeant Adam Townsend said: "Private Gav Elliott - also known as 'Steve' (due to looking like a pirate after Op PANTHER'S CLAW with his bandana on and a beard) - was a pleasure to work with. He was always up for the task ahead of him and thought of others before himself. When the chips were down, he would always volunteer to be point man without a moan and carry out the duty to a high standard, finding a number of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] which saved many lives within my platoon and B Company. I am going to miss Gav greatly due to his professionalism. Gav had the potential to make a great leader of men." Section Commander, Corporal Mark Ingram, said: "Gav Elliott was a quality lad. He would constantly put himself forward and always did more than his share of the work. Always showing a good sense of humour, I never heard him moan or complain ever. Everyone loved him for the all round quality bloke he was. He would get on with everyone; no-one had a bad word to say about him. He was the best worker within the platoon and would keep the morale of the other blokes always on a high. He will be sadly missed." Private Adam Rollinson, Private Ben Smith and Private Daniel Holgate, 5 Platoon, B Company, 2 MERCIAN, said: "Gav, our comrade, but most importantly our good friend will be missed but never forgotten by all of his friends he served so well with. A keen bloke, he never backed down from any challenge given to him. When other people were down he would always be smiling, lifting others around him. We always felt safe having Gav lead us no matter where we were or what was happening around us and we will all still feel safe knowing he is still watching over us. In our hearts forever."


[ Acting Sergeant Michael Lockett MC ]

Acting Sergeant Michael Lockett MC, of 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) was killed in Afghanistan on Monday 21 September 2009. Acting Sergeant Lockett was on a dismounted patrol near Patrol Base SANDFORD in the Gereshk district of Helmand province when an explosion detonated, killing him before he could be extracted to hospital. He was investigating and confirming the find of an Improvised Explosive Device when it exploded. Two other soldiers were injured in the same incident. Acting Sergeant Michael Lockett, from Monifieth in Angus, joined 1st Battalion the Worcester and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (1 WFR) in Tidworth in 1996. The WFR became 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) in 2007. Sergeant Lockett took part in every operational deployment and exercise the Battalion undertook; he served in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, and in 2009 he returned for his third tour of Afghanistan. At Garmsir in 2007, as Platoon Sergeant in A (Grenadier) Company he displayed selfless commitment and unshakable bravery fighting and leading his Platoon to rescue wounded comrades trapped in a Taleban ambush. For his actions that night he received one of the nation's highest awards for gallantry, The Military Cross. He spent the large majority of his career as a Machine Gunner but he held many other qualifications including Jungle Warfare Instructor and Military Tracking Instructor. His deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 was as part of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Battlegroup. He was working and operating alongside the Warriors of the Afghan National Army at Patrol Base Sandford in the Upper Gereshk Valley. His professionalism set the finest example to the Afghan Warriors. He was an inspirational leader. Locky, as he was known to his friends, will always be remembered for his infectious laugh and prominence as a man. His leadership style was the exact mix of compassion and steel which garnered the respect of both those he led and those he served. He was nearing the end of his tour when he died. He volunteered to stay on at his patrol base to ensure that the incoming soldiers knew as much as they could about the local area and they could reap the benefits of his vast local knowledge. Leading men and setting an example was a familiar position for Sergeant Lockett, he died doing a job he loved and he earned the highest respect from all those who knew and worked with him. Sergeant Lockett leaves behind his children Connor (eight), Chloe (seven) and Courtney (five), family, and his girlfriend Belinda.

His Girlfriend, Belinda English, said:  "For Queen and Country".

 

His parents, Mal and April paid the following tribute: "We are immensely proud of Mike - he was everything that we could ever have wanted in a son and was a devoted father to Connor, Chloe and Courtney. He was always positive, and always seemed larger than life. "Words simply cannot express what he meant to his close and wider family and his many friends. His passing has left a huge void in all our lives that can never be filled. We can only take solace in the fact that he died doing a job that he was born to do with his 'boys' in 2 MERCIAN Regiment. "He would want us all to celebrate his life by remembering the many good times, with a cold beer, broad smile and looking forward to the future."

[ Sergeant Lockett ]

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "The Mercian Regiment has lost one of its brightest and its best, and a true hero. Sergeant Lockett MC was one of the most impressive soldiers I have ever met. "He maintained consistently high standards and was a brave man, no stranger to battle. In 2007 at Garmsir, Southern Helmand, he fought with immense distinction during a fierce battle to save soldiers cut-off in a devastating Taleban ambush; for his actions that night he was awarded the Military Cross. Locky was a natural leader in whatever situation he found himself and was admired for his commitment and selfless behaviour. "In every aspect of his military bearing he set an example that others would wish to match: fit, smart, intelligent, compassionate and brave. He was a loving family man and we pray that his family take comfort from knowing the exceptionally high esteem in which Sergeant Lockett MC was held by all that had the honour to serve alongside him. We miss him desperately and there is now a gap in our ranks that will be so very difficult to fill." Major Bob Moorhouse - Officer Commanding C Company, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "It is always humbling to meet someone who has been honoured for gallantry, but to be given the opportunity to serve alongside such a person is a privilege. "I was afforded that privilege with Sergeant Lockett MC. Soldiering came naturally to Sergeant Lockett and he made it look easy. Not only did he possess a strong understanding of his profession but he was also a superb exponent; every man in C Company, from Private to Major, benefited from watching him operate. "In command he was unflappable and retained a strong grip in the most difficult circumstances; during one of our final exercises before deploying to Afghanistan the Exercise Controllers tried relentlessly to overload Sergeant Lockett but failed miserably. "It is not a cliché to say that Sergeant Lockett lived and worked on the edge. It was an approach that did not always pay off and there were setbacks however he treated these as mere hurdles rather than impenetrable walls. Sergeant Lockett was destined to succeed; he was too good not to. "Sergeant Lockett's raw bravery and selflessness cost him his life but undoubtedly saved that of one his soldiers. He didn't have to be the man at the front but that was the Lockett way. "In this, the most difficult of times, I hope his family and loved ones draw some comfort from knowing that he died serving those he commanded and remains an inspiration for those that follow in his footsteps." Major Andy Clark - Officer Commanding Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Gereshk, The Parachute Regiment, said: "Locky was the epitome of a professional soldier. The winner of the MC during Operation HERRICK 6, he was a modest man who was truly at home on operations. "A courageous and natural leader, he was an inspiration to his small Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team and the Afghan National Army alike. His standards were impeccable and his support to his commanders was unquestionable. "At the time of his death Locky was on a ground orientation foot patrol in the vicinity of Patrol Base SANDFORD in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand Province. "He was mentoring the newly arrived Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team from 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment ensuring they were set up for success. During the patrol a number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) were discovered and it was during routine confirmation drills that Sergeant Lockett was mortally wounded. "It has been a great honour to have commanded Sergeant Lockett for the past six months. With less than two days remaining at Patrol Base SANDFORD before the completion of the handover, Locky continued to soldier right up to the very end - he died doing what he loved and did best. "He was a Sergeant destined to become an instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he will be missed by all of my team. "All ranks within my Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and young children at this very difficult time. We are all proud to have known and served with him." Major Ed Gaffney, Officer Commanding AMBER 91,  Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team, Patrol Base Sandford, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Sergeant Lockett MC was quite simply the best soldier I have ever worked with. He was immensely brave, talented and hugely committed to his soldiers. "They in turn were completely devoted to him. On numerous occasions during our tour his actions saved the lives of members of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team and the Afghan National Army. "I personally will always appreciate the support he gave me and friendship we shared over the last few months. His tragic death is a huge loss to the soldiers in the team and the Battalion. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family." Captain Mike Brigham, Officer Commanding Machine Gun Platoon, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Sergeant Mike Lockett MC was my Platoon Sergeant and one of the best field soldiers I have had the privilege to work alongside. "Having been awarded the Military Cross for his outstanding achievements in 2007 we had joked many times that it was his destiny to receive the award as he was christened Michael Christopher Lockett. "He died doing what he knew best, keeping his soldiers alive. He embodied the ethos of 'leading from the front', and was willing to take a bullet for his men; he happily led the clearance of the Improvised Explosive Device that killed him. I know Sergeant Lockett MC will be at peace knowing it was him and not his soldiers that left us that day. "Sergeant Lockett MC was a loving partner, and devoted father, he was intense, and caring, willing to do anything to please the ones he loved. Sergeant Lockett was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve; this was clearly evident throughout his life and made for a very interesting and devoted friend. "I will always remember Sergeant Mike Lockett MC for the good times we shared, the lessons he taught me and the intensity in which he lived and loved throughout his life. "It can be said that we should not be measured by our failings, but rather our ability to over come them. Sergeant Mike Lockett MC knew this and worked hard in every aspect to learn from his mistakes and stop his soldiers from doing the same. "Sergeant Mike Lockett MC is a friend I will miss and always hold in the highest regards, I will remember him for our highs and lows, for his terrible dancing and equally bad driving, but most of all for his benevolent and loving character." WO2 (CSM) Paul Barnett - Company Sergeant Major, Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Gereshk, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Throughout the tour I have had the pleasure of having Sergeant "Locky" Lockett as one of my Platoon Sergeants. Not only was Locky a work colleague, but a friend I have known for many years. "He was an unreservedly professional and well motivated soldier who was extremely passionate about his work. Socially Locky was a very friendly guy who was outgoing and always up for a laugh. A true friend who will be greatly missed by us all, especially his family who our thoughts are with at this difficult time." Colour Sergeant Bryn Knowles MBE, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "I have had the pleasure of knowing Mick Lockett for nearly 13 years. I was his Section Commander in the Drums Platoon when he first joined the Battalion in Tidworth in 1997, and subsequently his Sergeant in the Machine Gun Platoon. Locky was the consummate professional soldier, always immaculate in turnout, the fittest soldier in the Platoon and the best Machine Gun Instructor within the Battalion. "He rose quickly through the ranks completing his Junior Non Commissioned Officers' Cadre, Section Commanders' Battle Course, General Purpose Machine Gun (Sustained Fire) Gunners' and Platoon Sergeants' Battle Course within a few short years. "For a young man he was a steely, battle hardened, and an old fashioned true grit Platoon Sergeant who was immensely popular and respected by all that knew him. "Today our Regiment has lost a true hero, we have lost a star of the future and I have lost a good friend. My sincere condolences go out to all his family and friends." Sergeant Chris Lavelle, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Sergeant Lockett MC was an exceptional Platoon Sergeant. Over the last five months I have had the personal pleasure to have worked with him and to know him as a friend. "He will be missed by all and my deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends at this difficult time. Michael - Rest In Peace." Lance Corporal Matt Carnell, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Sergeant Lockett MC was not only an outstanding commander; he was also a really good friend. His tragic death has come as a shock to us all. He will be missed by all that knew him and our thoughts go out to his family especially his children. He will never be forgotten." Private Ryan Rodgers, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Sergeant Lockett MC was a great commander and a good friend. He was always there to help you no matter what the problem was. If it was to do work or if you were having problems at home he was always there if you needed someone to talk to. "His tragic death is a shock to every one in his team and to everyone that knew him. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends and he will be missed by all that knew him. We shall remember him." Private Alex Sheridan, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said: "Sergeant Lockett MC was an outstanding combat infantryman. Whatever the situation you were in, you could be sure that whatever decision he made on the ground was always the right one. "When you were on patrol with him you felt safe, he was an inspiration to young soldiers like myself. My thoughts and prayers go out to his children, family and friends in these difficult times. Sergeant Lockett MC - always remembered, never forgotten." Private Dave Stock, 4th Medical Regiment, said: "I have worked with Sergeant Lockett MC for the past two months, in that short time period I have learnt a lot from a very brave man and an exceptional soldier. "He always led from the front and you always felt safe when he was on patrol with you. He looked after our team and put himself in danger to protect us. It has been an honour to have worked with him. My thoughts go out to his family at this tragic time."


[ Corporal Harvey Alex Holmes ]

Corporal Harvey Alex Holmes, who died in Afghanistan on Sunday 2 May 2010. Corporal Holmes, of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, attached to 40 Commando Royal Marines Battle Group, was killed in an explosion close to Patrol Base Waterloo, in Sangin, Helmand province. He was providing protection for his patrol as they investigated a compound east of Wishtan, close to Checkpoint Chakaw, when he died. A Company is based in the Wishtan area and over the last month has undertaken a number of patrols, partnered with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, to improve security for local Afghans. Corporal Holmes was 22 years old and from Hyde, Greater Manchester. He attended Astley High School in Dukinfield and enlisted in the Army in 2004 He trained at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick and was posted to the 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment in 2005. He previously served on operations in Northern Ireland and Iraq. Corporal Holmes deployed with A Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, part of the 40 Commando Battle Group, to Sangin in April 2010. Corporal Holmes was engaged to fiancée Claire. He leaves behind mother Beverley, stepfather David, sister Elizabeth, nephew Nickolas, brother-in-law Andrew, and grandparents Jean and Frederick. He shared his family’s passion for narrow boats, and before joining the Army was a keen member of the Scout Association.

Corporal Holmes' family said: "Harvey lived for his family and his friends but his passion was the Army. "He has made his family extremely proud for the sacrifice he has made and will be missed every day. Harvey has died a true hero and will be with us forever in our hearts." Corporal Harvey Holmes and mother Beverley

[ Corporal Harvey Holmes and mother Beverley ]

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Corporal Harvey Alex Holmes, known as 'Holmesy' to his many friends within the regiment, was a fine soldier, every inch the Mercian Infantryman. "He showed true promise and had a great future, but this has been cruelly stolen from him, his family, his girlfriend and his many friends. In his five years with the 1st Battalion he had passed some of the most arduous courses on offer, and served in Northern Ireland, Belize, the Falkland Islands and Iraq. "He had been promoted twice in quick succession, most recently to Corporal just last Christmas. He was an exceptional leader and commander, and helped others to give of their best. "He was without doubt one of the very best, and will be remembered by all of us who are left. But there is a new star in the sky tonight - it is a bright, enduring one that should inspire all of us as we remember Harvey’s selfless courage, humour in the face of adversity, and total commitment to his friends and his regiment. "He died doing what he loved amongst his friends from A and Support Companies. We will remember him as the Cheshire Oak that he was, standing firm always, and striking hard only to save others who were in trouble. "He was the epitome of the modern British soldier and we will miss him deeply. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult of times." Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer, 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said: "A brave and proud Mercian, Corporal Harvey Holmes served his regiment in the finest tradition. He died protecting his fellow soldiers in Sangin, part of 40 Commando Battle Group, as they returned to their patrol base. "A selfless, dedicated and consummate professional, he was a rising star, having promoted to Corporal after only five years in the Army.  "He will be greatly missed by the Battle Group and our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and, above all, his family. We shall never forget his sacrifice." Major Mark Ellwood, Officer Commanding A Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Corporal Harvey Holmes, known by all as 'Holmesy', was the very epitome of professionalism. He loved his job and was very good at it. In just five years he has served in three operational theatres, qualified in a number of specialist roles, and promoted two ranks in two years, well ahead of his peers. "Field soldiering was everything to him and his enthusiasm for it was infectious. He was a shining example of a soldier on the rise; his peers and subordinates knew this and respected him for it. "Always ready to help others to learn, he excelled recently as an instructor on the potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' cadre. "His skills were held in very high regard both within Support Company and across the battalion as a whole. He was universally popular throughout the battalion and threw himself into everything he did, and was always the heart and soul of any party, living life to the full. "Whilst serving in the Falkland Islands, he was able to visit Mount Longdon where his late father had served with the Parachute Regiment during the 1982 conflict. This was an emotional experience for him as his father was a huge inspiration to him. "He was without doubt one of the very best, and will be remembered by all of us who are left."

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment "We will miss him and are now the poorer for his loss. That he died doing the very job he so passionately loved, with his best friend at his side, is some small consolation. "I have no doubt that he would wish us to continue our work here in Afghanistan; we will honour him by so doing. We have had a genuine star taken from us; we mourn his loss but his ever glorious memory will STAND FIRM AND STRIKE HARD in our hearts forever." Captain Lawrence Moore, Corporal James 'Flash' Gordon, Lance Corporal David Brierley and Lance Corporal Geo Maas, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "It may sound clichéd but Holmesy was a true soldier. From a military family, his whole reason for being was soldiering. "He was fiercely proud of his profession, showing the excellence derived from passion and competence. He was often away from us on courses but would always light up the platoon office on his return; big smiles and tall stories in a distinctive voice. "He passed his Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' cadre, earning promotion to Lance Corporal. Holmesy wasn't a barracks soldier, as he told us all the time, and would volunteer for any and every course. However, he found his home in Support Company, enjoying a more relaxed but professional approach to work. "Still, he travelled as much as possible, from the Falklands to Belize to Iraq, along with the Section Commanders' Battle Course which he passed in the winter of 2009. He always ensured he was present for platoon social days, regardless of whether he was on leave or on the other side of the country. "Most recently he was selected to instruct on the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' cadre whilst waiting to deploy to Afghanistan. He could not wait to get here, to do what he was trained to do. He had the brightest of futures ahead of him and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him." Warrant Officer Class One (Regimental Sergeant Major) Darren Williams, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "I first met Cpl Harvey Holmes in 2005 when he joined A Company and I was his Company Sergeant Major. "He stood out from the rest even in those early days - a young man with a plan to have a full career in the Army. He quickly established himself as a good, strong and reliable soldier with plenty of ability for a man so young. "We have lost one of our stars; Holmesy was modest, bright, witty and intelligent. He always led by example. He inspired his men with a cool head and the ability to make the right decisions; he had their confidence. "He worked extremely hard and enjoyed the work and camaraderie that Army life brought. He will be sadly missed by the regimental family and my thoughts are with his family, his girlfriend and friends at this very difficult and tragic time."  Warrant Officer Class Two (Company Sergeant Major) Matt Henry, A Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "A fantastic example of an infantry soldier, who will be sadly missed. RIP Holmesy, never forgotten." Colour Sergeant Wayne Glynn, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Cpl Holmes was a thoroughly professional and well regarded member of Support Company, supremely fit and always ready to face any challenge placed in front of him. "Nothing was too much trouble for him; he thrived in the high pressure situations, always leading by example and mentoring junior members in his platoon. His cutting sense of humour was a constant source of morale for the lads in the platoon. "He had recently passed the Section Commanders' Battle Course in Brecon with flying colours, and from there immediately volunteered himself to teach on the divisional Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' cadre as a section commander, again where he excelled. "When the company was split up between the rifle companies to form Fire Support Groups, he took this in his stride. He threw himself with tireless enthusiasm into working with A Company and displayed the drive and professionalism we had come to expect from him. "Clearly he was destined for great things within the battalion. He had many close friends and colleagues within his platoon, as well as the battalion, and will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go to his family and friends." Sergeant Mark Lomas, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Holmesy, you were a true friend, you were always there for the lads in the platoon. "It was an honour to serve with you and you will always be in my thoughts, like you will be in everyone's thoughts. I promise to you now that you will always be part of us. You did what you loved. Rest in Peace." Sergeant Billy Borlace, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "The ultimate soldier, professional throughout. See you on the Re-Org mate. Rest in Peace." Corporal Stu Grundy, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Harvey was an amazing soldier and a better friend. Sleep well old friend. You will be forever missed." Lance Corporal Jac Howden, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Harvey was an amazing soldier who had a fantastic career ahead of him. He was always the person to boost morale during hard times. "It was an honour to have worked with him and a bigger honour to have been his friend. You will always be missed and remembered." Lance Corporal Steve Power, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "I got to know you in Ireland. My God, all you talked about was the Army, one of the keenest I've ever met. You will be missed." Lance Corporal Mark Elliott, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Holmes was a top bloke, a soldier at the top of his game and a great friend to match, always in our hearts Harvey!" Lance Corporal Paul Langton, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (1 MERCIAN), said: "Holmesy was a great squaddie, one of the best I have worked alongside. Many men in 1 MERCIAN look up to him. He will be missed always." Private 'Mac' McHarg, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Harvey was a top bloke and a massive icon for any young soldier. It was all about the boys he worked with and in camp he was always smiling when most of the lads were 'snapped'. "Cracking mate and a flying squaddie. RIP brother, will miss you loads." Private Chris Cunningham, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Holmesy was by far the keenest soldier I know. He had the utmost respect for all his men and will be missed massively." Private Robbie Jones, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said: "Holmesy gave the ultimate sacrifice doing the job he loved. Everyone looked up to him. He will always be in our hearts and never forgotten."


[ Corporal Terry Webster and Lance Corporal Alan Cochran, ]

Corporal Terry Webster and Lance Corporal Alan Cochran, both of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) B (Malta) Company attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battlegroup, who were killed in Afghanistan on Friday 4th June 2010. Corporal Terry Webster pictured with his daughter Jess and Lance Corporal Alan Cochran both of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) B (Malta) Company Corporal Terry Webster and Lance Corporal Alan Cochran deployed with B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), part of the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battlegroup, which forms the Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South) area of Helmand Province in March 2010. B (Malta) Company had been providing much needed security and stability to the local population in the area through a mixture of joint patrols and operations with the Afghan National Security Forces. They have improved the quality of the lives of hundreds of local nationals around the villages of Nahr-e Saraj by providing reassurance to the Afghans and improving local freedom of movement to promote Afghan economic development. It was during a foot patrol aimed at dominating the ground around a known enemy movement corridor that Lance Corporal Alan Cochran was killed in action during an exchange of fire with insurgent forces. Corporal Terry Webster was also injured, sustaining a gunshot wound. Despite immediate first aid, he later died of his injuries in the medical facility at Kandahar.

[ Corporal Terry Webster pictured with his daughter Jess ]

Corporal Terry Webster was 24 years old and born in Chester. He enlisted into the Army in 2002 and joined the Corps of Royal Signals in 2003. He transferred to the 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment in February 2006. He had previously served on operations in Northern Ireland and Iraq. 

Cpl Webster's wife Charlotte, and his children Jess and Liam said:

"Tez was passionate, loyal and determined. He enjoyed the role he had in the Mercians but he was a family man at heart. He was a fantastic Dad to Jess and Liam and he was the perfect soul mate to me. Although this is a very sad time, Tez would want us to be positive. "Remember the good times, the happy times. A lot of people's lives will be deeply affected by Tez's all too early departure. Life will never be the same for us."

Cpl Webster's Mum, Step-Dad Andre and sister Tiggy said:

"Our Darling Son. Terry lived for his family and his friends but his passion was the Army. He has made his family extremely proud for the sacrifice he has made and will be missed every day. Terry has died a true hero and will be with us forever in our hearts. Love you loads." 

Cpl Webster's wider family said:

"We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved Terry. He was such a caring young man who always put his family first. He touched the lives of all who had the privilege to know him. He died doing the job he loved. His dedication and professionalism will remain an inspiration to all."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "On the 4th of June, during an incident in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand Province, Corporal Terry Webster was fatally wounded whilst leading his men. "Despite fighting for his life for a number of hours, and receiving the best medical care, he eventually succumbed to his injuries. Terry Webster transferred into the 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment from the Royal Signals in 2006, wanting to serve with his local County Regiment and get closer to the action. "He quickly proved himself to be a highly capable Infantry soldier and commander; possessing great determination and character and always leading from the front. Terry was totally committed to his profession and he was forging a strong career path: when others played football, he would put on his combats, boots and webbing and pound out the miles, encouraging others to come along with him. "He died doing what he joined for and what he was so good at, leading his men in battle. Away from work, Terry will also be remembered for his great sense of humour and comradeship. He was a devoted father to Jessica and Liam, and talked endlessly about them. "Our loss is as nothing compared to theirs, and our thoughts are with them, and all of his family and friends." Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Strickland MBE, Commanding Officer 1St Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battlegroup, Combine Force Nahr-e Saraj (South) said: "The loss of Corporal Terry Webster is felt deeply across the battlegroup. He died doing what he had been doing since the start of the tour – leading and inspiring his men in the daily battle for control of a highly volatile area. "He faced daily threats with courage and humour and his contribution to his multiple, his company and his battlegroup was immense. He showed courage and determination on every single day of his time with us here in Afghanistan. "To me, he embodied the spirit of pride and professionalism that is a mark of the Mercian Regiment, and I am proud to have had the privilege to have served with him." Major Rich Grover, Officer Commanding B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Corporal Terry Webster joined the 1st Battalion in 2006 following a transfer from the Royal Signals. A true Cheshire lad, he joined B (Malta) Company and immediately made his mark. "His attitude, personality, fitness and soldiering skills quickly marked him out as one to watch, and it was not long before he was put on a cadre for promotion to lance corporal, a rank he gained with ease. He continued to show his professionalism, and it wasn't long before he went on to complete the Section Commanders' Battle Course and gained the rank of full corporal. Here he thrived. Commanding a section was where he excelled, and he showed from an early stage in Afghanistan that he was the right man for the job when the chips were down. "He also had character. Always at the heart of the craich, he was adored by his fellow soldiers. They looked up to him, they wanted to be him and they followed him everywhere. "He was funny and always at the centre of a good prank, but at the heart of everything he did, he was the consummate professional soldier. As a role model, the soldiers could not ask for any more. "Corporal Webster is going to be sorely missed by everyone who had the fortune to meet him and as a person he will be irreplaceable. Our thoughts go out, at this difficult time, to his family and friends. Stand firm Mercian soldier, we will not forget you." Major Chris Wood, Officer Commanding C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I have had the pleasure of having Corporal Terry Webster in my Company for the last year before his move to B (Malta) Company. He has been a figurehead amongst his peer group, a leader of men and a friend to all. "Corporal Webster, or "Webby" as he is almost universally known, was your typical infantry Junior Non-Commissioned Officer; strong, dependable and totally dedicated to his work and those under his command. He was the consummate infantryman, always seeking to improve himself for the benefit of others. "When the opportunity to deploy early to Afghanistan arose he was the first to volunteer. I am grateful for the opportunity to have met and worked with such a fine man. He is sorely missed and will never be forgotten. Our thoughts go to his family and particularly his two children Jessica and Liam." Captain Andrew Raven, Fire Support Platoon Commander, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Corporal Webster found his true calling as an Infantry soldier when he transferred to 1 MERCIAN. It was my absolute pleasure to have served with him in Iraq throughout Operation TELIC 11 and upon our return to the UK. A devoted father whose family was never far from his mind at any time. A Junior Non-Commissioned Officer who I was proud to have had in my platoon; I have worked with few better." Warrant Officer Class 2 (Company Sergeant Major) Matty Henry, A Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Such a sad loss that has left us all shocked and deeply saddened. Our thoughts are with your family, friends and the men of B Company 1 MERCIAN. Stand Firm, Strike Hard." Corporal Robert Keane, B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "A brave man and a hero to us all. He wasn't just full of life, he was life. He was able to lift the spirits of everyone with only a few words. A prankster at every level but a truly professional soldier. In this family of brothers you'll never be forgotten." Lance Corporal John Salem, C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "You were a true friend to all, and especially to me. You were my Section Commander for so long; bringing me on, teaching me "the tricks of the trade". You were always on courses trying to better yourself and then taking the time to pass on your knowledge to me and all the other blokes – regardless of whether it was after work or during mealtimes. It was never too much effort…to be honest I think you got a buzz out of being the centre of attention! "We served together in Iraq and on more exercises than I can remember, culminating in the pre-deployment training for Afghanistan. When the opportunity came to return to B Company you felt like you had gone "home". You loved B Company so much you even had the Maltese Cross tattooed on your back! "You will never be forgotten, my friend, and I will always tell everyone about you and keep your memory alive." Lance Corporal Mark Elliott, A Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Terry you were a great friend and a brilliant soldier. I still remember when you transferred because you got tired of sitting at the back and decided to lead from the front. Sleep tight now mate, gone but never forgotten. A true hero who will be sorely missed by those lucky enough to have known you." Private Christopher Boon, B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "To some it might come as a shock, but to me it was an inspiration. His death will not be in vain as I shall prosper through trying to be half the man he was and always will be. "He was an inspiration to the junior ranks and played a big part in my success within the Army. Webby was one of the keenest soldiers I ever knew, he was a true example of ‘Army Barmy'. "He loved his job to the max and those who knew him would say exactly the same thing. Webby your boots are very big ones to fill but I shall do my best to do so, you were one of the best corporals I knew and you were flying through the ranks. For this I'm going to take the reigns and continue your climb through the ranks. Webby I pray that you are watching us smoking your fags and drinking your ‘coffee two - a real man's drink' as you used to tell me and guiding us through the hard times as you always did. "Webby you were a source of morale within the platoon and recognised through the Battalion as a strong section commander. I'm sorry that you cannot be there for the rest of the tour but in a few words I know you loved being here and you loved your job; you died the way you said you would like to, in the heat of battle fighting alongside your men and leading, as always, from the front. "Webby I say goodbye to you now for a little while and I hope to see you again some day. ‘Till then we shall fight on for you and for all the lads we have lost. Standing firm and striking hard mate, the way you would have, and did. Rest in peace my idol, my friend and my brother in arms." Mortar Platoon, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Corporal Terry Webster you will always be remembered fondly by the 1 MERCIAN (CHESHIRE) family. Our thoughts and condolences go out to your family and loved ones at this dark time, but rest assured you will never be forgotten and your memory will live on in our hearts. Rest in peace Mercian brother."


[ Lance Corporal Alan Cochran ]

Lance Corporal Alan Cochran was 23 years old and born in St Asaph, North Wales. He enlisted into the Army in 2006, was trained at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick and posted to the 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment in 2007. He had previously served in Northern Ireland and on operations in Iraq.  LCpl Cochran's mother Mrs Shirley Jane Cochran & family said: "Alan was a tremendous son. He was proud to be a soldier and died doing a job he loved. We are devastated by the loss of Alan who was a loving son, grand son and brother. We are proud of the fact that Alan was prepared to do his duty helping the people of Afghanistan." LCpl Cochran's fiancée Claire Brookshaw said: "I have known Alan for over 2 years. He was a fantastic fiancé. He has been a great part of my life and always will be. Sadly missed but never forgotten. Rest in peace Darling, Love you always and forever." LCpl Cochran's fiancée's parents Carol and Tony Lewis & family said: "We have known Alan for 2 years. He was a very special individual and would have made a wonderful son in law. Sadly missed, sleep tight."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Lance Corporal Alan Cochran, known to his friends in the Battalion as ‘Cockers', or ‘The Colonel', was serving with B Company when he died. He joined the 1st Battalion the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment in 2007, and quickly established a reputation as a strong and committed Infantry soldier. "It is no surprise to anyone who knew him that he was to the front when his patrol came into contact and, as was always his way, he was committed to the safety of others to the end. Alan had been in the Army for four years and had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Kenya prior to deploying to Afghanistan with the Battalion. "A committed career soldier Alan loved the Army and his friends within it, and was probably the most selfless of men, always looking out for others and helping them to give their best. His friends described him as having a heart of gold, being totally unselfish, and having the worst dress sense in the Battalion. "He had recently promoted to Lance Corporal following completion of a demanding qualification course conducted in the harsh British winter. When I gave him his chevron and asked him if he was ready to take responsibility for the lives of his fellow men, he looked me straight in the eye and answered ‘yes'. And he did, right up until the very last. "There is no doubt that Alan had a successful career ahead of him, as a soldier and as a leader. He will be much missed by his friends and he has left a hole that will never be filled. He was engaged to be married to Claire, the sister of one of his friends in B Company, and our thoughts are with her, his mother Shirley and all his family and friends at this most difficult time." Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Strickland MBE, Commanding Officer The 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battlegroup, Combined Force NAHR-E SARAJ (SOUTH) said: "Lance Corporal Alan Cochran was a tower of strength in a company notable for its courage, commitment and close bonds of friendship. He died leading his men in battle, from the front. His loss is felt deeply across the battlegroup. "He rose to every demand placed on him in this difficult operation, stepping out of his base daily with the quiet confidence that so effectively inspires others. "It was an honour to have served with him, and the reputation of his fine Regiment has been raised one notch higher by his example of personal commitment, bravery and sacrifice. We all mourn his loss." Major Rich Grover, Officer Commanding B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "It is hard to put into words how the loss of Lance Corporal Cochran has affected everyone in Malta Company. Newly promoted following a recent Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' Cadre, Lance Corporal Cochran was thriving in his rank. "He had an attitude that every commander wants in their team; you knew he would never give up no matter what the challenge. A harder worker would have been nigh on impossible to find. Naturally quiet, he let his actions speak louder than words. Always happiest when busy with the job in hand, he was a man who led from the front. "Popular with all who knew him, he had a personality that endeared him to everyone, and he was trusted as a soldier who would break down a brick wall with his bare hands to help his mates. "His loss is felt by us all, and it is with heavy hearts that we all wish his family and friends our deepest sympathy in these tragic times. We will not forget him, and his sacrifice will inspire us all to remember that what he died for was not in vain. Stand firm, we will remember." Major Chris Wood, Officer Commanding C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I have known Lance Corporal Alan Cochran for almost 2 years whilst I have commanded C Company C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire). "He was always a key figure within the Company; a fine example to the junior soldiers and an enthusiastic and motivated junior commander. It is often said that fallen soldiers were of the highest calibre with a bright future ahead of them. "This is especially true of Lance Corporal Alan Cochran. He had recently passed the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' Cadre, something he had always strived for in the time that I had known him, and it was the start of a very promising career. "He would have certainly been a star of the future. It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of this fine man and outstanding soldier. Our thoughts are with his fiancée Claire and his family and friends back home." Private Ian Brookshaw, brother of Lance Corporal Cochran's fiancée, B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Alan, I remember the first time we met, I was in week 18 of training and you joined my platoon. Even though you were new you fitted in quickly and started taking control and leading from the front. "We then left and joined the same platoon, 8 Platoon 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, and we settled in easily together. A short time after that we were in Iraq and that is where you got the nickname ‘The Colonel' because you were giving out orders all the time. "I remember the time you turned 21 and you were in a sangar and the platoon sang happy birthday on the company net and we all got creased by the Platoon Sergeant. "When we got back in England, my mum and sister Claire picked us both up from the airport, you got in the back with Claire and you were chatting her up but I didn't mind because you were my best mate. "Even though you were my best friend I couldn't get rid of you, I'd be at work with you and then at home with you as well because you would be with Claire, who is now your fiancée. "I am proud you were going to be my brother-in-law and I am proud that I fought alongside you for four years. You died in the job you loved and helping another injured soldier. You're a kind hearted man and you'll never be forgotten. Love you Alan, Rest in Peace."


[ Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze ]

Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze from B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday 12 June 2010. During an operation to clear an area near to Check Point Kingshill in order to increase security, Lance Corporal Breeze was caught in an explosion and was killed in action. Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze was 31 years old and from Manchester. He enlisted into the Army in February 1996 and joined 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, following completion of basic training. He served in the United Kingdom and Cyprus, and on operations three times in Northern Ireland and twice in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. He successfully completed a Junior Non-Commissioned Officers' cadre and was duly promoted to Lance Corporal in December 2002. He deployed to Patrol Base 1 in the Babaji area of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan in March 2010 with B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), as part of the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battle Group, which forms Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South). The company has been tirelessly providing stability and security for the local population whilst promoting Afghan governance and economic growth. B (Malta) Company has improved the quality of the lives of hundreds of local Afghans around the villages of Enezai and Char Coucha by providing much needed security and reassurance.

 

Lance Corporal Breeze's family paid the following tribute: "We are very proud of a brave, loving and sincere son and brother. He served for 14 years in the Armed Forces and was recognised as an excellent soldier. The Army was his life. He is going to be desperately missed by his family and his fiancée." Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: "Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze joined the 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment in 1996, and during his time as a Cheshire and latterly a Mercian he deployed on six operational tours, three in Northern Ireland, two in Iraq and finally one in Afghanistan. He was killed whilst clearing an area to give increased protection to the local community and his fellow soldiers. "A dedicated soldier and leader, he understood the risks inherent in his chosen profession, and still continuously deployed in the service of others, selflessly and courageously protecting his mates and the civilian population around him. He was a stalwart of the battalion, and of the Javelin Platoon. Throughout his service he had been no stranger to danger, and approached his work with discipline and determination, but always with a ready smile. "Known as 'Windy' or 'Breezy' to his many friends in the battalion, it is perhaps this smile that will stick most in our minds, that and his ability to always see the good in situations and people. He was engaged to be married to Lorraine, and talked endlessly about her and his family. We are proud to say that he is one of ours and always will be, standing firm at all times, and striking hard whenever the enemy threatened. "Another Mercian hero - we will remember him. The thoughts of the battalion and the regiment are with his fiancée and his family at this difficult time." Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Strickland, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battle Group, said: "We have lost a fine man, and the tragedy of his death spreads far. Lance Corporal Andy Breeze was the man that every company needs; experienced and approachable, he was there for everyone, always. "Those who have been soldiers will know the effect of such a character, spreading calm reassurance in times of tension to those who are less certain. He died as he had lived, stepping forward to shoulder the burden of the task in hand, with a smile on his face. His company mourns his loss, but feels more keenly the devastation of the loved ones that he left behind. It was an honour to have served together."  Major Richard Grover, Officer Commanding B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: "Lance Corporal Andy Breeze tragically lost his life on 12 June 2010 and his loss has been keenly felt by all within B (Malta) Company. Popular, outgoing and kind-hearted, he typified the team work ethic so valued by all in the infantry. A soldier of 14 years' service, he joined in 1996 when the battalion was based in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland. "He first joined B Company, but he spent the majority of his time in Support Company as part of the Anti-Tank Platoon, before returning to B Company once more for this tour to Afghanistan. Regarded as 'part of the furniture' of the Anti-Tank Platoon, he was part of the fabric of this battalion. "Immensely popular and a friend to all, his friendly and compassionate manner meant his advice was widely sought, especially by newer soldiers looking for guidance. Always content, never one to moan no matter how hard it got, his nature was to crack on without complaint. This was the measure of the man. He would do anything to help his fellow comrades and would always put himself in a position to be of assistance. "His bravery and professionalism were typified by his excellent work only the other week in evacuating a casualty during a sustained contact with the enemy. Dependable and trustworthy, you knew he would always do his best no matter the circumstances. "During his service Lance Corporal Breeze had been on operations in Northern Ireland and Iraq on numerous occasions. A dedicated soldier, this was his life. As a long term member of the Anti-Tank Platoon, he was waiting for his promotion to full Corporal; a promotion that was richly deserved following his hard work and potential. "Lance Corporal Breeze will be sorely missed by all in B (Malta) Company, and his spirit will live on in the work we do. We will remember you Mercian brother, stand firm." Captain Rupert Pye-Watson, Javelin Platoon Commander, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: "Lance Corporal Breeze, or Breezy as he was commonly known, will leave an enormous gap in all our lives. I could rely on him to assist in everything we did in camp and he was totally relaxed in command but this never affected his judgement or command presence. "He had been a foundation of the Javelin Platoon for many years, and was waiting for promotion to Corporal after completing the Detachment Commanders' Course last year. Nothing was too much effort for Breezy, he always sought to achieve things in a cheery and unassuming manner. He was great friends to all those in the platoon and Support Company alike. He will be greatly missed. "His family were always in his thoughts. He talked about them all the time, and how proud he was. He shall be forever in our thoughts, and our hearts go out to his family and friends at this most tragic time." Captain Julian Clayton, Company Second-in-Command, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: "Lance Corporal Breeze was in many ways the epitome of the modern day infantry soldier. In his professional life he was extremely dedicated, respected and well liked by all. "He was a physically strong man who always led his troops from the front, a classic Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer. In his free time he lived his life to the full, occasionally causing me and his Company Sergeant Major some anxious moments, but for all the right reasons. "He had so much potential for the future, and I personally had very high hopes for his career. To say his loss is tragic seems inadequate, but he will be sorely missed by all of us in Support Company. Our hearts and sincere condolences go out to his family at this tragic time. He was such a good lad, it is a very sad time."  Sergeant Robert Carr, B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: "Andy Breeze joined the Army in 1996 and joined 5 Platoon, B Company, in Ballykelly. He was one of the first people I met when I joined and from the start we became friends. We spent the better part of a decade serving together in 5 Platoon and then in the Anti-Tank Platoon. "We served together in Northern Ireland and Iraq, and Andy was one of the best soldiers I have and will ever work with. He liked a drink and we had many drunken adventures across the world. He was part of the furniture in the Anti-Tank Platoon and was always there to give advice to the younger generation, the way only Andy could. He will be sorely missed and the world is now a darker place without his banter, humour and friendship."  Sergeant Andy Hawkins, B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: "Lance Corporal Andy Breeze joined the Cheshires in 1996 in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, around the same time as me. He was a member of B Company for several years before moving to Anti-Tank Platoon, now Javelin Platoon. "Andy was great at his job and enjoyed doing it; no matter how bad things were he would never moan or complain, he would just crack on and dig in hard. Andy was due to promote soon, after successfully completing the Javelin Course. "I have known you Andy for 14 years now and can't believe you have been taken away from us like this; however now is the time for you to have the rest you deserve my brother. Great lad, great leader, great friend. Andy Breeze, RIP mate."


[ Colour Sergeant Martyn Simon Horton, Private Douglas Niall Halliday, Private Alex Isaac and Lance Corporal David Andrew Ramsden ]

Colour Sergeant Martyn Simon Horton, Private Douglas Niall Halliday, Private Alex Isaac and Lance Corporal David Andrew Ramsden were killed in a vehicle incident near Gereshk, Helmand Province, on 23 June 2010. The soldiers were part of a Police Advisory Team, travelling as part of a two vehicle convoy tasked to attend an incident at a nearby Check Point when the vehicle rolled into the waterway.

 [ Colour Sergeant Martyn Horton ]

Colour Sergeant Martyn Horton was 34 years old and from Runcorn. He enlisted into the Army in 1992 and joined the 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment. He has served in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, The Falkland Islands, Belize and Kenya, and on operations in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. Promoted to Colour Sergeant in June 2009 he assumed the role of Reconnaissance Platoon Second-in-Command. Moving from Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) he served with B (Malta) Company during the preparations for, and initial deployment on Operation HERRICK 12 in Afghanistan. He was then selected to command a team to train, advise and mentor the Afghan National Police in Gereshk, Helmand Province in order to further develop their capabilities and promote security and rule of law. On 23 June 2010, following an attack on a Police Check Point near Gereshk, Colour Sergeant Horton's team, along with the Afghan National Police, deployed as a Quick Reaction Force to support. The vehicle in which he was travelling overturned into the Nahr-e-Bughra Canal. At approximately 2208hrs local, Colour Sergeant Horton died in the incident alongside three of his colleagues from the Police Advisory Team - Lance Corporal David Ramsden, Private Douglas Halliday and Private Alex Isaac.

Colour Sergeant Hortons' sister Caroline has made the following statement: "Martyn lived for three things - family, Army and Liverpool. He loved fighting for his friends and family. He was a loving dad, brother and  son; he touched everyone he met. We will miss his cheeky grin. He will be fondly missed by everyone he knew and sadly died doing the  job he loved. Once met never forgotten."

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Colour Sergeant Horton was one of our very best. He followed his stepfather into the 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment, and then post-merger served with the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire). "During his career he had served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as completing exercises in Canada, America, Belize, Jordan and Kenya. "As Second-in-Command of my Reconnaissance Platoon he was of course a highly professional field soldier, and he revelled in getting down and dirty and taking the fight to anyone who stood in the way of him or his men. "But he was a friendly and amusing man, always looking for the fun in life, and that he enjoyed his soldiering so much meant that he was rarely without a smile, even under a helmet and with a rifle in his hands. "On the night he died he was heading towards a police checkpoint that was under attack from small arms and Rocket Propelled Grenades; C/Sgt Horton and his team had had to do this a number of times in the previous days and they had developed a bond of trust with the men there. "He and his men had become known as the guardians of the Gereshk City Police, with the insurgents retreating every time they arrived. "The loyalty that he engendered in people was inspiring, and these Afghan policemen were no different. Colour Sergeant Horton died as he lived; with his fellow soldiers, and selflessly and courageously defending those who placed their trust in him. "He leaves a hole in the Battalion that will be very difficult to fill, but I cannot imagine the loss that his 9 year old son Ethan, his 17 year old stepdaughter Bethany and girlfriend Gemma will feel, along with the other members of his family, and his many military and civilian friends. "Like a true Mercian Warrior he willingly took his place in the shield wall and stood firm to protect his fellows, striking hard whenever the enemy threatened. Our thoughts are with his son and his family at this very difficult time." Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Williams, Regimental Sergeant Major 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Colour Sergeant 'Bobby' Horton was one of our most professional field soldiers but was never truly comfortable in camp where he was known for being a 'camp tramp'. "He was the epitome of a reconnaissance soldier: extremely fit, robust, selfless, courageous, audacious and fiercely loyal with a leadership style that would inspire trust and courage in all around him to 'Stand firm and Strike hard'. "Bobby was a party animal and was always at the centre of a wind-up or being the butt of the joke himself; he always did or accepted this with a big smile on his face and it is this that will be missed in the Mess. "We have lost one of our true characters and professional soldiers, a great friend and colleague to all, who will be sadly missed. "My thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time." Major Paul Dupuy, Officer Commanding Police Advisory Team Gereshk, 4th Regiment Royal Artillery said: "Colour Sergeant Horton, known as 'Bobby', was an exceptional soldier, truly dedicated and professional. "He was brave, completely committed to his men and utterly selfless. He was always calm under pressure and his confidence brought reassurance to all around him whatever the situation. His sense of humour and grin never failed to lift our spirits even in adversity. "I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to serve with him – I could not have asked for more. His loss will be felt by us all. My sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go to his family at this most difficult of times." Major Robin Barnbrook, Officer Commanding Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Colour Sergeant Bobby Horton was a true soldier, a valued friend and comrade-in-arms. "An extremely fit and highly professional field soldier, Bobby was not happy unless he was in the thick of the action. "Rumour had it that he was frustrated when he first came to Afghanistan because he thought his role would be dull; that soon changed as he led his men from the front through countless incidents in Gereshk in support of the Afghan National Police. "He worked hard and played hard; in fact he played extremely hard and was known and loved for being a bit of a 'social hand grenade'. But that was Bobby all over; a larger than life personality who was the life and soul of the party. "He will leave a gap in the lives of those who had the privilege to know him. "Bobby often talked of his own mortality; the only solace that I can draw from this tragedy is that he died doing the job he loved amongst the many friends that he held so dear. My thoughts, and the thoughts of his comrades in Support Company 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), are with his family at the saddest of times." Captain Ben Stephens, Intelligence Officer, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Colour Sergeant Horton has left a void in the Battalion that will be difficult to fill. He was the absolute epitome of a Cheshire and Mercian soldier. "Always involved in high jinx, he naturally became the core element of whichever group he was in. More than anything, he was an extraordinary field soldier, who inspired all around him, irrespective of task or hardship. In fact, Colour Sergeant Horton positively thrived in austere conditions, seemingly getting stronger as the surroundings got worse. "I had a natural affinity with 'Bobby' (a name bestowed upon him because of his father who also served with the Regiment) and his propensity to find trouble. His unremitting love for his soldiers and deepest desire to provide for his family were traits which I truly  admired. "I can honestly say those experiences I shared with Colour Sergeant 'Bobby' Horton in life and in death will stay with me forever. My deepest sympathies go to his family and many close friends for the sorrow they now face. "Bobby you were and always will remain in my memory as Ever Glorious." Captain Grant Brown, Officer Commanding Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I first met Colour Sergeant Horton a few years ago and soon realised what a character within the Battalion he was. "His sense of humour was legendary and he was the sort of person who was able to cause mischief whilst remaining completely professional. It was not until we began working together that I realised how kind-hearted and caring he was. "The welfare of the men he commanded was always his top priority and he was hugely respected as a result. "Through troubled times, I relied on him more than he realised. "I am eternally grateful for the assistance he gave me professionally, but more importantly, I value the friendship we shared. "Martyn was a talented soldier with a huge amount of experience and his passing has left a hole in the lives of all those he came into contact with. "As the Second-in-Command of the Reconnaissance Platoon, he shared a close relationship with his soldiers and with me as his commander. It was an honour and a privilege to serve alongside him and he will be sorely missed by us all." Captain Julian Clayton, Support Company Second-in-Command, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I have known Bobby since he joined the Regiment as a young tom, and I knew his father who served in the Regiment before him. "I first noticed Bobby when I was Company Quarter Master Sergeant of A Company and he was sent to me as a very reluctant Arms Storeman. "He hated every minute of it because to him it wasn't front line and he wanted to be out there with the blokes. Me and Scooby Doolan used to rip him because his writing was shocking; happier days looking back. "Both of us have moved on since then, and it was to my great satisfaction that I found him as the Reconnaissance Platoon Second-in-Command when I took over as Support Company Second-in-Command. "Reconnaissance is a job which always suited him. Small teams, maximum responsibility, reduced supervision and the chance to do things your own way - that was Bobby's style. He was happier in the field than in camp, a true recce soldier with an astute tactical brain. "He was also without doubt one of the fittest soldiers I knew, able to tab with extreme weight despite his size, and also run with the very best in the Regiment; he had it all. To lose anyone is terrible, but when you start losing people like Colour Sergeant Horton, there just aren't the words. "He had such a bright future ahead of him. My thoughts and sympathies go out to his family and friends back home, he will be remembered and acutely missed by us all. "God Bless. Sleep well Colour." Warrant Officer Class 2 Matt Henry, A Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I have known Bobby since he joined the Battalion, more so when I joined A Company in 2000 and we were in the same platoon. "I will always remember Bobby as the life and soul of the party. He was a massive character in the Mess and a night in the bar was not the same without him. "I will remember you as a man who always had a smile on his face, who loved to have a laugh and loved the banter. You will be really missed and my thoughts are with your family." Warrant Officer Class 2 Anthony Higginbottom, Company Sergeant Major B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "What can I say about Colour Sergeant Martyn 'Bobby' Horton. He had three loves in his life; his kids, Liverpool FC and living in bushes. "Bobby was a true professional Infantry soldier. He loved his job and always wanted to be in the best platoon. Bobby was like a wildcat, he loved living in bushes. "He was a Team Commander in Close Observation Platoon for two years and then became Platoon Sergeant and Second-in-Command of the Reconnaisance Platoon. He was not one for the parade square but put him in a bush and he would be in his playground. Bobby, you  will always be admired for your courage, robustness and professionalism. "I will always remember you and Recon will not be the same without you. The Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess will be a very quiet place without you propping up the bar. You will live on in our memory, but for now, you rest mate."  Colour Sergeant Neil Vickery, Second-in-Command Fire Support Platoon, A Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I've known Bobby since I first joined the battalion in 1994. Right from the start, he was and always will be a constant source of inspiration to me. An 'A1' soldier, second to none." Sergeant Scott Jessop, A Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I've known Bobby well for about 10 years. When I first met him he gave the impression of a 'jack the lad', and that was one of his many qualities. "He always wanted to joke around and he made other people laugh; a morale booster who was good to be around. I had the pleasure of working alongside Bobby in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland and he was one of those characters who was well motivated and professional. "He was never the best turned out but that was part of his overall persona. What he lacked in dress sense, he made up for in professionalism. If I was half as good as Bobby, I would be happy. "Even though I was older than him, I looked up to him as an exceptional leader who will be sorely missed. "You will never be forgotten, and you will always be in my thoughts." Sergeant Richard Kershaw, A Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I first met Bobby when I joined the battalion in 2001. "He was a Lance Corporal at the time and straight away Bobby was someone I looked up to and still do to this day. "He was a great friend and someone you could always talk to, whatever the problem. I will miss him very much and I will never forget him; a true friend. "My heart goes out to his family, especially his children Ethan and Bethany. I hope in time, they all get over this tragic loss. I will miss you Bobby." Sergeant Mark Lomas, Sniper Platoon, Fire Support Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "When I first heard of your loss, my heart sank low. You were always having a laugh and were always game for anything. You were a true Battalion character who everyone got to know and love. "The banter with you was second to none and you were always there to cheer lads up who were down. You were a proud father and you loved your white van too. I will miss you. Rest in peace friend, always in my heart." Sergeant Andy Hawkins, Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Bobby Horton was an honest man who would tell anyone how it really was. "If he had something to say then he would just say it. Bobby, I have known you for many years and you have been like a big brother to me as of late. "You always stayed focused when times were hard and always made me laugh when the chips were down. "Now, unfortunately, you cannot do that anymore, but don't worry Bobby as I will try my best to be as good as you. My recon hero, my 2IC, my mate Bobby. Rest now brother." Sergeant David Davies, B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Colour Sergeant Martyn Horton was such a good friend to me from the first time that we met; he would always go the extra mile. "He was one of the straightest talking, most professional men - a true field soldier. "Martyn's sense of humour was one of his strong points and he would always lift the lads and get the absolute best out of them. "Everyone will miss you so much Martyn, you are a Battalion personality and your passing will be a loss to every single person who has had the privilege to meet you. "My thoughts are with your family, I will never forget you. Rest in peace my friend."  Corporal Simon Done, A Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Bobby was an inspiration to everyone in and out of work. A devoted father and someone I've looked up to throughout my career. "You were always there to talk to and your cheeky grin made everyone smile, it also meant you were usually up to something, being the prankster you were. "You were the friend everyone wanted to have around, and the leader to have when things were hard. "You are the heart of the Battalion, the perfect warrior, keen, robust and always positive. It was my absolute honour and privilege to call you my friend. "Loved by many, respected by all, you will never ever be forgotten my friend. Rest in peace, 'til we meet again. " Corporal Richard Billows, A Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Colour Sergeant Horton was and still is one of the few men I could call a true friend. "I first met Bobby, as he was known to us all, when I joined the Battalion in Cambridge. Bobby was full of life and nothing and no-one would ever faze him. "He was always one for a laugh and a joke but knew when to turn it on when it came to work; a true professional. Bobby was a devoted  father to his children Ethan and Bethany. "You could see how proud he was when he spoke of them. My heart and prayers go out to his family at this sad time." "I will never forget you Bobby and I know I will see you again one day. RIP my friend." Corporal John Dare, Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Colour Sergeant Martyn Horton was not just my Platoon Second-in-Command, he was a loyal friend who took time to look after me when he didn't need to; that was the man he was. "Scruffy in work, but the most professional soldier that I have had the privilege to know. "When I think of you, I think of all the times that you have made me laugh; this is how most people will remember you. "A straight talking man who always said what he felt, but knew how to put it. I remember last year both of us on the Reconnaissance Commanders' Course, we complained from start to finish but along the way we had a lot of good times. "Martyn my friend I will always remember you."  Lance Corporal Alexander Vickers, Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Martyn 'Bobby' Horton is someone who I have always aspired to be like after working under his command and alongside him for most of my career. "Not a barracks soldier, he lived to be out in the field, confident, calm and commanding the natural respect of his men, who would follow him anywhere. "He devoted his life to the Army and his children who he would talk about endlessly with great pride. Without doubt the best soldier I have ever had the privilege to serve with and a great friend who looked out for me during hard times. "You will be missed by us all that knew you." Lance Corporal Shawn Mills, Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Bobby, I remember the first time I met you, I was a candidate for the Non-Commissioned Officers' Cadre at the end of Op TELIC 4 and I was placed in your section. "I immediately thought of you as someone who could teach me the no-nonsense way of doing things, and give me more confidence to become a professional soldier, a better soldier. "Going out on the town was always bound to be eventful with you around, no matter where it was. I remember the way that you never liked being told you were wrong or losing a bet (especially when it involved 20 quid on the Derby - thanks). "However, there were always a good number of times that you were right. I just wish you were right when you used to say that you would die when you were older. "Bobby, I will always remember the friend that I once had that would always be there for me whether it was for a lift home, or for some Mercian shorts. "Bobby, I will always remember the friend I spent 3 weeks getting drunk with in Australia, and also on a New Year's Day hiding on some hill in Ireland, both complaining that it was very cold for five hours. "Bobby, you were a great inspiration in my life so far, you have made me a better man just by being you. "I am pleased to be able to say I worked alongside you, and I am honoured and proud to have called you my friend. Bobby, I will always remember you."  The Police Advisory Team Gereshk, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Bobby was an outgoing, friendly guy with a great sense of humour. Always up for a laugh, Bobby could make light of any situation and never failed to provide morale. "Never one to stand back on the sidelines, he was a highly professional and pro-active commander who wanted to take the fight to the enemy and win. "He was a man who was always ready to make the most out of any situation and always led from the front. Stand Firm Strike Hard!"


[ Private Douglas Halliday ]

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Private Douglas Halliday was 20 years old and from Wallasey, Merseyside. He joined the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) on 28 January 2008 following basic training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick. He started his career in B Company and then moved to C Company. He served in Northern Ireland, Kenya and on operations in Afghanistan. He undertook extensive Mission Specific Training in both the UK and Kenya in preparation for the deployment on Operation HERRICK 12. He moved back to B (Malta) Company and was assigned to the Police Advisory Team in Gereshk, Helmand Province. His team has been advising the Afghan National Police in order to further develop their capabilities and promote security, governance and the rule of law. On 23 June 2010, following an attack on a nearby Police Check Point, Private Halliday's team, along with the Afghan National Police, deployed as a Quick Reaction Force in support of their colleagues. The vehicle in which he was travelling overturned into the Nahr-e-Bughra Canal. At approximately 2208hrs local, Private Douglas Halliday died in the incident alongside three of his colleagues from the Police Advisory Team - Colour Sergeant Horton, Lance Corporal David Ramsden, and Private Alex Isaac The family of Private Halliday have made the following statement: "Dougie was deeply loved by all of his family and friends for the love and laughter that he brought into their lives. Dougie was always the life and soul of the party and will be missed by all. We are all extremely privileged to have shared his short life. "Dougie loved his job in the army and his comrades; he would have done anything for them. He was that special type of man. We were all so proud when he was voted top cadet in his passing out parade. He did us all proud and lived by the family motto; Sis Justus nec timeas.- be just and fear not. "We remember Dougie for his charm, the special times together and his humour. He will never be forgotten. "At this sad time for his family, we also send our condolences to the families of his comrades who also gave their lives so that we may live in freedom."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Dougie Halliday was a highly capable and competent soldier who thrived on the challenge and camaraderie that Army life brought. "He joined the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) in 2008 and served in the Falkland Islands and completed a number of arduous exercises before deploying to Afghanistan with the Battalion. "Initially serving with B Company, he was selected as a member of the Gereshk City Police Assistance Team under the command of Colour Sergeant Bobby Horton. "A spirited man with a big heart he was totally committed to this difficult and often dangerous mission and interacted extremely well with both the police and the civilian community. "Just two days before this tragic incident, he had whipped me soundly playing bowling on the Wii, much to the amusement of others. "He was a fit and strong soldier and was willing to shoulder any burden to assist the team's performance. "He was positive in his approach to service in Afghanistan and to his chosen profession. "He had a bright future ahead of him. His loss will be deeply felt and he will never be forgotten. He was a true Mercian Warrior and our thoughts are with his family and many friends." Major Paul Dupuy, Officer Commanding Police Advisory Team Gereshk, 4th Regiment Royal Artillery said: "Private Halliday was a young, fit and able soldier. In the short time I have known him he proved to be a constantly positive and determined character. "He always gave his all, was a dependable colleague and very much a team player. "He was young man of much potential who will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this most difficult of times." Major Chris Wood, Officer Commanding C Company 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Doug Halliday was the archetypical Infantry soldier. He lived for being in the field and was very much looking forward to going on his first operational tour. "In camp he was a nuisance, taking up far too much of the Company Sergeant Major's time as he strived to find more interesting things to occupy his time - but he looked forward to deploying to Afghanistan and this had given him renewed focus as he shone during pre-deployment training. "He was a strong, fit and very capable individual with a bright, if mischievous, future. "He will be a loss to the Battalion which has lost one of its real characters. "This is, however, nothing compared with the loss his family and friends are feeling now. "Our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times." Captain Ben Stephens, Intelligence Officer, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Private Halliday possessed a boldness and confidence of someone far more senior. "He completed all tasks set for him with a smile and aplomb. His positive nature was infectious and this will leave a hole in his team that will not easily be filled. "The fact that he went about his duties with such competence and a positive outlook, was testament to his courage and character. "He will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues in the Battalion but we know that this pales into insignificance compared to the feelings of his family at this difficult time. "I wish you God's Speed Doug Halliday, you will not be forgotten. Stand Firm and Strike Hard our Mercian Brother." Lieutenant Dave Payne, Officer Commanding 6 Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Private Dougie Halliday was a courageous young man. He was most at home on exercise, free from distractions and surrounded by his mates; this is where he excelled the most. "It had always been his dream to serve on combat operations with his County Regiment. "He realised this dream when he deployed on Op HERRICK 12. It will be truly difficult to come to terms with the loss of such a popular character. "Our thoughts and prayers go to both his friends here and his family back home." Private Thomas Daignton-Rogers, C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Dougie, you were a good friend with a heart of gold. You will be sorely missed and never forgotten. "They say everything happens for a reason, but not this time. Take it easy Doug, sleep tight. Rest in Peace." Private Ian Williams, A Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I first met Doug Halliday on a train as we travelled to Catterick for initial training and he was in my Section throughout. "He was a very cheeky lad who loved to pull pranks on anybody. "He was a close friend of Private Alex Isaac and the two of them would often be together, trying to chat up the girls in 'Bar 28', Catterick. "He would always greet me with a grin on his face and this is how I will always remember him. "I know you and Alex will be getting up to pranks together in heaven, RIP mate."  The Police Advisory Team Gereshk, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Dougie was a quiet man, but beneath this lay a huge amount of confidence when he was out on the ground. "He was a professional soldier through and through. Dougie was never afraid of getting stuck into any situation and his professionalism and ability was clear to see to those around him. "He was selfless and would always put the needs of the team before his own. "Dougie never lacked motivation and his endless enthusiasm and energy served to keep the team going when times were tough."


[ Private Alex Isaac ]

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Private Alex Isaac was 20 years old and from the Wirral. Following training at the Army Training Regiment in Bassingbourn and the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick he joined the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) on 12 May 2008. He served in the United Kingdom and Kenya and on operations in Afghanistan. Following Mission Specific Training in readiness for deployment on Operation HERRICK 12, he moved from C Company to B (Malta) Company. Soon after deployment he formed part of a team tasked with advising the Afghan National Police in Gereshk City, Helmand Province. The Police Advisory Team has been providing assistance to the Afghan Police in order to enhance their effectiveness and promote local security, economic development and the rule of law. On 23 June 2010, following an incident at a Police Check Point near Gereshk, Private Isaac's team, along with the Afghan National Police, deployed as a Quick Reaction Force in support of their Afghan colleagues. The vehicle in which he was travelling overturned into the Nahr-e-Bughra Canal. At approximately 2208hrs local, Private Alex Isaac died in the incident alongside three of his colleagues from the Police Advisory Team - Colour Sergeant Horton, Lance Corporal David Ramsden and Private Douglas Halliday. The family of Private Isaac have made the following Statements Mother; Mrs Annette Isaac, said: "My beautiful darling son who was a fighter, and so brave, you will always be in my heart, my soul and my thoughts. God bless." Father; Mr John Isaac, said: "I will miss you always my brave son Alex, you now live on in my thoughts and my heart." Brother; Mr Chris Isaac, said: "Alex, my little brother, will always be remembered for his bravery and huge personality." Brother; Mr Robert Isaac, said: "Alex, I am very proud to be your brother; your strength will live on in all of us." Girlfriend; Miss Megan Anyon, said: "I will always love you, you brave boy." Grandmother; Mrs Elizabeth Isaac, said: "Dear Alex I will miss your smiling face." Grandmother; Mrs Vera Delamare, said: "Alex was a wonderful grandson and he will be sadly missed."

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Alex Isaac joined the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) in 2006, coming to us straight from school. "His age prevented service in Iraq with the Battalion but he was soon deployed to the Falklands and Kenya for training exercises and demonstrated a high level of competence during pre-deployment training for Afghanistan. "He was keen to serve overseas with his mates and was a capable soldier. "He came to Afghanistan initially with B Company, but was soon selected to move to Gereshk City to help form a Police Advisory Team under Colour Sergeant Bobby Horton. "He responded well to the dynamics of this small team and, as a strong and energetic man, he was an ideal role model to the emerging police force that he was mentoring. "Alex was popular with all and respected for his work ethic and determined nature. "He was a Mercian Warrior, standing firm to protect those in need and striking hard to defeat their enemies. "He will always be remembered as one of our heroes, but the loss to his partner Megan, his parents Annette and John, and his family and many friends will be deeper even than ours."  Major Paul Dupuy, Officer Commanding Police Advisory Team Gereshk, 4th Regiment Royal Artillery said: "Private Isaac was a strong, fit and always cheerful young man. A dedicated and professional soldier he could always be relied upon in any situation. "He had a great sense of humour and he was a pleasure to work with. "In the short time that I had the privilege to command him, he proved to be a man of much potential. "He will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this most difficult of times." Major Chris Wood, Officer Commanding C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Alex was a great personality to have in the Company; a big, gregarious man who always wore a ready smile. "He was the sort of soldier who, despite his relative inexperience, could be relied upon to always get the job done. He had a great future ahead of him and would have achieved anything he set his mind to. "His loss is keenly felt across the Company and our lives will be poorer without him. "Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult of times." Captain Ben Stephens, Intelligence Officer, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Private Isaac was an enormously likeable character. His quiet nature, wry smile and willingness to complete all that was asked of him marked him out as one to watch. "It is such a tragedy that his future has been stolen from him. His passing will be felt keenly by his friends in the Battalion, many of whom grew up with him in the North West. "I extend my most sincere condolences to his family; I know your son was a man of courage and honour who fought with great spirit. He will not be forgotten by those who knew him. Stand Firm and Strike Hard Alex Isaac." Lieutenant Dave Payne, Officer Commanding 6 Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Private Alex Isaac was one of the most complete soldiers I have ever had the privilege of working with. "His determination and robustness are a testament to his character. "He was always one of the first to show his hunger for a challenge even in the most adverse of situations. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this tragic time."  Private Ian Williams, A Company, 1St Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "I met Alex Isaac when he joined my platoon in training 2 years ago. He was a great lad who always had a smile on his face even when the rest of us 'snapped' as things got tough. "He always helped me when I needed it. He was a great character and when he arrived at the Battalion he got himself into some funny situations as only he could, but he always kept on smiling. You will be missed my friend."  Private Thomas Daignton-Rogers C Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Ally Isaac, you were the comedian of the group and always had us in stitches. "You, me, Dougie, Pay, Pete and the rest of the lads - there are loads of good memories that will be remembered. You will not be forgotten. Sleep tight. Rest in Peace." The Police Advisory Team Gereshk, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: "Alex was an excellent young soldier with lots of potential who was always ready for anything. "You could always recognise him as he was someone who wasn't afraid of being an individual and to stand out from the crowd. "His friendly 'can-do' attitude meant that he was a hit amongst his team mates. "His natural sense of humour always shone through and he could see the comical side of any situation."


[ Private Thomas Sephton ]

Private Thomas Sephton, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, who died in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, on Monday 5 July 2010, of wounds sustained during service in Afghanistan. Private Sephton had been in Afghanistan serving as part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (North) when he was wounded in an explosion whilst on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on Sunday 4 July 2010. His patrol was providing protection for the clearance of a road in the Upper Gereshk Valley. Pte Sephton received treatment on site and later at Camp Bastion before being flown to the UK for further treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where he succumbed to his injuries. Pte Thomas Sephton was 20 years old and from Warrington. He enlisted into the Army in July 2008 and joined the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) [1 MERCIAN] in January 2009 following the Combat Infantryman's Course in Catterick. He joined Mortar Platoon and served in the United Kingdom, The Falkland Islands and Kenya, and on operations in Afghanistan. On the morning of the Sunday 4 July 2010, operating in a Rifle Platoon, Pte Sephton deployed from Patrol Base Malvern tasked with providing flank protection to an IED clearance operation. Whilst clearing a route for his section he was caught in an IED blast and seriously wounded. Pte Sephton was extracted by helicopter to Bastion Role 3 Hospital and then flown to the UK. On the afternoon of the 5 July 2010, with his family present, the decision was taken to switch off his life support machine and he died of his wounds.

 

The family of Pte Thomas Sephton have made the following statement: "Tom meant the world to everyone who knew him. We are so very proud of our brave soldier. He will be with us forever in our hearts." Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer 1 MERCIAN, said: "Private Tom Sephton joined the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) in January 2009, choosing to serve with the Mortar Platoon from the outset. "He had been enthused by the nature of the Platoon, and he fitted in well from the very start, training with them in the Falkland Islands and Kenya, before deploying to Afghanistan. "He was a hardworking man, always ready to volunteer for additional work or responsibility in order to improve the lot of others. "He is remembered by his friends as a man who never complained, who just got on with the job, however difficult or unpleasant it was. This is probably the reason that he was often to be found at the head of patrols, searching for IEDs that would threaten them. "He was courageous and selfless to the last, placing himself in harm's way to save others. When he was mortally injured he was alongside his best friend Private Charlie Emina, and amongst his mates whom he did so much to help.  "Tom Sephton was not a particularly big man in terms of size, but he had a big heart, and was full of fun and energy. He was a keen rugby player and enjoyed playing on the wing for his Company, where his fitness and speed were more than a match for most. "He punched above his weight in every way, whether militarily, in sporting activities or by just being a great friend and comrade. His obvious ability had been spotted, and he was due to attend a promotion course on return from Afghanistan. "If any man lived the motto, 'Stand Firm Strike Hard', it was Tom Sephton. He will be missed deeply by the Mortar Platoon, and by the men of C Company to whom he was attached. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Battalion are with his family and friends at this most difficult of times." Major Chris Wood, Officer Commanding C Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Private Tom Sephton was caught in an explosion clearing a patrol base line to the north of Gereshk, Helmand province. He was part of an operation to reinforce the patrol base line allowing for greater security to be established among the villages of northern Gereshk. "He was wounded as he deployed with his platoon to provide protection for the Improvised Explosive Device [IED] Task Force. "Tom Sephton was one of the Company's finest soldiers. He was fit, robust and above all, fearless. I have a Battalion coin which was awarded by the Commanding Officer for acts of courage and selflessness that was awarded to Tom. "He had, some weeks ago, identified a command wire which led to a donkey. The donkey had been tied to the ground and on its back was a large IED. Despite the obscurity of a donkey-borne IED, Tom's vigilance and utter knowledge of the ground prevented certain loss of life, but thanks to Tom the only casualty was the donkey.  "I have not had the opportunity to give him the coin as he has been with his platoon on the Patrol Base Line providing security to the local population ever since. "Tom was at the top of his game, a true soldier and a great friend. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts go out to his family and friends. Their loss is greatest. Tom lived tough and died a hero. He is constantly in our hearts and will never be forgotten, we will see you again." Major Robin Barnbrook, Officer Command Support Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Private Sephton's tragic death will be keenly felt by every soldier in Support Company 1 MERCIAN. He was a bright and engaging soldier but more importantly, he was a genuine man who cared for his mates. "Sefo was a key figure in the Mortar Platoon and did much to increase the Platoon's performance on the Battalion's weekly run - the Pearson Trophy. A true Mercian warrior, his sacrifice will not be forgotten and the thoughts of the men of Support Company are with his family and many friends at this most distressing of times." Lieutenant Richard Sawyer, Officer Commanding 9 Platoon, C Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Private Tom Sephton was a mature soldier. His courage was unflinching regardless of danger. His natural size meant that he did not look like a rugby player but his speed and love for playing the game ensured that he was a talented player. "On operations he proved to be an exceptional soldier. He took pride in being front-man of a platoon and he remained unflappable under pressure. His professional ability and calm nature saved the lives of colleagues on several occasions. He is a true hero. "Rest in Peace Private Sephton." Lt Alex Kersey, Officer Commanding 6 Platoon, C Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Having only spent two weeks on the ground with 6 Platoon, Private Sephton had already demonstrated several good qualities of a soldier. He led from the front in the most skilful and tactical way. "He was the lead man of the lead section which cleared safe routes of IEDs for colleagues. In doing so he demonstrated immense courage and selflessness. "A truly well liked and respected member of the platoon which had been at the forefront of an operation here in Helmand province. Private Sephton has left a lasting presence in the Platoon and our thoughts go out to his family and friends. "His courage and professionalism was an example to all. He will be in our hearts and minds as we continue over here and will never be forgotten." Lt David Payne, C Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Private Tom Sephton was one of the bravest soldiers I have ever met. As a leading member of the Mortar Platoon All Arms Search Team he constantly put himself in harm's way to protect other members of his team and platoon. "He was an eternally happy young man, always engaged in banter with his Section Commander, Lance Corporal Marriot, and particularly his good friend Private Charlie Emina. He was also a great rugby league player who ran rings round me on more than one occasion when on the training field. His enthusiasm for the game reflects his attitude to all things in life. "He will be sorely missed by all his friends here. Our prayers are with his family; I am sure they can take some solace in the fact that he saved the lives of others by giving his own. Sleep well now, I will never forget you." Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Morley, Mortar Platoon Second in Command, on behalf of the Mortar Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Tom Sephton joined the Mortar Platoon in January 2009. He immediately became part of the team and was very popular with everyone. He rose to the challenge of being a mortarman with glowing enthusiasm and a permanent smile. He was a true professional and dedicated to both his work and his friends. "A keen sportsman, he represented his Company at rugby, subsequently playing a key role within Support Company's trophy winning effort. At times he left a few Battalion rugby players a little red faced and more than surprised with his pace and skill. "With his sparkling character he made socialising look easy and loved spending time with his friends ensuring a few 'quiet' drinks were never dull with Tom around. "He was an excellent soldier and an even finer friend who met every challenge with vigour and a smile. He will be sadly missed but affectionately remembered by all that knew him. Rest in Peace."  Corporal John Devlin, Mortar Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Tom Sephton was an excellent soldier and an even better friend. He met any challenge with enthusiasm and hard work. His many qualities and strength of character made him very popular and he will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all those that new him. Rest in Peace." Cpl Darren Lightfoot, Mortar Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "From the moment Sepho got to the Mortar Platoon, he was the life and soul of the platoon. He was always smiling, having a laugh and a joke about pretty much anything. It was an honour knowing him and he will be sadly missed. Sleep tight Sepho mate, I will never forget you." LCpl Alan Redford and Pte Craig Biddle, Mortar Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "A few words about Tom Sephton aka Sepho. We first met Sepho two years ago when he joined the Mortar Platoon and was instantly liked. Sepho never needed telling to do stuff and was very hard working. He was always first to volunteer. He was small in size but made big mates quickly and he had a big heart. "Our time knowing Sepho was a pleasure; we were like his big brothers in the Army, always giving him advice - mainly on girls. "Before deploying to Afghanistan the platoon was invited to Sepho's birthday party where we met all of his family and friends, which was a really good night and a good send off for a small man. Sepho you are a big loss to the platoon, always loved and never forgotten. Love Reds and Bids." LCpl James Johnson, Mortar Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Tom Sephton was a hero and a true friend. He was a great guy, always hard working with an excellent sense of humour. To us he was like a baby brother. Rest in Peace." LCpl Steven Morrish, Pte Jonathan Charlesworth, Pte Colin Brown and Pte Steven Naylor, Mortar Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Sepho, we are sitting here wondering what to write as it is not something that we ever thought we would have to do. We just hope it does you justice. "Our friend, you would always talk about your mum and family and we knew from the stories how much you loved them and our hearts and thoughts go out to them for their great loss. We know how much you loved your rugby and you would always argue the case that it is more skilful than football and it was a true man's game; that's why you played it. "Since we got out here, you have always led from the front, whether it was for the Section or Company or coming forward to clear IEDs with Moz. You used to call him 'Jack' if he found it first, but you found more than your fair share. What is mad as we are writing this is the fact that we are smiling and laughing as people remember your stories. "We always knew you were a ladies man even if some of your stories were farfetched. Sometimes you would show us evidence, but then we would speak to Charlie and his story would be completely different. "There are so many things that need to be said, like how you were always willing to help anyone out, or how you would shout, 'Moz, get your fags out' after a fire fight, or how we would catch you wearing your softie over your body armour because you were cold. "Whatever you did you had a cheeky smile on your face. We will miss you mate, a true hero and a true friend. Gone but NEVER forgotten." Pte Charles Emina, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Sefo was my closest friend in the world; we were like brothers. He was always the life and soul wherever he went. He loved his friends and family more than anything. He was always first out of the gate on patrol and had pride doing his job for his Country. He saved the lives of his section on two occasions and on that tragic day he saved my life and gave his own. "He is a true hero to his friends, family and his country and as a Nation we owe him a debt of gratitude. I love him with all my heart and I will be lost without him. All my love goes to him and his family while he Rests in Peace." Pte Jamie Dollery, Pte Laurie Cartwright, and Craftsman Carl Fletcher, C Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "We can say that from the day we met Sepho he was a top lad and a very good friend. From the first day that Tom came to the platoon he was instantly liked, quiet at first but soon came out of his shell and made an impact on everyone. "At his first platoon function he was nicknamed 'Little Dolly' and that name stuck. To that end, Sepho mate, you were a brother to us and a friend to all. "On his first mortar exercise he was Dolly's Number 2 and we could see that he was a grafter and a mortarman, ever though he didn't have the build of one. Tom was one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet, with a heart of gold. "He would do anything for you at the drop of a hat; he was strong minded and willed, a cracking soldier. Our thoughts go out to your family and friends at this time. As you roll up to the gates of St Peter, you can let him know that the Mortars have arrived. Today you are known as a soldier, tomorrow you will be known as a hero. Rest in Peace Tom, you will never be forgotten." Members of C Company Mortar Section, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Sefo was one of the lads in the Mortar Platoon who was always up for a laugh. Smoked like Dot Cotton and drank like a fish but still one of the fittest lads in the platoon, which isn't exactly hard! "He always thought he was a John Travolta and a bit of a player which is something we'll all miss about him. Gone from our Platoon but not from our hearts. We are going to miss you Sefo lad." Pte Manasseh Hayfron-Taylor, Mortar Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Tom Sephton you have left a big vacuum in my heart and life and I struggle to find the words to express how I am feeling; grief, pain and sadness all fall short. You have played a huge part in my life since our days in training, through to joining the Battalion and then into the Mortar Platoon; you will be fondly missed. "We will all miss your strength, enthusiasm and camaraderie both socially and at work. You were a strong and cheerful friend with a bright future, which was cruelly and unfairly cut short. "I will never forget the good times we shared and the memories we had together, and wish I could turn back the clock to see you again. The Almighty God has his own – rest safely in his abode. Until we meet again, God be with you, and rest in peace my friend. Pte Kevin Crouch and Pte Angus Connelly, Mortar Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Tom Sephton was an excellent soldier, a true friend and a hero. He possessed a humour that inspired others and he will not be forgotten. It was an honour to have called him a friend and he will always be our hero. Rest in Peace."


 [ Lieutenant John Charles Sanderson  ]

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Lieutenant John Charles Sanderson of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) [1 MERCIAN], attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battle Group, died on Wednesday 11 August 2010 of wounds sustained in Afghanistan. Lt Sanderson was wounded in an explosion whilst on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on 13 July 2010. He was treated at the scene before being flown to the UK for further treatment. On Wednesday 11 August 2010, surrounded by his family, he finally succumbed to his injuries.

B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) Lt Sanderson was born in Oklahoma USA on 23 April 1981. He was educated at Bradfield College and Exeter University where he read history and was a member of the University Officer Training Corps. Immediately after university he joined the Royal Marines and began training on the Young Officers' Course at Lympstone in September 2002, although he was forced to withdraw from the course having broken his ankle. Following this he had a brief foray into the world of finance before attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, commissioning into the Mercian Regiment in April 2009. Following the Platoon Commanders' Battle Course he joined the 1st Battalion in time to assume command of 1 Platoon, A Company, and deploy to Kenya to take part in Exercise Grand Prix. He successfully led his platoon through pre-deployment training and, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan, moved them to the newly re-formed B (Malta) Company in readiness for its deployment with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battlegroup on Operation HERRICK 12.  The Company deployed to Patrol Base 1 in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) District of Helmand province. B (Malta) Company have spent the last four months improving the quality of the lives of hundreds of local Afghans around the villages of Enezai and Char Coucha in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand by providing much needed security and reassurance to the community in the area. On 13 July 2010, during an operation to the north east of Char Coucha, close to Patrol Base 1, Lt Sanderson's 12-man multiple was occupying a compound in order to provide security for an IED clearance operation to take place. At 0626hrs local time, an explosion occurred, injuring Lt Sanderson. Lt Sanderson leaves behind his mother, father and sister, all of whom live in Windelsham, Surrey.

His family have paid the following tribute: "We have lost a brilliant and loving son and brother. John loved his Army career and was enthusiastically committed to his men and particularly his and their role in Afghanistan. "He believed he was contributing to a better life for the Afghan people. We will miss him tremendously but we will never forget him and  what he gave to us."

 

Lieutenant Colonel Andy Hadfield, Commanding Officer, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Lieutenant John Sanderson joined the Battalion in April of 2009, and after completing his Platoon Commander's Battle Course arrived just in time to take his Platoon to Kenya. It was here that I really started to get to know him. "Big-hearted, strong and imaginative, he quickly caught my eye as one to watch for the future. Whilst acting as 'enemy' he managed to evade us all and infiltrate the battlegroup headquarters, much to our dismay and his mens' amusement. "John was forthright, had an opinion on most things, and was always optimistic. He offered solutions to problems, and was full of ideas for future events, well thought out and passionately delivered. "He cared deeply for his men, and this was obvious from the outset; they responded brilliantly to his loyalty and leadership. In the Officers' Mess he will be remembered, amongst other things, for his dinner speech on the importance of Mercian Warriors sharing beer before standing in the shield wall to defend their kingdom. "He was extremely keen to deploy to Afghanistan to work to improve the lives of the ordinary Afghan people and he relished the challenge of service in this, so very dangerous, country. He rose to it magnificently, with courage, fortitude, tenacity and compassion. "He was loved and respected by all, bound by the values of the Mercian Brotherhood and his innate common decency. "He stood firm at the head of his men, and struck hard at their enemies. "Above all I will remember him as a courageous, honest and caring man who was probably destined to sit in the Commanding Officer's chair one day. "A huge character, John Sanderson will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with his mother, his father and his sister at this most difficult time." Lt Col Gerald Strickland MBE, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battlegroup, said: "Lieutenant John Sanderson was a big man with a heart of gold, and it was with deep, deep sadness that we learned that he had finally succumbed to injuries sustained in an explosion when he was on patrol. "I will always remember him as a young officer in his prime, totally at one with his soldiers with whom he had a wonderful relationship. He was their boss and their friend. "Tough and brave in battle, he had led his platoon through hard times, but always remained cheerful and positive. "All of us in the Royal Gurkha Rifles Battlegroup are united in our thoughts for his family who have suffered so much with such dignity over these last few weeks. We mourn John's loss and share a small part of their burden of grief." Major Rich Grover, Officer Commanding B (Malta) Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Lieutenant John Sanderson came to B (Malta) Company with 1 Platoon at the start of the tour, having come across from A Company. Although he was relatively new to the Battalion he had made a reputation for himself as an excellent platoon commander and was highly regarded by all. "I was immediately struck by his infectious enthusiasm for everything he did. "A truly inspirational leader, his men would follow him anywhere and for anything. A leader who inspired his men by always being at the front, he was courageous, loyal and determined. He had already proved this on numerous occasions on operations. "He cared passionately for the men of his platoon, and they loved and respected him for it. Confident and self-assured, he was always  motivated to be better and never stopped in this pursuit. He would always ask questions and he was held in high regard by his platoon sergeant and junior non-commissioned officers for this. "John was committed to making our area of operations better. He really cared about what we were doing and the positive effect he could have on the local population. He wanted to help in any way he could and leave it a better place. "He would regularly hold meetings with the local population when on patrol in order to get to the root of any problems that we could assist with, and it was his empathy and attitude with the locals that helped build a positive relationship. "Born to be an infantry platoon commander, he found his calling. "A man whose glass was always half-full, never empty, he will be remembered as a kind hearted and gregarious person, always with a smile on his face. "His strength and fortitude has been exemplified by the way in which he tried to fight his injuries. He will be missed by all in B (Malta) Company but his spirit, enthusiasm and will to succeed will live on in us all. Stand firm brother, we will miss you dearly." Maj Mark Ellwood MBE, Officer Commanding A Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Lieutenant John Sanderson was as determined and committed as he was able and professional. A Platoon Commander of the rarest quality, who gave his all before we had the chance to see his full and undoubted potential unfold. "John was the very epitome of what we all aspire to be; a natural leader possessed of boundless energy and enthusiasm with a deep respect and adoration of the men he had the privilege to command. "On completion of his officer training, John took command of 1 Platoon, A Company as they prepared to deploy on exercise in Kenya. A  challenging test for any young officer but he shone in all that he did, moulding his platoon with great care and professionalism in preparation for our operational deployment to Afghanistan. "His diligence and devotion to his men set him apart; he led and they willingly followed. His platoon became his very reflection; skilled, adaptable and ready for anything that was required of them. "Always polite, respectful and unquestionably loyal, I am privileged to have had the honour to work with him and to have a man of his calibre command one of my platoons. It was thus a great personal disappointment that he and his platoon were detached from A Company immediately prior to deployment. "True to his incredible strength of character, he took the move to B (Malta) Company in his stride and made it his own. He believed passionately in the difficult work that he was doing to protect the people of Helmand. In doing so, and in helping to keep our country  safe, we owe him and his family an enormous debt of gratitude. "I, and all of A Company, valued him immensely and are now the poorer for his loss, but I take comfort in knowing that he died leading his men from the front, doing the very job he so passionately loved. "I have no doubt that he would wish us to continue our work here in Afghanistan unabated; we will honour him by so doing. "We have had a genuine star taken from us. We mourn his loss but those whose grief is far greater than ours, his sister and his parents, will take some comfort in knowing that his ever glorious memory will stand firm and strike hard in our hearts forever." Maj Nick Brown, Adjutant, 1 MERCIAN, said: "A nicer man you could not hope to meet. John Sanderson exuded professionalism, charm, enthusiasm and a deep compassion for his men. He was liked and respected in the Battalion from top to bottom for his outstanding ability, leadership and humour; he was certainly a star of the future. "As Adjutant I utilised his qualities as an example to prospective officers and hopeful officer cadets – he was everything you could hope for in a young infantry officer. "A warrior in battle and a gentleman, he will be sorely missed but never forgotten by all who knew him and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this tragic time." Captain Adrian Thompson, Operations Officer, 1 MERCIAN, said: "In the short space of time that Lieutenant John 'Sandman' Sanderson served with the 1st Battalion he has left a lasting impression, one that will never be forgotten. "Enthusiastic with seemingly limitless energy and strength, and a willingness to learn, John epitomised everything that a young infantry officer could ever aspire to be, and that very few manage to achieve. "He performed his duties as a platoon commander with such professionalism, coupled with passion and determination - I was full of admiration for the way he tackled the pre-Afghanistan training, never afraid to seek advice when necessary, but ultimately doing it his way and doing it well. "He always strived to ensure the very best for his soldiers, either in training or with their welfare in mind, and it came as no surprise to anyone that he was so adored by his soldiers and brother officers alike. "You knew that a night out with John was never going to be short of entertainment and high jinx, but that he would be firing on all cylinders in the morning, unlike the rest of us! "His loss will be keenly felt by everyone in the Battalion, but this pales in comparison to the grief and heartache his family are going through, and my deepest sympathies are with them at this very difficult time. "A new star shines brightly in the sky tonight, and we can take comfort that John will be forever watching over us. Rest in Peace Mercian Warrior." Captain Grant Brown, Officer Commanding Reconnaissance Platoon, 1 MERCIAN, said: "If ever I knew a warrior-poet, it was John. The way he looked at life, and the situations that one could find oneself in, was unlike any other I have encountered. "He firmly believed that he could make a difference and was always voicing ideas on how to help the local people. This is what set John apart from the rest of us. "His compassion for the people of this land was only outdone by his commitment and concern for the men under his command. "He was loved and respected because he showed love and respect. A more popular and enthusiastic Platoon Commander you will not find and his death has left a huge space which cannot be filled. The Mercian Regiment is poorer for his departure and those that knew him have been left devastated.  "From a personal point of view, I have lost a great friend. From quiet coffees whilst discussing 'El Cid', to words of wisdom when I have been low, I will miss them all. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, as they have been throughout their ordeal. "John, you were an utterly professional officer and it was a privilege to serve alongside you. More importantly, you were a genuine guy with too many good traits to mention. You were my colleague and friend and I will miss you. May you Rest in Peace." Capt Ben Powell, Mortar Platoon Commander, 1 MERCIAN, said: "John, if everyone had your positive attitude, desire to learn and enthusiasm for life the world would truly be a better place. You leaving us has left a hole in the Officers' Mess and a hole amongst the soldiers you have served alongside that will never be replaced. Rest in Peace my friend." Capt James Baker, Second in Command of A Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "John was a remarkable guy to work with. He had endless energy and an infectious enthusiasm for everything which was exhausting to keep up with. "Utterly selfless and devoted to his platoon, they loved him for it, and they followed him everywhere; in Kenya, throughout pre-deployment training and then on operations here in Afghanistan. "He quickly made his mark within the Company through his professionalism and diligence and formed a very tight team with the other platoon commanders, resulting in numerous comedy escapades. "A big guy with an even bigger character, he will leave a massive gap in the Company, and in the Officers' Mess, and will be sorely missed." Captain Phil Dyson, B (Malta) Company Second-in-Command, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: "Words are always inadequate at times like this but it is all we have to express how we felt about John. "He was one of the best men I knew. He cared about everyone and lifted the spirits of all those around him, no matter the rank. His men loved him and trusted him and I do not think a man can gain many higher accolades in this world. He died doing the job he loved and he never gave less than his all. "He leaves a gap in B (Malta) Company that will very difficult to fill and we will all miss him. Rest in Peace mate and we will see you later on."  Lt Richard Sawyer, Officer Commanding 9 Platoon, C Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "John Sanderson was a good friend who was liked and respected by all ranks. He had an infectious enthusiasm for everything he did and a genuine zest for life. "Despite being on the receiving end of continuous mess banter, he showed a great sense of humour and was omnipresent when there was fun to be had. He was a highly capable and ambitious junior officer who will be sorely missed. "Rest in Peace Mercian brother." Lt Neil Cooke, Officer Commanding 4 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: "Lieutenant John Sanderson, known as 'The Sandman' in the Officers' Mess, joined A Company during Exercise Grand Prix in Kenya last September and instantly made a name for himself as not only a gifted platoon commander, but also a thoroughly likeable man. "His eternal optimism shone through in all he did and he never accepted that something could not be done. "He often worked long into the night to ensure his platoon was correctly managed, tirelessly putting his men's welfare and careers before himself. "Through his selfless hard work it would be no exaggeration to say his men followed him, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. "He saw the funny side of life no matter how difficult the circumstances - the eternal optimist if ever there was one. "He was a character within the Mess, and we all miss his pranks and hearty chuckle. "An inspirational leader, comrade in arms, but more importantly a close friend has been taken before his time. "Sleep well buddy, your rest is well earned." Lt James Sugden, Platoon Commander, A Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "I have had the absolute honour and pleasure of knowing John since he first joined A Company last July. I also have the privilege of calling him my friend. "John was an example to us all. He was a bastion of integrity, diligence, honour, selfless commitment, bravery and kindness. John has made a great impression on all who knew him. His untimely death has deeply affected us all and my thoughts and prayers are with his family. "John and I had many good times together and it is these fond memories that I will forever carry with me. "There was the time he locked himself out of the accommodation in Edinburgh Castle whilst sleep walking or the dance off we had at the Christmas Ball; there are simply too many to recount. "You were a true soldier John and an amazing friend. You were always there for me. I will always remember our parting words before the tour and my only regret is that I wasn't serving alongside you. I know now you'll be watching over us all. I loved you like a brother, Rest in Peace my friend, I miss you so much." Lt Sarah Greenwood, AGC Detachment Commander, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Sandman was one of the best of men. He was a great friend to all those who were lucky enough to know him and he was loved by many. "One of my earliest memories of John was when he arrived in Battalion before going on his Platoon Commanders' Battle Course. The Mess had gone out for the night to Darlington, and John was dancing away, he then decided to carry different Mess members on his shoulders while still 'cutting shapes'. That was the type of man he was; strong as an ox, and never afraid of making a fool of himself. "He was always there with his wonderful smile and a chuckle. He would stop whatever he was doing to help out a friend or just listen after a bad day. His soldiers were his priority though, and he worked hard for them always. The influence he had on them, albeit for too short a time, will show through in them always. "He was a great, all-round officer and had a great career ahead of him. The Army has lost a wonderful young officer. "John, you have more than earned your place in Valhalla; may you finally find peace there. You will be ever glorious in our memories and I am grateful for having known you. My thoughts and prayers are with [your family] and all those who love you." Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Matthew Henry, A Company Sergeant Major, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Lieutenant John Sanderson was a role model officer, young, full of life and energy, caring and passionate about his job and his men. He was utterly dedicated and a true professional; a joy to work with. "In such a relatively short period of time he made such an impact on all of us. He was a massive character and hugely popular amongst the ranks. I will miss the daily exchange of banter between young officer and Company Sergeant Major. "Sir, it was such a privilege to have known and worked with you. You will be missed but I will always remember you with such fond  memories. My thoughts are with you and your family. Stand Firm and Strike Hard." WO2 Anthony Higginbottom, B (Malta) Company Sergeant Major, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Lieutenant John Sanderson - I knew of him within the Battalion but then when B (Malta) Company formed I had the privilege to work alongside him. "He was a gentle giant who truly believed in the re-stabilisation of Afghanistan. "He was a proud Platoon Commander who would go out of his way to ensure all the soldiers under his command had the correct equipment and support available to them. "Whilst being in Patrol Base 1 he was nicknamed 'Lieutenant Fluffy' as no matter how negative the local nationals were, he would always see the best in people. "I fully believe that Lieutenant Sanderson would have progressed through the officer ranks and fulfilled all of his leadership potential. "He will be sorely missed by the members of B (Malta) Company and his beloved 1 Platoon. A professional and courageous Platoon Commander that I hope all the young and newly appointed commanders aspire to be like. "Lieutenant Sanderson, you will always be known within the Mercian Regiment and live on in our memory, Sir, sleep well." Colour Sergeant David Davies, 1 Platoon Sergeant, B (Malta) Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Lieutenant John Sanderson showed me the man he was from the first day that we met. He was an outstanding platoon commander and always put his men before himself, he inspired confidence in them in the face of adversity. "He was a true gentleman who left a mark on everyone he met. He could instantly make people warm to him with his welcoming personality. "He was a deeply compassionate man with an unquestionable respect and loyalty for his soldiers; he certainly made my life easier and helped me when I needed someone to talk to. "So now I try to accept that my friend and my platoon commander has been taken away. This will be a huge challenge, but I know that the precious memories I have will somehow make this easier. "My thoughts are with your family, you are a true soldier and I am privileged to have called you Boss." Corporal Simon Done, Section Commander, 3 Platoon, A Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Our 'Boss', Lieutenant John Sanderson, was a young platoon commander who quickly took to life in A Company. He picked up the banter from the junior ranks and gave as good as he got, immediately bonding him with the blokes. "A monster of a man, but with the biggest heart, a real friendly giant. I had the privilege to sit down and have many chats with the 'Boss'; he was always willing to listen and offer advice and showed genuine interest in me and my family. This was typical of him, warm, generous and a good friend to all he crossed paths with; a true officer and a gentleman. "The Company will miss you dearly; you will always be in our hearts. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time. A true A Company hero, God bless and Rest In Peace Sir." Lance Corporal Richie O'Connell, Section Second-in-Command, 4 Platoon, A Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "From the moment Lieutenant John 'the Sandman' Sanderson turned up at 1 Platoon, his bubbly and humorous character was evident from the very start. When we deployed to Kenya shortly after, he really showed us how incredibly keen he was through the amount of effort he put into everything and anything. "His infectious enthusiasm and character not only spread amongst the soldiers in 1 Platoon but he quickly became highly regarded by the whole of A Company. "He always genuinely took an interest in all of his men, not just their professional lives but their private lives as well, which sat well and was appreciated by them all. I know out here in Afghanistan, he was always up for anything and game for the fight. "Sir, we will all miss your sometimes terrible jokes and your crazy and funny stories of weekends past. You will be sadly missed by all of your men in 1 Platoon, A Company and 1 MERCIAN. Our thoughts are with your family and friends at this terrible time. STAND FIRM AND STRIKE HARD. Rest in Peace, a true officer and a gentleman." LCpl Mick Hogan, B (Malta) Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Sir, you put up a good fight, and we would have loved to have brought you home with us but that seemingly was not meant to be ... Farewell Boss and thanks for always listening." LCpl James Heath, B (Malta) Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "'All for one and one for all' was the 1 Platoon motto. He loved his job, his platoon and most of all his blokes. "Mr Sanderson was always thinking about us and always wanted the best for us. We looked up to him as a boss and a friend because he was the best at both. "John, you will never be forgotten and you will always be here with us." Private Jordon Pickford, B (Malta) Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "Mr Sanderson was the morale of this callsign and was always there to make us laugh when we were feeling down. You would always be up for a fight and we would always feel safe when you were on the ground with us. "I will never forget you but now you can be at peace and smash the gym whenever you want. My thoughts go out to you and your family at this sad time." Pte Blake Grimshaw, B (Malta) Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "I first met Mr Sanderson when I joined the Battalion in 2009. I was put in his Platoon, 1 Platoon. From the day I met him he was always talking about rugby and getting massive in the gym. "He was undoubtedly a man for the lads. He would always crack jokes and boost the men's morale when we were down. He loved the fact that we were 1 Platoon, the best Platoon in his eyes.  "All the lads loved him as the Boss and he would do anything for anyone. A true inspiration to us all. Rest in Peace now Mr Sanderson." Pte Liam Parr, B (Malta) Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "There aren't any words to describe the loss of Mr Sanderson. My thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family. Mr Sanderson was a true hero in our eyes. "He always led from the front and was there for the lads through thick and thin. He always inspired the lads when times were bad and he truly had a heart of gold. "Mr Sanderson always had the time to speak with us and see how we were. I remember one saying he gave us which was the motto 'All for one and one for all', he always made us look after each other. "I am truly honoured to have served with Mr Sanderson and I will always remember him. You will never be forgotten and it can be truly said that he gave his today so those at home could have their tomorrow. "Mr Sanderson was my boss, my friend and will always be in my thoughts." The Men of 3 Platoon, A Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "John was quite simply the best of us. Compassionate, professional, and without a shadow of a doubt the nicest character you could meet. "He always had time to talk, with anyone, and was invariably seen with a smile. He was also a consummate soldier and put his all into the job. "He came out here more than anyone with a genuine compassion for the people of Helmand, and by all accounts demonstrated that time and time again with B (Malta) Company. "He was a fantastic friend to all of us, not just his fellow officers but indeed anyone in his platoon, A Company or across the Battalion - whoever had the fortune to spend time with him. "It is a terrible loss when someone with the heart and attitude of John is taken from us, and the Battalion is worse off with his passing. Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time. Rest in Peace John." COBRA 41A Multiple, B (Malta) Company, 1 MERCIAN, said: "To a good man and a good leader. Your passing is a loss to us all. We will remember you always and we will strive to finish what you started. We all send our condolences to your family and loved ones and hope they all find peace within themselves. "Rest easy now Boss."