Lance Bombardier Liam McLaughlin, known simply as ‘Paddy’ to all who served with him, was born on 17 December 1985, and was brought up in Lancashire. He enlisted in the Army in September 2002, spending a year at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate before joining 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery in November 2003.
Having passed the All Arms Commando Course at his first attempt, securing the right to his Green Beret, Lance Bombardier McLaughlin spent a brief period based at the Regimental Headquarters in Plymouth before moving to 148 Commando Forward Observation Battery Royal Artillery, a detached sub-unit based in Poole, Dorset, in November 2004.
It was here that he really made his mark, deploying on exercises to Norway, Belize, Senegal and the United States as well as gaining his Military Parachute Wings and, in August 2005, promotion to Lance Bombardier.
His performance on the Novice Cold Weather Warfare Course in Norway summed up his qualities as a soldier perfectly – everyday loading up his kit with far more than his fair share of equipment, before setting off, somewhat optimistically, on skis that he could barely control. Amazingly, the inevitable concussion took almost three weeks to occur, and even then did absolutely nothing to moderate his behaviour. Paddy only had one setting, and that was throttle fully on.
With his ready smile, indomitable spirit and boundless energy, Lance Bombardier McLaughlin was superb company, and much loved for it. His ability to get into scrapes was both hair-raising and legendary. Above all, he was fiercely loyal – all you could wish for in a colleague, and he won friends and admirers in equal measure, accordingly.
Never happier than when he was busy, he was not one to sit around in his room. He spent his weekends coaxing a barely functional campervan around the country in search of surf, his holidays scouring foreign shores in search of more of the same, and his weekdays driving Sergeant Majors to distraction with his pointedly non-regulation sideburns.
Deploying to Afghanistan in September 2006, Lance Bombardier McLaughlin proved himself a versatile and highly effective soldier on operations. Cheerful, selfless and profoundly loyal, he will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege to serve with him.
Speaking on behalf of the Regiment, his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Neil Wilson RA, said:
Paddy was a real character, that rare combination of natural verve and determined professionalism that is an absolute pleasure to be around. He was an extremely popular young soldier, and undoubtedly had a bright future ahead of him. He leaves a void that will be felt by the entire Regiment, who are deeply shocked to a man.
That he should be lost alongside his fellow team-member and friend, Lance Bombardier Ross Clark, is particularly saddening, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.
In a statement Defence Secretary Des Browne said:
I was greatly saddened to hear about the deaths of LBdr Ross Clark and LBdr Paddy McLaughlin in Afghanistan on Saturday. By all accounts, they were clearly very professional, capable soldiers who were greatly respected by those who worked with them.
My thoughts are with their families and friends at this difficult time.