Operations in Afghanistan: British Fatalities
The number of British military deaths in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 stands at 363, following the death on 31 March 2011 of Colour Sergeant Alan Cameron of 1st Battalion Scots Guards from injuries sustained in an explosion near Lashkar Gah on 13 April last year.
There are 44 service personnel who have died from accidents, illness, or non-combat injuries. Others have yet to be assigned a cause of
death ... British Fatalities
The Parachute Regiment
Afghanistan, Killed in
Damien Raymond Jackson
The Parachute Regiment (3 Para)
1986 --- 5 July 2006
Private Jackson, from The 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, died as a result of injuries sustained during a
fire-fight with Taliban forces at approximately 1400 hours local time in Sangin, central Helmand Province. The incident occurred during a security patrol to clear a Helicopter landing site.
Private Damien Raymond Jackson
Private Damien Raymond Jackson was born on 9 July 1986. He lived in South Shields, Tyne and Wear and joined the Army in November 2003, completing his basic training at the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick, North Yorkshire. An enthusiastic, robust and physically fit Paratrooper,
Pte Jackson passed his Combat Infantry Course (PARA) Training and Pre-Parachute Selection course (P Company) with flying colours. In June 2004 he joined A Company, The 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.
During his time with A Company, Private Jackson completed several overseas exercises and two operational deployments. In January 2005 he deployed to Canada with the company to complete Exercise Frozen Star and in March 2006 deployed to Oman on Exercise Desert Eagle to conduct pre-Afghanistan deployment training.
Pte Jackson showed typical fortitude and determination to recover quickly from an injury whilst conducting a Long Range Parachute Insertion on Exercise Frozen Star.
Private Jackson had also completed two successful operational tours with the Battalion, firstly to Northern Ireland in June 2004 and, secondly, to Basrah Province, Iraq. Afghanistan was
Private Jackson’s third operational tour with the Regiment. An extremely experienced and reliable Paratrooper,
Pte Jackson was also a team medic and had shown a keen interest in becoming a combat medic. He had also been recommended for promotion to Lance Corporal.
A keen football fan and Sunderland AFC fanatic, Pte Jackson made every effort to return home to catch as many matches as he could at the Stadium of Light, where he was a season ticket holder.
Pte Jackson also enjoyed athletics and ran for his local athletics club, the South Shields Mariners, both before joining the Army and whilst at home on leave. He was particularly proficient at 400m and 800m running.
Popular, hard working and pro-active Pte Jackson was an extremely competent and reliable Paratrooper. His strength of character and level-headedness helped him maintain a focused and professional attitude to any task he was given and his infectious sense of humour allowed him to conduct his duties always to the best of his abilities and always with a smile.
Pte Jackson’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart J C Tootal, said of him:
"Private Damien Jackson was an excellent young soldier who represented the very best of what being a paratrooper is all about. Extremely popular and a superb sportsman, he was also highly professional and always took care of those around him.
"Having joined the Regiment in 2004, Damien quickly made his mark within the Battalion and served in numerous theatres including Northern Ireland and Iraq.
Damien died doing the job he loved and fighting to protect his fellow paratroopers.
"One of the very best in all respects, he will be sadly missed by all his comrades in 3 PARA and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."
Above all Pte Jackson was a friend to all, a great character and was full of life. He was an extremely popular member of 3 PARA and he will be sorely missed by all who were privileged to serve alongside him. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time. He will never be forgotten.
Pte Jackson's father, Daniel, gave the following tribute to his son:
"I wish everyone to know just how extremely proud I am of my son Damien – of all that he has achieved in his lifetime and of the fact that he died, when duty called, protecting others, in the service of his country.
"A fine, upstanding South Shields lad, Damien was immensely proud to have achieved his ultimate ambition in becoming a member of the finest regiment in the British Army.
"He will be missed and fondly remembered by everyone who knew him. My family and I are desolated at this news but we will strive to seek inspiration from the example of his courage.
"We fully support the British Army in Afghanistan whilst in no way supporting or condoning a government policy which has placed our young men and women in such dreadful danger. We now ask everyone to allow us the opportunity to share our grief in peace. I thank you all."
picture of Bry was taken shortly after insertion into Kosovo in 1999.
Corporal Bryan James Budd
VC (Post) ... 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment 20 August 2006
Corporal Bryan Budd
VC (Post) awarded the Victoria Cross 14th December
Corporal Bryan Budd, of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), has been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for acts of 'inspirational leadership and the greatest valour'. He is only the second recipient of the award in 24 years...
from a friend and serving Soldier
I served with Bry during his time with the Pathfinders of 5 Airborne Brigade. We were in the same patrol during many UK and overseas exercises, and later served together on operations in Kosovo, Macedonia and Iraq.
Bry was a funny guy who was good to have in your team. After leaving the Pathfinders he went on to instruct recruits at AFC Harrogate, and returned to 3 Para for the Herrick 4 tour of Afghanistan in 2006. He was killed in action during an assault on a Taliban position, winning the Victoria Cross for his actions.
Cpl Budd, 29, died as a result of injuries sustained during a fire fight with Taliban forces in Sangin, Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan. The incident occurred whilst on a routine patrol close to the District Centre.
Three other British soldiers were injured in the incident but their injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
Corporal Bryan James Budd, 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment
Corporal Bryan James Budd was born on 16 July 1977 and lived in Ripon, North Yorks with his wife Lorena and their two year old daughter Isabelle.
Cpl Budd had been in the Army for 10 years, since December 1995. He enjoyed a distinguished career, enlisting into the Parachute Regiment then passing the rigorous selection process for 16 Air Assault Brigade's Pathfinder Platoon an elite unit specially trained for long range reconnaissance missions.
Whilst part of that platoon he served in many operational theatres including Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq. In May 2002 he passed his Section Commander's Battle Course with distinction, and was on the cusp of promotion to Platoon Sergeant. He was a qualified Army Combat Survival Instructor, rock climber and freefall parachutist. In 2004
Cpl Budd was posted to the Infantry Training Centre in Harrogate where it was his responsibility to help train young future soldiers. He joined A Company, 3 PARA, in early June 2006 serving in Helmand Province.
A talented and hardworking soldier, Cpl Budd was the consummate professional Universally liked and admired, he was a shining example to those under his command, demonstrating great courage in the face of adversity. He had a keen sense of humour and a natural ability for lightening the mood.
Softly spoken and gracious, he was never hurried or flustered and took everything in his stride. Living in such a beautiful part of the world he loved the outdoors and would spend whatever time he could there. However, his keenest passion was for his family of which he was incredibly proud. He leaves behind his wife Lorena and daughter Isabelle. The couple were looking forward to the birth of their second child in September.
Cpl Budd's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Tootal, said of him:
"Cpl Bryan Budd was an outstanding young man who had quickly risen through the ranks in the Regiment. Extremely popular, he had a calm and professional manner that inspired confidence in all that worked with him; a natural leader.
Bryan died doing the job he loved, leading his men from the front, where he always was.
"Bryan was proud to call himself a Paratrooper and we were proud to stand beside him. One of the very best in all respects, he will be sadly missed by all his comrades in 3 PARA and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."
Cpl Budd leaves behind him a gap that will never be filled. A father, husband, son and a great friend to many. He will never be forgotten.
Lance Corporal Oliver Simon Dicketts
1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment
The death of Lance Corporal Oliver Simon Dicketts of the Parachute Regiment, who was killed following the crash of a RAF Nimrod MR2 aircraft in Afghanistan on
Saturday 2 September 2006.
Lance Corporal Oliver Simon Dicketts joined the Parachute Regiment in 2000 and after completing his training in 2001 was posted to 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment in Dover. In addition to deploying on exercises to Kenya and the USA, he quickly accumulated a broad range of operational deployments. These included Iraq, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan and his operational performance was invariably of the highest order.
Throughout his career he demonstrated ability beyond his age and rank. A loyal, brave, intelligent and dependable man he was an outstanding soldier with a bright future ahead of him.
He will be sadly missed by all who had the good fortune to know him.
Corporal Mark William Wright
Battalion The Parachute Regiment
Corporal Mark Wright awarded George Cross
on Thursday 14th December
2006 ... Corporal Mark Wright, of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), has been posthumously awarded the George Cross for an act of "the greatest gallantry and complete disregard for his own safety in striving to save others."
The death of Corporal Mark William Wright in Afghanistan
on Wednesday 6 September 2006.
read the full article why Corporal Mark Wright GC (Post) was awarded the George Cross for his bravery on 6th September 2006, in Afghanistan, when he entered a minefield in an extraordinary attempt to save the lives of critically-injured
soldiers ... please click
Corporal Wright, from The 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, was killed when a routine patrol encountered an unmarked minefield in the region of Kajaki, Helmand Province.
Corporal Wright was born on 22 April 1979 and lived in Edinburgh with his fiancé Gillian. He joined the Army in January 1999 and successfully completed the gruelling Combat Infantryman’s Course and Pre Parachute Selection. After passing the Basic Parachute Course at RAF Brize Norton, he was posted to The 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment in October 1999.
Within his first three years, he had completed three tours of Northern Ireland. By 2003, he was working as a Number One in a mortar detachment. In May 2003,
Corporal Wright deployed, along with the 3rd Battalion, to Iraq where he served with distinction.
Back in the UK he was promoted to Corporal, working as a Mortar Fire Controller. It was in this role that he deployed to Helmand Province in May 2006. Operating across the province,
Corporal Wright was vital in controlling mortar fire for a variety of sub units who often relied on mortars as their only form of indirect fire. Throughout the tour, he was continuously in the field, conducting high intensity operations right up until his death.
Corporal Wright was an outstanding soldier. Quietly confident and unassuming, his professionalism and dedication were second to none. His calm and unflappable leadership were an inspiration to all young soldiers. His accurate and timely fire control undoubtedly saved many Coalition lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was instrumental in fending off Taleban attacks. Gregarious and selfless, he would drop everything to help out a colleague in need.
Corporal Wright was a well loved member of the Regiment and he leaves behind a loving Mother, Father and Fiancé.
Corporal Wright’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Tootal, said of him:
"Corporal Wright died attempting to save the life of a fellow paratrooper who had been injured in a mine incident. He did so in complete disregard for his own safety whilst fully aware of the dangers to himself. His actions were typical of the type of man Corporal Wright was.
"Quietly determined and passionate about his profession, he possessed exceptionally high moral and physical courage. In the words of his best friend, he was a ‘fun loving Jock who loved the military and was up for anything and everything’.
"Due to attend an advanced promotion course, he had a very bright future ahead of him and had already been identified as someone who would go far. Unfortunately his promising career was cut tragically short.
"With the loss of Corporal Wright we have lost a trusted and valued friend. He set and maintained the highest of standards in accordance with being a Paratrooper. He will be very much missed by all of us."
Corporal Wright can never be replaced; he will always be in our hearts and will never be forgotten.
Private Nathan Cuthbertson, Private Daniel Gamble and Private Charles Murray
of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA)
Killed on Sunday 8 June 2008 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Coffin by coffin, colleagues slow-marched the C-17's tragic cargo to the waiting hearses under the gaze of relatives, friends and senior officers.
Going home: Flags drape the coffins of the five brave paratroopers killed in Afghanistan who were flown back to Britain.
Two of the Paras were only 19 - Privates Nathan Cuthbertson and Charles Murray.
Private Jeff Doherty celebrated his 20th birthday out there. Lance Corporal James Bateman, 29, and Private Daniel Gamble, 22, were the other victims of the Taliban.
On a dusty strip of Afghan desert, the coffins were placed side by side before being carried to an aircraft to make their final journey home. The friends and colleagues of Pte Nathan Cuthbertson carry his coffin.
This was the land where they had fought and died, and this was where a poignant ceremony was held to say farewell. TV pictures showed ranks of fellow paratroopers standing to attention and saluting. Every soldier knew that in different circumstances, the roles could so easily have been reversed.
A breeze that swirled dust around the coffins carried the words of a simple prayer into the emptiness.
Hours later, and 3,500 miles away, another prayer heralded their repatriation at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.
At approximately 1100 hours local time, the soldiers were on a routine foot patrol 1km west of their Forward Operating Base in the Upper Sangin Valley
when their patrol suffered a suicide explosive device.
Following their deaths the Commanding Officer of 2 PARA, Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan, paid the following tribute:
Private Nathan Cuthbertson, Private Daniel Gamble and Private Charles Murray were wounded by a suicide bomber near Forward Operating Base Inkerman, and despite the best efforts of the medics on the ground and at the hospital in Camp Bastion they could not be saved.
"They died doing their duty and doing their best, taking care with a potential threat, but also understanding the importance of connecting to the people around them. All three had been in Afghanistan for two months and had already experienced physically draining patrols in the high heat of the Afghan summer, combat with the Taliban, and the danger which is inescapable in our part of Helmand.
"They tested themselves to join The Parachute Regiment and they welcomed the challenge of operations. They knew the risks, and in facing them today as they had done every day before, they demonstrated the clear, cold courage which is the hallmark of their comrades and their Regiment.
"We will all take some time to think about them, and we salute them as brave young men, but our thoughts are also with their families who bear the greatest burden of their loss. We will turn to our job again and continue the relentless pressure on the Taliban in this valley, which in time will create space for a better life for the people here.
"When our job in Helmand is completed we will return home and honour them as members of 2 PARA who have given their all for their friends, their Regiment and the difficult task they faced. We will remember what they have done and the life that they have given, and what we achieve here will be their memorial."
Dad ... ex 2 Para soldier ...
Nathan realised his childhood dream by following his Dad's footsteps and joining The Parachute Regiment as a machine gunner.
I was very pleased to see that the people of Wootton Bassett got it right, the streets lined with people whilst the Funeral Cortège passed by.
Private Nathan Cuthbertson was serving as a Machine Gunner and Infantry Assault Engineer with 4 Platoon, B Company, 2 PARA when he was killed in action by a suicide device in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
Private Cuthbertson, aged 19, was born in Sunderland on 5th January 1989. He began his military career aged just 16. Having left school he chose not to wait until he was old enough for adult service and attended the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in October 2005. Whilst at the Army Foundation College he stood out as a soldier and chose to join The Parachute Regiment. Upon completing his initial training he moved on to the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick where he completed his basic training and passed the physically demanding Pre-Parachute Selection, P Company.
Once he had earned his military parachute wings he joined 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in December 2006. With typical energy and drive he quickly embraced the spirit of the Regiment and in under a year had undertaken and passed the technically challenging Infantry Assault Engineers course, usually reserved for more experienced soldiers.
During pre-deployment training and deployment to Afghanistan he again excelled operating the platoon's specialist weapon, the general purpose machine gun. He handled the responsibility with characteristic aplomb and was hugely proud to be the section gunner.
Rarely seen without a smile, he could be depended upon to cheer up the platoon, even in the most adverse conditions from the Northumberland rain of pre-deployment training to the heat of the Afghan summer.
His Company Commander, Major Russell Lewis, said:
"Private Cuthbertson was an incredibly popular member of the Company. A talented, motivated individual he always had a smile on his face and relished the challenges faced by the professional soldier. His humour and morale were infectious and he was widely liked and respected. His loss will be sorely felt by his friends and colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
4 Platoon Commander, Lieutenant David True, said:
"Private Cuthbertson loved his platoon and worked tirelessly on its behalf, nowhere more so than in Afghanistan. When volunteers were required, his was always the first hand to go up. He was a brilliant soldier and a great man. He will be greatly missed."
Sergeant Wayne Sykes who trained him and later became his Platoon Sergeant said:
"I was also Private Cuthbertson's Section Commander during his basic training, from my time there and also in 2 PARA one of the things what really stood out was that you could always rely on him to get the job done. He never moaned about anything, he just cracked on. He was always happy and never took life too seriously. He was a great member of the platoon."
Assault Engineer Section Commander, Corporal David Baillie, said:
"I don't think I ever heard 'Cuthy' complain once. He was like a work horse, carrying out any task he was given straightaway and without fault. Always ready for 'a brew' and a cigarette,
Cuthy was a great bloke and will be sorely missed in the platoon."
Second in Command of his section, Lance Corporal Alan Farmer, said:
'''Nathe' was a tremendous character within the section, he always worked hard for everyone and was an essential part of the platoon. He never complained and always did everything to the best of his ability. Put simply, he was a mega bloke."
Friend and colleague Private Lewis Barlow said:
"Private Cuthbertson, 'Cuthy', was an extremely good soldier and one of my closest 'muckers' being a room mate of mine in the battalion and a fellow Assault Engineer.
Cuthy was exceptionally fit and a typical paratrooper, a good gunner and a good friend. He will be sadly missed, my thoughts go to his family and friends."
His best friend Private Lee Cunliffe spoke of their time together through their training and career:
"'Cuthy' and I started AFC Harrogate at the age of 16 together. We both got put into the same company, 'Cambrai Company'. After our time there we passed out and moved into the same platoon at Catterick. Here we got to know each other very well, living amongst each other, training together and having a laugh at night when we had downtime.
"I remember on P Company he would always be at the front of the TABs, or helping keep someone else going. When we joined 2 PARA we were put into the same platoon and shared a room together. We became the best of friends. When we went to Brize Norton to do our parachute 'jumps' course, we shared the same room there as well. I can remember on our first jump he was on the starboard side of the plane and I was on the port. We were both to be the first ones out of the door on either side. I remember we both looked at each other and he laughed and shouted 'Yehaa!'
"He was always up for a laugh. I am truly sorry and gutted about what has happened to him out here, I have lost my best friend. He was an excellent soldier and man. I will never forget him and the good times we had together."
Nathan's parents, Tom and Carla, said:
"Nathan realised his childhood dream by following his Dad's footsteps and joining The Parachute Regiment as a machine gunner. He died a hero, doing a job he loved among his friends.
"Nathan had a real passion for life; he always had a smile and was quick to make friends. Football, socialising and girls were his hobbies and he was never far away from any of them.
"A dearly loved and devoted son, brother, grandson and friend to all who had the privilege of meeting him, his
death will leave a massive hole in all our lives. We will not forget him."
"Private Gamble was an incredibly talented individual and had completed a very demanding Pashto language course before the deployment. As a linguist he was instrumental to the Company's ability to communicate with the locals.
It was in this role that he had gone forward to communicate with a local national and was tragically killed by a suicide bomber.
see more photos of Private Daniel Gamble's Funeral ... please
Private Daniel Gamble was serving as a rifleman and
Pashto linguist with 4 Platoon, B Company, 2 PARA when he was killed in action by a suicide device in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
Private Gamble deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008. Employed as the platoon linguist, he had gone forward with typical enthusiasm and professionalism to speak with a local Afghani when his platoon was attacked.
Private Gamble, 22, was born on 25 June 1985 and grew up in Uckfield, East Sussex. After a short period working in a variety of jobs upon leaving school, he applied to join The Parachute Regiment and completed his basic training at the
Infantry Training Centre
in Catterick, North Yorkshire. It was during this time that he passed the demanding Pre-Parachute Selection Course, known as 'P Company', and became eligible to serve with The Parachute Regiment. He joined 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in October 2006 having earned his parachute 'wings' at RAF Brize Norton. Upon arriving at 2 PARA, he joined 4 Platoon B Company and instantly made an impression. Bright and determined, he showed true grit during the battalion's High Readiness exercises and marked himself as a man with the potential to go further.
It was during the initial phases of planning for the deployment to Afghanistan that
Private Gamble was tested to assess his aptitude to learn a foreign language. Out of the 150 Private soldiers that were tested, he was one of 10 soldiers who showed the best aptitude to learn the language of the Afghan locals, Pashto.
Bright, determined and always positive, he completed the 40-week full-time language course, motivated by his eagerness to get out to Afghanistan and make a difference. His positive approach, friendship and humour helped the others on the course to stay focussed and upbeat. He was confident too, willingly standing up in front of 300 soldiers and delivering a presentation on Pashto culture as part of pre-deployment training. His ability to speak the language of the locals of Helmand Province made a remarkable difference in the two months he spent in Afghanistan.
His skill and charisma ensured that he was always at the forefront of any patrol, his enthusiasm for his chosen profession was both relentless and infectious.
His Company Commander, Major Russell Lewis, said:
"Private Gamble was an incredibly talented individual and had completed a very demanding Pashto language course before the deployment. As a linguist he was instrumental to the Company's ability to communicate with the locals. It was in this role that he had gone forward to communicate with a local national and was tragically killed by a suicide bomber.
"A professional, intelligent individual he had added huge value to the Company mission in Afghanistan. His loss will be sorely felt by his friends and colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."
4 Platoon Commander, Lieutenant David True, said:
"As an important part of my Platoon Headquarters, Private Gamble and I spent a lot of time together on and off patrol. He was a highly professional soldier and I felt secure in the knowledge that on patrol he was covering my back. Having grown up in the same part of the country we often spoke of home. He was very proud of his family and loved them dearly."
Section Commander Corporal Mathew Walden said:
"Danny was a good friend and I'm going to miss him and his see-through shorts."
Friend and colleague Lance Corporal Alan Farmer said:
"Dan was a dedicated individual who, when told he was to attend the Pashto course, did it with his usual dedication. Not only did he understand the language, he also tried to understand the culture and empathised with the people of Afghanistan. This is the only way to ever try and explain the character of the man, his dedication, professionalism and determination to make a difference to this country."
Private Tom Wilson spoke of his friend:
"Dan, I'll never forget meeting you on day one of basic training and having a laugh about being the only southerners and how cold it was or going down to Brize on our 'Jumps' Course and your gift of the gab with the ladies helped me meet my girlfriend. You're a great friend and an even better soldier. I don't speak alone when I say what a pleasure it has been working with you and how much I'll miss you."
Private Lewis Barlow said:
"Private Gamble, Dan, was a very good friend of mine. Coming to the Battalion shortly after I did we spent a lot of time together in the same platoon at first, and a considerable amount of our spare time in Colchester.
Dan was an exceptional paratrooper and very intelligent. Mostly I will miss our banter and conversation. My thoughts and condolences go to his family and friends."
Private Gamble's Mother and Father said:
"Dan died doing the job he was so proud to do, with the regiment he was so proud to be a part of. He was special because he had trained in the Afghan Pashto language. He was special to his family and friends - a true hero in every sense.
"He will be missed by so many people more than he would ever know. We all love him and will miss him so very much, forever in our memories. Our hearts go out to the families of the comrades who fell with him."
Tribute Poem - Mr Matthew Gamble, Brother
Our training is tough, our standards are high,
We are the PARA's, gods of the sky.
Maroon is our colour; our cap badge, our pride,
Enemies know there's nowhere to hide.
Because we're elite, not people - machines,
From husbands to brothers, to sons in their teens.
We risk our lives to the people we pledge,
Airborne for life, for we are The Reg.
Private David Murray - A little guy with a big heart.
David was the best son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend that any of us could hope for. Although his time with us was short, he lived every second to the full and taught us the meaning of
Private Charles David Murray, 'Dave' to his friends and colleagues, was serving as a rifleman and Assault Engineer with 4 Platoon, B Company, 2 PARA when he was killed in action by a suicide device in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
Private Murray, 19, was born in Dumfries on 7 January 1989, but grew up in Carlisle. He began his military career early. Having left school at the age of 16 he attended the Army Foundation College
in Harrogate in September 2005, where his passion and skill for rugby league saw him represent the college during a tour to Australia.
His slight stature belied a standard of fitness and robustness that set the standard in his platoon. His love of soldiering, and admiration for his Section Commander, led him to choose a career in The Parachute Regiment. Having successfully completed his initial training he attended the
Infantry Training Centre
in Catterick, North Yorkshire. It was here that he completed his training, passing the physically demanding Pre- Parachute Selection Course, P Company, as the champion recruit. He became eligible to serve with The Parachute Regiment and subsequently earned his military parachute wings at RAF Brize Norton.
He joined the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in December 2006 as his platoon was preparing to be held on standby for High Readiness tasks within 16 Air Assault Brigade. He quickly fitted in due to his naturally relaxed and outgoing nature. It did not take long for him to demonstrate his soldiering ability and he undertook specialist training as an Infantry Assault Engineer within a year of joining the battalion, a course usually reserved for soldiers of greater experience. Private Murray had come into his own during the first two months of the battalion's tour of duty in Afghanistan. Always putting his team-mates and colleagues first, his technical competency and professionalism shone brightly in Afghanistan. He worked tirelessly despite soaring temperatures and was totally committed to his job. It is often said and never truer, he was a rising star, and a future leader.
Major Russell Lewis, his Company Commander, said:
"Private Murray was the consummate professional and clearly enjoyed being a soldier. He took pride in his work and was a valued member of his section. A relaxed, humorous individual he was an incredibly popular member of the Company. His natural charm shone through. Widely known, liked and respected,
Private Murray will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."
4 Platoon Commander, Lieutenant David True, said:
"On patrol, Private Murray was a thoroughly focussed and effective soldier who was mature beyond his years. Off patrol
Murray was constantly entertaining and the origin of much of the platoon's morale. I cannot begin to express how much he brought to the platoon; he will be sorely missed."
4 Platoon Sergeant, Sergeant Wayne Sykes, took Private Murray through his training:
"Having been Private Murray's Section Commander through training I got to know him from the start of his military career, and to be his Platoon Sergeant was good news as he was someone you could rely on to do whatever task he was given. He always had a smile on his face and never let anything get him down. He certainly was going far in The Parachute Regiment. He wanted to train as a sniper and you could see he was destined to be a star."
Assault Engineer Section Commander, Corporal David Baillie, said:
"As a soldier he was second-to-none and I looked forward to watching him grow as a soldier and no doubt soon he would have been promoted to Lance Corporal. Always ready for a laugh,
Dave kept the morale of the section up even if it meant laughing at himself. I will miss his cheeky grin most of all."
Second in Command of his section, Lance Corporal Alan Farmer, said:
"Having worked with Dave since joining 2 PARA I don't think that anything I could say here would do him justice. His attitude to everything, whether it was work or play, was always positive. He always had time for his friends and was popular with everyone."
Friend and colleague Private Tom Wilson said:
"David Murray will always be remembered as one of the most professional and fittest soldiers in 4 Platoon.
Dave always enjoyed being a paratrooper and would always make the best of any situation. We'll miss you Dave and your cheeky smile."
Close friend and Assault Engineer Private Lewis Barlow said:
"Private Murray, Dave, was one of my closest friends, he was a roommate of mine for a long time and we were Assault Engineers together.
Dave was renowned for being extremely fit and a keen soldier who would do anything for anyone. I would like to thank him for the good times we had together and the help he gave me whenever I needed it. He will be sadly missed by me and all of his friends and fellow Paratroopers. His jokes and his ever present morale will be missed but his friendship will be missed the most. My thoughts and condolences go to his family and friends."
Private Lee Cunliffe, who was close friends with Private Murray and Private Cuthbertson, recalls their time together in training and in 2 PARA:
"Me and Dave joined the Army at the same time when we were 16 starting off at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, before moving on to the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick. He was a really fit lad and used to come in the top two without fail. He was an excellent soldier and he won the best recruit award which he definitely deserved.
"We arrived in 2 PARA and were put into the same platoon and company. We became really good mates here and got to know each other even more. Me,
Dave and Cuthy became best friends and we near enough did everything together. Last summer we went to Cyprus on holiday, that was the best holiday I have ever had, I am sure it was
Dave's too, we were planning another holiday when we got back. "I am truly sorry and gutted about what has happened to Dave. I have lost my best friend. He was an excellent soldier and man. I will never forget him and all the good times we had together."
Private Murray's family said:
"Private David Murray - A little guy with a big heart. David was the best son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend that any of us could hope for. Although his time with us was short, he lived every second to the full and taught us the meaning of life.
"David always dreamed of being a soldier like his uncle, papa and granddad. He made us proud, everyday, in everything he did. He was the little guy with a big heart, although he would never admit it. He had the biggest, cheekiest grin that we had ever seen and he always made us laugh with his cheeky way.
"David looked after his family in every way he could, his friends were like brothers and sisters to him and his memory will live on through his friends and his family. Although he always wanted us to be happy and would hate to think of us as sad, for a time we will be because we miss him so much. "We love you David and are so very proud of you. One day, we will see you again. With love always, your family and friends."
On learning of the deaths of the three soldiers yesterday, Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, said:
"It is with both a sense of deep sadness and pride that I have reflected on these most recent British deaths in Afghanistan, and as the Chief of the Defence Staff I would like to say a few words.
"As you know, 100 brave and professional servicemen have now died in Afghanistan. They laid their lives down for their country and their comrades.
"Every one of those deaths is a tragedy. Nothing can ever compensate for the loss felt by their loved ones and to them all I extend my deepest sympathies.
"I only hope that the terrible hardship that they have been asked to bear can be eased by the certainty that in Afghanistan our forces are engaged in a most worthy and noble endeavour. And they are making good progress.
"Right across the country, the international effort is beginning to effect real change. Ordinary Afghans face immense hardships but bit by bit life is improving. In parts of Afghanistan which were once lawless, there is now governance and rule of law. Across the country, more than seven million children are now in school and increasing numbers of people have access to healthcare. "Nowhere is the battle for the future of Afghanistan more pressing than in Helmand, the focus of the British effort, where UK forces have magnificently taken the fight to the Taliban and put them on the back-foot. Make no mistake, the Taliban influence is waning, and through British blood, determination and grit, a window of opportunity has been opened. "The international community is starting to grasp this opportunity, and throughout the province the indications are promising, with the green shoots of development emerging from Musa Qala in the north of the Sangin Valley to Garmsir in the south. But much of this progress could quickly unravel without a continuing and energised international commitment.
"Our Armed Forces are resolute in doing what their country asks of them. These deaths, though hard to bear, remind us all of the extraordinary sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf – and of the price of failure if we falter in Afghanistan. We continue to owe them a great debt of gratitude."
Helmand Governor pays tribute to British sacrifice
... 9 Jun 2008
With the loss of three soldiers (above) from 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan yesterday, Sunday 8 June 2008, the number of British personnel killed in the country has reached 100.
Governor Gulab Mangal, the Governor of Helmand Province in Afghanistan (and the Afghan Government's representative in Helmand), gave the following statement from Lashkar Gah, after hearing the news:
"Sadly I have been informed today that the number of casualties of British troops serving in Afghanistan has reached 100. I fully understand that the hearts of every British family are beating for their loss. And I can assure you that the hearts of every single Afghan, who does understand the sacrifice of the British, are beating for the loss of the British soldiers.
"I, as the Governor of Helmand, thank and appreciate those soldiers who are serving in Afghanistan and who are making a tremendous amount of effort towards the prosperity and security of Afghanistan and I appreciate their work. "I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the British families and British public who have lost their loved ones and I can assure you that myself and the rest of the Afghan nation are participating in this sadness and our hearts are beating for them.
"The grateful people of Afghanistan will never forget the sacrifices and the friendly efforts that the British troops have been making. I thank the British people who are serving in Afghanistan, especially in Helmand Province; their services are of vital importance to us.
"The British servicemen are here for two main reasons. The first is to the fight the terrorists and bring security for the people of Afghanistan, the second is reconstruction of the country and development and making various public services available to the people.
"The people of Afghanistan and the people of Helmand fully understand why the
ISAF forces and the British Forces, especially in the Helmand area, are here and they are seeing and witnessing every day the efforts that are being made by them.
"The people of Afghanistan are witnessing the British soldiers working hard day and night, making tremendous amounts of efforts towards building the roads, hospitals, schools and various public services for the people of Afghanistan and the people are witnessing that they are shedding their blood, losing their lives for the pride of the Afghan people."
29 Commando RA
Captain Jim Philippson killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 11 June 2006.
Captain Jim Philippson’s coffin was draped in the Union Jack with berets from the Royal Artillery 29 Commando Regiment and 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery placed on top.
HUNDREDS of people filled St Albans Abbey for the funeral of Captain Jim
Philippson, the first soldier to be killed in Southern Afghanistan since British troops were deployed in recent months.
UK forces were involved in an incident in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan, on the evening of Sunday 11 June 2006 during which a mobile patrol was engaged in a fire-fight against suspected Taliban forces. Sadly as a result of this engagement
Captain Jim Philippson was killed and two other soldiers seriously injured.
Captain Jim Philippson, 29, from St Albans in Hertfordshire, completed his further education at Plymouth University. He joined the Army in January 2001 and, after his course at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, was commissioned into the Royal Artillery later that year.
He then undertook his Young Officers’ course at the Artillery Centre, Larkhill. From the outset his sharp intellect, determination, positive attitude and infectious enthusiasm stood out and he was selected for a posting to
29 Commando Regiment Royal
Artillery. He relished the challenge of demanding commando selection where his physical stamina was more than matched by his mental robustness.
Not only was he successful but he led the way. Having settled into the Regiment his confident, yet self-effacing, approach had a real impact. His unique combination of fierce professionalism, relaxed style of command and sense of fun won him the respect and loyalty of his soldiers and peers. He displayed all of these qualities in the high pressure operational environment of Iraq but also on exercises in Norway, USA and Cyprus. Moreover, he was always looking to get involved; throwing himself wholeheartedly into his sport and social life with the same passion as his work.
Having concluded his tour with 29 Commando Regiment, Capt Philippson was keen to undertake the challenge of service with
(Paradata) 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and after a six month deployment to the Falkland Islands joined the Regiment in February 2006 as it prepared for deployment to Afghanistan.
Very soon he found himself a pivotal member of the team with the role of training and mentoring the Afghan National Army. Here his maturity, patience, technical skill as an instructor and responsiveness was an example as much to his colleagues as to his Afghan counterparts who warmed quickly to his inherent leadership and charisma. He was a man that wanted to make a difference, and he did.
Capt Philippson served only a short time with 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery but his influence on it and 29 Commando Regiment previously was tremendous. A genuine character who was full of life and humour yet with a highly committed edge, he will be remembered as a gifted, considerate and popular officer who would always go that extra mile for his soldiers and his friends. He will be sadly missed by everyone that that knew him.
Lieutenant Colonel David Hammond, his Commanding Officer, said:
"Jim was a top quality officer in the best traditions of the Regiment and the British Army. Those around him were influenced not only by his commitment, passion and drive but also his enthusiasm and ready wit. A gifted commander he had the self-confidence of an assured professional yet was also modest and willing to learn.
"All of this earned him the respect of all those he touched. The commitment he showed to his task in Afghanistan and every challenge he undertook was an inspiration.
Lance Corporal James Bateman
and Private Jeff Doherty of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 Para)
Killed on Thursday 12 June 2008 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Commanding Officer of 2 PARA, Lieutenant Colonel Joe O’Sullivan, paid the following tribute:
"This morning, 8 Platoon of C (Bruneval) Company was engaged by the Taliban north of their base at FOB
GIBRALTAR. During the exchange of fire LCpl James Bateman and Pte Jeff Doherty were killed.
"They died doing what they had been asked to do, operating in difficult country against a dangerous enemy to
make it harder for the enemy to influence the people and give those people the chance of a better life. They
had patrolled the area around FOB GIBRALTAR with great skill for 2 months and had taken the fight to the
Taliban in the Musa Qal’eh Wadi.
"The Battalion’s memorial stone bears the inscription ‘there is no better place in the world to be than in the
midst of 2 PARA when there is a battle on’. LCpl James Bateman and Pte Jeff Doherty wanted to be in the Parachute Regiment and in the midst of 2 PARA in Afghanistan.
"Their commitment to their friends and the steadfast courage they showed as they faced their battle this
morning is in the finest tradition of the Regiment and admired by us all. We will think about them, and what
they were prepared to give here, and we will think about their families whose loss is so great.
"They will join Pte Charles Murray, Pte Daniel Gamble and Pte Nathan Cuthbertson and return home to where
their families and the Regiment are waiting to meet them, and we will continue with our work in the Helmand
River valley. "Much is said about how difficult that work is and how long it may take, but 2 PARA is somewhat older than the
Taliban; the Battalion has seen challenging times before and has always succeeded - no matter what odds
have been stacked against it. So we will pay our respects and we will ensure that record is kept as our tribute
Early on 12 June 2008, 8 Platoon of C (Bruneval) Company, 2 Battalion the Parachute Regiment was engaged by
the Taliban north of their base at FOB GIBRALTAR in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand Province.
During the exchange of fire Lance Corporal James Bateman and Private Jeff Doherty were killed in the face of
the enemy amongst their colleagues and friends.
(Right) By Kind Permission from
East Anglian Daily Times
Lance Corporal James Bateman
James ‘Jay’ Bateman was born on 11 January 1979 and grew up in Staines, Middlesex where he went to school.
He lived in Colchester with his wife Victoria to whom he was married in Salisbury Cathedral last year.
Jay was a man of passions, dedicated to his wife, applying relentless enthusiasm to his job and fervent about West Ham
United Football club. He was larger than life in every respect, a man of considerable physical presence; he was
loud, vivacious and overflowing with life. He joined the Parachute Regiment in 2001, and upon completion of his training was posted to 2 PARA in March
2002, initially to 9 Platoon, C (Bruneval) Company.
On promotion to Lance Corporal he was posted to D Company. He had served with the Battalion in Northern
Ireland and Iraq previously. It was just before deployment that he returned to 8 Platoon as second-in-command
of 1 Section in the Company in which he began his career. Brimming with enthusiasm, he had his sights set on
gaining a posting for 16 Air Assault Brigade’s specialist Pathfinder Platoon.
Lance Corporal Bateman was a proud and honest Paratrooper, respected for being a gentleman as much as he
was for his unbridled energy and professionalism. He was fit and had taken part in amateur boxing at company
level. He barely stopped to pause, with unmatched staying power and a work ethic that put most to shame. C
(Bruneval) Company was his spiritual home and his return to the company marked a new juncture in his career.
He leaves behind his wife Victoria, whom he adored.
His Company Commander, Major Adam Dawson said:
"L/Cpl Bateman rejoined the company shortly before the deployment for the HERRICK 8 tour. I am unable to
recollect a soldier more happy to be back amongst his friends, at the sharp end and taking on what he
considered to be his core business, his profession and a challenge. "He was elated to be back with 8 Platoon and exemplified everything that is expected of the Junior Non
Commissioned Officer on operations – he was energetic, hard working, fit and keen, a source of inspiration and
a man with a light heart and a sensitive touch. "This was the life he had chosen, it was the life he loved and he had aspirations to join his brother at The
Special Forces Support Group on completion of the tour. He was the first to volunteer, the last to give up and
above all extremely proud to be a Paratrooper, imbued with the Regimental ethos and dedicated to his friends
and his soldiers.
"His death leaves an irreplaceable gap in the ranks of Bruneval Company and a hole in the lives of his friends
and colleagues who consider themselves blessed to have known him. A loyal husband and a gentleman."
Sergeant Chris Lloyd, his friend and 8 Platoon Sergeant, spoke warmly in remembrance of him:
"Lance Corporal 'Jay' Bateman and I first met in Iraq on Op Telic 7.
Jay was a larger than life character with a heart to match it. He absolutely revelled in his work and was the first person to volunteer for a task. He was
the true definition of a paratrooper, fit, strong, full of determination and with a fantastic sense of humour.
"I became close friends with him and know that his job was second only to his love for his wife
Victoria whom he doted upon. He was a friend as well as a colleague and the Platoon will miss him dearly."
1 Section Commander and close friend Corporal Adam Ireland said:
"I remember Jay arriving at 2 PARA and because of his easy going personality it wasn’t long before we were
good friends. As my second in command he was my right hand man and I could always rely on him. He always
put the soldiers safety before his own, ensuring kit was working correctly and the blokes were in good fire
positions. "His dedication to ensuring their safety is sadly what cost him his life. 1 Section, 8 Platoon and I will never
forget the sacrifice you made for us."
Colleague and friend Corporal Gareth Storey recalled their time together in Afghanistan:
"No matter what problems I had, Jay would always be there to listen and to offer some advice. I will miss his
smile and the copious amounts of tea we would have together trying to put the world to rights.
"My thoughts go to his loved ones, family and friends. Jay did the job he loved and will be remembered by all
who knew him."
Corporal Paul Knapp remembers his friend:
"Jay was a loveable guy, with the craziest sense of humour you could ever come across. Always willing to help,
he had a heart of pure gold. When I first came to 2 PARA Jay was one of the senior soldiers. His physical
stature was quite imposing to a young soldier but his gentle personality and his way of
communicating made me feel very welcome. "We became good friends during our tour of Iraq in December 2003 and from there our friendship grew.
In 2006 Jay married Victoria and I was proud to be in his guard of honour. He was a great character and a true legend. "I will miss you fat head, I’m so sorry your time with us was cut short. My thoughts are with
Vic and your family. Rest in peace my friend. Until we meet again.”
Private Keith Abraham of 1 Section, 8 Platoon spoken of his admiration for his colleague:
"Jay was the senior Private when I first arrived at 2 PARA. He immediately took me in, explained how things
work in Battalion and made sure I was ready for whatever was ahead. He was so proud to be a Paratrooper and
epitomised every aspect of what that meant. He would do anything for his men without question and always
managed to provide us with morale, whether he meant it or not! "Jay Bateman was a good friend and the world has lost one of its characters. We’ll miss you
Private Billy Innes of 1 Section 8 Platoon said of his colleague and commander:
"I’ve known Jay since I’ve been in Battalion and he is well known throughout 2 PARA. He became my section 2IC
for the tour which I was very happy about as he was a great soldier and worked hard for his men. He would
always be talking to us on and off the battlefield and always had time for everyone. He was a genuinely great
bloke, he will be sorely missed and my heart goes out to his wife and family."
The couple were married at Salisbury Cathedral in August 2006
His widow, Victoria Bateman, in a statement read on her behalf by her uncle, Kevan Russell, said there were “no words to express my grief”.
Lance Corporal Bateman's wife, Victoria Bateman, made the following statement:
"I would like to firstly thank everybody for their ongoing support. Secondly, I would like you all to know how
immensely proud we are of him and all that he has achieved. "I know how he loved the Parachute Regiment and I draw comfort from the fact that he died doing the job he
loved, for the country he loved, with the friends he loved. "He was a loving Husband, Brother, Son and Uncle. I would like the lads to carry on the work he was doing.
"I love him and will miss him greatly. He was our hero.
(James Brother) had been serving with the Royal Marines in Afghanistan
at the time of the tragedy ... he read the poem by Rupert
I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Private Jeff ‘Doc’ Doherty
was born in Coventry on 10 June 1988. Joining the Parachute Regiment had long been his passion and he passed out with 699 Platoon from the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, joining 2 PARA in March 2006.
Private Jeff ‘Doc’ Doherty
repatriated to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire yesterday, Monday 16 June 2008.
All five soldiers were flown back to the UK from Afghanistan in an RAF C17 aircraft.
His deployment with C (Bruneval) Company to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 8 was his first operational tour. He lived in Southam, Warwickshire with his father at the family home.
Private Doherty completed the Drill and Duties course for promotion to Lance Corporal in 2007 and given his very strong performance during the early months of the tour he was a firm contender for promotion on return from Afghanistan.
He was an exceptionally fit and strong Paratrooper, proud in his profession and intent on making every moment count. He had boxed at an amateur level for the Company at light weight during inter company boxing where he had displayed his hallmark tenacity, strength, speed and courage.
He had a passion for the Parachute Regiment, living life to the full and always living up to the motto Utrinque Paratus – he was truly ready for anything.
Private Doherty was a morale tonic, he touched all he knew with his infectious sense of humour and ability to lift the veil of darkness from any bleak moment.
He leaves behind a much-loved younger brother and three sisters.
His Company Commander, Major Adam Dawson spoke of his potential and talent:
"Pte Doherty was at the top of his game, selected to be lead Scout in his section for his maturity, professionalism and innate talent for soldiering. By very nature of his role, he was always to be found at the front, finding the safe route for his team and using his skills to
path-find through the intricacies of the Helmand Green Zone. "He demonstrated all that is dear to the Paratrooper – he was passionate, fit, robust and never one to call time. His boxing talents were also well recognised and he had a formidable reputation in the ring, displaying the same determination that he reflected in his daily soldiering.
"Proud and strong, light hearted and a liver of life, Pte Doherty will not fade in the memories of the men of Bruneval Company, he will be held as the standard, the epitome of the Paratrooper on operations and the soldier entrusted to keep his section on track.
"He died as he lived, placing others first and accepting the significant burden of responsibility for his fellow Paratrooper who followed him. I was proud to have known him.”
His platoon sergeant, Sergeant Chris Lloyd said:
"Pte 'Jeff' Doherty arrived in the Platoon upon our return from Op TELIC 7, Iraq. He was rarely seen without a smile on his face and his sense of humour was infectious. He quickly became very popular not only within the Platoon but across the Battalion. He showed a keen interest in learning to box and as with everything else he attempted he gave it every ounce of his energy.
"He was fit, motivated and had been selected to attend the promotion course at such an early stage in his career due to all these factors. He had recently started dating Etoille whom he had known for 11 years. He was the main deliverer of morale in the Platoon and his passing has left a void that will not be easily filled. He will be missed immensely."
Corporal "Des" Desmond, Section Commander in 8 Platoon, praised his colleague and friend:
"Private Doherty, Doc, had been in my section since he came to the Battalion in early 2006, he had worked his way up from rifleman to Machine Gunner and after completing Drill and Duties, he successfully became lead scout and was trusted implicitly.
"Doc’s wacky sense of humour and keen work ethic made him instantly likeable, and over the last couple of years we became friends.
Doc would always do more than I asked of him and thrived on the responsibility as my lead scout while on Op HERRICK 8.
"I can’t emphasize how much I will miss him being around, I was with him at the last and I can say with total honesty that I was proud to serve and fight alongside him – he died doing what he loved.
"Pte Doherty was a Paratrooper and a real friend to myself and all of 8 Platoon, he had become like a younger brother who regularly needed helping out of a scrape or two. Mine, and the rest of the section’s thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Close friend Corporal Adam Ireland said:
"Jeff was like a brother and one of my closest friends. He has always been in 8 Pl and lived next to me. Early on it was obvious that he was an excellent soldier. We could not be separated and people referred to him as my protégé, which we both loved. He was an ambassador for the Regiment."
Corporal Gareth Storey recalls taking him through his training:
"I first met Private Doherty in 2005 when he arrived in 699 Platoon at ITC Catterick and into my section.
Doc had the ability to have all those around him, be they close friends or strangers, in complete stitches. "At work he carried out all tasks to the best of his ability and played just as hard. He epitomised what it is to be a Paratrooper and I know that all those who knew him will feel his loss greatly. My thoughts are now with his loved ones at home,
Doc did the job he loved and would never give in no matter what the cost. Doc you will be missed – take care son."
Private Lee Crudgington recalled their time together in training and in 8 Platoon:
"I can remember the very first time I met him which was in training at ITC Catterick.
Jeff started out in the same platoon as me 699 Athens Platoon. We were then put in the same section and then the same fire team and our friendship grew. There was no one in the Platoon that could help but like him because he was such a joker and had reserves of morale – he always turned the darkest times into occasions for amusement.
"We met up again after the Iraq tour in Colchester, we shared a room and our friendship grew even though
Jeff’s bed-space was always messy. Jeff was liked very much across the Battalion and loved even more by his Platoon, we will never forget him, he is one of a kind. Every Man an Emperor."
Colleague and friend in 8 Platoon, Private Peter O’Neill said:
"I first met Doc after I moved to 8 Platoon, he was the first to welcome me as a brother, we quickly bonded and became the best of friends in our social, private and professional lives.
Doc’s dedication to the Regiment was second to none, he was fit, strong and had the mentality to crack on no matter what the job.
"He was a real character who was always lifting morale when needed and even when it wasn’t. He was and always will be typical of a British Paratrooper. I miss you
Doc, see you at the re-org."
Private Billy Innes recalls his unique character:
"I’ve known and worked with Jeff for the last 2 and a half years and I have countless great memories thanks to him. I always loved his ability to switch from the joker of the platoon to the professional soldier; the new lads always looked up to him. He was a proud Paratrooper and friend. My sympathies go out to his family and friends – he will be greatly missed."
Private Doherty's family have made the following statement:
"We would like to thank all those who have sent their kind words following the death of
our son JJ. Many of these have come from his friends in 2 PARA who continue to serve in Afghanistan. Our thoughts are with you all and with your families. We also have special thoughts for the families of the other soldiers who have also died whilst serving abroad. This is a terribly difficult time.
"JJ was such a wonderful son. He was the light of our lives and we all loved him. He was a hero to his brother and sisters and they loved him dearly. We will never forget the bright sparkle in his eyes and the way he could light up a room with his smile. He touched everyone who met him and we shall miss him desperately. We would ask for some space now to allow us to come to terms with our loss. "Jeff lived and died doing what he loved and we are proud of him for that. We sincerely hope that his friends can draw strength from his death and we wish them all a safe return home."
Warrant Officer 2nd Class Michael Williams
of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) and Private Joe Whittaker from 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment
killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 24 June 2008.
WO2 Michael Williams
was killed during a firefight. He was on a deliberate operation against the Taliban in the Upper Sangin Valley when he was fatally wounded.
Private Joe Whittaker, a reserve soldier who was attached to 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was killed by a suspected Improvised Explosive Device.
Following their deaths, 2 PARA's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan, paid the following tribute:
"Yesterday the battalion lost one of its most senior and its most junior soldiers.
Sergeant Major Michael Williams joined the regiment in 1986.
Private Joe Whittaker was a reserve soldier from 4 PARA and part of a 48 strong contingent of 4 PARA integrated into 2 PARA Battle Group for our tour.
"Sergeant Major Williams died commanding C (Bruneval) Company's Fire Support Group while the Company was in contact in the Upper Sangin Valley.
Private Whittaker was part of a mine detection team and was killed helping to ensure that the large vehicle
re-supply convoys could reach our Forward Operating Bases.
"Sergeant Major Williams had given most of his working life to the Parachute Regiment;
Private Whittaker was just starting his working life.
Sergeant Major Williams was a Warrant Officer and part of that very special group of men, the Senior Non-Commissioned Officers of the battalion, who are its glue and its heart, and who lead the engine room of the Sergeants' Mess.
"Private Whittaker had already passed the Army Officers Selection Board, and was soon to begin his training to become an Army Officer and, he hoped, an Apache pilot.
"These two men were very different in age, experience and rank, but both were inspired by the challenge of service with the Parachute Regiment, and the very difficult task that confronts us each day here in Northern Helmand. Both were respected and both will be sorely missed by their friends and the Battle Group, but most of all by their families. "They join five other brave members of 2 PARA who have given their lives in recent weeks. The Regimental Motto is 'ready for anything';
Sergeant Major Michael Williams and Private Joe Whittaker were ready for the risks they calmly accepted on the day that they died. They are an example to the rest of us, and their courage and commitment will spur us on to give our best to improve the situation here, no matter how difficult or dangerous other people may tell us that will be. Utrinque Paratus."
I've had loads of e-mails from ex/Parachute Regiment soldiers asking to
put the following tribute to WO 2 Williams
if any man has lived up to this, then it's
Sergeant Major Michael Williams
A PARATROOPERS OATH
Recognizing I volunteered as a Paratrooper, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always
endeavour to uphold the prestige, honour and high esprits de corps of the Parachute Regiment.
Acknowledging the fact that a Paratrooper is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of the battlefield by Land, Sea or Air.
I accept the fact that as a Paratrooper my Country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder and longer than any other soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades.
I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight, I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be one hundred percent and then some. Gallantly, I will show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained soldier.
Under no circumstances will I embarrass my Regiment or Country.
My personal skills, field-craft and care of equipment shall set an example for others to follow.
Energetically will I will meet the enemies of my Country, I shall defeat them on the battlefield for I am better trained and will fight with all my might.
Surrender is not a Paratroopers word.
Mike did all this and died doing what he loved best; he was the true epitome of a Paratrooper, an inspirational leader whom oozed professionalism from every pore, a loss not only to the Regiment but to the Army as a whole.
Truly a man apart, R.I.P. big man, will see you in the FRV!!!
Michael Mark Williams - 28/11/67 – 24/06/08
Warrant Officer 2nd Class Michael ('Mark') Williams
Sergeant Major Michael Williams
was born on 28 November 1967 and grew up in Cardiff, where his unbridled and ever-present love for Cardiff City Football Club originated.
Known affectionately by his many friends as Mark, or Weasel, he was a small man with huge depths of physical courage and stamina, and a giant personality. Beneath his kindness and sense of fun and adventure was the most professional soldier, who was loved and respected by the whole Battalion, not least those under his command.
joined the Army in 1986. After completing training, he joined the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, starting his long career in 11 Platoon, D Company. Over the next 22 years he served with distinction as a rifleman in B and D Companies (including on Operations in Northern Ireland) and as a Lance Corporal in B Company.
In 1998 he moved to the Machine Gun Platoon in Support Company, where he served as a Detachment Commander and Platoon Sergeant on Operations in Macedonia and Afghanistan.
In 2004 he was posted to the Infantry Training Centre in Brecon as a Machine Gun Instructor, where he relished passing on his expertise, and living in Wales.
Promoted to Colour Sergeant, he returned to 2 PARA as Company Quartermaster Sergeant of Support Company and deployed to Iraq, before being promoted to Warrant Officer 2nd Class and becoming the Company Sergeant Major of A Company. He had deployed to Afghanistan with 2 PARA in March 2008, initially running the Battle Group's in-theatre training in Bastion before taking up his role as the Fire Support Group Commander in C (Bruneval) Company, based out of Forward Operating Base GIBRALTAR in the Upper Sangin Valley.
Mark Williams was one of the most experienced, popular and well respected soldiers within 2 PARA, with whom he spent almost all of his 22 year career.
He loved his Battalion, soldiering, and his men, whom he led with compassion and constant encouragement. His other love was for Cardiff City Football Club, of whom he was the most fanatical supporter. He had organised his leave from Afghanistan especially early in the tour so that he could attend the FA Cup Final.
Mark Williams' death leaves a huge hole in the hearts of the entire Battalion
His Company Commander, Major Adam Dawson, said:
"Company Sergeant Major Mark Williams commanded the Fire Support Group attached to C (Bruneval) Company. He had joined the Company prior to Operations in Afghanistan although he deployed earlier than the majority of soldiers to conduct the final stages of training that would place the cap on the Battalion's preparation for Afghanistan. "His was the task of launching 2 PARA into Operation HERRICK, equipped to overcome the significant challenges that would be faced. He added polish and finesse to our skills at all levels.
"Mark Williams was a rock and a constant, when the situation was swirling around him he would be found level headed and down to earth, able to cut through the cloud of uncertainty and doubt. A man of much passion, he was a life-long and avid supporter of Cardiff City Football Club, he was staunchly Welsh and as proud as any man I know of his heritage. His humanity was ever present and touched all aspects of his soldiering and his soldiers, who grew in his example. "A thoughtful man, when he spoke his words never failed to have impact and his actions always said more than words ever could. He expected high standards, setting only the best example in his own conduct. In leadership terms he was the anchor point for his Fire Support Group, pulling them together as a tight knit team, motivated to excel through a desire not to let him down. As far as his trade was concerned, what he did not know about machine gunnery was not worth knowing, he was a true professional and took great pride in his vocation.
"Mark Williams had a light heart and a simple touch, able to connect with all around him. Firm when necessary but never overbearing he was renowned for his absolute dedication and loyalty to the soldiers under his command and those lucky enough to call him a friend. "Compact in stature but strong in heart, his character overflowed, brought joy to many and left one feeling at ease in his presence. He was genuine, uncomplicated, straight talking and honest, a better man could not be found. He died providing overwatch and security for Bruneval Company as it undertook its most challenging operation to date in the centre of the Taliban's heartland beyond Sangin. Whilst we will miss him greatly, we will all be thankful and consider ourselves blessed to have known him."
His great friend, Sergeant Major Karl Mitchell, paid the following tribute:
"I've known Michael for most of my military career – he was more commonly known to everyone as
Mark or 'Weasel'; I won't go into how he gained the nickname. I think of him in two ways:
Mark the soldier and Mark the friend.
"The soldier was one of the most professional men I've ever had the honour of working with. He was always meticulous in everything he did, whether that be soldiering or the mountains of paperwork that comes with the job as Company Sergeant Major. This would constantly be a subject we would moan about over a pint.
Mark was the type of person that could not rest until everything was just right. He was more at home in the field than in the office. "His knowledge of Machine Gunning held legendary status within the Battalion and the men he trained will carry on his legacy for many years to come. He was due a posting after the tour that would have seen him move closer to the Welsh Valleys, and his beloved Cardiff City Football Club – never have I met a stauncher fan.
"Mark the friend was more like a brother. He was generous nearly to a fault, he would stop everything to help out in any way he could, and nothing was too much to ask. There were three of us that lived in each others pockets:
Mark, myself and Sergeant Lee Payne. It was a standing joke that wherever one was, the other two would not be far behind.
Mark was shortest of the trio and this we never let him forget. My daughter believed he was called
'Little Mark' after Lee Payne convinced her it was his real name. He always took the time out to play with her and I know she will be devastated.
"We all lived together, worked together and played together (harder than most). Every weekend we would meet up with friends in Colchester town, and attempt to drink the pubs dry, then argue about football and the history between Wales and England, with the night usually ending in a drunken taxi ride back to the barracks. The following morning would always see
Mark with a monster hangover, and Lee annoying him to get his arse out of bed. "There's really too much to be able to put into words when it comes to Mark. He was the classic case of short of height, but tall in stature; a man who was larger than life. You were loved
Mark by all that knew you, and your memory will forever be carried by us. With your passing a part of me has gone too.
Until we meet again brother."
Warrant Officer 2nd Class, Sergeant Major Martin Thorpe:
"I've known Weasel all my army career from B Company and more recently as a fellow warrant officer in 2 PARA. One of my lasting memories of
Weasel was when we were both instructors at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon. When my wife and kids came to stay in Brecon for the weekend, he would offer to help entertain my two small children. He would chase them around the mess with the kids screaming "it's the midget". What fun they had! "The first thing my kids asked if they came to visit me was "where's the little man?". My family and I will deeply miss him as a friend and a fellow paratrooper."
Major Dave Lee, the Quartermaster, remembers when Mark Williams joined 2 PARA:
"I remember him arriving in 2 PARA in 1986. I was a Lance Corporal in 10 Platoon, D Company, he was a new Tom in 11 Platoon. He was a mad little Tom, and was very popular because he was always up to mischief. He was a good boxer – I remember him boxing fiercely for the Company, and he was an excellent soldier. He was well known in the Battalion, and throughout his career he always found time for others, and would always see the positive side of life.
"He could lighten any moment, even travelling with Colchester Football Club away fans to watch his beloved Cardiff City play at home. He was a season ticket holder, and would always head out of Colchester to Cardiff's home and away matches. He'd leave work early and drive across the country to night-time games. The highlight of his fanaticism was attending the FA Cup Final at Wembley this year, organising his leave from Afghanistan especially for it. He was a true professional who gave so much."
2 PARA's Regimental Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer 1st Class Tony Hobbins, said:
"Mark wanted to get on that operation. In true Parachute Regiment fashion he wouldn't have it any other way – he gave his all to everything, and was fanatically loyal to The Regiment and the Sergeants' Mess. There is not one person is the Battalion who did not like him, and will not miss him."
Colour Sergeant Steve Pitt lived next door to him in the Sergeants' Mess:
"We used to go out all the time together. He was a brilliant bloke and really, really popular. He was well respected by everyone and a fantastic soldier and leader, who led from the front, in whatever job he was doing. He was a massive Cardiff City fan, and said he'd had a brilliant time on R&R watching them in the FA Cup Final."
Sergeant Stu Hodgkinson, his friend, said:
"He was the life and soul of the party – always in the middle of the social scene in the Sergeants' Mess, always up for a laugh. Overall, he was a really friendly and nice guy – he'd get on with anybody. He was a massive Cardiff City fan, and he was so excited to get to see them play in the FA Cup Final. He talked about the great weekend he had with 40 friends in London, even though Cardiff lost, staying in a hotel that overlooked Wembley. When he returned to Afghanistan, he was desperate to return to his men at FOB GIBRALTAR. He was always eager to be at the front."
Sergeant Dean Pilcher knew Mark Williams since he joined the Army in 1996:
"Mark was a Lance Corporal when I joined the Battalion in Belfast in 1996. I looked up to him and thought 'that's what I'm going to be like when I'm a Non-Commissioned Officer'. Cardiff City was his passion – he wouldn't drink out of a cup that wasn't blue. He was well known around Colchester, especially in his local pubs – the Wig & Pen and Fox & Fiddler – where he was, that was always the happening place."
Lance Corporal Gary Houldsworth was led by Mark Williams in the Fire Support Group:
"I first met Mark Williams on Pre Deployment Training before we started Operation HERRICK. At first he struck me as a down to earth normal kind of guy. However, once you worked with him you found out about the real man – he was funny, outgoing, courageous, strong and an all-round outstanding commander to work for. He lived and died loving his job. He was so proud to be a Paratrooper and so proud to be doing his job in Afghanistan. "I am so happy that he got to see his beloved Cardiff City Football Club play at Wembley this year.
Mark was extremely well respected and the Parachute Regiment has lost an excellent commander. It was an honour to work with him and say that I have known him.
Until we meet again, take care Mark."
Private Joe Whittaker was born on 11 January 1988. He attended Warwick School and then Stratford Upon Avon College.
He played hockey for Stratford Hockey Club
and ran for Stratford Athletic
Club. Joe joined the TA in Stratford in 2005.
He eventually joined 4 PARA
in October 2007, after transferring from 37 Signal
Regiment, having completed his basic training with the Royal Signals in June 2006. He was highly regarded throughout his time with them and was considered to be one of their top recruits. He was a particularly fit soldier; able to complete the one and a half mile run in a time of 8.09 minutes. His field craft and personal skills were considered the best in the platoon.
Joe had a wicked sense of humour and was usually the ringleader in the fun and games out of working hours. His natural ability and enthusiasm for adventure and challenge
channeled his aspirations towards applying to join the Parachute Regiment Reserve. He completed the Combat Infantryman Course and P-Company with 4 PARA in November 2007. He gained a strong pass after working extremely hard on the course.
Joe Whittaker operated from 10 Company, 4 PARA based in London. He established himself quickly and it did not take him long to volunteer to serve with the Regiment on operations in Afghanistan. He mobilised in April 2008 and after completing all the necessary training joined 2 PARA in May.
Joe Whittaker was an outstanding young soldier who possessed all the qualities that one would expect from a young paratrooper. He had a flair for life, was fun and had a great sense of humour. His fitness was astonishing, and he possessed the courage, discipline and loyalty of a man many years his age. In the time he spent with 4 PARA it was clear that Joe Whittaker had a bright future and he had the intellect and character for great things.
Joe Whittaker was a kind and considerate soldier and he will be sadly missed by all his friends and colleagues in 4 PARA.
The Commanding Officer of 4 PARA, Lieutenant Colonel Ben Baldwin, said:
"Pte Joe Whittaker was 19 years of age when he passed P-Company, allowing him the honour of wearing the maroon beret.
Joe had that infectious optimism that goes with all young Paratroopers. Forthright and courageous, he showed great spirit and committed himself wholeheartedly in any task given to him.
His slim build belied strength beyond his years. "Afghanistan was his first operational tour, and he showed no fear when chosen to be part of the Op BARMA team, a job fraught with danger. In fact, Joe relished the chance to be out on the ground and prove himself to his more experienced comrades. Joe Whittaker died a paratrooper.
"Even at such a young age he displayed all of the attributes specific to men of The Regiment, and we are proud to have known him and to have stood alongside him. Today, a good soul has left us, and he will be greatly missed. We, his brothers who are left, will never forget him."
Joe's Company Commander, Major Mike Shervington, paid the following tribute:
"Pte Joe Whittaker joined D Company Group on 12 June as one of a substantial contingent from 4 PARA attached to 2 PARA Battle Group for Op HERRICK 8.
He had deployed to FOB ROBINSON with a troop of Scimitar vehicles from the Scots Dragoon Guards to work alongside D Company 2 PARA. His role within his troop was as a member of the critically important Improvised Explosive Device team. Although I knew him all too briefly he struck me immediately as a man of great spirit, boundless energy and selfless commitment. "His friends tell me that he was always first to volunteer for difficult tasks and it was therefore typical that he found himself doing such an important job for his troop. He was extremely proud to be a member of 4 PARA serving alongside members of 2 PARA in Afghanistan, many of whom were his friends. All of them are shocked and deeply saddened by his death, which leaves an irreplaceable hole in so many people's lives. "He was excited to be attending the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in May 2009, where he hoped to fulfil his dream and become an Apache helicopter pilot. He will be sorely
missed. "He was great for morale, always upbeat and optimistic, and he approached all tasks with verve and enthusiasm. The thing that always impressed me about
Joe was his desire to be the best soldier he could be."
Private Steven Fisher
Captain Tim McBride was Joe's Troop Leader with the Scots Dragoon Guards:
"Pte Joe Whittaker was working with the Scimitar Troop from The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards with three of his comrades from 4 PARA. They approached the challenge of working with armoured vehicles with the vigour and professionalism that one would expect from members of The Parachute Regiment, and none more so than
Joe: He was the embodiment of a professional soldier who relished being a paratrooper. "He was a quietly confident individual, always enthusiastic and extremely generous. He will be sorely missed by us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones."
Lieutenant Steve Edwards, a 4 PARA Platoon Commander, said:
"In the short time that I knew Private Joe Whittaker, he struck me as being a very enthusiastic and optimistic young soldier, refusing to be tainted by cynicism. He was extremely fit, and welcomed any opportunities put upon him to increase his contribution to the team, such as volunteering eagerly to be the section gunner. Although he had only been in 4 PARA for a short while,
Joe Whittaker's devotion to The Regiment, and the Army as a whole, could not be doubted.
"He had already passed his Officer Selection to enter Sandhurst, as well as the Army Air Corps' aptitude test, so he was looking forward to a career as a helicopter pilot. For Tuesday night training with 4 PARA, he travelled the best part of 200 miles, commuting from Stratford-Upon-Avon to his unit in London. "Joe Whittaker was also a part-time coach for an under-19 ladies hockey team, a role which he missed when joining his fellow Paratroopers in 2 PARA on Operation HERRICK 8. Having been posted to the Op BARMA team,
Joe Whittaker died at a tragic and youthful age doing a particularly dangerous and unenviable task."
Lance Corporal Simon, also from 4 PARA, was Joe's Section Commander:
"Joe to me was an ideal 'Tom' to have in my section. He was keen, enthusiastic and eager to get on with the job, never complaining about any task no matter how unattractive the task was. He was also very strong physically and a very intelligent bloke.
Goodbye Joe. Utrinque Paratus".
Private Storey, Joe's friend from 4 PARA and comrade in D Company Group, said:
"Joe was always keen to get out on the ground and do the job. He was a popular and good humoured bloke who oozed confidence, which helped to secure him a place at Sandhurst where he was due to start in May next year. He was sponsored by the Army Air Corps, and dreamed about becoming an Apache pilot".
Private Steven Fisher, 4 PARA, was serving alongside Joe:
"Joe and I had become close friends. He was great for morale, always upbeat and optimistic, and he approached all tasks with verve and enthusiasm. The thing that always impressed me about
Joe was his desire to be the best soldier he could be. Joe was incredibly popular, which was evident by the amount of mail he received from back home, always catching envious glances from the blokes. Joe will be sorely missed, and he will not be forgotten".
Private Richard Thorburn, 4 PARA serving with D Company:
"Joe excelled at every aspect of being a Paratrooper. His fitness and infectious smile never ceased to amaze both me and our section commander during our training together in Catterick in November 2007. We would always remember a cold night spent out on the training area clinging to each other for warmth! His dedication and enthusiasm to the Regiment, and his friends, rightly made him a character everyone wanted to call a friend. "I count myself privileged to have known him and admire his courage and willingness to put the job and his mates before his own safety.
John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends. Utrinque Paratus."
Joe's mother, Naomi Whittaker, said:
"Joe was a truly wonderful son. He was generous, funny, brave and loyal to his friends. He was doing what he wanted to do and he was immensely proud to wear his 'maroon beret'.
"He has wanted to be in the army since joining the School Cadets at the age of 13. He chose to undertake a tour of duty as a private soldier with the Parachute Regiment before going to RMA Sandhurst next spring. He hoped to join the Army Air Corps eventually.
"Joe lived life to the full. He loved his family and friends and was loved by everyone who knew him. His sister Kate and I will miss him more than words can express. We are so proud of him, his courage and his determination to serve his country."
from a friend and serving Soldier
Both my brother (also a former Paratrooper) and I knew Dan before he joined up. He spent his time in the MMG Platoon in 2 Para, before transferring to the Army PT Corps.
During this time he lead the fitness phases of the Pre Selection Briefing Week for SF Selection. I was on the same stick as
Dan during an LLP jump shortly before the 2008 tour of Afghanistan.
Dan was looking forward to getting some soldiering done after so long working as a PTI, ever the airborne warrior.
Warrant Officer 2nd Class Dan
Shirley from 2 Para ... (13 Air Assault Support Regiment Royal Logistic Corps)
killed in Afghanistan on Friday 27 June 2008.
WO2 Shirley was killed during a Logistic Patrol from Sangin to Camp Bastion at 21.10 hrs local time when the
WMIK he was travelling in rolled, trapping him beneath it.
The medical incident response team was called in and evacuated W02 Shirley to the ISAF medical facilities at
Camp Bastion where despite their best efforts sadly he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Two other soldiers received minor injuries in the incident. The vehicle had been part of a patrol, conducting
force protection when the incident occurred.
was born on 1 December 1975 and grew up in his hometown of Leicester. He enlisted in the Army
in August 1992, joining 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment. He later joined the Army Physical Training Corps
in April 2004 and arrived at 13 Air Assault Support Regiment Royal Logistic Corps in June 2006.
Lieutenant Colonel R J McNeil OBE, his Commanding Officer, paid the following tribute:
"The loss of WO2 Dan Shirley has come as a huge shock to every member of the Regiment. He was known to all
and universally respected. More than that, he was liked and admired. He was a perfect role model for young
soldiers. He was fit, irrepressibly enthusiastic and superbly professional.
"WO2 Shirley served as a member of the Parachute Regiment for 12 years before becoming a member of the
Army Physical Training Corps. He was fiercely proud of being a soldier and his love of the job shone through in
everything he did. In Afghanistan he ran the Regimental Training Wing, where he devoted his seemingly limitless
energy to teaching others how to defend themselves and avoid danger. It was a role he often took out onto
the ground and he was on patrol, protecting others, when a tragic accident claimed his life.
"Our thoughts and sympathies are now with WO2 Shirley's family and with his two young
children. He will be deeply mourned. His memorial will be the skills that he imparted. They have already saved lives and will save
more. This is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary soldier."
Captain Ian Bruce, his Officer Commanding, said:
"WO2 Dan Shirley was an inspirational man and soldier. He was renowned for leading from the front. His
outstanding personal soldiering skills, infectious enthusiasm and sense of fun rubbed off on all those who
worked with him. WO2 Shirley had that rare ability to get that little extra out of everyone he taught. He is
sorely missed by us all. Our immediate thoughts are with his grieving family and friends who he so dearly loved."
Sergeant Nick Murphy, his friend and colleague, said:
"Dan Shirley was the epitome of the Airborne soldier. He was extremely fit, incredibly passionate about
everything he did and was 100 per cent professional at all times. Dan was massively proud of his profession and
never let anyone forget that he was originally a soldier with the Parachute Regiment. He was always talking
about his family and loved taking his children to watch his beloved Leicester City. We will all miss his endless
banter, energy and sense of humour."
Private Peter Joe Cowton from
2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment died in Helmand province on Tuesday 29 July 2008.
At 0600hrs local time, a routine patrol conducting reassurance and interdiction activities left Forward Operating
Base Gibraltar and at 0847hrs local time encountered enemy forces and engaged them.
A short while later the patrol reported that Pte Cowton had been seriously wounded by a blast. Sadly, despite
the efforts of the medical response team, he died as result of his injuries.
Private Peter Joe Cowton, aged 25, was born on 24th October 1982 and grew up in Basingstoke, where he
attended John Hunt of Everest School. Whilst working at a golf club, he joined The Royal Rifles (Volunteers) in
January 2004 in search of a career with adventure, lured by the ability to travel to far-flung parts of the world.
After completing two tours of Iraq, he enlisted as a regular soldier in 2007.
Pte Cowton attended recruit training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, after which he was posted to
the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment
(2 PARA), arriving at C (Bruneval) Company in September 2007 as pre-deployment training for Operation Herrick 8 was commencing. He deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008.
Outside of the Army, Pte Cowton loved playing and watching football and golf, reading books and following
horse racing. He leaves behind his parents and two older sisters.
Private Cowton's parents, Karen and Robin Rolfe, said:
"Peter was proud to serve his country, having already served in Iraq whilst a member of the Territorial Army.
"He was so 'Proud to be a Paratrooper' as we, his parents, and family were. His short regular Army career will
not be forgotten, and his 'Maroon Beret' will have loving memories in our home.
"We are so proud of you."
Following the death of Private Peter Cowton on 29th July,
2 PARA's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan, paid the following tribute:
"This morning C (Bruneval) Company, supported by elements of B Company 3 PARA, were conducting
operations to push Taliban influence further away from their base at FOB GIBRALTAR when
Pte Cowton was seriously wounded by an explosive device. "He was treated on the ground by company medics and the company's doctor, but he died before he could
be evacuated by helicopter.
"Pte Cowton was an experienced soldier and 9 Platoon's lead scout. He had served in Iraq as a reservist
before joining 2 PARA last year and had already spent three months on operations against the Taliban near FOB
GIBRALTAR, in the Musa Qal'eh Wadi and further north in the Upper Sangin valley.
"He is the seventh member of the Battalion, and the tenth member of 2 PARA Battle Group be killed this
summer as the Battle Group creates space for the Afghan Government to connect to its people, and for
development to progress in the Northern Helmand River valley.
"The cost is high and painful to Pte Cowton's friends but most of all to his family, who had expected him
home for a short R&R break in a few days time.
"Pte Cowton, like those we already mourn, was a remarkable man because he knew, as every member of the
Battle Group knows, what he was risking and yet he chose to face a dangerous enemy in a harsh environment
and to do so every day for his friends, his regiment and his country. "We will remember him, and will continue to build on the progress he was prepared to give his life to achieve.
... Private Peter Joe Cowton from 2 Para. His Grave at the Aldershot Military Cemetery.
Major Adam Dawson, C (Bruneval) Company Commander, said:
"Pte Cowton was a vibrant and much-loved 25-year-old soldier, with a passion for the Army and the
Parachute Regiment. "He was a lynchpin in 9 Platoon, with his previous military experience and mature head, cool outlook and
indomitable spirit. "He was a very promising prospect indeed for the future, despite his limited time of service at 2 PARA.
"Pte Cowton was noted for being trustworthy, dedicated and the consummate professional whose energy
and enthusiasm shone above all else. "There was no fuss about the manner in which
Pte Cowton conducted himself; he was on the mark with everything, quietly discerning and absolutely focussed.
"He was bright and astute, swift in body and mind, learning quickly and applying himself without fault to his
chosen vocation – he was the model of modesty and humility. "His was the role of Lead Scout, a role usually reserved for the best private soldier with considerable years
and experience behind him. "It is fitting testament to Pte Cowton that within the space of 12 months he had so gained the trust of his
colleagues and superiors that he had taken on a role of considerable responsibility, requiring the highest level of
personal skills. "He was the eyes and ears of the platoon; the trigger man who kept his fellow paratroopers safe by his
initiative and guile. "In this role, he found himself at the front, fighting through a Taliban position, giving the enemy cause to
turn and run. "In their wake, they had left the most cowardly of devices that initiated as he led his platoon onto
dominating ground from where the enemy could be suppressed. "Despite his determination and the best efforts of the medical team, he died as a result of his wounds.
"Bruneval Company has lost a very dear friend and a man with a bright future ahead of him. He was the
honest soldier, applying himself to any task unswervingly for the sake of his brothers in arms, without thought
for himself. "He set the gold standard in everything he did, never one to compromise or shy away from work for a
satisfactory outcome – this is his legacy that many will aspire to attain but few will achieve.
"Our very sincere condolences and prayers are extended to his family at this difficult time."
Captain Nick Mys, 9 Platoon Commander, said:
"Pte Cowton was a methodical and industrious character. He quickly became an accepted part of the team
due to his hard-working nature and willingness to learn. "His team spirit was unmatched and he was continually putting others before himself. He enjoyed being part
of his platoon and was deeply bonded to his colleagues, who in turn respected him massively.
"His loss has saddened and shocked but also hardened the resolve to see this job through. He will be sorely
Sergeant Simon Connor, 9 Platoon Sergeant, said:
"Pte Cowton was a reserved but confident soldier whose positive outlook and sense of humour made him a
popular member of the platoon. "He was always coming to me asking if anything needed doing or telling me that he had to complete this or
that job but would do more if necessary. "He was remarkably professional in his work and mature beyond his years.
"Always up for a chat, he would be ready to crack a story over a brew, and the sight of his bright red face
poking through a tree line always made me smile. "He was absolutely at ease with his fellow Paratroopers, whether soldier or officer; he had time to spare and
to invest in the wellbeing of others – he took an interest and his humanity was one of his most endearing
qualities. "His passing has left a hole in the platoon and he will be remembered with great fondness by all who knew
Corporal Paul Knapp, Section Commander, said:
"Pete was one of those guys who always wanted to better himself. Naturally, when he first came to 2 PARA
we ripped into him about transferring from another infantry regiment, but he took it on the chin and strived to
impress us on numerous pre-deployment exercises – which he did every time.
"He was keen, enthusiastic, always first to volunteer for everything and always first to clean up and look
after the younger lads. "He took the challenge of scout in his stride and was easily a contender for promotion after the tour. I am
proud that I served alongside him. "He will be sorely missed; my thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.
Until we meet again, rest in peace my airborne brother."
Corporal Lewis, Section Commander, said:
"Pete was my section lead scout. It was a position he excelled at, only commonly done by the most senior
toms within the section. Pete was one of the most professional, keen and motivated paratroopers that I have
had the privilege of serving and fighting alongside. "Pete was always the first to volunteer and always took the platoon's morale and welfare as an important
factor of his daily responsibilities. "We used to joke that in the mornings
Pete had the most haggard face in the platoon, yet he would still be
the first up and getting the brews on for the boys. "My heart goes out to his family and friends. I take great pride in saying I was with him until the end and
even more pride in the fact that I can call him my friend. Rest in peace
Lance Corporal Christopher Pendle, former Section Commander, said:
"Pete came to my section straight from training and quickly shone within the platoon.
"He was a man upon whom we could rely and trust; a man who would do anything for anyone and, because
of this, we soon became close friends. He could take and give out banter extremely well and was loved for it.
"He died in the manner he lived; professional and brave, with his mates around him. My heartfelt sorrow goes
out to his friends and family back home. He was, he is, and he forever will be,
our airborne brother. Rest in peace."
Private Mark Matthews, close friend and colleague, said:
"Pte Cowton was an eager soldier and carried out every task to the best of his ability. I got to know Pete in
training as we shared a room and it was easy to see how dedicated he was to the job.
"He was soon known as an experienced soldier through his military skills and knowledge of the Regiment. He
was always willing to help anyone in the Battalion, no matter what. He was always up for a laugh and I enjoyed
spending time with him outside of work. "I invited him and a few mates for a weekend in my hometown as he was an outgoing person and was a
good bloke to be around. Remembering times I have spent with him has made me realise how much of a good
friend he was. "My thoughts go out to anyone who knew him as I'm sure he had an impact on everyone he met. He will be
dearly missed, not only as a colleague, but one of my closest friends. He will not be forgotten."
Private Kristian Williams, close friend, said:
"I first met Pete in training. He was very knowledgeable about military stuff – skills and drills. When someone
was struggling or was in need of help he would be the first one to volunteer to help them out. He had helped
me out on many occasions, both at work and in my private life. "I have been a good friend of his since the first day of training, being in the same section and platoon as him
in the Battalion. He was always first to volunteer for jobs that no one wanted to do.
"I'm sorry for his family, friends and colleagues for their loss. He will be missed by the Regiment. I will
remember him always."
Private Michael Bunce, fellow soldier in 9 Platoon, said:
"I hadn't known Pete for long as I'm the new lad in the platoon but, from the first day I met him, I could tell
he was a switched on lad and a very keen member of the platoon. Whenever there was a job needed doing, he
was the first to raise his hand. Whenever there was a point to be made, he was never afraid to give his
opinion. "Being a new lad in a platoon is never easy but, thanks to Pete, I settled in quickly. He was always there to
lend a hand and always made sure I was okay before and after patrols. Pete will be missed by all, he was a
proud member of The Parachute Regiment and I am extremely fortunate to have served alongside him."
Private Dean Rogers, good friend, said:
"I've known Pete since I first joined the Army – we went through depot together and ended up in the same
platoon in 2 PARA. My opinion of Pete has never changed in the time that I have known him. He excelled as a
soldier and would always put others first.
"I also shared a room with Pete in Colchester and he would rarely be seen without a brew in his hand and a
smile on his face. He was liked by everyone who knew him and will be sadly missed by all.
Pete truly was a soldier's soldier. My thoughts go out to his family."
UK Forces were involved in ongoing action against insurgent forces in northern Helmand Province on the morning of 1st August 2006.
During the incident, a UK vehicle patrol was attacked by insurgents with rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.
Sadly two soldiers from the Household Cavalry Regiment and one from 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery were
killed and one further soldier was seriously injured.
Captain Alex Eida Royal Horse Artillery, 29, from Surrey, first saw military service with the Territorial Army whilst studying for his degree in Technology Business Studies at the University of Glamorgan. Though taken with the possibility of a military career, on completion of his degree his passion for travel and adventure training took him to Camp USA as an instructor, which he then followed with time as a ski rep and instructor in France.
However, he ultimately returned to the Army fold and attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, commissioning into the Royal Artillery on the conclusion of his course in April 2002. He then undertook his Young Officers’ course at the Artillery Centre, Larkhill. Throughout his initial training Capt Eida stood out from the crowd. Though extremely easygoing and self-effacing, he always displayed real enthusiasm and passion for his work, on the sports field, during adventure training and socially.
Moreover, beneath his relaxed exterior was a man with tremendous commitment and a positive attitude, all backed up by an impressive work ethic. This and his outstanding levels of fitness ensured his selection for an arduous appointment with 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery which he joined in October 2002; a challenge which he relished.
Immediately his balanced maturity, professionalism and sense of fun had an impact. His light yet robust and effective command style, moral courage and enthusiasm earned him the respect and loyalty of all ranks and shone through in training and under the pressure of operations.
All these qualities were evident when he deployed in 2003 to Iraq during the initial war-fighting phase, when he was First Command Post Officer to fire the guns, then again during deployment to Kosovo in 2004 in the demanding covert surveillance role. 2006 saw him as a Forward Observation Officer in Afghanistan where his technical expertise, calm, diligent style and responsiveness not only endeared him to those who worked with him but also made a major contribution to the operation.
Capt Eida completed his whole Regular service with 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and within it he proved himself in the most demanding circumstances whilst maintaining his honour, focus, professionalism and balance. He was always prepared to go the extra mile for his soldiers who willingly did the same for him. As such he was not only popular with everyone but he was also universally admired and respected as a friend and colleague. He will be sadly missed by everyone that knew him.
Lieutenant Colonel David Hammond, his Commanding Officer, said:
"I and the Regiment knew Captain Eida extremely well. He was a real character and personality who grew up as an officer amongst us and gave so much to the Regiment. His relaxed yet self-assured air of professionalism, his commitment to his vocation and his soldiers and his infectious enthusiasm earned him the respect of all those that knew him. We have lost a gifted young officer and friend who was a leading light of the unit and will be sadly missed. Most importantly our thoughts are with his family and many friends at this difficult time."
Capt Eida was single.
Private Jason Lee Rawstron
of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan.
Private Rawstron was killed when his patrol were engaged in an exchange of fire with the Taliban near
Forward Operating Base GIBRALTAR on 12 September 2008. Private Jason Rawstron was 23 years old and was born in Clayton-Le-Moors, Lancashire and attended
Morehead High School.
He joined the Army in October 2005 and completed his training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick
North Yorkshire in July 2006. Upon completion of his training he moved directly to C (Bruneval) Company, 2
PARA where he was employed as a rifleman. He quickly stood out as a soldier of note and within a year of joining the Battalion he was put forward for
and completed the Battalion Infantry Assault Engineer cadre in the summer of 2007. It is a mark of his
professionalism and maturity that he passed this course, usually reserved for more experienced soldiers,
within such a short space of time. Once qualified as an Infantry Assault Engineer he rejoined C Company and his section was attached to 7
Platoon during pre deployment training and for his first operational tour in Afghanistan on Operation
He is remembered as a quiet man but a tower of strength and one to whom the others in his platoon
looked up to, with a quiet but authoritative air and a hint of mischief about him earning him the nickname
'Suspect'. His friends will remember him for his steadfast reliability, his broad smile and his magic
day sack which always seemed to contain exactly what was needed in any situation.
He leaves behind his mother, father, brother Graham and his girlfriend Michaela to whom he was devoted.
Jason's mother, Mandy Rawstron said:
"It is impossible to describe the loss of Jason. He was the perfect son, grandson, brother and boyfriend.
He was blessed with so many friends and they will all miss him dearly. Jason touched all those that he met
and the support and comfort from family and friends has been overwhelming.
"Being a Para was everything to Jason. His determination and pride meant that he was a role model for all
who knew him. "We are all so proud of Jason and although he was taken from us after twenty three years, they were
twenty three years of joy. We are able to take comfort knowing that he died doing a job that he loved,
helping others and that he was amongst comrades who he regarded as brothers.
"We will miss him forever and will never forget him. We love you
Jason's father, Gary Rawstron added:
"I wish I could take Jason's place and have him home. I will miss you son. The pain of losing you is
unbearable, but I know you were so proud of all that you did. "My heart goes out to all parents who have ever lost a child.
All my love, Dad."
Lieutenant Colonel Joe O’Sullivan, Commanding Officer 2 PARA paid tribute to Private Jason Rawstron on
the night of his death:
"Early this morning C (Bruneval) Company were conducting a patrol from their base at Forward Operating
Base GIBRALTAR when they were engaged by the Taliban, and in the exchange of fire
Private Jason Rawstron was killed. "Jason Rawstron began his service with C (Bruneval) Company 2 PARA, and although he later moved to the
Assault Engineer Platoon, it was to Bruneval Company that he returned for the Battalion’s tour in
"Bruneval is the Parachute Regiment’s first Battle Honour, and Jason
Rawstron, like all of his friends in today’s Bruneval Company and across the Battalion, was every bit the Paratrooper of that first Bruneval
Company 66 years ago; tough, resourceful, fearless under the fire that he had experienced so often and
never knowing defeat.
"He joins eleven other members of 2 PARA Battlegroup who have given their lives for their friends and what
they have been asked to do in this part of Helmand. Bruneval Company and all of us in 2 PARA Battlegroup
will mourn Jason Rawstron and our hearts go out to his family and friends at home.
"We hope that what he was, and what he and friends and his battalion stand for and have achieved in this
most demanding of summers will in some small way bring them comfort at this most painful time."
Major Adam Dawson, Officer Commanding C (Bruneval) Company paid tribute to him:
"Private Jason Rawstron was a charming, gentle and immeasurably generous soldier with a warm and caring
personality. Whilst one may be forgiven for not immediately associating these traits with our profession of
arms, they are directly complementary and he was one of our finest - fit, industrious, tough, with a
strength of personality deeply rooted in humanity and a desire to make things better for all.
"He was the embodiment of a force for good; he was non judgemental, reasoning, thoughtful and full of
integrity, making him the ideal soldier for today’s difficult operations.
"Above all he was an engaging character, not one to throw away comments but a man who thought
deeply before speaking honestly, and he spoke with great commitment to those things he held true and
loved. "His conversation and company were never bland, he challenged accepted conventions and endeared
himself to all who were fortunate enough to know him, bringing much joy to those in his wide circle of
"As a professional soldier he was impressively diligent, going the extra mile and meeting challenges head on
with the intent of overcoming anything that stood in his way. "He had his heart set on a move to the Sniper Platoon after the tour in Afghanistan and expressed a desire
to further himself educationally to broaden his horizons and open up new opportunities.
"He was a pleasure to know, his smile was worth a thousand others and his passing leaves the Regiment
considerably better for having known him, but missing his unique and delightful character that looked on
life as an opportunity to be seized upon."
His Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Murray McMahon said of him:
"Private Jason 'Suspect' Rawstron made a lasting impression on me from his first days with 7 Platoon as a
hardworking and diligent young soldier. He was without a doubt the most loyal and enthusiastic soldier I
have ever known. "Jason’s determination was unquestionable, as he strived for excellence in every task he undertook. His
strength of character was shown throughout the tour as he guided fellow comrades through difficult
situations with considerable courage. "Jason was all that a paratrooper could be and is a role model for those who will follow. He loved the
Regiment and would do anything for a fellow colleague. No situation could keep his endearing sense of
humour at bay and his quirky grin always brought a smile to my face. He was polite, friendly and a popular
member of the Platoon and Company. My thoughts go out his family and his girlfriend
Michaela. "I am proud to have known and worked with him. A truly professional paratrooper and friend,
Jason will be sorely missed and remembered."
Sergeant Mark Magreehan, Platoon Sergeant, 7 Platoon said:
"Private Jason Rawstron was a character. From the first moment I got to know him as his new platoon
sergeant I knew I could trust this man with my life at any time. He was a keen and diligent young
Paratrooper, he knew his strengths and his weaknesses using this to better himself at every opportunity.
"Always keen to ask questions no matter how daft, always smiling and drinking tea, is how I will remember
'Suspect'. Suspect had a fantastic sense of humour, he was fit, diligent and willing to learn. He will be
missed greatly within 7 Platoon and the Company as a whole. "Suspect', I knew you only for a short time but you will always stay in my heart. A friend and Paratrooper,
rest in peace brother, till we meet again."
Colour Sergeant James Newell MC, former Assault Engineer Platoon Commander remembered him:
"He was a quiet and unassuming man who always had a smile on his face and saw enjoyment in everything
he did. He was very competent and professional and when taught something new would not need any
further instruction. While on excercises and operations he would spot positions and people long before
anyone else, he had eyes like a hawk. "During the time he worked in the Assault Engineer Platoon he seemed to have a magic daysack, if anyone
asked for anything, no matter how unusual, he would seem to have it in his daysack but usually the item
would be 10 times better than was expected. The only thing he didn’t have was a mug and he was
frequently found drinking tea out of his mess tin."
Sergeant Philip Stout, Former Platoon Sergeant of 7 Platoon said:
"Jason 'Suspect' Rawstron came to the Platoon as part of the Assault Engineer Section. From the start I
knew the platoon was onto a winner. Jason brought everything from humour to professionalism and
diligence. I could rely on him to do anything as I knew it would get done.
"I remember a night on exercise in Otterburn when he was my 51mm Mortar man. I’ve never seen a bloke
fall down so many holes in my life, but even then he remained cool and calm, and just cracked on as if
nothing had happened. He was an inspiration to the Platoon, always cracking a joke, and always being
there. "On the ground in Afghanistan he was 100% reliable, always pointing things out. He was a pleasure to sit
and have a brew and a fag with, he always reasoned with life in general.
'Suspect' you’ll be sadly missed, my thoughts go out to your family and Michaela. Rest in Peace."
Corporal Scott Bourne his Section Commander in 7 Platoon said:
"Jason, better known to me as 'Suspect', you were one of the very best blokes that I have had the
privilege to work with. If there was a job that needed to be done 'Suspect' would always be the first one
there, and would always carry out the job to the letter. "'Suspect' was always seen with a cigarette in his mouth and a smile on his face.
'Suspect' will be missed by me and all the guys, he was the biggest character in the Platoon. He had bags and bags of enthusiasm
for his job and loved it, he was always professional in everything he did.
'Suspect' you were a friend and I will miss having you around and working with you. It will not be the same without you.
"We will meet again and you will never be forgotten."
Private Simon Brough, friend and colleague said:
"I’ve not been in C (Bruneval) Company long but as soon as I got here one bloke stood out –
'Suspect' was a character. He would put 110% into everything and always put others before himself. The keenest lad I
have ever met and a heart of gold. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.
"On the ground in Afghanistan he was always ‘switched on’ and would spot everything. In the short time I
have known him he has given me and all who knew him memories that will not be forgotten. Rest in peace
'suspect' and God bless."
Private David Jackson, friend and colleague spoke of him:
"Jason and I first met in training and within an instant I knew that we would be close. We spent a lot of
time in working hours and in our private time together, his dedication to his job was second to none. He
loved his job and because he was willing to do anything for it, it made him an excellent soldier.
"I remember that we got one day off at the weekend in training and he drove me home so that I could
propose to my girlfriend, now fiancée! "He was rarely seen without a smile on his face and a mug of tea in his hand. His professionalism in and
out of the field made him an Emperor. J, you have left a hole in my heart as you have in many others. You
will never be forgotten. "Until we meet again my friend, good night and God bless."
Friend Private Sam Hall said:
"'Sus' as he was called within the platoon was the kindest, most generous bloke I have ever met. He would
do anything for anybody and he would do it down to a T. I trusted 'Sus' with everything and knew that if I
needed him he would be there. He was a great character within the platoon and the company, he will
never be forgotten by anyone. He loved his family and was always talking about them.
"He had a glowing personality, he could get along with anyone and would talk to everyone – he made sure
everyone else was OK before thinking about himself. He will be watching over us and we will remember him.
Rest in peace Airborne brother."
Friend and colleague Private Kevin Sisson said:
"Private Rawstron was the most dedicated, professional and diligent soldier I have ever worked with. He
would bend over backwards to help anyone and would never expect anything in return.
"I first met 'Suspect' when I arrived in the Battalion and he always stood out as someone you could rely
on, always had the right kit for the right job and never did anything half heartedly. It was an honour to
work beside someone so professional and he was a proud Paratrooper through and through.
"'Sus' you have left a hole in our hearts that can never be filled, you were a
brother to us all and your presence will never be forgotten. See you soon Airborne!"
His friend Private James Allcock remembered him:
"'Suspect' was the most diligent soldier I have ever met and probably will ever meet. He was always
someone you could trust with anything, most importantly your life. Anything you needed he would have,
on exercise, in camp or even on the ground in Afghanistan. He would put others first before himself and he
always picked you up when you were feeling down, nothing would stand in his way.
"His family meant a lot to him, especially his girlfriend. He was every bit an Emperor, he knew the true
meaning of being a Paratrooper. He was dearly loved by the people that knew him and were touched with
his warm, vibrant and electric personality. "You will be missed and you will always be a brother in arms. We will remember you."
Lance Corporal Nicky Mason, from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment,
Killed in southern Afghanistan on Saturday 13 September 2008.
Mason, aged 26, died as a result of an explosion whilst on a routine patrol near Kajaki, in Helmand province, the cause of which is being investigated.
Lance Corporal Nicky Mason was born on 20 December 1981 and hailed from Aveley in Essex. He joined the Army in December 2001 and completed his training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire. He was posted to 2 PARA in July 2002 and joined 12 Platoon, D Company.
Within a year of joining the Battalion he applied to join the battalion's specialist reconnaissance platoon, the Patrols Platoon, and performed extremely well on the selection cadre successfully joining the Platoon in October 2003 ahead of his peer group.
He completed the Regimental junior non-commissioned officers course in the summer of 2005 and was promoted to Lance Corporal shortly after in recognition of his qualities as a junior leader and an outstanding soldier. He had completed an operational tour of Northern Ireland as well as two tours of Iraq, this was his first operational tour of Afghanistan and he revelled in it; in the heat and hills surrounding Kajaki he excelled.
Exceptionally fit and a boxer of note, he represented both his Company and the Battalion in the Army semi finals earlier this year. He had a passion for Martial Arts and had successfully competed to a high standard in a range of disciplines. On returning from Operation HERRICK he had his sights set on attempting the selection course to join the
Regiment, a natural progression for a man who was always seeking to test himself professionally and to excel.
He was the archetypal paratrooper: tough, resilient and confident in his ability whilst remaining humble and an example to all with whom he worked.
Lance Corporal Nicky Mason was universally well known and enjoyed the friendship and respect of all who knew him, he will be sorely missed.
Lance Corporal Mason was single and had no children. His family issued the following statement:
"Too dearly loved to be forgotten our much loved son, loyal brother and thoughtful friend always ready for a laugh, a cheeky tease died doing the job he loved."
Lieutenant Colonel Joe
O'Sullivan, Commanding Officer 2 PARA paid tribute to Lance Corporal Mason following his death:
"This afternoon X Company was conducting a patrol North West of FOB ZEBRUGGE, and as the Patrols Platoon cleared a key piece of high ground
Lance Corporal Nicky Mason was killed by an Explosive Device. The Kajaki Dam has been in the news a great deal over the last few weeks, and the story has been of a major operation to move the third turbine up to the Dam, where in time it can provide much needed electricity for the rest of Helmand.
"The hidden story of the Kajaki Dam is the Company that patrols North and South of it daily, to ensure that the Taliban cannot bring heavy weapons within accurate range, so that the power station can continue to function. The ground X Company patrol is limited and predictable, and as a result the risk of attack from Improvised Explosive Devices is very high.
"X Company's task was essential to the operation to move the turbine up to Kajaki, and it is now essential for the work to install the turbine to begin.
Nicky Mason knew these risks very well; X Company had already suffered the loss of
Corporal Barnes and he and the rest of X Company have demonstrated a special kind of courage to face this threat each day.
"Those who celebrate the operation to move the turbine to Kajaki should now reflect on the steadfast courage of those who were there beforehand and who still remain, and on
Nicky Mason who has given his life there. 2 PARA will remember him as it remembers all the other members of the Battlegroup that have lost their lives here this summer, and our thoughts are now with his family and their most painful loss."
Major Simon Britton, Officer Commanding X Company at Kajaki paid tribute to Lance Corporal Mason following his death:
"In the aftermath of a fatality such as this it is often said that a soldier was "well liked" or "a friend to all", in the case of
Lance Corporal Nicky Mason these comments could not be more true. He was an excellent soldier undoubtedly, but his outstanding quality was his warmth and character. His ready smile was infectious and his effect upon the morale of those who lived and fought beside him will be truly missed. The Parachute Regiment has been deprived of one of its best and many paratroopers have lost a good friend today."
Warrant Officer Class 2 Rob Holliman, the Company Sergeant Major of X Company said:
"Lance Corporal Nicky Mason was an extremely professional soldier who carried out his tasks to the full and was like a brother to the members of the Patrols Platoon. He always had a smile on his face and helped all those around him. His sad and untimely departure has left a large void in the platoon and
Nicky will be remembered for the good times he shared with his fellow Airborne Brothers. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."
His Platoon Commander, Captain Dave Middleton said:
"Lance Corporal Mason was one of the first people I met when I arrived at 2 PARA and we ended up sharing a poncho together on my first exercise. He was a stalwart of the Patrols Platoon and his exemplary levels of fitness and soldiering skills
epitomised what the Platoon stands for. His personality was infectious and his popularity far reaching. ‘Mase' it was an honour to serve with you."
Sergeant Andy Turnbull, Patrols Platoon Sergeant and friend said:
"Lance Corporal Nicky Mason characterised what it means to be a paratrooper - strong, fit, courageous, quick-thinking and willing to help and support any fellow comrade. He brought so much more with his insane sense of humour and his always larger than life personality which appeared all too often whatever the situation, even if it was only to offer everyone "tickets to the gun show", at least three times a day.
"He will be missed by all that had the pleasure of knowing and working with him even if that was just a short time - that's how infectious his personality was. To me a great friend and colleague, an Airborne Brother to the end, I will miss you dearly
Nicky as will we all, my thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time."
Corporal Dan O'Callaghan, Patrols Platoon Section Commander, said:
"Nicky was one of the biggest characters in the Patrols Platoon, and in the Battalion, he could easily talk with anyone, of any rank making them feel at ease, he always had a smile on his face and would joke around until everyone around him was laughing.
"Nicky was a MINIMI gunner within the team and was professional to the last on the ground, he would push himself to the front to protect everyone else selflessly and without fear, whether clearing compounds or providing protection for others. He knew what was required and did it; he just got on with the job he loved, "being a Paratrooper".
"Nicky will be greatly missed in the Platoon and throughout the Battalion and I cannot think of any bloke I would rather have had the privilege to live or work with, my thoughts are with his family and loved ones back home.
Nicky you will always be with us mate, until the next time 'Rest In Peace'."
Corporal Nige Phillips, Patrols Platoon Section Commander said:
"Nicky was to me, and hundreds of others, a great friend. He was the heart of the platoon that kept us going. He brought us morale and humour that no other person could match, especially with one of his great sayings...all the blokes will know what I mean. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten."
Friend and colleague Lance Corporal Adam Faulkner said:
"I had the privilege of knowing and becoming good friends with Nicky since our military careers started. The energy and professionalism that
Nicky showed in everything he did inspired those around him. In the hardest and most challenging times he would always somehow manage to pick people up and he was the perfect role model for the younger members of the Platoon. You could always rely on him 100 per cent.
Nicky was an outstanding paratrooper. It was an absolute honour to have worked so closely with you
Lance Corporal Adie Roberts, close friend and training partner said:
"I consider myself extremely lucky and blessed to have met Nick from day one at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick. Since then I have spent my whole time serving alongside
Nick. "Nick will always be remembered in the Platoon for his absolute professionalism, courage, bravery and for the highest standards of soldiering. His strength and fitness were unmatched amongst the best. As a person he was able to bring joy and comedy when times were low and hard, he would always put others before himself and wanted nothing in return, showing great selflessness with an immeasurable loyalty for his friends.
"As a close friend with whom I spent most of my time in and out of work he will be greatly missed. He will always be held close in my memory and heart as a great comrade, best friend and training partner. A true Brother in Arms."
Lance Corporal Craig Sewell, close friend said:
"Lance Corporal Nicky Mason always had a big grin on his face, seeing the positive side of everything. Nothing ever brought his high spirits down.
Nicky was always setting himself a goal and loved a challenge, any spare time he had you would find him in the gym getting " a savage pump on", or getting "smashed up" training at Mixed Martial Arts for which he had a strong passion and would have gone far.
Nicky had a bright future, which was cut short; he will be missed by so many people. Rest in Peace
Close friend Lance Corporal Ross Thiele said:
"Nicky Mason my brother: his piercing blue eyes and permanent Mediterranean sun tan, shaved head that shone in the sun and boyish looks that were enough to overwhelm anyone on their first encounter with him. I have so many good memories of him, ones that could bring a smile to your face even on the darkest of days.
"Whenever I was down I would go and sit with him, we'd talk for a while and he would always make me feel better and see that things weren't so bad. He'd make you blush sometimes from the amount of praise he would give you, and for someone to show so much compassion toward you it made you offer it straight back.
"Never did he think anything was unachievable, life had no limit and the world really was his oyster.
Nicky has inspired me to do so much more in life - because that was him all over. We can all look at ourselves proudly in the mirror each day and say we had the honour of being his friend. The best man I've ever known, not a bad word to say about anyone. He will never be forgotten.
Rest in Peace Nicky Mason."
Lance Corporal Jones, close friend and colleague, said:
"Nicky always had a way of making the best out of a bad situation; you could always rely on his cheeky smile and funny comments to keep everyone going.
He was the first person we turned to for advice and invariably we always took it. On a personal note, you helped me through a hard time this year, you led from the front and set the best example to those around you. It was an honour to stand beside you
Nicky, you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace."
Private Steve Delany, friend and Patrols Platoon colleague, said:
"Nicky Mase; what a character he was in the platoon. He was a good listener, you could always approach him with your problems and he would give out the best advice possible especially when it came to fitness and soldiering. He inspired all the younger members of the platoon. In my career I have never met anyone more committed to his ambitions than
'Boyzy'. You will never be forgotten mate; it was a privilege working alongside you."
Close friend from training and the Patrols Platoon, Private Al King, said:
"Nicky was loved by many and liked by all; he had more friends than anyone could hope for. An instantly likeable person with an energy for life that was inspirational. He had so much to live for yet he would always put others before himself. As a paratrooper he was fearless under fire, he found his calling in life and was destined for great things.
"He was a truly selfless person and someone I am lucky enough to call a true friend. He died for his country, The Parachute Regiment, his platoon and his friends.
He will be deeply missed but never forgotten. ‘Every man an Emperor.'"
Lance Corporal Alex O'Dwyer, D Company, 2 PARA remembered his friend:
"Firstly, my friend I can't believe you've gone; you really were the last person I thought this could happen to. You were a true gentleman, an athlete and a true professional soldier, and loved by all.
Mase, I will never forget the times we shared together, you could always turn a dull moment into something so great. I'm really glad I had the chance to see you not so long ago in Kajaki. We talked about the good times of our famous Thailand holiday and how we would revisit those memories!
"Whenever I will remember you Mase, I will smile because you were always happy and full of life. Things will certainly be different without you mate, but you will never be forgotten. I will keep those memories I have of you within my heart. For now my friend, my thoughts go out to your family, rest in peace.
God Bless, Boyzie."
Lance Corporal 'Mac' McHale, Mortar Platoon 2 PARA paid the following tribute to his friend:
"To the one and only true Boyzie. It doesn't seem real that you've gone; words cannot express how much you meant to everyone. There's so much to say about you
Nicky. There was never a dull moment with you around, from going down the town, to doing the job you loved so much. You were a guy that everyone could rely on, no matter what the situation. The stories and memories we've told and shared, it's a shame there's no more. But the memories we have will last forever. Our thoughts go out to your family and loved ones. You will be missed but never forgotten. See you at the
re-org my friend."
Friend and colleague from his days in D Company, Private 'Nige' Mansell said:
"So long Nicky. You were a great friend to us all and will truly be missed. Our hearts and thoughts go out to your family. Wish you could have made it for another lads' holiday that we were talking about just a few weeks ago. It was great to see you
Mase. You will never be forgotten, bye for now my friend."
Read more from Nicky's Dad
Corporal Stephen Bolger (Right) from The Parachute Regiment
was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday 30 May 2009. As a result of an explosion that happened whilst on a deliberate operation near Musa Qaleh.
He was serving with the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG)
Corporal Bolger's family have released the following statement:
"Stephen was a wonderful first born son, brother to two and friend to many; he was dearly loved and will be sorely missed.
Stephen was always happy, caring and generous and we are sure that those fortunate enough to have known him will share in the loss we are now feeling.
"We can take some comfort knowing that he died amongst friends, doing something he loved and believed in. We are all immensely proud of him.
His Commanding Officer said:
"Stephen was, quite simply, an extraordinary man doing an extraordinary job. He embodied a life based on service to others, duty and self-sacrifice - the life of a soldier. He chose this life and lived it with a passion; he died prematurely, but he died doing what he loved.
"He gave his all for his friends, for The Parachute Regiment and for the difficult task he faced. How privileged we are to have known this courageous and talented soldier and every member of the unit is very proud and deeply honoured to have served alongside him.
"We think now about his family; our thoughts and prayers are with them, and in the silence of their lives we hope they will draw strength from the same memories we all share."
Corporal Kevin Mulligan, Lance Corporal Dale Thomas Hopkins and Private Kyle Adams were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 6 August
2009 ... they were part of the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) which was set up in April
2006 ... The three soldiers, all from The Parachute Regiment, were killed while undertaking a routine security patrol alongside Afghan National Security Forces to the north of Lashkar Gah when the Jackal vehicle they were travelling in was hit by an explosion, followed by a small arms fire attack.
Corporal Kevin Mulligan
Corporal Mulligan was aged 26. His family paid the following tribute:
"Kevin was the light and love in all our lives and he will always be close in our
The Commanding Officer said;
"Corporal Kevin Mulligan was the epitome of a professional soldier; diligent, selfless, caring, with a profound sense of duty.
A charismatic man with an irrepressible sense of humour, he was overwhelmingly popular and universally respected. An exceptional leader, he died how he led his life, at the forefront of his men.
"He gave his life for his comrades and for The Parachute Regiment, both of which were dear to him. We count ourselves privileged to have known this dedicated, brave soldier and every member of the Unit is proud and deeply honoured to have served alongside him. Our feelings are perhaps best encapsulated through the words of one of the private soldiers under Kevin's command, who said quite simply, that
'Corporal Mulligan was everything I aspire to become'.
"Our thoughts are with his family, his fiancée, and his unborn child at this incredibly difficult time. In the midst of their profound loss we hope that they can draw strength from the same fond memories we all share."
Lance Corporal Dale Thomas Hopkins
Lance Corporal Hopkins was aged 23. His family paid the following tribute:
"Dale was a loving son and brother. He was a determined, energetic man who loved life. We are so very proud of him and all that he achieved.
"We are all devastated that such a wonderful and popular person is now missing from our lives.
Dale will be sadly missed by his family, friends and colleagues."
The Commanding Officer said:
"Dale was an immensely proud, forthright and honest man who took an abiding joy in soldiering. An outstanding and utterly professional paratrooper, he readily embraced the self sacrifice, responsibility and dedication required of his profession. He died doing the job he so loved, alongside the comrades that meant so much to him.
"He gave his life for his fellow comrades and for The Parachute Regiment. We are privileged to have counted such a brave, upright and professional soldier as one of our own, and every man in the Unit is proud and honoured to have served with him."
"At this difficult time we think about Dale's family, to whom he was so dedicated.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and we hope that they can draw strength, as we do, from fond memories of an exceptional young man."
Private Adams was aged 21. His family said:
"Before his deployment Private Adams said to his father. "Dad, I'm not a soldier. I'm a Para."
His Father paid the following tribute.
"He was a loving: Son, Brother, Uncle, Nephew, Grandson, and Boyfriend. He was the life and soul of any party. He has left a big hole and he will be sorely missed."
The Commanding Officer said;
"Private Kyle Adams was an undemonstrative, yet utterly professional soldier. Always ready for the next challenge, he was a real team player, and indeed was a talented sportsman.
"The focus, selflessness and responsibility required of his profession came naturally to him. He died doing the work he loved, alongside the comrades who held him in such high regard.
"He gave his life for his fellow comrades and The Parachute Regiment. We who served with him are privileged and honoured to have known such a brave, committed and enthusiastic young soldier.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kyle's family at this incredibly difficult time. We hope that the fond memories of an inspiring young man can in some way help them, as they do us."
A Special Forces commando killed during the rescue of a New York Times journalist kidnapped in Afghanistan was formally identified.
Corporal John Harrison, from the Parachute Regiment, was killed
(Wednesday 9th September 2009) during the operation to free Stephen Farrell, formerly of The Times. He was killed along with another Afghan
civilian. In a statement tonight, Cpl Harrison’s family said they were "absolutely heartbroken", adding: "John was a wonderful son, brother and a dedicated soldier who was greatly loved and cherished by all his family and friends.”
His commanding officer, whose name was not released by the Ministry of Defence due to the special forces role of the unit, described him as “a tower of strength” and “a remarkable man”.
“Cpl John Harrison was an immensely capable, self- effacing and highly likeable soldier with an irrepressible humour," he said.
“His hallmark was an undemonstrative, yet profound, professionalism; he cared deeply about his work, and more deeply still about those he commanded and served alongside.
"He was an unflinching and inspirational man with a deep, deep pool of courage, who died as he lived - at the forefront of his men. He gave his life for his comrades and the Parachute Regiment, both of which meant so much to him.
“Although his passing is a sad day for us, every member of the unit counts themselves privileged to have known such a tower of strength and we all are deeply honoured to have served alongside him.”
"Our thoughts and prayers now turn to his family and friends at this most difficult time. We hope that in the midst of their profound loss, they can draw strength from the fond memories that we all share of this remarkable man."
This from a friend and serving Soldier
John 'Jack' Howard was one of the Toms in my Platoon, part of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, during the recent tour of Afghanistan (2010-11). He was one of the top private soldiers in my Platoon, a very keen and capable soldier. Whatever the task given to him, he got on with it without whinging.
Jack was sadly killed in action on 5 Dec 2010. We had previously carried out three compound assaults that day, and had been under contact from three sides. My thoughts are with his friends and family back home in New Zealand.
Howard, from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 5 December 2010.
Private Howard was serving with 16 Air Assault Brigade's Reconnaissance Force on a patrol ten kilometres south west of the provincial
capital of Helmand province, Laskah Gah, when he was fatally wounded during an action conducted against insurgents operating in that
area. Private John Howard, aged 23, was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on 17 April 1987. Having arrived in the United Kingdom he applied to
join The Parachute Regiment and subsequently completed the Combat Infantryman's Course held at the Infantry Training Centre
Catterick, North Yorkshire. On successfully passing out in November 2007, Private Howard was posted to 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) in
Colchester. On joining the battalion he was posted to B Company and deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008 on Operation HERRICK 8.
During his time with 3 PARA, he deployed on exercises in the Netherlands, Norway, Kenya and the USA. Throughout this period
Private Howard served with distinction and was identified by his regiment as a potential high flyer with much to offer.
True to form, in April 2010 he volunteered for service with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force and successfully completed the Brigade
Reconnaissance Force cadre, excelling during the demanding build-up training, before deploying on Operation HERRICK 13. During this
time he qualified as a sharpshooter and a team medic. Right from the outset of the tour he rapidly established himself as a leading personality in his section and platoon. His sense of humour
and easygoing attitude made him an immensely likeable figure whose friendships with his comrades spanned both rank and age. He had
been at the very forefront of all the Brigade Reconnaissance Force operations up to the point when his life was tragically taken.
All of those who knew Private Howard will be poorer for the loss of this engaging, compassionate and inspiring young man. He leaves
behind his parents Roger and Anne, two sisters Charlotte and Isabella, and his girlfriend Sophie.
Private Howard's family said:
"As a family we are absolutely devastated to lose our son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin.
"Jack was immensely proud to be both a Para and a New Zealander. He was absolutely passionate about what he was doing. He was
never prepared to accept less than the best and was always striving for the next challenge. His decision to try for the Paras, which he
regarded as the foremost infantry regiment in the world, reflected this drive and passion.
"Jack came from a loving family with a long military history. He was the fourth generation of our family to serve in the military.
"Jack was well-read and believed strongly in what he was doing. He had an understanding of the conflict he was engaged in and
prepared his position robustly. However, he never let his profession detract from his innate humanity.
"Jack died serving alongside some of the great friends he had made in the Army. He comes from a strong and loving family and we miss
Lieutenant Colonel James Coates, Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Private Jack Howard was the archetypal paratrooper. Choosing to leave behind a life in his native New Zealand, he volunteered for the
challenges of service in The Parachute Regiment and rose to those challenges time and time again.
Jack was selected for service with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force [BRF] of 16 Air Assault Brigade and moved across to this elite unit from 3 PARA in July of this year.
"He had always aspired to serve in this role, very much in the vanguard of operations in Afghanistan, and he fulfilled his aspiration in
spades. He was an exceptional operator and made a real impact on all those who had the pleasure to work with him. This was his second
tour in Afghanistan. "Jack died on 5 December 2010 during an operation in the area of Zaburabad in central Helmand, which aimed to counter the local
insurgent threat and bring governance and development to the area. Whilst his attachment to the BRF took him away from 3 PARA, he
was and will always be part of the 3 PARA family. "Indeed, more recently the BRF have served at the cutting edge of 3 PARA strike operations in Nad 'Ali district, supporting us in our task
to bring security and a better life to the people of central Helmand. We have never seen so much opportunity for change in Afghanistan
before and Jack's recent contribution to that change will be his lasting legacy.
"Where others might have chosen the easy option in life, Jack lived his dreams in full knowledge of the risks involved. He was a brave
and utterly dependable man and a good friend to all. The regiment has lost a rising star.
"Jack was immensely proud to be both a Para and a New Zealander. He was absolutely passionate about what he was doing."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents Roger and Anne and family at this distressing time. We pledge to remember him always
and to honour his memory in all of our actions across Helmand over the coming months and beyond. Utrinque Paratus."
Chief of Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Evans, Royal Tank
"It is with great sadness that the ISTAR Group in Helmand has learned of the loss of
Private John Howard, who has been killed in the line of duty with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force. The BRF represents the 'tip of the spear' when it comes to intelligence collection; they
operate, 'find' and fight at the nexus of the insurgency, in the most difficult areas, on our most difficult tasks.
"Private Howard was the epitome of what the best BRF soldier represents, and brought many specialist skills to the Group. His courage,
professionalism and contribution to the success of this campaign will always be remembered by his many comrades, of many cap badges,
in the ISTAR Group. Our thoughts are with his family."
Major Matthew Cansdale, Officer Commanding the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, said:
"Private Jack Howard was a man whose motivation and drive made him stand out from those around him. He travelled half way around
the world to become a paratrooper and he revelled in the challenges he found and in the friendships he made in the regiment.
"Never prepared to accept less than the best and always striving for the next challenge,
Private Howard was the consummate paratrooper and others looked up to him for motivation, guidance and for fun, as he was known for his quick-witted humour. An Emperor
among Emperors. "Ever the volunteer, it was no surprise to his friends that
Private Howard chose to serve with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force as it
was in his character always to tackle the next test. As expected he was performing extremely well on this his second operational tour
and was a source of encouragement for others in his platoon. "A committed British soldier, Private Howard remained a proud Kiwi and his plans were for a full and rewarding career and then to return
to his homeland and to his family, who were so important to him. "Private Howard was killed while serving alongside some of the great friends he had met in the Army and doing a job he loved and at
which he excelled. "He will be sorely missed by all and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and girlfriend Sophie, about whom he cared so much. We
hope that they, like us, take some comfort from the memory of a life lived to the full and given in the service of others. We will
endeavour to honour him through our continued service to a task to which he gave his all."
Major Giles Murray-Jones, Officer Commanding B Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Private Jack 'Kiwi' Howard was a young and enthusiastic soldier who was always keen to face new challenges. An intelligent man of
many talents, he was an accomplished signaller, gunner and rifleman. By the time I had taken command of the company, he was already
a veteran of HERRICK 8 and a senior Tom, and he was never one to shy away from setting a good example to the newest soldiers.
"Volunteering for service with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force for HERRICK 13, it was remarkable how keen he was to experience
soldiering of a different flavour. I distinctly remember how much he had enjoyed the pre-deployment training and that his next goal was
to join the Pathfinder Platoon after the tour. His adaptability certainly suited the more lateral approach of the BRF and he would have
loved the daily trials of his new role in the field. "B Company has lost a trusted and loyal friend; approachable, reliable, one of the boys - a bright spark. We will all sorely miss him and
our thoughts are with his parents Roger and Anne, and his two sisters Charlotte and Isabella."
Captain Christopher Tilley, Officer Commanding Pathfinders, said:
"Characteristically Jack Howard sought out the most demanding of roles and had thrived in the independent nature of this unit. A proud
and highly experienced paratrooper, he arrived in the BRF and immediately set the standard to which his mates aspired. Quick, bright and
intuitive, he was the consummate reconnaissance soldier; proving more than equal to working at the 'broken end of the bottle' whilst on
operations. "Looking to his future, he harboured a desire to attempt Pathfinder selection on his return from
Afghanistan. Courageous, indefatigable, but most of all friendly and easygoing, it was precisely these qualities that would have made him the ideal candidate for Pathfinders.
"Jack's death will leave a profound and lasting effect on those of us who were fortunate enough to know him, particularly so his friends
in both his parent company and 3 Platoon of the BRF. Those that are left to mourn his loss will be comforted when they remember his
spirit, humour and friendship. Our thoughts and condolences go out to those who will miss him most, his parents Roger and Anne, his
sisters Charlotte and Isabella, and his girlfriend Sophie. It is their loss that is greatest. 'First In'.
Captain Hugo Deed, Second-in-Command, B Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Private Howard was a particularly bright and quick-witted individual. He was my Platoon Signaller on Op HERRICK 8 who was chosen, in
essence, because he was very bright and articulate - very much a thinking soldier. Needless to say, he performed fantastically well. Ever
curious and keen to learn more, his desire to improve his knowledge of soldiering was striking.
"Private Howard was unlucky enough to spend much of his tour by my side, and we spent many hours talking, debating and sharing
stories from home. He would patiently listen to my rants and was more than happy to act as a sounding board to my frustrations. He
could empathise with anyone, one of the qualities that made him such a likeable person.
"He was deeply proud to be a paratrooper - I am certain he was a great asset to the BRF. He will be remembered."
Captain Frank Reeves, Second-in-Command, Brigade Reconnaissance Force, said:
"Let me tell you about Private Jack Howard. Firstly and annoyingly he was better looking than all of us and everybody who came into
contact with Jack loved him. A well-respected paratrooper, he excelled at his job - it was because of this that he was selected to be
part of the specialist Brigade Reconnaissance Force. "Jack died a warrior despite the tragic circumstances. As an excellent shot he was employed as a sharpshooter within the BRF; his
platoon had already fought and overcome two enemy positions that day in which
Jack played a central and vital part - we were poised to attack our third.
Jack was part of the section that would lead the assault; an essential part of the team, he died doing something
that he both loved and had a talent for. Always surefooted, he was steady as a rock in the heat of battle, reassuring others and deadly
to the enemy. "He had aspirations to join the Pathfinders - I have no doubt in my mind that he would have succeeded, such was the quality of
Jack. It was an absolute honour to have fought alongside Jack Howard and a privilege to command him. He died a warrior in helping Afghanistan
become a better place. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jack's parents Roger and Anne, his sisters Charlotte and Isabella, and his girlfriend Sophie. You'll be
sorely missed Jack."
Lieutenant Sam Whitlam, Officer Commanding 5 Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Private Jack 'Kiwi' Howard joined 5 Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, in November 2007. Immediately capable
and likeable, he settled into the demands of battalion life easily. He deployed on Op HERRICK 8 in 2008. He had volunteered to serve with
the Brigade Recce Force for Op HERRICK 13. "Private Jack Howard was a popular member of 5 Platoon and indeed B Company. Intelligent and diligent, he proved himself to be a highly
effective member of the platoon. In testament to his versatility, during Op HERRICK 8, he was equally at home as a rifleman or as the
platoon radio operator. "Upon returning from operations, Private Howard naturally stepped into the senior soldier role, and thus became someone junior soldiers
looked up to. He was mature and confident, with humility. He was immensely proud of being a paratrooper and being a Kiwi, to the point
where he tried to self-impose his own nickname 'Kiwi'! Needless to say, this was not adopted by the rest of the platoon!
"Renowned for his quick wit and his love of a two-miler, Jack was usually involved in any mischief within the platoon. He had a natural
enthusiasm for soldiering and, as such, put himself forward to serve alongside the Pathfinder Platoon.
"On behalf of 5 Platoon, B Company, I would like to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family at this terrible time.
He will be sorely missed by all. Jack died a paratrooper and will never be forgotten - an example to all. Rest in Peace."
Sergeant Tom Blakey, Platoon Sergeant 3 Platoon, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack was a good natured soldier with a good sense of humour. Whatever the task, he got on with it without complaining. He was proud
to be a Paratrooper and was an asset to his Regiment. His tragic death was a shock to all of us and he will be sorely missed by all who
Corporal Barry Loftus, Section Commander, 5 Platoon B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment said:
"Private Howard was a very loyal member to the Parachute Regiment and to his home country of New Zealand. He often talked of his
home life and family. He was regarded as a genuinely good bloke, and would always take great interest in what others had to say. He
often talked of his Mum and Dad, and sisters back home; we are all thinking of them at this terrible time."
Corporal Lee McDonald, Section Commander, 5 Platoon B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment said:
"The Reg is a lesser place with your loss, mate. See you in the re-org."
Lance Corporal Aaron Carr, Section Second In Command, 5 Platoon B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment said:
"Jack was one of my closest friends. I remember on Op HERRICK 8, he gave himself the nickname "Kiwi" and even had a badge made; so
the blokes called him everything else but "Kiwi" to his annoyance! He took the banter in typically good form and was always quick to
laugh! Even though he was recently attached to the BRF, he will be remembered by 5 Platoon as one of our own, and will be greatly
missed. Rest in Peace."
Lance Corporal Ben Cunningham, Section Second In Command, 5 Platoon B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment said:
"Jack, you're a top lad. See you again someday. AIRBORNE!"
Lance Corporal Aidan Cleverly, Section Second In Command, 5 Platoon B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment said:
"You are an awesome friend, Jack, and I'll never forget you. I will see you in the re-org mate."
Private Jimmy Donnelly, 5 Platoon B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment said:
"Jack, you fought the good fight and made the ultimate sacrifice. We will never forget you. AIRBORNE!"
Private Andrew Corcoran, Light Machine Gunner, 5 Platoon B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment said:
"Jack was very intelligent, mature and had impressive general knowledge. He was often reading; we would always ask him questions, to
which he would generally know the answer. I will never forget you, mate. Rest in Peace. AIRBORNE!"
Private Chris Oliver, 5 Platoon B Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment said:
"Being a long way from home, he could often be found in the block, and was always only a phone call away for a night out. I shall miss
you, mate. Rest in Peace."
Lance Corporal Liam Cruise-Taylor, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Rest In Peace Jack, you will never be forgotten, we will miss you very much, take care mate."
Lance Corporal Darrol Blake, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"When Jack first came to B Company he often amused the lads with a few terms he never quite mastered, such as referring to any
fieldcraft lesson as 'Bushcraft'. It also took him the best part of a year to stop calling his roll mat a 'Lilo'!
"He made many good friends on his arrival to the BRF and also leaves a huge hole in B Company, 3 PARA. A friend to anyone, especially
Aaron Carr and Sam Horsefall, by whom he will be sorely missed."
Private Martin Graham, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"You'll never be forgotten Jack. You were always the centre of morale, turning even the dullest moment into a giggle. In our thoughts
and hearts forever, take care mate."
Sapper Jack Doherty, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Rest In Peace Jack mate, I'll never forget the longest Jagertrain of my life in Newquay! Miss you mate, even if your PRR crack is gash!
Much love – Jack."
Private Eddie Page, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack was a truly mega bloke who wore his beret and Regimental tattoo with pride. He was an awesome friend and will be truly missed by
all. We had some great times that will never be forgotten. With his dodgy Kiwi accent he could always make me laugh even when he
didn't mean to. He was a great bloke, both in and out of work and always up for a good crack. He was a true Paratrooper. Every man an
Lance Corporal Joe Ryan, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack Howard loved his job and was always very proud of what he had achieved. All of my memories of
Jack make me smile; he was always good for morale and a truly good friend. Never forgotten brother."
Lance Corporal Dave Lapping, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack Howard was a good soldier and friend, I will miss his personality and sense of humour. My heart goes out to his family and all those
who were lucky enough to know him."
Lance Corporal Kierin Bristow, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack was always up for a laugh and always quick with his witty comments. I didn't know him for very long, but he has made a lasting
Private Eddy Bolland, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack was a good lad. He always had a smile on his face and made others smile too. He will be missed greatly by all."
Corporal Mickey Mooney, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack was a proper lad; always a bit of a joker and one to make the boys smile. He is sorely missed. Rest in peace my friend."
Lance Corporal 'Canada' Morgan, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack was a good soldier and a good mate. He was always up for a laugh."
Lance Corporal 'Hodgy' Hodgkins, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Funny bloke. Great Paratrooper. Going to miss you mate."
patrol in Afghan in 2010.
Gunner Andy Cousins, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack was always someone I looked up to. He was easy to talk to and always gave good advice. I'm going to miss him."
Corporal Dan Burfoot, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Mega bloke, mega soldier. A massive loss to everyone who knew him.
Rest in peace."
Lance Corporal Jim Appelt, Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Jack and I were talking on stag on the evening of 4th Dec about the future and what we wanted to do in life. He was an ambitious guy
who wanted to return and jump with the Red Devils and then train in New Zealand before attempting the PF cadre, which I have no
doubt he would have passed. He will be greatly missed in our Section and in the BRF."
The Soldiers of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force said:
"Yesterday was a dark day for anyone who had the pleasure of meeting you and we feel privileged to be able to have fought alongside
you and honoured to call you our friend. Our hearts go out to your family and friends and we will always remember you.
"Jack Howard was never average; he was a great friend, beloved son, had a lovely personality and was always up for a laugh. He was a
proud Paratrooper, always keen and always wanting the best. He lit the place up and everyone will have their own fond memories of
Jack. Rest in Peace."
patrol in Afghan in 2010.
a New Zealand News article
A New Zealand soldier shot in Afghanistan has been described by his family as a man who was "never prepared to accept less than the
best and was always striving for the next challenge". John 'Jack' Howard, 23, was shot while patrolling with the 3rd Battalion of the
British Parachute Regiment in the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province. In a statement, his family said they were "absolutely devastated
to lose our son, brother, grandson nephew and cousin. "Jack was immensely proud to be both a para and a New Zealander," the
statement said. "He was absolutely passionate about what he was doing. "He was never prepared to accept less than the best and was
always striving for the next challenge. "His decision to try for the Paras, which he regarded as the foremost infantry regiment in the
world, reflected this drive and passion." Jack 'his own man' Mr Howard's family, who are from Wellington, held an emotional press
conference at Wellington College this afternoon where he used to go to school. His mother Anne Scott described Jack as "his own man".
"If he wanted something, he did it," she said. Jack used to ask her what was for dinner in the morning and "when he didn't like it, he
learned to cook". Jack's father Roger Howard said he was proud that his son had served in the army and in particular had sought the
challenge that being a paratrooper offered. But he said the decision to join the military had come from "left field" because "he was also
very good at drama and passionate about Shakespeare". The family had tried to dissuade Jack from taking up acting because there was
not a lot of money in it. Jack's younger sisters Charlotte and Isabella said they would miss their brother dearly. When asked what they
would miss the most, Charlotte said "his presence". Wellington College principal Roger Moses said Mr Howard was an excellent and well-respected pupil. "He was a great kid. I wouldn't have a bad word to say about him. "The family is shattered." Family 'not entirely
unprepared' for news Roger Howard said that Jack had had many experiences where it had been sheer luck that he had survived. "On
Saturday, his luck ran out," he said. Mr Howard said he was not entirely unprepared for the news that his son had died. "He had always
told us that's how the news would come and so when we had a knock on the door in the middle of the night, it wasn't unexpected," said
Mr Howard. "Jack came from a loving family with a long military history," the family said in its statement, which was read out at the press
conference this afternoon. "He was the fourth generation of our family to serve in the military. "Jack was well-read and believed strongly
in what he was doing. He had an understanding of the conflict he was engaged in and prepared his position robustly. "However, he never
let his profession detract from his humanity. "Jack died serving alongside some of the great friends he had made in the army," said the
statement. "He comes from a strong and loving family and we miss him dearly." Family will travel to UK The British High Commission will
assist the family to travel to the United Kingdom immediately so they can be there for the arrival of the body. Anne Scott expected that
her son would have wanted a military service. The family will then bring him home to New Zealand. "We will go there (England) and then
we will bring him home," she said. Killed by friendly fire, reports indicate Mr Howard died as a result of wounds sustained after being shot
while patrolling in the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province, a British Ministry of Defence statement said. Initial reports indicated he died
as a result of friendly fire from American aircraft. The BBC reported two other British soldiers were injured. The British Ministry of Defence
said the soldier's death would be investigated. "The incident will be the subject of a full investigation; however first reports indicate that
an attack on an insurgent position by a US aircraft, requested by and agreed with British forces on the ground, may have been the
cause," a spokesperson said. "The investigation is ongoing and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage." New
Zealand Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said he had seen reports that friendly fire was to blame for the soldier's death. "I know the British
Government is undertaking a full investigation, and I am aware of the speculation about what could have happened. "Obviously since he
was serving in the British Army it's the British Government that actually undertakes the investigation. Clearly we are interested in the
outcome of that investigation." PM, leader of opposition saddened Prime Minister John Key said he was contacted by the British High
Commissioner Vicki Treadell this morning. "Obviously it's very sad," Mr Key told reporters. Labour leader Phil Goff said he felt for the
family. Mr Goff's nephew, United States army Captain Matthew Ferrara, 24, was killed in an ambush three years ago. "Of course having
been through that experience myself, my heart goes out to the family of the young man who was killed. We are thinking of that family at
this time and extending our condolences and sympathy to them. "Private Howard
said he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment after seeing an
advertisement on the internet. "I didn't enjoy first year University, I was doing irrelevant subjects like Philosophy and Italian and I felt burnt out
after studying too hard in Seventh Form. "I had always been interested in the military so I decided to give it a go after I saw an ad for
the paratroopers on the internet." He said he enjoyed serving with the British Army but found it hard living away from his friends and
family and planned to return to New Zealand once he finished his service. Private Howard told the website he was about to start his
second tour of Afghanistan and had served in the United States, Kenya, Norway and France. He said near death experiences were not
unusual in Afghanistan and described being fired at when he reached the top of a ridge. "I'll never forget that feeling - standing on the
top and silhouetting myself I quickly drew machine gun fire. "The whizzing of bullets around me was deafening and blinding, I felt like I
was standing in a wind tunnel or in front of a fan after throwing gravel into it. But none of them hit me."
Peter Thorpe Killed 2nd July 2006
14th Signal Regiment
Royal Signals, was born on 3 January 1979 and lived in Barrow-in-Furness,
Cumbria. Corporal Thorpe joined the Army in August 1995 as an
apprentice tradesman at Harrogate and went on to complete his
communications training at the Royal
School of Signals at Blandford, Dorset. He was then posted to 216
Parachute Signal Squadron in the 5th Airborne Brigade.
There he went on to successfully qualify as a military parachutist, fully
embraced his role as an airborne communicator and completed his first tour
of Afghanistan in 2001. He was then posted on a two-year tour to Northern
Ireland. Subsequently, returning to the UK in January 2006 to prepare for
his second operational tour in Afghanistan.
Corporal Thorpe was a keen sportsman, turning his hand to a wide
variety of pursuits, as well as being an Army Physical Training
Instructor. He was a well-respected member of the Squadron whose
outstanding trade and soldiering skills combined with his great sense of
humour endeared him to all.
His Commanding Officer said
"Corporal Thorpe was a highly motivated, talented and
tremendously popular soldier who constantly inspired those around him
whatever the situation. A gifted instructor, he had acquired a huge range
of military skills and qualifications and was happiest when passing on
"He had recently been selected for promotion to Sergeant and was keen
to work in an Army Training Regiment. He undertook his role as a patrol
commander with absolute professionalism in support of the 3 PARA
Battlegroup in the demanding environment of Afghanistan. An outstanding
man, his sad loss and that of Lance Corporal Hashmi
is felt by us
all." ... Pete was Posthumously promoted to Sgt after he was
Signal Regiment (EW)
Lance Corporal Jonathan Peter Hetherington Killed in
Afghanistan on Sunday 27 August 2006.
Corporal Hetherington, from 14 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare),
based at Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy in Pembrokeshire, died following an
attack on the Platoon House in Musa Qal'eh, Northern Helmand Province in
the early hours of the morning, local time. No other UK or friendly forces
were injured in the incident.
Lance Corporal Jonathan Peter Hetherington was born on 20 June 1984
in Salisbury and raised in South Wales. He enlisted into the Royal Signals
on 1 September 2000 at Swansea. He attended the Army Technical Foundation
College, Harrogate, before going on to complete phase two training as a
Radio Systems Operator at the Royal School of Signals, Blandford, Dorset.
Following phase two training, he was posted to 249 Signal Squadron (AMFL),
Bulford, before his subsequent posting to 102 Logistics Brigade Signal
Squadron, Germany, in January 2003. It was from here that he deployed on
Op TELIC 1, serving in Kuwait and Iraq, and also the Falkland Islands.
During this time, Lance Corporal Hetherington also qualified as a
class 2 Radio Systems Operator.
Lance Corporal Hetherington was posted to 14 Signal Regiment (EW)
in February 2006 and was selected for deployment on Operation HERRICK 4,
Afghanistan. He was an extremely conscientious, well-respected and popular
junior non commissioned officer, whose excellent trade skills and keen
sense of fun ensured that he was always in great demand.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Vickery, his Commanding Officer, said:
"Lance Corporal Jon Hetherington had only been in Afghanistan
for a short time; in this period his commitment to his profession was
first class and he stood out as a young man of stature and great
enthusiasm. He was a very bright junior non commissioned officer who had
integrated extremely well into Regimental life since his arrival in
February of this year.
"At all times his love of soldiering and great work ethic was very
apparent and he also proved a very able sportsman. As such an engaging
character, he was selected to join the very important Regimental
Recruiting Team prior to his deployment to Afghanistan in support of the 3
Para Battlegroup. He will be fondly remembered for his amiable nature and
engaging sense of humour and without doubt a very promising military
career lay ahead.
"Jon was an outstanding soldier, trusted comrade and valued
friend; his loss will be greatly felt by all who served with him.
Naturally, our thoughts are with his family during this sad and difficult
Barry Keen of 14 Signal Regiment, killed by a mortar attack in Afghanistan
on Friday 27 July 2007.
Keen was serving as a communications specialist with 245 Signal
Squadron, Royal Corps of Signals, attached to Battle Group (South). The
Battle Group is currently deployed on Operation CHAKUSH (or
"hammer"), a deliberate operation to defeat the Taleban in the
Upper Geresk Valley, Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
operation was in its fourth day of fierce fighting when Sergeant Keen was
killed in an indirect fire attack on a compound near the village of
He and his team were re-organising themselves in a secured area after
acting in support of the Afghan National Army, when a single mortar round
landed next to Sergeant Keen.
being located with the Regimental Aid Post and receiving immediate medical
treatment, sadly Sergeant Keen's injuries were too severe and he
Sergeant Barry Keen, aged 34, was from Rolands Gill, Gateshead, and
had spent nearly 18 years in the Army having joined in August 1989; his
long and industrious career included tours in Bosnia and Northern Ireland.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Vickery, Commanding Officer 14 Signal Regiment
"During his 6 month tour in Afghanistan, Barry had thoroughly
proved himself as a dedicated soldier with a flair for helping others.
This trait had been strongly evident throughout his career and typified a
man who always thought of others before himself. "Modest to a tee, he
was respected by all who met him. He died doing the job he loved - helping
his fellow soldiers perform their duties in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
"It is also a mark of his quality that he had recently been selected
to attend specialist communications training, he was due to commence his
intensive training in September at Blandford Camp, Dorset.
"The news of his death has been received here in the Regiment with
great sadness, but also with a fierce determination to complete our tasks
and to be a force for good in Afghanistan."
Lt Col Steve Vickery, Commanding Officer 14 Signal Regiment
news of his death has been received here in the Regiment with great
sadness, but also with a fierce determination to complete our tasks and to
be a force for good in Afghanistan. "This Regiment and the Army are a
close-knit family which has pulled together in this difficult time. We
offer our sincere condolences and his wide circle of friends."
Lieutenant Dave Phillips, his Troop Commander said:
"Sergeant Keen was the epitome of a Royal Signal senior Non
Commissioned Officer (SNCO). An inspirational figure within the Troop, he
was widely respected and well liked by all. The soldiers he worked with
looked up to him and would willingly deploy along side him. As his Troop
Commander I relied upon his knowledge and experience on an almost daily
basis, not once did he let me down. "Sergeant Keen will be missed by
all those that knew him, not only as a tradesman and a soldier but as a
Friend and comrade Sergeant Bruce Morrison said:
"Baz was a good guy who would always put a smile on your face
and lift your spirits. We used to make the most of the bad times with our
outrageous banter. He will be sorely missed as a soldier but even more as
Staff Sergeant Daz Edge, his friend and colleague said:
"Baz was one of those people who naturally brought out the
best in all those he worked and had contact with. He was most happy when
deployed onto the ground and was not shy in making his feelings known when
he was left in barracks while others were out.
"An excellent team commander and operator, Baz lead his team
from the front and died carrying out his duty whilst under fire. The
Squadron will be so much less without him and all those who knew him will
undoubtedly feel his loss greatly. "A good mate for a lot of years
and colourful character with an infectious laugh, Baz will not be
forgotten." "Even though Baz was a SNCO, he was, and
always will be one of the lads. I will never forget the friendship we
Warrant Officer Class 2 Gaz Robinson, another friend and colleague,
"My friendship with Baz goes back about 15 years and I cannot
begin to describe my emotions at this time. I can honestly say that he has
changed not one bit since I first met him. He was a quality soldier and
tradesman who had the ability to make you laugh out loud with his jokes
216 (Parachute) Signal
Corporal Steven Thomas Dunn from 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, attached to 2nd
Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battle Group, was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 21 December 2010.
Corporal Dunn deployed to Afghanistan on 19 September 2010 as part of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) Battle Group. He was based
at Patrol Base 2 in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. On 21 December 2010 he was working with 2 PARA Patrols Platoon on a deliberate operation to interdict insurgents in the Bowri desert. He was
travelling in a Jackal vehicle which hit an improvised explosive device at 1722 hours local time.
Corporal Dunn was born on 4 October 1983 in Gateshead where he grew up and attended Saint Joseph's School, Hebburn. On joining the Army in
September 2000, he successfully completed Basic and Trade Training before serving with 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron as a Communications
System Operator. Following a brief spell at 2nd Signal Regiment, he returned to 216 and to the environment in which he felt most comfortable.
With a tour in Iraq and two previous tours of Afghanistan already under his belt, he relished the opportunity to deploy again on Op HERRICK 13. He
thrived in the challenging role of providing communication support at battlegroup level and was in his element when deployed forward on the ground
with his infantry counterparts. He led by example and was a rock to his Rear Link Detachment.
Corporal Dunn's future was bright and he was already earmarked as a man that would return to 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron as he promoted
through the ranks. His passion for Newcastle United FC knew no bounds and his thirst and excitement for life was apparent in everything he did. Thoroughly dedicated to
his family, his job and to those he served with, this potent blend won him the highest accolades and the respect of all.
He leaves behind his wife Cheryl and daughter Emily.
The Family of Corporal Dunn have made the following statement:
"Steven was a loving husband to Cheryl, son to Vicky, and doting dad to Emily. He has left a huge hole in the lives of those he has left behind including
his brothers Christopher and Michael. He will also be sorely missed by Kevin, an important person in his life and all his aunts, uncles, cousins and many
friends. "He lived for the Army especially 216 Parachute (Signal) Squadron and worked hard to get his wings of which he was very proud, it was his first love
after Cheryl and Newcastle United. "We are all immensely proud of all that he achieved in his short life. He died doing a job he loved and excelled at."
Major Alistair Fawcett, Officer Commanding 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron said:
"Corporal Steven Dunn died doing a job he loved while supporting 2 PARA Battle Group, a unit he had already served alongside on a previous Op
HERRICK tour. 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron was a richer place for his presence and he is missed deeply already.
"At every turn he strove to improve the lot of his men. He was always in the thick of it and his time in Afghanistan was no exception; with a spark in
his eye and his devilish Geordie sense of humour, he tackled his work with a sense of purpose and in the pursuit of making a difference.
"His support of the 'Magpies' was equally potent - a good man to share a beer with and an excellent barometer of unit life.
"He will be sorely missed and he leaves a void that will be extremely challenging to fill. His untimely passing marks a black day in 216 (Parachute) Signal
Squadron's proud history but he was not the timid type or one to shy away from the challenges that our profession presents.
"We have lost a gifted soldier and a son of the Squadron and, although this loss cuts extremely deep, we remember him with the utmost fondness, as
the courageous and professional signaller he was. "Our loss will be nothing compared to that of his family; at this extremely difficult time, the thoughts of the entire Squadron go to his new bride Cheryl,
his young daughter Emily, and his family and close friends. Certa Cito."
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Harrison MBE, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battle Group, said:
"Corporal Steven Dunn was the 2 PARA communications detachment commander responsible for all critical radio and satellite links in both my Patrols and
Sniper Platoons. As such he was employed in one of the most dangerous and demanding jobs in the Battlegroup.
"He was a courageous, fit and deeply professional soldier who knew his duty lay in the van of battle. He eschewed the desk-bound opportunities of the
headquarters to accompany his colleagues into the very heart of enemy territory, to reconnoitre options for those who followed.
"At this level, and in the wider context of his service in Afghanistan and Iraq,
Corporal Dunn sacrificed himself for others. This was his third tour into
this blighted country. On the last occasion 2 PARA were again the beneficiaries of his expertise, dedication and selfless soldiering skills.
"But those skills were only one aspect of this airborne Geordie's personality. A passionate supporter of Newcastle and the proud owner of one of the
worst Magpie tattoos one could imagine, Corporal Dunn had a dry, piercing sense of humour that never faltered. Loved by all, he was a father-figure to
his signallers and a mate to his peers. "He was on the cusp of promotion to Sergeant and would have gone all the way; the brightest stars burn the shortest.
"Cheryl, Emily and all Corporal Dunn's family have lost a deeply loved husband, father, son and friend; they will be irreparably heart-broken. The
thoughts and prayers of a thousand of his colleagues accompany this tragic eulogy; we are forever proud to have served with
Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Steve Spink, Regimental Sergeant Major 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, said:
"Corporal Steve 'Dunny' Dunn was a larger than life person. He was the epitome of an airborne signaller who lived life to the full. A professional operator
who loved the Army and a veteran of Afghanistan with this being his third tour; he imparted his operational experience to the junior soldiers in his troop
and they looked up to him as a father figure - a natural leader. "Dunny had a promising career ahead of him, there is no doubt of that. A strong character and I expected him to make the Sergeants' Mess before too
long. It was a privilege to have known him. "He leaves a huge gap, which will take some time to fill. A popular lad, he will be sorely missed by all and will never be forgotten in the
Squadron. Words cannot express what his family are going through. My thoughts are with them and his friends at this tragic time. Rest in Peace - every man an
Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Alan Armstrong, Regimental Sergeant Major 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battle Group,
"In the short time I have known Corporal Steven Dunn he has emitted an aura of kindness and professionalism. His reputation was one of a selfless
dedicated soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice in lifting the shadow of the Taliban from the small rural communities of Nahr-e-Saraj who simply want
to live and work the land free from intimidation and Taliban rule. "His loss will be felt across the Brigade and my thoughts are with his family and fellow soldiers who he lived and served with."
Major Mike Shervington, Chief of Staff 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battle Group, said:
"Corporal Dunn epitomised all that is best in our soldiers and all that is best about Newcastle and the North East. Especially friendly, suitably aggressive
and absolutely loyal, Corporal Dunn was itching to leave the confines of the Patrol Base, get out on patrol and help others.
"His only yellow (never red) card - anything that clashed with him watching his beloved Newcastle United. I will really miss our chats about football,
families and past escapades. Whilst little comfort, the small crumb of solace is the memory that he loved his job, and he loved being an integral member
of the 2 PARA Battlegroup; I often joked that there was more blue than white in his 216 Signals Drop Zone flash.
"All our thoughts are with his family, his new bride Cheryl and his young daughter Emily. Words like 'you won't be forgotten' have tended to sound a
little hollow in recent years; nothing could be further from the truth now."
Sergeant Christopher Swan, 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, Rear Link Detachment Commander to 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battle
"Corporal Dunn will live long in my memory for many reasons; the awe he had in and around his work place, a very fit and robust individual, and his love
of football. "His love of football will be my fondest of memories as he was a true Geordie lad. He loved his Newcastle Utd and despised the Mackems (Sunderland).
We use to sit over a cup of tea and discuss how much he disliked Mike Ashley (Newcastle Utd Chairman) and the love of King Kevin Keegan.
"A story that he once told me; when Newcastle were in the Championship, he travelled to Bristol City, it was around April time and Steve with a few
mates decided to go to a pub before the game. "By the time the game started
Steve and his lads were on the fifth or sixth pint of the finest ale, they agreed that come the end of the next beer they
would travel to Ashton Gate, however, they couldn't remember where the ground was, so instead of getting a Taxi they decided to walk to the ground.
"After been navigationally embarrassed for the last 60 minutes they decided to forget about the football and try another alternative. Now after seven
or eight pints of the finest ale a lot of people that I know would call it a day and turn back and head off home, that's where Corporal Steven Dunn is
different he turned to his men as a true leader and said lets go find another pub.
"For the record I believe that Newcastle won two-nil and they didn't even see a ball get kicked. What a legend.
"Without a doubt he is a massive loss to us all, I will miss our chats and his leadership. We have lost a soldier, a brother and a friend; my thoughts are
with his wife and his rest of his family."
Sergeant Craig Fitzsimmons, Lashkar Gah Helicopter Landing Site operator, 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, said:
"Dunny I will miss you, who will I hang out with on PT now? You were a big character and will sorely be missed. I could always count on you when I
needed you; you were always an airborne warrior, part of the maroon machine and a true professional. My deepest condolences go to your wife and
Sergeant John Miller, Main Troop Sergeant Head Quarters Task Force Helmand, 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, said:
"Corporal 'Dunny' Dunn was a real character and life and soul of the group. He always had something to say, be it for the better or worse. However,
everyone listened, as he commanded great respect amongst his peers and superiors.
"He was a professional soldier of the highest calibre who never shied from his responsibilities as a Junior
Non-Commissioned Officer or friend, and therefore was an asset to the Squadron and the British Army. He will be missed by everyone and my condolences go out to his wife and family. Every
man an emperor!"
Corporal Steve Stopforth, Power Management Team, 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, said:
"Dunny was through and through an airborne soldier who loved everything and anything about being airborne. He was physically robust and switched on
and loved parachuting. This was never more apparent then jumping out of a C-130 over Arnhem during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.
"After exiting the plane he was entangled with another parachutist and accepted quite a heavy landing. After rushing over to find out if he was ok,
with a smile he replied, 'these things happen'. "He was never afraid to speak his mind and would always make sure he put his point across if ever a matter needed resolving. An avid Newcastle United
supporter and a proud Geordie; Dunny was always driving home to watch his team whether the results were good or bad.
"His subordinates admired him, his peers respected him and his friends and family loved him! Dunny was a true friend and will be missed by us all. We are
all better people for having known him and the world is a darker place without him. Rest in Peace my airborne brother."
Lance Corporal Liam Ibbetson, Rear Link Detachment, 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, said:
"Corporal Steve Dunn was a good friend and a good soldier. He was a professional in every respect of his job, whether it was his trade or in soldiering
he was always the subject matter expert. Corporal Dunn was extremely passionate about the Army and took great pride in 216 (Parachute) Signal
Squadron. He shall be sadly missed by all members past and present."
Lance Corporal Antonio Farigu, Rear Link Detachment, 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, said:
"Corporal 'Dunny' Dunn, he was a well loved bloke, one of the lads. Always had good banter, even in bad situations, he'd keep the lads' morale high.
Loved his football and he was passionate about his club Newcastle United. "A true professional at his job, a person you could go to for advice. Will be missed massively by family, friends and the Squadron."
Signaller Ryan Davies, Fire Support Team Signaller, 216 (Parachute)
Signal Squadron attached to 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery Rear Link
"Corporal Dunn was known to everyone as 'Dunny'. He was excellent at his job and very professional when it came to comms. He has been my 'go to'
man this tour if I've had any questions about comms. He was a huge character with his big smile and strong Geordie accent.
"He always got involved with Ops Room banter and discussions. He was a huge football fan and a die hard Newcastle fan! He loved a good drink ('sesh')
with the lads and would come in for a 5 o'clock start still smiling and happy as Larry. He will be missed and loved by all."
Signaller Chris Reay, Main Troop Head Quarters Task Force Helmand, 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, said:
"Dunny was an inspiration to a lot of people, he was known to the Squadron as true airborne blood - a true hero that will be missed by all, a friend I'll
miss so much. An old Charlie Troop saying: not arrogant, just better. My thoughts go out to his family."
Captain Murray McMahon, Officer Commanding Patrols Platoon 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battle Group, said:
"Corporal Steven 'Dunny' Dunn joined my platoon as an attachment from 216 (Parachute) Signals Squadron prior to our deployment on Op HERRICK 13.
He immediately filled me with confidence in the knowledge that I had an expert in his field of communications.
"His thoroughness and breadth of knowledge was accompanied by a canny, dry sense of humour and easy going nature.
"Dunny was set seemingly impossible tasks to enable us to operate more effectively and on every occasion he surpassed my expectations. His calm,
collected style was always welcomed on the radio and his professional diligence was obvious when he deployed on patrol.
"Above all, Dunny was part of our team. He brought a smile to my face with his quick wit and I was comfortable in the knowledge that he had my back
when we worked together. "My thoughts go out to his family, Wife Cheryl and daughter Emily. We are all better for having known
Dunny. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Rest in Peace my friend."
Sergeant Jamie Weaver, Platoon Sergeant Patrols Platoon 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battle Group, said:
"Steve has been a very big part of our Platoon on all our pre-deployment training and during the tour.
"I first met Steve just before a company test exercise, and he fitted in straight away as the Platoon Signaller, he was such a laid back person and even
when the going got tough and operational problems occurred he still had a smile on his face and made a joke just to break the ice.
"I only knew Steve for a short period, and in this time Steve fitted in as one of the blokes. He was the most professional Specialist I have ever worked
with and will be a great loss to his squadron and us. He was a Paratrooper, a Comrade and a friend.
"My thoughts go out to his close friends and family, and his wife Cheryl and daughter Emily at this sad
time. " Steve you will always be a part of this Platoon and never forgotten. Never had a chance to say thanks for all your hard work.
"Rest in Peace mate."
Sergeant Marty Wilson, Platoon Commander Sniper Platoon 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battle Group, said:
"Dunny took a pride in his work that was an example to all, an excellent signaller, he quickly established himself as a core member of the Platoon and an
all round team player. Ever cheerful, with an infectious smile, he was a pleasure to work with and always up for some banter.
"My thoughts go out to Cheryl and Emily at this distressing time.
"Rest in Peace Steve."
Bell received a posthumous George Medal for lifesaving valour ...
Private Martin Simon George Bell from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 25 January 2011.
Private Bell deployed to Afghanistan on 14 October 2010 with C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment. He was based in Patrol Base 2 in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. On 25 January 2011 he deployed with his multiple to Spoor Kalay, a small village north of Patrol Base 2. His mission was to interdict insurgent forces along known infiltration routes and prevent them from both attacking the Afghan National Army and intimidating the local population. At 0825hrs
Private Bell was fatally wounded by an improvised explosive device as he moved to assist a comrade injured by a separate device.
Private Bell was born on 13 October 1986. He attended the Salt Grammar School in Shipley. However, his home town was Bradford. Before he joined the Army,
Private Bell was a Police Community Support Officer. He completed his basic training on 17 April 2009 and was posted to 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment. He came to the 2nd Battalion in July 2010, just prior to the battalion's deployment to Afghanistan.
Private Bell shone in C (Bruneval) Company. He was excellent throughout the mission specific training package and was utterly professional throughout his time in Afghanistan. He was immensely popular and well respected by all ranks.
Private Bell had a bright future ahead of him and had been clearly identified as a rising star.
He leaves behind his parents, Simon and Elaine, and his brothers, Oliver and Philip.
The family of Private Bell have made the following statement:
"Martin (24) was proud to be in the Parachute Regiment and serving his country. He served three years as a Police Community Support Officer in West Yorkshire Police before joining the Paras. He has made lots of friends easily at each point of his life's journey.
Martin was extremely close to his two brothers, Oliver and Philip. "He had a wicked and infectious sense of humour that would have served him well in difficult times. He was due home on his R and R on 14 February.
"Martin was a well-loved son, grandson, nephew, cousin, uncle and brother. He made us all very proud and he will leave behind a hole in all of our hearts that will never be replaced. He was our best friend too. "We are a very close-knit family and, although we are grieving for his loss, we hope that all the other soldiers keep safe."
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Harrison, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Private Martin Bell died going to the assistance of a critically injured friend in the most dangerous combat circumstances imaginable; 'greater love has no man than this'. He knew the risks all too well; twice in the minutes before his death he had witnessed at first-hand the devastating human impact of IEDs. "The term 'hero' is overused in contemporary commentary; take a moment to reflect on the image of
Martin Bell, a twenty-four-year-old paratrooper who disobeyed a direct order in order to render life-saving first aid to his colleague. For that exceptional valour he paid the ultimate price. "Tomorrow morning the laughter of newly-enrolled Afghan schoolchildren will echo across the impoverished village that
Martin Bell died protecting. Perhaps the burgeoning hope of that generation is his greatest legacy; I hope they live their lives with the honour, dignity and resolve that defined Martin. "For the Battle Group he has left, we will mourn the loss of a great soldier, a dear friend and an inspirational character. For his family we can offer scant comfort, less our most heartfelt condolences, the assurance that he passed away amongst friends, and the knowledge that he died whilst saving others. "Private Martin Bell's name will be carved into the chronicles of history; he will never be forgotten. Utrinque Paratus."
Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Alan Armstrong, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA), said:
"Private Bell died as he went to the assistance of one of his fellow paratroopers who had suffered a serious injury. He disregarded the immediate danger which surrounded him in order to give urgent first aid to his wounded comrade. This selfless act cost him his life. This outstanding act of bravery was typical of
Private Bell. "He was a mature young man, a true paratrooper of the highest order, who was a genuine top-bloke with a quick-witted and infectious sense of humour. His loss is deeply felt by the men of C (Bruneval) Company and across the whole 2 PARA Battle Group.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his parents, Simon and Elaine, and his brothers, Oliver and Philip."
Major Crispin Humm, Officer Commanding C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"Private Martin Bell was larger than life; he was a paratrooper through and through.
Martin joined the Company just before the tour, having spent the first part of his career in 1 PARA. He was an instant hit and immediately became everyone's mate. "As a soldier he was fit, keen and ruthlessly professional. As a bloke he was amusing, kind and generous. In short, he was an excellent soldier and a thoroughly good man. I enjoyed working with him and fighting by his side; we all did.
"Private Bell was an absolute legend, in fact he still is. He has left an enormous gap that will be difficult to fill, we will never forget him. Aside from the deep sadness we feel whenever his name is mentioned, we also recall the many fond memories he leaves us with and smile with affection; he has really left his mark on the Company.
"We shall all miss Private Bell greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the friends he leaves behind. In every sense
Private Bell lived every day to the full and was, without doubt, ready for anything. Utrinque Paratus."
Warrant Officer Class 2 (Company Sergeant Major) Dave Joyce, C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"Private Martin Bell came to C (Bruneval) Company in early July 10 from 1 PARA; Martin fitted in to the Company with ease and was regarded by all as an outstanding individual. He was a mature, motivated, diligent and fit man. "He was a Paratrooper; in every way setting his standards above what most could ever reach.
Private Bell was respected by his chain of command but more importantly respected by his peers. His infectious humour, quick wit and ability to raise a smile will be sorely missed in C (Bruneval) Company. "My sincere condolences go to Elaine and Simon and his brothers, and not to forget his Airborne Brothers. You will leave a massive gap in their lives and ours. RIP."
Lieutenant Leun Wetherall, 8 Platoon Commander, C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"Private Martin Bell was a giant among men. A true airborne warrior. With his sharp sense of humour and unwavering professionalism, he left his stamp on everything he touched. He brought so much to the Platoon; he was great to have around and I really enjoyed having him under my command. I shall miss him deeply.
"As his commander I found it incredibly hard to maintain distance as he was, quite simply, such a great bloke. He was a true companion to the other soldiers and a constant source of morale; he always found the positive in any situation no matter how tough. I will forever remember him not just for professionalism but also for his sense of fun. I will never forget the outfit he wore on the last platoon night out before we deployed.
"My thoughts are with his mother and father, Elaine and Simon, his brothers and his injured colleagues for whom he sacrificed his life to save.
Private Bell, you are gone but never forgotten. Our Airborne brother."
Sergeant Marc Thompson, 8 Platoon Sergeant, C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"In the short time that I knew Private Bell, he showed himself to be a key member of the Platoon and Multiple. His likable personality and his sense of humour made him hugely popular, not only with the private soldiers but also amongst the commanders. If
Private Bell was under your command, a substantial amount of pressure would be removed. "He could be trusted to carry out any task with no questions asked, and always to the best of his ability.
Private Bell showed massive potential. A team player through and through, he often put himself in harms way for the sake of his friends. "A professional soldier to the end, but also a friend who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family, and his injured colleagues, for whom he gave his life.
Private Bell was always Utrinque Paratus, and will not be forgotten."
Lance Corporal Thomas McDermott, 8 Platoon, C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"Belly, you're a mega bloke. It was a massive pleasure being able to work with an excellent professional soldier and a good mate. You will always be remembered for your sense of humour and your amazing scrambled eggs. "The world has lost a good man and we have lost an amazing brother. God rest your soul. Rest in peace. AIRBORNE."
Lieutenant Pat Kearse and the men of 7 Platoon, C (Bruneval) Coy, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"As a new member of C (Bruneval) Coy he instantly seemed at home with all ranks. He was there as an experienced ‘Tom' to guide those less senior than him. Constantly smiling, he optimized the infectious optimism that is part of every Paratrooper's character.
"From all of 7 Platoon, our thoughts are with Martin's family and friends. Airborne, we will never forget you."
Private Ian Harvey, 3 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"Martin was a real paratrooper – an absolute nightmare while out on the town, but a soldier of the highest calibre. I was proud to have served with him, and even more proud to have been able to call him a mate. Rest in peace my Airborne Brother."
Private Joshua Huggins-Smith, 8 Platoon, C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"I'm lost for words mate. You were such an awesome bloke. Gone but never forgotten. Rest in peace, Airborne."
Private Daniel Saint-Hilaire, 8 Platoon, C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"Mate you are a true legend; the most amazing bloke. We have lost one of our airborne brothers, but you'll never be forgotten. My thoughts are with all your family. Airborne forever."
Private Peter Eksteen, 8 Platoon, C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said:
"I met Martin for the first time at ITC Catterick, when we started basic training together. Even at depot
Martin excelled as a soldier. He passed everything with flying colours and got the award for best shot within the platoon. After depot we got posted to 1 PARA together and soon completed our jumps together. "An absolute animal on a night out,
Martin loved to have a good time. After one year at the Battalion, we were posted together to 2 PARA shortly before we deployed to Afghanistan. No matter where we went
Martin was always a favourite amongst the blokes. I have spent my whole military career with
Martin, and it has been an absolute honour. "We've been through horrible and tough times, but also great times. He could always give you morale no matter where you are. He was a great guy, and would make the best scrambled eggs you ever tasted. But best of all, he was a great paratrooper. All of us are going to miss you my friend and AIRBORNE brother."
Family of Private Martin Bell
killed by bomb saving comrade in Afghanistan receive his posthumous George Medal from the Queen,
from left, brother Oliver, mother Elaine, father Simon and brother Philip with the George Medal
21st March 2012 ... Private Bell’s proud family were at Buckingham Palace to receive the George Medal he was awarded posthumously.
Warrant Officer Class 2 (Company Sergeant Major) Colin Beckett of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment was killed in Afghanistan on the morning of Saturday 5 February 2011.
Company Sergeant Major Beckett deployed to Afghanistan on 15 October 2010 as Company Sergeant Major of C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA). He was based at Patrol Base Folad in the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province.
On the morning of 5 February 2011 he was deployed on an operation to interdict the movement of insurgents into Shaheed, a village on the Nahr-e Bughra canal where C Company have been developing a protected community. At 0834hrs
Company Sergeant Major Beckett was fatally wounded by an improvised explosive device which detonated as he was moving into position to cover his fellow patrol members.
Company Sergeant Major Beckett, known as 'Tom' in the Army, was born on 20 February 1974 in his home town of Peterborough. He joined the Army in July 1990 and was posted to 3 PARA on completion of his training. A strong performance on the anti-tank cadre in 1993 saw him take the first steps down a specialisation in which he would become a master, leading anti-tank soldiers at nearly every rank.
Company Sergeant Major Beckett's outstanding command ability was recognised early and he moved up the ranks swiftly, excelling on anti-tank and rifle command courses as he went, all fitted around operational deployments to Northern Ireland and Kosovo.
It was as an Anti-Tank Section Commander that he deployed to Iraq during the first Operation TELIC in 2003 but he had been promoted by the time he deployed as a Platoon Sergeant with C Company on Operation HERRICK 4, 3 PARA's first deployment to Helmand in 2006. He was soon back in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 8, again at the forefront commanding his soldiers, this time as a Fire Support Group Second-in-Command during 3 PARA's tour as Regional Battle Group South. After promotion to Warrant Officer Class 2 in 2009,
Company Sergeant Major Beckett took over as Company Sergeant Major of C Company in the vital lead-up to operations. It was in this most challenging role that he deployed to Afghanistan in October 2010 as part of the 3 PARA Battle Group, Combined Force Nad 'Ali (North).
An inspirational and iconic leader with a staggering amount of operational experience,
Company Sergeant Major Beckett was known and respected across the Parachute Regiment. In a career that spanned two decades, he spent only a handful of months away from the battalion in which he was a central figure, one of the non-commissioned officers that make up its unyielding core. In C Company, his company, and within the anti-tank specialisation his contribution of over 20 years of service is the stuff of legend and he will be profoundly missed.
He leaves behind his parents Del and Kim and his wife Rachel who is expecting their first child mid-February 2011.
Mrs Rachel Beckett said:
"Anyone whoever met or knew Colin, 'Tom', would have been touched by him in a big way and he will never be forgotten. He was a fantastic soldier, a great son, a good brother and friend and a truly special husband. My bestest friend, my soul mate, my absolute world. We love him and shall miss him so very much. May his love for life, strength, humour and strong character live on forever in his baby girl Freya."
Lieutenant Colonel James Coates, Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Warrant Officer Class 2 Colin Beckett was one of the most talented Sergeant Majors of his generation. With a long and distinguished career spanning countless deployments and three tours in Afghanistan, he represented the very essence of a paratrooper; professional to the core, devoted to his men and hugely respected.
"Warrant Officer Class 2 Beckett died following an explosion on 5 February 2011 during a patrol near the town of Shaheed in Nad 'Ali district, central Helmand. Under his close mentorship, in the weeks preceding his death, C Company, 3 PARA, had secured a huge swathe of Nad 'Ali district in a series of bold and decisive operations which already hold a legendary place in 3 PARA's history.
"More recently his company had been operating from a patrol base in Shaheed, aiming to deliver improved security and development to the area in the face of a significant threat from insurgent activity. On the morning of 5 February, characteristically, he was deployed on patrol with his soldiers, seeking to disrupt this threat, when tragedy struck.
"Warrant Officer Class 2 Beckett will be remembered for many reasons. Those who worked with him saw a man with humility and a natural aptitude that set him apart. He dealt superbly with his soldiers and was immensely popular with everyone he met. His sense of humour was second-to-none; I will never forget how he captivated the entire Sergeants' Mess during the last Summer Ball. He was a family man and a true gentleman. But most of all, to us, he will be remembered as a fellow paratrooper and trusted friend who unconditionally gave his all in life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Rachel, who is expecting their first child, and his wider family.
"We pledge now to keep his memory alive through our continuing actions throughout this tour and beyond. His legacy will be the example he set to us all and the decisive role he played in bringing lasting security to 3 PARA's area of operations in Helmand. Utrinque Paratus."
Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Richard Hames, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Warrant Officer Class 2 Tom Beckett is 'The' Company Sergeant Major [CSM]. He drove his company forward continually whilst deployed on the ground. He was the dad to the young toms, uncle to the young officers, a brother to his Platoon Sargeants, best friend to the OC [Officer Commanding] and an utterly professional paratrooper who I will dearly miss. The commitment he gave to every one of his paratroopers in the company was second-to-none. He oozed professionalism, gave sound advice, and was level-headed in the heat of battle.
"Not only have I lost a friend but the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess of 3 PARA has lost a warm-hearted and dynamic character who would always bring his great humour and an infectious smile to any mess member who was sitting lonely gazing into a beer. The battalion has lost an icon of a soldier; looked up to by so many,
respected by his peers and the chain of command. A CSM who always worked for his paratroopers, he will be dearly missed by all. A true Airborne brother.
"Tom, thoughts and prayers from all of 3 PARA are now with your wife Rachel, and your parents Del and Kim."
Major Ollie Kingsbury, Officer Commanding C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Warrant Officer Class 2 Tom Beckett died as he had spent the whole tour: watching my back, taking a fire position to prevent anything getting at the company HQ.
"I had only known him for about two years, but he was a great mate as well as my right-hand man. He kept my feet on the ground for some of our wilder plans, but he never let us rest on our laurels. He was as bright as any soldier I have met, and he could adapt his natural warrior instincts to the subtler requirements of Afghanistan. When something really needed doing, however, it was hard to stay in front of him. He could have used his job to stay comfortably in camp, but on every company patrol he was the first to get his kit on.
"He was a constant example of how to operate in some very uncomfortable situations. In a fight in Helmand, or in the mess, he was the same: cheerful but level-headed, full of banter but with a core of steel. His credibility as a soldier was second-to-none.
"He has left a gap in the company that simply will not be filled, but our grief and loss cannot come close to that of his family. His wife is expecting their first baby in less than two weeks, when he was due to be on R&R [Rest & Recuperation]. God bless you,
Tom. We'll have a pint for you."
Captain Ed Withey, Second-in-Command C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Warrant Officer Class 2 'Tom' Beckett is a great example of what a truly professional paratrooper should be; he was tough and dedicated, but also had a level of understanding and compassion towards his men that is rare to find. As a Company Sergeant Major,
Warrant Officer Class 2 Beckett offered me invaluable support and advice along with a professional friendship that I look back on with fond memories.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Beckett had a sense of humour that would brighten up even the most stressful of situations, never letting any event get the better of him.
"The loss of a Company Sergeant Major will always be hard for a company, but I believe that the memories and legacy of such a fine individual will strengthen its resolve for the remaining months of the tour. I know that
Warrant Officer Class 2 Beckett died doing exactly what he loved; leading by example and taking the fight to the enemy. His actions have been an inspiration to the men who have worked alongside him over the past months. His presence in C Company will be sorely missed."
Lieutenant Ben Neary, 7 Platoon Commander, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Company Sergeant Major Beckett had the very best qualities of a Parachute Regiment soldier. He was firm yet fair and passionate about looking after the company. His unique laugh could be heard a mile off. I will always be thankful for all the advice he passed onto me. His death will have a lasting impact on us all. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."
Lieutenant Ben Sebley, 8 Platoon Commander, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Warrant Officer Class 2 Beckett - a true paratrooper. May you rest in peace."
Lieutenant James Higginson, 9 Platoon Commander, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Company Sergeant Major Beckett's death has been felt by everyone in C Company. He was a huge character who knew and understood every one of the blokes. I will remember him by his jokes and his comical evil laugh, and mostly by his generosity in the time he gave to the young officers. He made up the fabric and spirit of C Company - his company - and he will be missed by all of us."
Warrant Officer (Class 2) Matt Lawson, Regimental Signals Warrant Officer, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"My friend Tom. Tom was a pivotal member of the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess; his approach and manner in all aspects relating to his work was done with the utmost professionalism, and as such were well respected. He was a man of considerable moral courage, never afraid to make an unpopular decision to get the job done.
"I saw Tom as what I would call a 'people person', someone with whom you felt at ease talking to and able to confide in; always taking the time to listen regardless of the personal and professional issues he was experiencing at the time. Tom was the ultimate professional, a paratrooper, someone who, in truth, I looked up to in most respects. His attitude and approach were unrelenting, an example to us all.
"Tom, God bless, I will never forget you. We are left with a void that will be difficult to fill; until we meet again mate. Your friend."
Colour Sergeant Glenn Hobbs, Quartermaster Sergeant, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Tom, over the past year you have taught me how to be a Company Sergeant Major. It's been a true pleasure over all these years. Your humour and manner will be missed by me greatly. My thoughts are with your family. Rest in peace friend."
Colour Sergeant Michael Taylor, Anti-Tank Platoon, Fire Support
Commander attached to C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment,
"Company Sergeant Major Colin (Tom) Beckett - a career-long friend, we will miss you. Rest in peace
Corporal Rupert Reynolds, Joint Terminal Attack Controller attached to C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Tom, from Platoon Sergeant to Company Sergeant Major, a good few years. I never did get you back for hot spoonings. Rest in peace mate."
Private James Stark, 9 Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"A truly inspirational sergeant major who certainly inspired me to be a good paratrooper. Also good on 'The Bear'!"
The private soldiers of C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"He was everything a Company Sergeant Major should be: firm, fair, funny and professional every second he was awake. He was as proud to be a paratrooper as anyone could be. He has respect from his men that will never be lost in the Parachute Regiment. He will always be with us."