October 24, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2016, Marine Owen Wason, 45 Commando, Royal Marines, took his own life.

He had joined the Royal Marines right after leaving school, and deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in 2008, when he was eighteen years old.  He served on foot patrols in Helmand Province and cleared hundreds of IEDs.  Haunted by his experiences there, particularly seeing eight of his friends killed by the Taliban, Marine Wason developed post-traumatic stress disorder.  He kept his memories and his trauma to himself, and hid his feelings from those who were close to him.  He returned to Afghanistan in 2012, but it was his first tour of duty which was considered the most brutal and had the most damaging effect.

Marine Wason’s step-father said that he was a phenomenal Royal Marine, bubbly, loyal, and “an inspirational, courageous, popular, humorous and shining young man”.  In 2017 a charity event was organised in his name and raised £6,450 for PTSD Resolutio...

September 24, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2012, Captain Carl Manley, the Royal Marines, died while in service at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.  It was discovered that he had suffered bleeding in the brain due to undiagnosed leukaemia.

Captain Manley’s wife later raised concerns over the lack of information on his medical records - an illness he had in 2005 was not documented, nor was the relevant medication noted.  She believed medical records should be much more detailed than they were, and was concerned for all serving personnel. 

Captain Manley, who had served with the Royal Marines for more than twenty years, was popular, a good-natured man who was kind and selfless.  His commanding officer (un-named) praised him:  “His combination of ferocious work ethic and humility ensured that he made a sustained contribution to ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] operations on this and his previous tours of Afghanistan. A highly valued Royal Marines officer, he will be...

September 21, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2012, Sergeant Jonathan Eric Kups, 104 Force Support Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, died at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan in a non-hostile situation.

Sergeant Kups joined the army in 1992, specialising in radar and ground-to-air weapons;  he trained as an electronics technician and also served in Northern Ireland.  Colleagues described him as “a real character” and referred to his quick wit, loyalty, and caring nature.  His experience and abilities were highly valued, as was his role of father figure. 

Lieutenant Colonel Neil Thorpe said of him:  “Technically brilliant, he invested considerable sweat and tears in developing his technicians ahead of the deployment and his efforts reaped significant success…he drove his team hard to ensure those soldiers deployed forward had the equipment they needed - he was never found wanting.  Confident, with bags of humour, he was an SNCO who lived life to the full.  His enthu...

September 14, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2012, Lance Corporal Duane Groom, 1st Battalion, the Grenadier Guards, was killed in Afghanistan when his vehicle struck an IED in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

He had joined the army in 2007, and two years later served in Afghanistan for the first time.  A childhood friend who had also joined the army told how Lance Corporal Groom was like a big brother who would always have your back, no matter what, and that he loved his job in the army because “It restored the virtues in life that we had lost and had always hoped to regain”.  He was a conscientious man, who worked hard and gained wide respect.  He also was charismatic and, although quiet by nature, full of humour, and had, according to his Fijian friend, “the best smile in paradise”.

Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder said of him:  “Lance Corporal Groom was an outstanding soldier in every respect.  Tough, keen and unflappable, he was utterly committed to his fellows and...

September 5, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2010, Lance Corporal Joseph McFarlane Pool, 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, was killed in Afghanistan.  He was mortally wounded in an exchange of fire with the enemy during an operation in the Nad ‘Ali (North) district. 

Lance Corporal Pool had enlisted in the army in 2003, and went on to serve in Northern Ireland and Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan.  Described as “Fit and tough as a butcher’s dog”, he had qualified as a Physical Training Instructor and an Anti-Tank Detachment Commander.  A charismatic and proud Scotsman, he inspired his men with his courage, dedication and stoicism.  He lies buried in the Knocknairshill Cemetery in Greenock, overlooking the Clyde and the Argyllshire hills.

Major Mark Suddaby said of him:  “Lance Corporal Joe Pool was a committed and enthusiastic member of Delta Company, as well as a friend and supporter to so many of us.  At the very first opportunity to do so, Joe volunteer...

September 2, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2006, fourteen British personnel were killed when a reconnaissance aircraft, a Nimrod MR2, caught fire after mid-air refueling and crashed near Kandahar in Afghanistan.

It was later determined by the Board of Enquiry that four factors contributed to the accident:  “the age of the aircraft, maintenance policy, failure of hazard analysis and lack of a fire detection and suppression system, and not identifying the full implications of successive changes to the fuel system and associated procedures”.  The aircraft was deemed to not be airworthy, and safety had been sacrificed to cut costs.  The full Board of Enquiry report can be accessed here:  https://web.archive.org/web/20090807195756/http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/CorporatePublications/BoardsOfInquiry/BoiNimrodMr2Xv230.htm

Those who died that day:

Flight Sergeant Adrian Davies, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, was 49 years old and married with four children.

Flight Lie...

August 20, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2009, Serjeant Paul McAleese, 2nd Battalion, the Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan.

The son of the late Staff Sergeant John McAleese, well-known for his part in the storming of the Iranian Embassy in 1980, he had joined the army in early 1997.  The demanding courses he undertook were completed with distinction, and promotion came quickly.  Physically strong and intelligent, he was described as being “on the track to greatness”;  his enthusiasm, humour and professionalism earned him respect and admiration.  He had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Kosovo before deploying to Afghanistan.

On the Afghan Election Day Serjeant McAleese had been on foot patrol in the Sangin area.  He died trying to reach a fellow soldier who had been injured in the explosion of an IED.  A colleague later commented that such an endeavour was typical of Serjeant McAleese, that he would selflessly risk his life for the sake of another.

Warrant Officer C...

August 11, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2007, Captain David Hicks, 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan.  His patrol base came under enemy attack and he sustained severe injuries as he co-ordinated the response to the attack.  Although taken to Camp Bastion for treatment, his injuries were too grievous for him to survive.

Captain Hicks attended the Royal Military Academy and was commissioned into the Royal Anglian Regiment.  He served in Bosnia and Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan.  He also spent a year training recruits at the Infantry Training Centre.   At the time of his death he was acting as Company Commander, and was known to be a courageous, conscientious and well-respected leader.   Colleagues remember him as a good listener, a calm and intelligent officer who cared for those with whom he served. . 

Major Phil Messenger said of him:  “Dave Hicks was the most professional and dedicated fellow infantry offi...

August 9, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2006, Private Leigh Reeves, the Royal Logistic Corps., died while in service in Afghanistan.

He had enlisted in the army in October of 2003, and after completing basic training as a Royal Logistic Corps driver, he was posted to the Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Support Battalion in Rheindahlen, Germany.  At the end of March in 2006 he deployed to Afghanistan and was killed in a road traffic accident just over four months later, at Camp Souter, Kabul.

Private Reeves was a popular and well-liked young man, with what was described as “a wicked sense of humour and happy-go-lucky outlook”, known for cheering up those around him and boosting morale.  He was a determined hard worker with a promising future in the army.  Lieutenant Colonel Richard Winstanley made this statement:  “Leigh was one of those larger than life characters that every unit needs. This tragic accident has deprived the Battalion of a high calibre soldier who will be sorely...

July 16, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2011, Lance Corporal Paul Watkins, 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's), was killed in Afghanistan.  He had been in his vehicle at Nahr-e Saraj, providing fire and communications support for a joint foot patrol with members of the Afghan National Army.  One of the Afghan army soldiers turned his gun on Lance Corporal Watkins and shot him – the soldier then fled but was located and arrested three months later.  .

Lance Corporal Watkins who was born in South Africa, had joined the army four years earlier as a Foreign and Commonwealth soldier.  After basic training he completed special-to-arm training, and went on to serve in Iraq.  His colleagues described him as courageous, larger-than-life, enthusiastic and dedicated.  The tributes which were paid to him after his death showed how much he was liked and respected by all ranks. 

Lieutenant Colonel William Fooks said of him:  “Lance Corporal Paul Watkins was absolut...

July 5, 2020

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2010, Private Thomas Sephton, 1st Battalion, the Mercian Regiment, died in hospital in England of wounds sustained the previous day in Afghanistan.

He had been part of a patrol in the Hahr-e Saraj distriction of Helmand Province when he was grievously wounded in an IED explosion while clearing a route for his section. He was treated on-site and at Camp Bastion, then flown to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham – but could not be saved and the decision was made to turn off his life-support.

Dedicated, mature and capable, Private Sephton was due to attend a promotion course on his return home. He had joined the army eighteen months earlier and trained in the Falkland Islands and Kenya before serving in Afghanistan. A superior officer considered him one of the battalion’s finest soldiers, fearless, and selfless.

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield said of him: “He was a hardworking man, always ready to volunteer for additional work or responsibili...

June 27, 2020

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2006, Captain David Patton, Special Reconnaissance Regiment, and Sergeant Paul Bartlett, Special Boat Service, were killed in Afghanistan.

They had been part of a twelve-man team on a planned operation, and came under attack when they were returning to a forward base in the Sangin valley. Sergeant Bartlett was wounded and Captain Patton went to his aid, but they were cut off from their colleagues and killed. Their bodies were found along with those of members of the Taliban, showing they had fought to the last.

No details could be located at this time on Sergeant Bartlett, other than that he was 35 years old. Captain Patton had served with distinction with the Royal Irish Rangers and the Parachute Regiment. From Limavady in Northern Ireland, he was 38 years old and married with a 14-month-old daughter.

June 12, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2009, Lieutenant Paul Mervis, 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan. 

Educated at King’s College, Wimbledon, and University College, London, he went on to work as a journalist for The Week and The Spectator.  He travelled widely and was then commissioned into the Rifles in April of 2007, his first operatonal tour being in Kosovo.  Lieutenant Mervis is remembered as a professional and dedicated officer who cared passionately about his Riflemen.  On the day of his death he had been on foot patrol near Sangin when he was killed in an explosion.

Major Alastair Field said of him:  “Paul Mervis was a one in a trillion. I have never met a more passionate and engaging young officer in my twelve years in the Army.  His thirst for knowledge was unquenchable. I could not have wanted more of him as a Platoon Commander.  Full-on, intelligently so, he was caring and understanding in the best way. He had a sharp intellect and immedia...

May 21, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2010, Corporal Stephen Walker, 40 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in Afghanistan.  He had been on a joint foot patrol with the Afghan National Army when he was caught up in an explosion near Patrol Base Almas in Sangin.

Corporal Walker had joined the Royal Navy in May of 1986, then after serving for four years he joined the Royal Marines.  He served in Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, 40 and 45 Commando Royal Marines and the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines as a Recruit Troop Instructor.  He excelled in Junior Command Training and gained considerable operational experience serving in Iraq and Northern Ireland.  He arrived in Afghanistan in April of 2010 as a Section Commander based out of Patrol Base Almas.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James said of him:  “Corporal Stephen ‘Whisky’ Walker, an ex-Navy chef turned Royal Marine Commando, was one of the most professionally astute men I have ever met. Brave, loyal, utterly dedica...

May 15, 2020

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 2011, Marine Nigel Dean Mead, Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, was killed in Afghanistan.  He was fatally injured in an explosion during a cordon and search operation in the Nad ‘Ali district of Helmand Province.

Marine Mead attended the Queen Elizabeth High School in Carmarthen before joining the Royal Marines just after his seventeenth birthday. He had excelled academically at school, and had been the Welsh 800m champion and a member of Carmarthen Harriers.  In July of 2009 he was the youngest marine to pass out from his troop.  He showed keenness in the long-range rifle course, mountain training, and a two-month amphibious deployment in the United States.  Tributes speak of a dedicated, kind and courageous young man with an engaging and highly-likeable personality.

Lieutenant Colonel Ewen Murchison RM said of him:  “Marine Nigel Dean Mead was the epitome of a Royal Marines Commando.  A young man with considerable inner str...

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