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  • Christina Drummond

Sergeant Gareth Thursby and Private Thomas Wroe, 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2012, Sergeant Gareth Thursby and Private Thomas Wroe, of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, were killed in Afghanistan. They were shot by an Afghan policeman at Checkpoint Tora in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. Soldiers at the checkpoint had been on alert for rogue policeman after a spate of attacks by Afghan forces, but the killer was well known and respected and considered a strong supporter of the troops. He had been talking and joking with the soldiers when he suddenly turned his AK-47 on them and was himself shot and wounded - as he lay on the ground there was fear that he may have a grenade, so an officer gave the order to shoot - sadly, the soldier who obeyed the command took his own life the day after Sergeant Thursby's funeral. Sergeant Thursby joined the army in 1999 and served in Kosovo and Iraq. He qualified for a posting to the Army Training Regiment as an instructor, and returned to 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment as a section commander; in 2010 he was promoted to sergeant. He was deeply respected for his professionalism, strength of character and commitment to his men, and comrades remember his unswerving loyalty, moral courage and sense of duty. These words from an officer: "When there were dangerous moments, it was always Sergeant Thursby who could be found at the front, offering steadying words to his Platoon Commander and the young soldiers. Such dedication and indeed selfless love for his fellow soldiers is remarkable and testament to the qualities of this unique man." Gareth, from Skipton, was 29 years old, married with a son and a daughter. Private Wroe joined the army in 2010. He was assigned to 3 Platoon, Alma Company as a Rifleman and completed pre-deployment training including qualifying as a Team Medic before turning eighteen and being deployed to Afghanistan. His father had only just left the Battalion, and it had been Private Wroe's dream to continue the family tradition. Second Lieutenant Callum Cameron said: "Private Wroe, despite being the youngest in my Platoon, was the soldier whose career I most looked forward to. He showed a level of professionalism on a par with the most experienced. He perfectly embodied the confidence and undoubtedly cheeky wit of a Yorkshire soldier. His enthusiasm, alongside his soldiering abilities, meant he was a soldier every Platoon Commander would hope to have in his Platoon. He was the man to volunteer first for a task without even being asked, first to clean his rifle after a patrol and first in with a joke. Nothing encapsulated this more than the respect and standing he earned from his peers. I seriously doubt that for the rest of my career I will be as impressed by a new soldier as I was by Private Wroe." Thomas, from Huddersfield, was 18 years old.