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  • Christina Drummond

Colour Sergeant Phillip Newman and Private Brian Tunnicliffe, The Mercian Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2007 Colour Sergeant Phillip Newman of 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment and Private Brian Tunnicliffe of 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), were killed in a tragic vehicle accident in southern Afghanistan. They were deployed on Operation Palk Wahel conducting an essential re-supply during a pause in the fighting. Their vehicle over-turned and landed on its roof in an irrigation channel - despite valiant rescue efforts, they did not survive.

Colour Sergeant Newman enlisted in the Territorial Army in 1994 as a member of the 5th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and served in Iraq. He rose quickly through the ranks and was known as a formidable Colour Sergeant and an outstanding model for the TA soldier. He volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan, having previously served there, and had requested to stay for the next two years on a full time reserve service contract, employed as Officer Commanding Machine Gun Platoon, his particular expertise. Captain Steve Hopkinson said: “Colour Sergeant Phil Newman was a first class, staunch Fusilier who wore the hackle with pride and was admired by all in A (Fusilier) Company. A veteran of four operational tours he provided knowledge, experience and realism into all aspects of Territorial Army life. A colleague, a confidant and great friend, I will miss his sense of humour and his outlook on life. A man who placed family first, he will be sadly missed. A true Fusilier!” Phillip, from Birmingham, was 36 years old and married with three young children.

Private Tunicliffe enlisted in the army in 1996, and served in Bosnia and twice in Northern Ireland. He was a store man in A (Grenadier) Company, and for a time was Ram Orderly to Private Derby, the Regiment’s Swalesdale Derbyshire Ram mascot. It was noted that “never had Private Derby he been exercised so much or cared for so diligently.” At the time of his death Private Tunnicliffe was employed in the motor transport platoon. Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton said: “‘Private ‘Tunny’ Tunnicliffe was a true Regimental character known to every officer and soldier alike who has served with the Battalion over the past decade. He would always go the extra mile, ensuring those around him were looked after, whether it be his Company Commander or the soldiers in the Company. As soldiers past and present will testify, there isn’t a single man who served with him who won’t have a collection of ‘Tunnicliffe stories’. Private Tunnicliffe reflected the archetypal Ilkeston county infantryman, fiercely loyal to his regiment and his friends. A truly big hearted man through and through.” Brian, from Ilkeston in Derbyshire, was 33 years old and married.

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