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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant John Thornton and Marine David Marsh, 40 Commando Royal Marines

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2008, Lieutenant John Thornton and Marine David Marsh, both of 40 Commando Royal Marines, were killed in southern Afghanistan. They were conducting a patrol in the vicinity of Kajaki, Helmand province, when the vehicle they were travelling in was caught in an explosion.

Lieutenant Thornton joined the Royal Marines in 2004 and quickly proved his worth. His first appointment was as a Platoon Commander with 1st Battalion. The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, with whom he served in Iraq with distinction. He was appointed to serve with 40 Commando in January of 2007. He is remembered as being “an awesome bloke,” an immensely professional officer, and was well-respected by his men.

Major Duncan Manning said: “‘JT’ was a central character within the Company. His relaxed and amiable personality made everyone he met immediately warm to him. His good humour and ability to laugh at himself was balanced with high professional skills and a devotion to the men under his command. Never shy of additional workload or responsibility, his laid back style drew the very best from his Marines and he was highly respected as a result of his willingness to listen to, and take advice from, his men. Their well-being and interests were always at the forefront of his mind and he would endeavour to do the best for them. ‘JT’ became a sounding board and confidante for the new Troop Commanders who arrived mid-tour, listening to their concerns and providing advice when he deemed it appropriate. His loyalty, both to his men and to the chain of command, was never in question and this trait when combined with his devotion to his career and constant energy made him a highly effective Royal Marines officer. He was killed as he lived his life, leading from the front and sharing the risks and dangers which his men were required to endure.”

John, from Ferndown in Dorset, was 22 years old.

Marine Marsh joined the Royal Marines in 2002; he successfully completing Commando Training and was awarded the Commando Medal for displaying most consistently the attributes expected of a Royal Marines Commando. He served with distinction in Northern Ireland with 45 Commando, and served with the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines before becoming an Anti-Tank specialist in 2006. Later that year he joined 40 Commando Royal Marines.

Major Duncan Manning said: “Marine Dave Marsh was an inspiration to the whole Company. A larger than life character, he was respected by both peers and commanders alike. For him the glass was always half full and regardless of conditions he remained positive. His ready wit and good humour were balanced with high professional skills and a devotion to his chosen profession. He could regularly be seen behind the aiming sight of his Javelin missile system maintaining his focus for hours on end. It was due to his experience and proven proficiency that he was regularly chosen to assume the position of a vehicle commander, directing his WMIK vehicle with confidence and authority. If any member of his Troop were to find themselves in a difficult and dangerous situation it was Dave Marsh they wanted by their side. It is for this reason that his Troop commander selected Dave to be his driver. His loss is made especially difficult being so close to the end of the tour having faced so many dangers on numerous previous occasions.”

David, from Sheffield, was 23 years old and married with a baby daughter.

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