Guardsman David Atherton, 1st Battalion, the Grenadier Guards
Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2007, Guardsman David Atherton, 1st Battalion, the Grenadier Guards, was killed in southern Afghanistan.
He had been serving in the Anti-Tank section in Number 3 Company, part of Battle Group South and deployed on Operation CHAKUSH in the Upper Gereshk Valley. On the third day of the operation, near the village of Mirmandab, Guardsman Atherton was killed during a fierce fire fight with Taliban fighters. He was shot immediately after successfully engaging a Taliban position with a Javelin anti-tank missile, which action helped his Company to advance safely – a single bullet hit him in the chest just above the main plate of his armoured vest.
Guardsman Atherton had joined the Army in 2002 and had already completed operational tours in Bosnia and Iraq. Shy as a boy, life in the army and the responsibilities it entailed brought him out of himself, according to his mother – sadly, five years after her son’s death she could no longer cope with the depression caused by his loss and took her own life.
Lieutenant Colonel Carew Hatherley said: “Guardsman Atherton was a real character and a good friend to all who knew him. Whether he was conducting ceremonial duties in London in his tunic and bearskin, or fighting in combats, he was immensely proud to be a Grenadier. He was highly respected by all who served alongside him. During his time in Afghanistan he had been operating in the most austere conditions and the harshest of climates. He had risen to the difficult challenges he constantly faced, given selfless service to his nation and died doing what he loved alongside his Grenadier comrades.”
David, from Manchester, was 25 years old and engaged to be married; he left behind a young daughter.