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  • Christina Drummond

Corporal Matthew Cornish, 1st Battalion, the Light Infantry

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2006, Corporal Matthew Cornish, 1st Battalion, the Light Infantry, died from wounds sustained in a mortar attack in Basra City. He was evacuated by helicopter to the Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, but sadly could not be saved.

He had served in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, and twice before in Iraq. On this current tour his task was to navigate and lead a pair of Warrior Armoured Vehicles around Basra, which he did with great assurance, scant reference to a map, and in the pitch dark. His comrades remember him as trustworthy and respected, someone who was not only a great friend with a fine heart but also a great soldier.

Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Bowron said: “As an attached member of B Company, Matthew made it a richer place for his presence. As a Fire Support soldier, he clearly added to the strength of the Company in a difficult location. The care of his vehicles was first class and they were always in excellent working order - an indication of the sort of chap he was. He was very much his own man, not a typical NCO - he followed his own course, and a lot of the time he was absolutely right. His typical Yorkshire manner helped pick him out as one of the ‘characters’ of B Company, relied upon to give his opinion on any subject, whether it was wanted or not. He had begun to develop an unnerving ability to know what was going to be asked of him before his boss knew himself. And lately he had started rebuilding parts of the camp in Basra without asking permission from anyone at all. This in particular was beginning to drive his Company Serjeant Major to distraction - principally as his ideas were all thoroughly useful. Corporal Cornish died on Minden Day*, when the Light Infantry recalls its Battle Honour by the wearing of white roses. For his friends and colleagues the wearing of the Yorkshire rose will in future have added poignancy.”

(*Minden Day is a regimental anniversary celebrated by Light Infantry (among other regiments) to commemorate the forerunners of the regiment in the Battle of Minden during the Seven Years' War. Soldiers of the regiment wear Minden Roses on their regimental head dress and decorate the regimental colours with garlands of roses. This is to remember that the regiments wore wild roses at the battle which had been picked from the hedgerows as they advanced to engage the enemy.)

Matthew, from Yorkshire, was 29 years old and married with a toddler son and baby daughter.

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