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  • Christina Drummond

Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, Sergeant Matthew Telford and Guardsman James Major (1st Battal

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2009, Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, Sergeant Matthew Telford and Guardsman James Major (1st Battalion, the Grenadier Guards), and Corporal Steven Boote and Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith (the Royal Military Police), were killed in Afghanistan.

They died when shot in an attack at a police checkpoint which provided protection to the bazaar area of Nad e-Ali where the Grenadier Guards’ Battle Group’s Forward Operating Base was located. They had been tasked with mentoring a number of members of the Afghan National Police. WO1 Chant had served previously in Afghanistan, as well as Northern Ireland and Bosnia, with two years at Sandhurst as a Colour Sergeant instructor. Lieutenant Colonel Roly Walker said: “Darren Chant died at the hands of men he was helping. He was the senior soldier, cast from the original model of a Guards Regimental Sergeant Major. He was a big character, could make anyone laugh, and worked tirelessly, the face of integrity and professional conduct, a tremendously brave soldier.” He was to be told that day that he had been awarded a commission as an officer. Darren, from Walthamstow, was 40 years old and left behind his pregnant wife and three children. Sergeant Telford had also served in Northern Ireland and had been a Recruiting Sergeant for two years. Captain Bernie Broad said: “I knew Sergeant Telford as a Guardsman in The Queen’s Company. A larger than life character, he was large, fit and intelligent. He epitomised what being a soldier, and more so a Guardsman, is all about. Throughout his career his enthusiasm for the job never diminished and with his excellent sense of humour and gentle touch for such a giant of a man, he was known, respected, and trusted by all. On promotion he became a Recruiting Sergeant in Grimsby where his charming and professional manner boosted recruiting for the regiment. The quality, well-motivated soldiers who joined as a result of his endeavours will never forget the big guy who recruited them. A very large gap will be left in the hearts and minds of all who knew him and he will never be forgotten.” Matt, from Grimsby, was 37 years old and married with two sons. Corporal Boote was in the Territorial Army and a member of the Manchester Detachment of 116 Provost Company, Royal Military Police (Volunteers), attached to 160 Provost Company for his deployment to Afghanistan. He had plans to either enlist or join the civilian police. He is remembered as an outstanding and tough soldier who knew and accepted the dangers of serving in Afghanistan: committed, courageous, hardworking and dedicated. Major Phil Hacker said: “Steven’s death, so early in our tour, has come as a great shock to us all. He loved being a soldier in the Territorial Army and revelled in Army life. He knew and accepted the dangers a tour of Afghanistan might bring. Courageous by nature, he was an outstanding soldier who always volunteered for the most demanding tasks. He inspired confidence in all those he served with and we are all so proud and feel so humble to have served with him. We will always remember Steven who was a true example of the Royal Military Police Corps motto ‘Exemplo Ducemus’ - By Example We Lead.” Steven, from Birkenhead, was 22 years old. Corporal Webster-Smith had served previously in Afghanistan as well as Kosovo and the Falklands. He is remembered as being a professional and determined soldier, as well as spirited with a keen sense of humour. Captain Karen Tait said: “W-S was a true soldier and military policeman. His pride at wearing his beret and working alongside his colleagues was evident. His professionalism and courage is what stood him out amongst his peers. He demonstrated his ‘wilco’ approach to life until the end.” Nicholas, from Tenby in Wales, was 24 years old. Guardsman Major had completed his training less than a year before and had only recently deployed. Lieutenant Colonel Roly Walker said: “In the short time he served he impressed us with his enthusiasm and soldierly talents. He was always the first to volunteer for a patrol, was a really good young soldier, and he kept spirits high amongst the team with a great sense of humour, positive energy, and remarkable culinary skills. He leaves an immensely strong impression for one who was with us for such a short time, and we are especially proud he was a Grenadier.” James, from Grimsby, was 18 years old.

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