Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2007, Lance Corporal Jake Alderton of 20 Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regiment, died in Afghanistan. He was taking part in an operation near Sangin, as top-cover look-out, when the Pinzgauer vehicle he was travelling in left the road and rolled off a bridge, trapping him underneath and causing him to drown. The vehicle was part of a convoy conducting a pre-dawn raid and travelling without lights, 200 yards from their camp. The driver was considered to have been driving “practically blind” as he had not used night vision goggles before, had to frequently stop as he could not see where he was going, and had several times crashed into walls and other objects. Recording a narrative verdict, the coroner said that it was abundantly clear that the driver could not see: “My conclusion is that Lance Corporal Alderton's death was caused in part by a serious failure to ensure the driver had sufficient training for driving at night with night vision goggles, and a failure to provide effective night vision equipment."
Lance Corporal Alderton had joined the Army in 2001 and undertook combat engineer training; later qualifying as a Class 2 Building and Structural Finisher. Promoted to Lance Corporal in 2007, he deployed to Afghanistan to work with the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team. His role was to provide essential training and engineer support to the Afghan soldiers in order to help provide a long-term indigenous security force for Afghanistan. Major Gareth Baker said: “I have watched Lance Corporal Alderton develop over the last year and change from a keen young sapper with plenty of potential into a capable and experienced JNCO. He worked very hard on his JNCO’s Cadre. He was hand-picked to support the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team, selected for his sensible attitude, maturity, calm but determined nature, good humour and his ability to get along with others. An extremely professional and dedicated soldier, he was very highly regarded by those who worked with him; he will be missed.” Jake, from Bexley, was 22 years old.