Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2009, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe MBE, Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, and Trooper Joshua Hammond, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, were killed in Afghanistan. They were part of a re-supply convoy near Lashgar Gah when an IED was triggered under their vehicle. Six other soldiers were injured.
Educated at Radley College, the University of Reading and King’s College, London, Lieutenant Colonel Thorneloe went on to attend the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He received his commission with the Welsh Guards in 1992. He served twice in Northern Ireland, spending a year with the R.U.C. Special Branch in South Armagh as an Intelligence Liaison Officer. He also served in Iraq, as Adjutant in London, Intelligence Analyst at Permanent Joint Headquarters, Military Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Policy) and Military Assistant to the Secretary of State for Defence.
Major Andrew Speed said of him: “I was very fortunate to be the second-in-command to a truly talented officer. To see him in operation was an inspirational sight. His attention to detail and his drive were extremely impressive. When we were flagging through late nights and early mornings he still had the resilience to push on. As a man he did not seek personal gain. His motivation was always for the Welsh Guards, his men and his family. This was his focus and this is what drove him to work as he did. He was compassionate and caring and despite working us hard he always had words of encouragement and he always took time out to laugh and joke keeping our morale high even in the toughest of circumstances. To lose such a man while on operations is a considerable blow. But it is a blow that will not discourage us. We have been moulded into an effective team by a great leader who would have wanted us to complete our task in Afghanistan. It is a task that he passionately believed in and we will not let him down in the relentless pursuit of the goals that he set us.”
Rupert, from Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, was 39 years old and married with two daughters.
Trooper Hammond enlisted in the army at the age of sixteen; he attended the Army Foundation College before joining the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, and trained as a Challenger 2 tank driver. He volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, and arrived a month before his death.
Major Charlie Burbridge said of him: “Hammy joined 2 RTR in May 2008 and it was clear from the outset that he was going to be a fine soldier. He took pride in his fitness and was determined to be the best tank driver he could be. He succeeded. He also succeeded in being admitted into the Egypt bad tattoo club and very swiftly became a central figure in the squadron.
Hammy was a quiet, unassuming but highly courageous young man with a roguish sense of humour. Earnest, thoughtful and happy, he was an essential part of my squadron and he died doing a fine job as a proud soldier. He had a glint in his eye and a wry smile which always made one feel that you were in on the joke. He was professional and capable and was only just getting into his stride as a soldier. Only days before his tragic death he had said how much he was enjoying the job. Hammy was a Tankie, through and through; I am proud to have served alongside him and we will never forget him.”
Joshua, who died a week before his 19th birthday, was engaged to be married.