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Fallen Comrades Allied Forces

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Lance Corporal Allan Douglas killed in Iraq
Published Monday 30th January 2006

Whilst on a routine patrol in Al Amarah, Lance Corporal Douglas was shot and mortally wounded.  Despite the best efforts of his comrades and the medical teams he later died of his wounds.

Allan Stewart Douglas was born on 2nd May 1983 in Aberdeen.  He grew up in Northfield, Aberdeen, and attended the Northfield Academy before joining the British Army at the age of 17.

Lance Corporal Allan Douglas joined The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) in October 2000 and, after initial training, he joined Delta Company of the 1st Battalion The Highlanders.  In 2001 he was deployed with his company on peace-keeping duties in Kosovo over Christmas and deployed again on a second peace-keeping tour, this time in Bosnia during the summer of 2003.  In April 2004 he moved with the Battalion to Fallingbostel in Germany and completed a Physical Training Instructor's Course, which he passed with credit.

Allan deployed to Canada in June 2005 for Exercise MEDICINE MAN 2 where he showed his professionalism, being a key part of the Mortar Platoon providing timely and accurate fire support for the Battle Group throughout.

In July 2005 he was promoted to Lance Corporal and prepared for deployment to Iraq as part of the 7th Armoured Brigade.  Throughout pre-deployment training his operational experience showed through and he looked forward to the new challenges ahead.  He deployed to Al Amarah  in October with Delta Company, 1st Battalion The Highlanders as part of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Battle Group.

Allan was known for his quick wit and was a popular member of his platoon.  He was renowned  within his company for his excellent fitness and constant sense of humour.  His strength of character can be seen by his recent ability to overcome his natural fear of heights to become a rock climber while taking part in some Adventure Training in Canada.

Lieutenant Colonel James Hopkinson, his Commanding Officer, said:

"Lance Corporal Allan Douglas was extremely well liked by all who knew him, especially his comrades in the Mortar Platoon.  He displayed all the qualities of professionalism, drive and humour that make a Scottish soldier.  He was bright in character and an intelligent man  who threw himself at his job with vigour.  His recent promotion to Lance Corporal was a surprise to him but not to us who knew him.  He was a very capable soldier and had a great deal of potential. 

"His enthusiasm and comradeship were obvious in all that he did, but especially in the gymnasium.  He was happiest there, and the job of physical training instructor for the company saw him blossom into a capable Lance Corporal.  He was most content when takinglessons and putting his fellow Highlanders through their paces.  Allan carried this enthusiasm over to his work in Iraq.

"Allan was the perfect soldier for service in Iraq.  Chosen to serve in Delta Company Headquarters because of his own self-discipline and reliability he was a natural soldier: fit, trustworthy and at ease in often difficult situations where he never seemed to get down or become tired.  He had a tremendous style, in the true tradition of the Scottish soldier, with the Iraqis whether they were policemen, civilians or children and with hiswinning smile he soon had them on his side.  Allan was a natural team player who always looked out for others, was quick with a joke, but above all else was professional and dedicated to his task.  He made a true difference in Iraq.  It is telling that since this sad incident a great many Iraqis, both civilian leaders and members of the security forces have called to pass on their condolences.  Allan made an impact in their lives that it will be hard to match.

"Lance Corporal Douglas was not only a comrade but was a friend to many.  He will be sorely  missed by those who were privileged to serve with him."

On being informed on the incident, Defence Secretary John Reid said:

"I was very saddened to hear this morning that a British soldier had died whilst performing his duty in Iraq.

"My thoughts are with his family and friends."

We would ask the media to respect privacy of Lance Corporal Douglas' family at this difficult time.


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Corporal Gordon Alexander Pritchard killed in Iraq
Published Tuesday 31st January 2006

It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence can confirm the death of Corporal Gordon Alexander Pritchard from the Royals Scots Dragoon Guards on 31 January 2006.

Corporal Pritchard died from injuries sustained as a result of an explosion at approximately 0534GMT in Um Qasr in Basrah Province.  He had been commanding the lead Snatch Landrover in a three-vehicle convoy on a routine rations and water run.

Gordon Alexander Pritchard was 31, and was married with children.  His next of kin have been informed.  Our deepest sympathy goes to his relatives and friends at this sad time.

Three other soldiers were injured, one seriously, in the same incident and are receiving medical treatment at Shaibah medical facility.

After being told of the incident, Secretary of State for Defence John Reid said:

    "I was greatly saddened this morning to learn of the death of a British soldier in Iraq and that three others were wounded.  Coming on top of the loss yesterday of Lance Corporal Allan Douglas this is obviously a matter of great sadness not only for the families but I believe for the armed forces and the nation.

    "We have now sustained 77 deaths through hostile action in Iraq and one hundred fatalities in all.  And it's an appropriate time to reflect on the determination, courage, professionalism and sacrifice of our armed forces themselves and of the families who also sustain them there.

    "And I think it's also a time for all of us throughout the nation to consider the contribution that they and others who have risked and given their lives have made for people in Iraq and places like Afghanistan to lift the burden of tyranny from the shoulders of those people."

The media are asked to respect the privacy of the family.

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Death of Trooper Carl Smith in Iraq
3 Feb 06
It is with great sadness and regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Trooper Carl Smith of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's) on 2 February 2006, as a result of a vehicle accident whilst on operations in Abu Al Khasib, south of Basra, Iraq.

Trooper Carl Joseph Smith, 9th/12th Lancers (Prince of Wales's).
Carl Joseph Smith was born on 19 November 1982 at Kettering. Schooled in Rushden, Northamptonshire, Carl joined the Army at age 22, following a school friend into the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's). Following his initial training at the Army Training Regiment, Winchester and then the Armour Centre, Bovington he began preparations to join his Regiment in Iraq, as a part of 7th Armoured Brigade (The Desert Rats). Throughout his training he proved quick, bright and committed, drawing compliments from his instructors. Having completed basic training Trooper Smith was eager to join his Regiment on operations. Keen to make a difference in Iraq, he deployed to B Squadron, based in Basra Palace, as part of The 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's) Battlegroup. He arrived in theatre on 23 January 2006.

Trooper Carl Smith made a profound impact during the short time he had been in the Regiment, displaying the potential to do well in the Army. Sharp, inquisitive and enthusiastic, Carl carried the hallmarks of a good reconnaissance soldier, impressing everyone on his pre-deployment training in the UK. He adapted quickly to his surroundings in Iraq and relished the demands made of him by this unfamiliar country and the operational environment. During his initial period of familiarisation in theatre, Carl was never still, always seeking opportunities to soldier with his troop and to patrol in the suburbs of Basra and Abu Al Khasib.

Lt Col Charles Crewdson, his Commanding Officer, said:

"Trooper Carl Smith settled in very quickly to regimental soldiering, his early impressions of Iraq were positive and he understood the importance of his mission. He was starting a joint patrol with the Iraqi Army, when tragically his vehicle was involved in an accident. Despite only serving for a short time he had already earned an excellent reputation as a hard worker. As all members of the Regiment who die on active service, his sacrifice will be remembered and never forgotten.

"Carl bore all the trademarks of what makes the British Army great. Keen, intelligent, compassionate and motivated he was moved greatly by those he encountered in Iraq during the course of his patrols.

"Our thoughts are with his family and young son. The Regiment has lost a friend and a soldier brimming with potential. We count ourselves fortunate to have served with such a man."

Trooper Smith's family have issued the following statement:

"Trooper Carl Smith (23) was killed in Iraq whilst serving with the 9th/12th Royal Lancers. He was involved in a road traffic accident whilst doing the job he loved and enjoyed. He was proud to serve his county as a British soldier.

"Paul and Dee, his parents, sister Katherine, partner Carly and son Lewis (3) fully supported his decision to pursue a career in the army, and are immensely proud of him though devastated by his death."

The media are asked to respect the family's privacy at this time.

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Eric Brooks
(Filed: 07/02/2006)

Eric Brooks, who has died aged 97, commanded the signals section in Popski's Private Army in the Italian campaign.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Brooks was welcomed back to the Royal Corps of Signals, with which he had served on first enlisting in the Army. He was posted to Cairo where he joined the clandestine Irregular Wireless Operators' School.

Refusing to work out of uniform, Brooks was transferred as a signaller to the Long Range Desert Group, operating in the Libyan desert behind enemy lines.

When his truck was blown up during a raid, he evaded capture by walking many miles back to base. He was so badly dehydrated that his vocal chords shrivelled, leaving him with a gravelly voice for the rest of his life.

Brooks was an exceptional signals operator who could coax wireless transmissions over very long distances from sets with a range of no more than 20 miles.

He was recruited to L Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade, the unit from which 1 SAS was later formed, by Lt-Col David Stirling and took part in raids on Axis airfields and petrol dumps.

At the end of the campaign in North Africa, Brooks was stranded in his wireless truck at M'Saken, when he was found and recruited by Lt-Col Vladimir Peniakoff. Born in Belgium of Russian parentage, Peniakoff, known as "Popski", was in command of No 1 Demolition Squadron.

The squadron became known as Popski's Private Army (PPA) and worked with the Arabs on intelligence-gathering and raiding operations in enemy-occupied territory.

"The arrangement with Brooks was private," Popski said afterwards, " but he stayed with us until the end of the war."

Brooks accompanied PPA to Italy and took part in the landings at Taranto in September 1943. PPA was initially involved in diversionary activities, but was later transformed from a loose, two-patrol unit into an organised raiding force equipped for special operations.

Each patrolman had to be a good navigator and motor mechanic, a competent machine-gunner, demolition expert and resourceful fighter. Brooks, then a sergeant, and a comrade, Sergeant Beautyman, were described by their commanders as wireless geniuses.

Despite operating in primitive and often dangerous conditions, they constructed and operated the WT system, trained the patrolmen and carried out secret monitoring of the airwaves.

The PPA Jeep-borne patrols were in action continuously from mid-June until winter 1944. They splashed through rivers, wound their way down gorges and up mountains, skidding on the greasy, rain-soaked sheep tracks, living on the rooftop of Italy as they skirmished northwards, probing for chinks in the German defences.

Near Perugia, Brooks was given command of the Signals Section. At Sant'Appolinare in Classe, near Ravenna, intervention by Popski saved the basilica and its sixth-century mosaics from destruction by the artillery. In autumn 2005 the city of Ravenna sent Brooks a parchment scroll in gratitude for his part in the rescue operation.

In the last phase of the campaign, PPA captured more than 1,300 prisoners, 16 field guns and many smaller weapons. At the end of the war, it was Brooks who handed Popski the signal slip informing him that Germany had surrendered.

Eric Hamilton Brooks, one of eight children, was born on July 10 1908 in the Holly Tree public house at Addlestone, Surrey, where his father was landlord. An idyllic childhood came to an end when his father died and his mother moved to a small cottage.

Young Eric, together with some of his siblings, was removed to Shaftesbury Homes and went to a local school. Aged 13 he helped the family by working in an aircraft factory and caddying on a golf course. Three years later he enlisted in the Army.

Wireless telegraphy interested him, and he went into the Royal Corps of Signals. Long-distance running in mid-winter at Catterick camp brought a lung infection to the Army's notice and he was discharged.

After the end of the war, Brooks accompanied Popski to Belgium and Switzerland on covert diplomacy in an attempt to bring about the abdication of the King of the Belgians. Brooks then went to work for the Post Office, where he was based in the international cable room.

Ostensibly a telegrapher, he was also used in security operations. These included attempts to monitor the signals being sent from the high-powered wireless transmitter that was used by the spies Peter and Helen Kroger, and visits behind the Iron Curtain.

While Brooks was secretary of the Government Wireless Operators' Association there was some acrimony over the merger with the Post Office Workers' Union, and Brooks later admitted that he had bugged the telephones of Dr Charles (later Lord) Hill, the Postmaster-General, and Clive Jenkins, the general secretary of the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs.

Brooks retired in 1973. He married first, in 1932 (later dissolved), Rose Freelove. He married secondly, in 1949, Kathleen Alcock, who predeceased him.

Eric Brooks died on December 8, and is survived by a daughter from his first marriage and a daughter from his second.

Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

big bad john

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Photo 1)  Comrades from The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) bear the coffin of Lance Corporal Allan Douglas.
[Picture: WO2 Shane Wilkinson]

Photo 2)  Comrades from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards bear the coffin of Corporal Gordon Pritchard.
[Picture: WO2 Shane Wilkinson]

Photo 3)  Comrades from the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's) bear the coffin of Trooper Carl Smith.
[Picture: WO2 Shane Wilkinson]


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Captain Richard Holmes and Private Lee Ellis killed in Iraq
1 Mar 06
It is with great sadness and regret that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the deaths of Captain Richard Holmes and Private Lee Ellis in Al Amarah, Iraq on Tuesday 28 February 2006.

Captain Holmes and Private Ellis, from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, were attached to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Al Amarah, Maysaan Province. They were killed when a roadside bomb exploded as they conducted a routine patrol. Tributes have today been paid to the two soldiers by their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel James Chiswell.

Captain Richard Holmes

Richard Holmes was born on 1st November 1977. He joined the Parachute Regiment after studying law at Liverpool University. He lived in Winchester, Hampshire with his wife, Kate, whom he married shortly before deploying to Iraq in October 2005.

Richard joined the Army in January 2001. After completion of Officer Training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst he was commissioned into The Parachute Regiment. On successful completion of the demanding Pre-Parachute Selection, the Basic Parachute Course at RAF Brize Norton and the Platoon Commander's Battle Course he joined B Company, the Second Battalion The Parachute Regiment. He served with the Battalion in Northern Ireland and also completed an earlier tour in Iraq. He completed an attachment with the The Highlanders before returning to The Parachute Regiment in April 2005 to command the Anti Tank Platoon. He deployed to Maysaan with D Company as part of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Battle Group in October 2005.

During his time in Maysaan, Captain Holmes worked tirelessly with the local Iraqi Security Forces. His principal work in Iraq was developing and mentoring a co-ordinated Iraqi Operations Centre, a task requiring tact, personality and patience. His efforts to learn Arabic and embrace the local culture, coupled with his natural sparkle and enthusiasm, endeared him greatly to the Iraqis with whom he worked so closely. This in turn made him highly effective in influencing and enhancing the organisation for which he was responsible. A fine ambassador for The Parachute Regiment, he will also be greatly missed by his many friends in The Highlanders and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Lieutenant Colonel James Chiswell, his Commanding Officer, said:

"Charming, compassionate and bright, Richard was one of The Parachute Regiment's rising stars.  He brought a warm humour and enormous professionalism to all he touched.  He excelled as a young commander with both The Parachute Regiment and The Highlanders, and was deeply respected by those he led.

"In Iraq he made a real difference, displaying wise judgement and total dedication in his efforts to progress the efficiency of the Iraqi Police in Al Amarah.  His determination to understand and share in the local culture was typical of his positive outlook and, as always, reaped dividends and won him many friends.

"As a reflection of his ability and character, he was due to leave us later this year to take up a prestigious instructor's post as a Platoon Commander at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  Kind, fun and warm humoured, he was a pleasure to be with and always saw the lighter side of life.

"With his passing, The Parachute Regiment has lost a fine soldier and officer.  Our thoughts are with his wife, family and many friends."

Private Lee Ellis was born on 24th January 1983.  He lived in Wythenshawe, Manchester with his fiancée Sarah and his daughter Courtney.

Private Ellis joined the Army in September 2003 and completed his basic training at the Infantry Training Centre (Catterick).  In April 2004 he joined D Company, the Second Battalion The Parachute Regiment. Suffering from an injury in 2005, he showed typical fortitude and determination to recover.  He deployed to Iraq in October 2005 with D Company and operated in Maysaan Province as part of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Battle Group.

Private Ellis was a keen sportsman.  An apprentice with Wigan Athletic Football Club, he gave up a career in professional football to join The Parachute Regiment.  A committed Manchester City supporter; he made every effort to watch each televised match.  An equally keen boxer, he looked forward to representing his Company and the Battalion on its return to Colchester.

Private Lee Ellis was not only a comrade but a close friend to many.  He will be sorely missed by all those who were privileged to serve with and know him.  Our thoughts are with his family and young daughter.

Lieutenant Colonel Chiswell said of Private Ellis:

"Bright, enthusiastic and immensely popular, Private Ellis displayed all the qualities of a first class Paratrooper.  His strength of character and dedication were reflected in his determination to overcome injury and to join his friends and comrades on operations in southern Iraq.

"His comradeship stood out; he was always willing to help others, and invariably did so with a smile on his face.  Hardworking, professional and with an irrepressible sense of humour, he showed enormous compassion in his dealing with the local Iraqis he encountered, whether they were Police, civilians or children.

"He was a natural team player who always looked out for others and who was always upbeat and focused.  Above all else he was a total professional, dedicated to his task.  He made a genuine difference in Iraq.

"Private Ellis was an outstanding soldier, comrade and friend.  He will be sorely missed by all those who have served with him and our thoughts are with his fiancée and family."

The media are asked to respect the families' privacy at this time.

Private Lee Ellis
Picture: MOD
Private Lee Ellis

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Death of a British Serviceman in Afghanistan – Corporal Mark Cridge, 7 Signal Regiment
24 Mar 06
It is with profound regret that the Ministry of Defence must announce the death of Corporal Mark Cridge who died in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, on 22 March 2006. His death is being investigated; initial inquiries do not indicate hostile action.

Corporal Mark Cridge, who was 3 weeks short of his 26th birthday, joined the Army in April 2001, as a Technician. On completion of his trade training he served with 3 (UK) Divisional Signal Regiment, and deployed twice on operations to Kuwait and Iraq. He moved to 7 Signal Regiment last summer, and deployed to Afghanistan on 3 March 2006. He was working as part of a small team providing communications from Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Lt Col Alan Blackwell, his Commanding Officer, paid tribute to Corporal Cridge:

"Corporal Mark Cridge was an instantly likeable young man. Well respected by all ranks, he was a good all round soldier who clearly enjoyed his trade. Mark was a natural athlete and was always among the first to volunteer to play sport for his Troop or Squadron; he often turned in a good score on the cricket pitch.

"Last summer he enjoyed a mountaineering expedition to Bavaria with friends from the Regiment. Mark trained hard with the Regiment in preparation for the deployment to Afghanistan and was excited about the tour. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. We have all lost a soldier and friend who was very capable, good company and widely respected."



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March 30, 2006
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. 1st Class John T. Stone, 52, of Norwich, Vt., died March 28 in Lashkagar, Afghanistan as a result of enemy mortar and small arms attacks during combat operations.  Stone was assigned to the Army National Guard's 15th Civil Support Team, South Burlington, Vt.

           For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000

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Death of Lance Corporal Peter Edward Craddock in Afghanistan
28 Mar 06
It is with great regret that the Ministry of Defence confirms the death of Lance Corporal Peter Edward Craddock of 1st Battalion The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment in Lashkar Gah, Southern Afghanistan on Monday 27 March 2006.

LCpl Craddock died as a result of a road traffic accident; enemy forces are not thought to have been involved. Our sympathies are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.

Lance Corporal Peter Edward Craddock, known as ‘Tinhead’ to his many friends (a reference to his love of biscuits), enlisted into the Army in January 1998 in Reading. He completed his infantry training at the Army Training Regiment Lichfield and the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, before joining the 1st Battalion The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment in September 1998.

During his eight years of service, Lance Corporal Craddock served on operations in Northern Ireland and Kosovo, before deploying to Afghanistan in September 2005. He also took part in exercises in Canada, Belize, Kenya and Jamaica.

Promoted to Lance Corporal in June 2005, he was due to attend a mortar course on his return from Afghanistan to qualify him for further promotion. During the tour of Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Craddock proved most worthy of his new rank, commanding his team calmly and professionally at all times. He was an extremely popular member of both Support Company and the Battalion as a whole.

Lance Corporal Craddock's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel David Brown, said of him:

"You do not get soldiers any better than Lance Corporal Craddock. His loss on his multiple’s final patrol before completion of their 6-month operational tour of Afghanistan is an utter tragedy. We all felt numb at news of his death. ‘Tinhead’ epitomized the Mortar Platoon; he had a huge character.

"No doubt time will slowly heal our deep sadness. In the meantime the thoughts of the whole RGBWLI Regimental family are with his bereaved family; especially his beloved sister, Amanda, and brother William."

Expressing his sympathy in the House of Commons on Monday 27 March, Secretary of State John Reid said:

"My thoughts are with his family and friends, as I am sure are those of the whole House."

Photo 1)  Lance Corporal Peter Edward Craddock of 1st Battalion The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
[Picture: MOD]


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Brigadier General Stanley James Ledger “Speedy” Hill MC DSO (2 bars)


From the Daily Telegraph

Brigadier 'Speedy' Hill


Brigadier "Speedy" Hill, who died on Thursday aged 95, won an MC and three DSOs as a commander of airborne forces during the Second World War.

In 1942 Hill took command of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, which was dropped at Souk El Arba, deep behind enemy lines in Tunisia. His orders were to secure the plain so that it could be used as a landing strip and then to take Beja, the road and rail centre 40 miles to the north east, in order to persuade the French garrison to fight on the Allied side.

To impress the French commander with the size of his unit, Hill marched the battalion through the town twice, first wearing helmets and then changing to berets. The Germans, hearing reports that a considerable British force had occupied Beja, responded by bombing the town.

On learning that a mixed force of Germans and Italians, equipped with a few tanks, was located at a feature called Gue, Hill put in a night attack. But a grenade in a sapper's sandbag exploded, setting off others, and there were heavy casualties when the element of surprise was lost.

Two companies carried out an immediate assault while Hill, with a small group, approached three light tanks. He put the barrel of his revolver through the observation port of the first tank and fired a single round. The Italian crew surrendered at once. He banged his thumbstick on the turret of the second tank, with the same result.

But when he used the method on the third tank, the German crew emerged, firing their weapons and throwing grenades. They were dealt with in short order, though Hill took three bullets in the chest. He was rushed to Beja, where Captain Robb of the 16th Parachute Field Ambulance operated on him and saved his life.

The citation for Hill's first DSO paid tribute to the brilliant handling of his force and his complete disregard of personal danger. The French recognised his gallantry with the award of the Légion d'Honneur.

Stanley James Ledger Hill, the son of Major-General Walter Hill, was born at Bath on March 14 1911. Young James went to Marlborough, where he was head of the OTC, and then won the Sword of Honour and became captain of athletics at Sandhurst.

Nicknamed "Speedy" because of the long strides he took as a tall man, he was commissioned into the Royal Fusiliers, with whom he served with the 2nd Battalion, and ran the regimental athletic and boxing teams.

In 1936 he left the Army to get married, and for the next three years worked in the family ferry company. On the outbreak of war Hill rejoined his regiment, and left for France in command of 2RF's advance party. He led a platoon on the Maginot Line for two months before being posted to AHQ as a staff captain.

In May 1940, Hill was a member of Field Marshal Viscount Gort's command post, playing a leading part in the civilian evacuation of Brussels and La Panne beach during the final phase of the withdrawal. He returned to Dover in the last destroyer to leave Dunkirk, and was awarded an MC.

Following promotion to major and a posting to Northern Ireland as DAAG, Hill was dispatched to Dublin to plan the evacuation of British nationals in the event of enemy landings. He booked into the Gresham Hotel, where several Germans were staying at the time.

Hill was one of the first to join the Parachute Regiment and after being wounded in Tunisia in 1942, he was evacuated to England. Although forbidden to take exercise in hospital, he used to climb out of his window at night to stroll around the gardens. Seven weeks later, he declared himself fit and, in December, he converted the 10th Battalion, Essex Regiment, to the 9th Parachute Battalion.

In April the following year, Hill took command of 3rd Parachute Brigade, consisting of the 8th and 9th Parachute Battalions and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, which he commanded on D-Day as part of the 6th Airborne Division.

Given the task of destroying the battery at Merville and blowing bridges over the River Dives to prevent the enemy bringing in reinforcements from the east, he completed the briefing of his officers with the warning: "Gentlemen, in spite of your excellent training and orders, do not be daunted if chaos reigns. It undoubtedly will."

Things began to go wrong straight away. Many of the beacons for marking the dropping zones were lost, and several of the aircraft were hit or experienced technical problems. Hill landed in the River Dives near Cabourg, some three miles from the dropping zone, and it took him several hours to reach dry land.

The terrain was criss-crossed with deep irrigation ditches in which some of his men, weighed down by equipment, drowned.

Since he did not trust radio, he kept in touch by driving around on a motorcycle, periodically being found directing traffic at crossroads by his advancing men. Near Sallenelles, Hill and a group of men of the 9th Parachute Battalion were accidentally bombed by Allied aircraft; 17 men were killed.

Hill was injured but, after giving morphia to the wounded, he reported to his divisional commander, who confirmed that the battery at Merville had been captured after a ferocious fight, and that Hill's brigade had achieved all its objectives.

Hill underwent surgery that afternoon, but refused to be evacuated and set up his headquarters at La Mesnil. Under his leadership, three weak parachute battalions held the key strategic ridge from Chateau St Côme to the outskirts of Troarn against repeated attacks from the German 346th Division.

On June 10 the 5th Battalion, Black Watch, was put under Hill's command. Two days later, when the 9th Parachute Battalion called for urgent reinforcements, Hill led a company of Canadian parachutists in a daring counter-attack.

The 12th Parachute Battalion, took Bréville, the pivotal position from which 346th Division launched their attacks on the ridge, albeit at great cost. Hill said afterwards that the enemy had sustained considerable losses of men and equipment and a great defensive victory had been won. He was awarded a Bar to his DSO.

The 3rd Parachute Brigade returned to England in September but three months later it was back on the front line, covering the crossings of the River Meuse. In the difficult conditions of the Ardennes and in organising offensive patrolling across the River Maas, Hill's enthusiasm was a constant inspiration to his men.

In March 1945 Hill commanded the brigade in Operation Varsity, the battle of the Rhine Crossing, before pushing on to Wismar on the Baltic, arriving on May 2, hours before the Russians.

He was wounded in action three times. He was awarded a second Bar to his DSO, and the American Silver Star.

Hill was appointed military governor of Copenhagen in May and was awarded the King Haakon VII Liberty Cross for his services. He commanded and demobilised the 1st Parachute Brigade before retiring from the Army in July in the rank of brigadier.

He was closely involved in the formation of the Parachute Regiment Association and, in 1947, he raised and commanded the 4th Parachute Brigade (TA).

The next year, Hill joined the board of Associated Coal & Wharf Companies and was president of the Powell Duffryn Group of companies in Canada from 1952 to 1958. He was managing director and chairman of Cory Brothers from 1958 to 1970.

In 1961, Hill became a director of Powell Duffryn and was vice-chairman of the company from 1970 to 1976. Among a number of other directorships, he was a director of Lloyds Bank from 1972 to 1979.

He was for many years a trustee of the Airborne Forces Security Fund and a member of the regimental council of the Parachute Regiment. In June 2004, he attended the 60th Anniversary of the Normandy landings.

A life-size bronze statue of him with his thumbstick, sited at Le Mesnil crossroads, the central point of the 3rd Parachute Brigade's defensive position on D-Day, was unveiled by the Prince of Wales, Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment.

James Hill married first, in 1937, Denys Gunter-Jones, with whom he had a daughter and, in 1986, Joan Haywood.

At Chichester in his final years he enjoyed pursuing his lifelong hobby of birdwatching.

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Death of Staff Sergeant Paul Eaton
10 Apr 06
It is with great regret that the Army must announce the death of Staff Sergeant Paul Eaton of The Scottish Transport Regiment (Volunteers). SSgt Eaton was fatally injured yesterday, Sunday 9 April 2006, after an incident while training with the Regiment's Blue Arrows Motorcycle Display Team.

Staff Sergeant Eaton
[Picture: Army]
Staff Sergeant Eaton, 45, joined the Scottish Transport Regiment RLC(V), based in Dunfermline, in 1998 when he was posted as the Regimental Sergeant Major for the last two years of an exemplary 22 year army career. His love of the army and the Regiment persuaded him, on retirement in 2000, to rejoin the Regiment as the Non-Regular Permanent Staff member responsible for the Regiment's transport fleet.

SSgt Eaton's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Couser, said:

"Paul was a man of unstinting loyalty and devotion whose dedication to the Regiment and its soldiers made him irreplaceable.  It goes without saying that as a well liked and respected member of a very close knit team he will be sorely missed."

In addition to his normal duties, Staff Sergeant Eaton's main contribution to the Regiment was managing, and performing with, the Blue Arrows, a motorcycle display team which has performed throughout the UK at military and private shows for over 30 years.

Of particular note in 2004 was the way in which Paul single-handedly regenerated the Blue Arrows after it virtually folded due to the deployment of many of the team's riders to Iraq on Operation TELIC. This achievement is undeniably due to the exceptional commitment, endeavour and leadership of Staff Sergeant Eaton and was recognised recently when he was awarded a Commander in Chief's Certificate of Commendation.

The thoughts and condolences of the Commanding Officer and all ranks of the Regiment are with Paul Eaton's family at this terribly sad time.


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Lt Richard Palmer of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards killed in Iraq
16 Apr 06
It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Lieutenant Richard Palmer of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards following an attack in Southern Iraq on Saturday, 15 April 2006.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
Whilst on a joint patrol with the Iraqi Army in the vicinity of Ad Dayr, the vehicle that Lieutenant Palmer was commanding was contacted by a roadside bomb. Despite the best efforts of his comrades and medical teams, he died of his wounds. Richard was single and came from Ware in Hertfordshire.

Richard Palmer was born into an Army family on 19th March 1979. His father served on attachment with The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and it was from this attachment, and the connections made during it, that Richard decided that he wanted to join the Regiment. After Haileybury School and Durham University, Richard attended The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. His time at Sandhurst was marked by his enormous popularity and his highly competent but relaxed style. He was soon recognised as an accomplished sportsman, representing the Combined Services at Rackets and Hockey.

Richard was commissioned into The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards on 8 August 2004 and joined the Regiment in Fallingbostel that Summer, joining D Squadron as a Troop Leader. During his Troop Leader's course he once again excelled in a relaxed and assured manner. He seemed to have a natural flair for tank commanding, remaining calm under pressure whilst dealing with a myriad of complications. He returned to Regimental Duty in time to assume command of his Troop as it begun its full training year to prepare it for operations. On training in Canada he proved to be an able tactician and an accomplished leader of men. He quickly became a popular member of the Squadron and forged strong relationships with all ranks.

On operations in Iraq, D Squadron has been attached to the Danish Battlegroup. Richard continued to lead his men with a firm but fair hand and had earned himself a reputation as one of our most promising young officers. Well-liked and respected in equal measure he was able to inspire his men to operate in high risk environments, always leading from the front. He was at the front of the troop when he was killed, leading them on a joint patrol with the Iraqi Army.

"His popularity within his Squadron cannot be underestimated."
Lt Col Ben Edwards, Commanding Officer
Lieutenant Colonel Ben Edwards, his Commanding Officer, said:

"Lieutenant Richard Palmer was one of my very best Young Officers. He was an intelligent, charming, talented yet incredibly modest individual. Despite having only served with the Regiment for just under two years he was widely regarded by soldier and officer alike as a star of the future.

"He had a dream start to an Army career; arriving just in time for a training season in Canada and then deploying on Operations. He demonstrated straight away that he was more than capable of commanding his Troop in testing situations on the Prairie, never betraying a lack of practical experience. He led his men through their pre-deployment training with his winning combination of leadership and friendship, creating deep loyalty within a tight knit team. On Operations he continued to display leadership qualities above and beyond those expected of a junior Lieutenant. His popularity within his Squadron cannot be underestimated. As part of the Danish Battlegroup he was experiencing international soldiering that would stand him in good stead in what seemed destined to be a glittering military career.

"Individuals such as Richard have made a tangible difference to the future of the people of Iraq. On a daily basis they put their lives at risk as they endeavour to improve the security situation within the country. He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him and we will ensure that his life has not been sacrificed in vain.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends; The Regiment has lost a great ambassador, a splendid soldier and a fine friend. We count ourselves as fortunate to have served with such a man."

Richard's father, Brigadier John Palmer, said the following about his son:

"Richard was a much loved son, grandson, brother, uncle and boyfriend, with a huge number of very good friends. He was enormously proud to be a soldier and in particular to be a member of the Royal Dragoon Guards.  He was very well aware of the dangers that he and others faced in Iraq, but he believed that the work they were doing was gradually making life better for the Iraqi people.

"Richard was a very talented and popular young man who achieved a lot in his life.  We are immensely proud of him – whilst nothing can make his loss any easier we are just thankful that the other members of his troop, of whom he thought so much, were not seriously injured.

"We are very grateful to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards for all the support we are receiving."

Adam Ingram MP, Minister for the Armed Forces, said:

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Lieutenant Richard Palmer – my thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this very difficult time."


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I found this on the back of the Regiment's ANZAC Day services leaflet, it was blowing in the wind in the compound today. Our Dawn service was conducted at pre-dawn on the 25th. Its kind of nice, and although specifically Australian, I feel it speaks for all Allied personnel who have gave their lives in all wars, but you decide for yourself.

It reads as follows:


I saw the going down of the sun on that ANZAC Day- the chaotic maelstrom of Australia's blooding! I fought in the frozen mud of the Somme and in a blazing destroyer exploding in the North Sea. I fought on the perimiter at Tobruk. I crashed in the flaming wreckage of a fighter in New Guinea and lived with the dammed in a place called Changi. I fought in the snow in Korea, and again in the jungles of Malaya, Borneo, South Vietnam and East Timor. In the deserts of Somalia, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. I was your mate, the kid across the street, the medical student graduate, the mechanic at the corner garage, the baker who brought you your bread. I was the gardener who cut your lawns, and the clerk who sent you your bills. I was a Private, a Naval Commander, an Air Force Bombardier. No man knows me! No name marks my tomb! For I am every Australian; I am the unknown soldier! I died for a cause I held just, in the service of my land, so that you and yours may stay in freedom, and I am proud to be Australian.

After that was said on a cool ANZAC Day morning, you could have heard a pin drop from a km away.

With the almost daily casualties coming out of various AOs in where our Allied soldiers serve, with only the changing of a few battle locations, and a few countries, this could be any of us, and in a way represents us all, from today back to the first conflicts our nations have endured.



big bad john

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First UK servicewoman dies in Iraq

First British servicewoman killed to be in action for 20 years Helicopter crashed in Basra after reportedly being hit by missile Four British servicemen also killed in the crash on Saturday Key quote
"I know there is a natural tendency when such awful events occur to speculate about possible causes. I would only caution that such speculation is not only unhelpful but can be very distressing to the loved ones of those involved." - Des Browne, Defence Secretary

Story in full
THE first British servicewoman to be killed in action for 20 years was among those who died in the helicopter crash in Iraq at the weekend.

Flight Lieutenant Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill, 32, and Wing Commander John Coxen, 46 - the highest-ranking British officer to be killed on active service in Iraq - were passengers in the Lynx helicopter which smashed into a two-storey house in the centre of Basra on Saturday, after it was reportedly hit by a missile or rocket.

Also killed were the pilot, Lieutenant Commander Darren Chapman, the co-pilot, Captain David Dobson, and a gunner, Marine Paul Collins.

The Ministry of Defence described Flt Lt Mulvihill, as an "ambitious and extremely competent" airwoman. She was on her second operational tour in Iraq. Her husband, Lee, is also in the Royal Air Force.

Her parents, Terry and Sue Poole, were informed of their daughter's death while on holiday in Spain. They have returned home.

The last British servicewoman to be killed in action was Ulster Defence Regiment Corporal Heather Kerrigan, 20, who was hit by an IRA landmine in Co Tyrone in 1984.

Iraqi police have said the helicopter was hit by either a missile or a rocket before it crashed into the empty house. Technology fitted to Lynx helicopters is believed to protect them from surface-to-air missiles, but not rocket-propelled grenades.

But yesterday, Des Browne, the newly-appointed Defence Secretary, refused to comment on whether the Lynx had been brought down by enemy action, saying a detailed Royal Military Police investigation and a full Board of Inquiry was under way.

He told the Commons: "I know there is a natural tendency when such awful events occur to speculate about possible causes. I would only caution that such speculation is not only unhelpful but can be very distressing to the loved ones of those involved."

Mr Browne also played down the significance of the disturbances in the hours after the tragedy and defended troops amid reports that a child was killed by British fire.

TV pictures showed Iraqis waving their arms and grinning in apparent jubilation before launching attacks on British personnel who tried to secure the crash site. Five Iraqis were reportedly killed when British troops responded after being attacked with stones, guns, petrol and blast bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. Two armoured vehicles were set on fire.

"It is entirely right that our troops take action to defend themselves in such circumstances," Mr Browne said. "British personnel fired baton rounds and a limited amount of live ammunition." Seven UK personnel were injured, but none sustained serious injuries, he said.

Mr Browne insisted southern Iraq was not "rising up" against the UK, requiring troops to be withdrawn immediately. But a second night of curfew was imposed yesterday amid fears British forces may face further recriminations from the local population.

In total, 109 British service personnel have died since the start of hostilities in Iraq. One other servicewoman died while in Iraq, but that was not through enemy fire.

The five soldiers will be given a full military funeral at St Bartholomew's Memorial Church, Yeovilton, next week.

'Best friend and beloved wife'
FLT Lt Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill, who was on her second operational tour in Iraq when she was killed, was last night described by her husband as a "most wonderful person".

Lee Mulvihill said: "Sarah was my best friend and my most beloved wife. She was also an adored daughter and sister, highly loved and respected by all who had the pleasure of knowing her.

"Her love of sport and outdoor activities was only outshone by her commitment to the Royal Air Force, of which she and I are extremely proud to be part.

"Her loss has greatly affected more people than anyone can comprehend."

The 32-year-old flight operations officer and her husband were based at RAF Benson in south Oxfordshire.

Group Captain Duncan Welham, her station commander, paid tribute to her. "Sarah was one of the Royal Air Force's finest: courageous, upbeat and unselfish, a dedicated officer who will be missed by us all.

"While at RAF Benson, Sarah's lively character and commitment to colleagues and friends made her extremely popular in the workplace and across the wider station community.

"There was nothing she would not tackle and her contribution to all aspects of life and work was actively sought, valued and appreciated. She was a keen sportswoman who enjoyed running, rowing and football."

Flt Lt Mulvihill joined the RAF as an airwoman and was first posted to Iraq in 2003. A keen runner, she often outran her male colleagues on morning fitness sessions.

Flt Lt Mulvihill's parents, Terry and Sue Poole, were informed of their daughter's death while on holiday in Spain and are now staying with their son in Dover.

A neighbour said: "She was in the cadets when she was younger and this was all she ever wanted to do. It was the lifestyle she dreamed of."

An MoD spokesman said: "Sarah-Jayne was keen to put her knowledge and experience to the test and she returned to Iraq in the operations officer role earlier this year."

Last night Gladys Snell, a neighbour of Flt Lt Mulvihill's family in Herne Bay, Kent, said: "I have known her since she was a little girl of about nine or ten.

"She was a lovely girl, so bubbly and she quite clearly loved what she did in her career."

"It was something she had wanted to do from a young age. She obviously didn't live round here anymore but she would often come back to visit her family.

"She never gave the impression of being worried. She loved what she did and it is so awful to hear this news."

'Humble and courageous' man
WING Commander John Coxen was "a unique individual" whose reputation in the Royal Air Force was "second to none", his senior officer said yesterday.

Wing Cmdr Coxen, 46, from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, was a passenger on the helicopter on Operation Telic when it was shot down.

Group Captain Duncan Welham, station commander at the base, said: "John's reputation across the Support Helicopter Force and Royal Air Force was second to none.

"He was a unique individual, humble and courageous. The world will be sadder place without him."

He added: "A true professional at work in all that he touched, he was outwardly quiet, but always had a twinkle in his eye that gave away a mischievous and dry sense of humour.

"He could always see the fun in any situation. A truly devoted husband, John enjoyed family life to the full with his wife Agnes and will be sadly missed."

Originally from Liverpool, Wing Cmdr Coxen joined the RAF in 1983.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "Well-known for his high standards, he had a gift for developing his students to their full potential; indeed, many of today's front-line Royal Air Force helicopter pilots owe their achievements to his dedication and skill."

He added: "Throughout his time at the front-line, John developed a persona that was greatly respected and well-liked by all who flew with him, peers and students alike."

On promotion to his current rank, Wing Cmdr Coxen had worked at the Ministry of Defence where his duties included the development of defence policy for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Outgoing entertainer enriched people's lives
LIEUTENANT Commander Darren Chapman, 40, was the Commanding Officer of 847 Naval Air Squadron.

The married father of three was a "consummate professional" and a "larger than life character" with a tremendous ability to make people laugh, according to Royal Marines Colonel John McCardle.

His family said in a statement they were "deeply shocked and devastated" at his death. They added: "He was a fantastic father, husband, son and friend who was deeply committed to family life; always there for those who needed him.

"Outgoing, gregarious and always joking, he was the consummate entertainer who touched and enriched many people's lives. He adored flying in the service and we can rest assured that he died doing the job that he so loved."

Thoughtful young man who followed a dream
PAUL Collins, 21, the door gunner, had dreamed of being in the Commandos since he was ten, his family said yesterday. In a statement released through the MoD, his parents said he recovered from a bad motorbike crash to fulfil that dream, and was never happier than with his "brothers in arms".

Originally from Devon, he joined the Royal Marines in June 2003. He was serving with 847 Naval Air Squadron.

His parents said: "Paul was a wonderful young man and so full of potential and zest for life. He was physically and mentally strong, though this was tempered by an intelligent, thoughtful and caring nature."

An impressive and enthusiastic pilot
CAPTAIN David Dobson, 27, known as "Dobbo" to colleagues, only joined his squadron two months ago but had already shown himself to be an impressive young pilot, his commanding officer said yesterday.

Based with 847 Naval Air Squadron at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, he was a keen sportsman who played basketball and cricket for the services.

Royal Marines Colonel John McCardle, Commanding Officer, Commando Helicopter Force, said: "Extremely well-respected, he approached all his duties with tremendous levels of enthusiasm, displaying a positive attitude and ready cheerfulness."


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Thanks BBJ for the above info on the Lynx being shot down and for giving us an insight to who these personnel were.



big bad john

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Private Joseva Lewaicei and Private Adam Morris killed in Iraq
15 May 06
It is with deepest regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of Private Joseva Lewaicei, 25, and Private Adam Morris, 19, both of The 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment.

Both men died as a result of injuries sustained from a roadside bomb at approximately 2345hrs local time in Basra City, Southern Iraq, on 13 May 2006. The two riflemen were on a routine patrol when the incident occurred.

Private Joseva Lewaicei

Private Joseva 'Lewi' Lewaicei (pronounced 'Lewethi'), was born on 29 April 1981 in Lautoka, Fiji. Lewi grew up in Fiji but decided early on, like many of his friends, to join the British Army.

He joined The 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, known as 'The Poachers', in May 2002 at the age of 21. Since then he served as a rifleman in Afghanistan between June and October 2003 as part of the enduring ISAF commitment and for two years in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland on a roulement tour. He also served in Jordan and Iraq, particularly enjoying the amount of time he spent in helicopters on both occasions.

Members of his platoon will remember him fondly as a reliable and professional soldier as well as being someone who could make them laugh. He was the first Fijian to join the Battalion, and was planning to take some of his friends to the South Pacific to show them his home, Paradise Island. He was proud of his job in the Army and his efficient style was an example to others.

He was good company; his colleagues describing him as the soul of the platoon. He was also protective of them all and somebody others would turn to for help. One dyslexic soldier described how Lewi would assist him with his written English by checking the spelling in letters to his girlfriend.

He was the father of a 7-year old daughter in Fiji. Universally popular he will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues.

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Des O’Driscoll, said:

"Private Lewaicei was a valued and well-regarded member of C Company and was known as a fun loving and exuberant character. He was a keen sportsman and had represented the Battalion in both Rugby and Boxing. He was an exceptional rugby full back regularly impressing those who saw him play, and was once offered a professional contract.

"Immensely strong, his colleagues will remember with some glee the day he was finally beaten in an arm wrestle by their platoon sergeant, although he always maintained he let him win.

"Our sympathy goes out to his family at this terrible time; we are deeply saddened at his tragic loss; he will be sorely missed by his friends and the wider regimental family."

Private Adam Morris

Private Adam Peter Morris, nicknamed 'Borris', was born on 24 September 1986. He lived in Leicester with his mother Linder and attended the local college before joining the British Army at the age of 17. He was single.

Private Morris completed his basic training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick in 2004. He then joined C Company 2 Royal Anglian in Northern Ireland, serving as a rifleman during a two year roulement tour in Ballykelly.

Despite being a junior soldier he had already been identified as having great potential. His colleagues anticipated that he would make Platoon sergeant at the very least. He was noted for his sheer professionalism and reliability, and on a recent tactics and leadership course he passed out as best student. Whilst exercising in Jordan he took over the role of a non-commissioned officer where he rose to the challenge and acquitted himself with composure.

He was a sociable individual with a good sense of humour. He made time for others and would raise morale by telling jokes and playing the fool, belying his true intelligence and passion for the military. He was happy to be in Iraq and getting on with his job.

During a period of ceremonial duty at the funeral for HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester in November 2004 he was particularly pleased when members of the Royal family spoke to him personally, complementing him on his turnout and appearance.

He will be remembered as a friend and a most accomplished soldier. His loss has touched and greatly saddened all those who had the honour to know him.

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Des O’Driscoll, said:

"Adam joined the battalion in Northern Ireland and rapidly made his mark as an energetic and thoroughly professional young soldier. He undoubtedly had a bright future ahead of him. Although Private Morris had only been with 'The Poachers' for just under two years, he was one of our most promising young soldiers and had a fine career ahead of him.

"Always one of the keenest and most attentive soldiers in the Company he stood out from many of his peers. At times teased for his military knowledge, he had an inquiring mind and a desire to learn.

"He was well-liked and respected by all the company for his resolve. He had suffered a leg injury late in 2005 but fought his way back to fitness, determined that he must deploy on operations in Iraq alongside his many friends. Always 'Army barmy' he even found a camouflage cover for the cast on his leg.

"Adam’s loss has touched and saddened all of us who had the honour to know him. Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time; He will be sorely missed by his friends and by the wider regiment."



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Two soldiers from the Queen's Dragoon Guards killed and two injured.