Afghanistan soldier hailed at funeral

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The Independent Online

A soldier who died in hospital after being shot in Afghanistan was "a tiny man with a huge heart", a commanding officer said today at his funeral.

Kingsman Darren Deady, 22, from Bolton, Lancs, was injured in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand Province on August 23.

He died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, on September 10.

Hundreds of people lined the streets outside the St John the Evangelist Church on Chorley Road, Westhoughton, to pay tribute to the soldier, from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South).

His mother, Julie Deady, told the congregation his death had broken her heart.

In a statement read on her behalf, she said: "To my son Darren, my heart is broken and there is no going back "I've packed all your bits, including a letter I sent to you that you didn't receive.

"Your mobile phone is to call me if you can, like you used to do on Sunday or Monday at 4pm to catch up with the family news.

"I still hear you calling and hear those parting words: "I love you mum." And I would say: "I love you son, see you later."

"I would so love to hear your voice again."

The church heard that Kingsman Deady lived life "in the fast lane" and had a passion for singing and motorbikes.

"People are saying I must be so proud, well I am.

"I am also proud of your brothers from other mothers, and I now they will keep us safe.

"It was a privilege to have a son like you.

"Goodbye is a word I never use, it is so final, so I will see you later," she added.

Lt Col Andrew Kennedy, commanding officer of the 4th battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's regiment, said he was a "superb soldier."

"He was trusted, respected and an example to others.

"He was the life and soul, with his trademark cheeky grin and everyone's best mate.

"He was a tiny man with a huge heart," he said.

Kingsman Deady joined the army after leaving school aged 16 in October 2008.

On the day he was wounded, during his second tour of Afghanistan, he was protecting a "vital location" when he came under fire, according to the MoD.

His friends gave him first aid and he was evacuated to hospital at Camp Bastion before being flown to Birmingham.

Kingsman Deady's family were at his bedside when he died.

The service, with full military honours, included the hymn I Vow To Thee My Country and the Puff Daddy song I'll Be Missing You.

It was followed by a burial in the grounds of the church.

The coffin, draped in the British flag, was lowered into the ground before the last post sounded.

Two members of the soldier's battalion wept as a minute's silence was observed in memory of their fallen comrade, before mourners approached the graveside and cast earth over his coffin.