Colleagues pay tribute to marine killed on Christmas Eve

Commando becomes 136th British soldier to die on duty in Afghanistan
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The Independent Online

The family of a British serviceman killed in Afghanistan were yesterday coming to terms with the reality that they will never spend another Christmas with him, as his comrades went out on patrol to "maintain momentum against the enemy".

The Royal Marine, from 42 Commando, died on Christmas Eve after coming under Taliban fire at Nad-e-Ali, north-west of Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand.

His family was informed of his death later that night. The Ministry of Defence delayed making the man's name public to allow his relatives time to grieve in private. A spokesman for Nato forces in Afghanistan, Captain Mark Windsor of the Royal Navy, said: "We are saddened by this brave serviceman's death and our deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones, especially during this holiday season.

"This dedicated professional risked his life to help bring security and stability to the people of Afghanistan. The International Security Assistance Force will continue to fight for the cause for which this brave serviceman gave his life." The marine, based at Plymouth, was the 136th British serviceman to die in Afghanistan since the invasion of October 2001, and the 11th Royal Marine to be killed in the past two months.

Meanwhile, the funeral of Marine Damian Davies, who was one of three killed in a suspected suicide bombing by a 13-year-old boy earlier this month, was also held on Christmas Eve. Commander Paula Rowe, a spokeswoman for British forces in Helmand, said: "The death of this marine is a tragic loss. Coming so close to Christmas it is particularly poignant. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this dreadfully sad time." Every effort was made to enable troops far from home to join in the festivities. At Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand, there were tinsel-strewn trees, Santa hats and a traditional dinner of turkey, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, Christmas pudding and mince pies, produced at a cost of just £3.42 per meal, for 2,500 personnel. In keeping with military tradition, officers served the junior ranks. Their colleagues in Iraq spent their last Christmas in the country, with a formal withdrawal due in about six months.