Moving tributes were paid last night to the six young British soldiers killed by a Taliban bomb in Afghanistan on Tuesday. Their commanding officer said the men – four of whom had yet to turn 21 – were "fallen brothers".
Four of those who died came from the neighbouring West Yorkshire towns of Huddersfield and Dewsbury, and the nearby city of Bradford. Among them was Private Anthony Frampton, 20. Known to his comrades in the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, as Framps, he was described as a fit and carefree soldier who was the life and soul of his platoon.
"Behind his cheeky nature lay a truly dedicated infantry soldier, who was committed and brave; a true legend among his peers," said Lieutenant-Colonel Zac Stenning.
Pte Frampton, from Huddersfield, had deployed to Helmand province on 14 February and was described by his mother, Margaret Charlesworth, as her "little Afghan hero". He tried to allay her fears for his safety in a series of telephone calls and Facebook messages. On the day he left for Afghanistan, he wrote: "I'll be fine mum trust me xxxx."
A week later, he added: "Hey mum hope u r OK. Am missing u so much. Can't wait to come home and have only been here 7 days [laugh out loud]. Try not 2 worry mum love you so much!"
Private Daniel Wilford, 21, also from Huddersfield, was just 16 when he enlisted. He was known as Wilf and he was praised as "honest and dedicated". Lt-Col Stenning said: "His smile would light up any room."
Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, from Dewsbury, had been in the Army for three years. Known to friends as JJ, he was praised as a "natural leader" and a future Regimental Sergeant-Major. Cpl Hartley had risen rapidly through the ranks and finished top on a gruelling battle course for infantry section commanders. Paul Levey, his former headteacher at Earlsheaton Technology College, said Cpl Hartley would be remembered as "a vibrant, lively, unassuming, good-natured and very determined boy".
The youngest to die was Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19, from Bradford, who joined up because he loved the outdoor life. He was said to be a "true Yorkshire warrior" who had been marked out as a rising star because of his fitness and passion to improve.
Relatives and friends tied balloons and laid flowers outside the home of Pte Daniel Wade, 20, in Warrington, Cheshire. Friends said he was excited at the prospect of becoming a father with his girlfriend Emma, who is pregnant with a baby girl. Pte Wade, who had a passion for motorbikes, had joined the battalion only recently but left a "real mark" on his colleagues, his senior officer said. The platoon commander on the fatal mission was Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, of the 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment. He had recently moved to a new home in Lytham, St Annes, Lancashire, with his wife and child. The couple had met at school in the seaside town and lived close to Sgt Coupe's parents. "He was proud to be a Lancashire soldier in a Yorkshire Battalion," said Lt-Col Stenning.
The fallen soldiers
Pte Daniel Wilford, 21
Signed up aged 16 but left after five weeks. Rejoined a year later.
Pte Daniel Wade, 20
His fiancée Emma Hickman, 19, is expecting their baby in June.
Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19
A close friend, Rifleman Sheldon Steel, was killed in a bomb blast in November.
Cpl Jake Hartley, 20
A 'natural leader', he died four days before his 21st birthday.
Pte Anthony Frampton, 20
On the day he left barracks he wrote home: "I'll be fine mum trust me."
Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33
Married with a young child. Was on secondment to Yorkshire Regiment.