Returning soldiers parade through London

Click to follow

A Royal Marine who was shot dead in southern Afghanistan was named yesterday as Sergeant Steven William Darbyshire, 35.

Sgt Darbyshire, who had two children and was from Wigan, in Greater Manchester, was shot by insurgents on Wednesday while on patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province. He was the fourth member of 40 Commando to die in four days.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards paraded through central London yesterday, from Wellington Barracks to the Guards Memorial on Horse Guards Parade, in remembrance of their comrades who died in Afghanistan. Some of the men marched, some wheeled while others were pushed. Many had just returned from operations.

Since British troops deployed to Afghanistan, 1,282 of them have been wounded in action, 378 are suffering life-changing injuries such as amputations or wounds which will require years of surgery.

Yesterday the Ministry of Defence announced that four British soldiers had died near Gereshk, in Helmand province.

Three of them were soldiers from 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment and one a member of 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.

Part of a police advisory team, they were "travelling to assist in an incident at a nearby checkpoint", the MoD said, when their Ridgeback armoured vehicle rolled off a road and became trapped underwater. Their comrades were unable to rescue the men from the deep and rapidly flowing Nar-e-Bughra canal, which irrigates much of central Helmand.

Their deaths took the toll of British fatalities in Afghanistan to 307, including 18 killed this month.

Speaking in Canada yesterday, David Cameron braced the British public for the loss of more servicemen's lives this summer, during Helmand's "fighting season". Speaking to reporters during his flight to the G8 and G20 summits, the Prime Minister said: "There is no doubt we have had a difficult few weeks in terms of casualties and it will be a difficult summer."

Mr Cameron, who was briefed on the road accident by officials before he boarded the plane, described it as a "completely tragic case".

""We are paying a very high price for what we are doing in Afghanistan," he said. "But we remain absolutely committed to making sure we build up the Afghans' own capability so that they can take responsibility for their country's security and then coming home. We would be in a worse situation if we were to suddenly change track now, pull our forces out and see a country that is seeing a bit more stability track backwards into instability and support for terror.

"My heart goes out to the comrades of those who have fallen, to their families and their loved ones," the Prime Minister added.

The UK has 9,000 troops in Afghanistan, with US and British troops conducting joint operations against the Taliban in Helmand province.