Second soldier this week dies in Afghanistan


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The Independent Online

A second soldier has been killed in Afghanistan this week, the Ministry of Defence said today.

The soldier from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment was killed during an operation to disrupt insurgent activity in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province. His family has been told.

The death was announced after the MoD named a soldier killed in a grenade blast on Wednesday as Lance Corporal James Ashworth from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

The soldier is the 419th member of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Ian Lawrence said: "It is with deep sorrow that I must confirm that a soldier from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment has been killed by enemy action whilst deployed on operations in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province.

"The thoughts of all within Task Force Helmand are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

The death is just two days after L/Cpl Ashworth was killed in a grenade blast while on patrol in the north of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand Province on Wednesday. He died despite receiving immediate medical treatment.

The family of the 23-year-old from Kettering, Northamptonshire, said: "We are devastated by the loss of our son, brother, uncle and boyfriend.

"He meant the world to everyone and has left an irreplaceable hole in our hearts. We ask that we are given time to grieve and we sincerely thank everyone for their condolences."

L/Cpl Ashworth's father Duane served as a Grenadier Guard and his brother Coran, 21, is currently serving with the Army in Northern Ireland.

He lived with his mother Kerryann and his girlfriend Emily in Kettering, and also leaves sisters Lauren and Paige, brother Karl and four-year-old niece Darcy.

L/Cpl Ashworth was killed trying to protect his colleagues, said Captain Mike Dobbin, Commander of Reconnaissance Platoon, Nijmegen Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

"L/Cpl Ashworth was killed while fighting his way through compounds, leading his fire team from the front, whilst trying to protect his men and he showed extraordinary courage to close on a determined enemy.

"His professionalism under pressure and ability to remain calm in what was a chaotic situation is testament to his character.

"L/Cpl Ashworth was a pleasure to command and I will sorely miss his calming influence on the battlefield. Softly spoken, he stepped up to every task thrown in his direction."

He said the platoon had lost a "strong commander, outstanding soldier and dear friend".

L/Cpl Ashworth joined the Army at the age of 17 and completed a stint of ceremonial duty in London after joining Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards. He spent three years with the Guards' Parachute Platoon, part of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, deploying in Afghanistan with them.

He returned to the Grenadiers, serving in Canada with The Queen's Company before moving to the Reconnaissance Platoon. He played for his battalion's football team, most recently during a French military tour, as well as a local team when at home.

L/Cpl Ashworth had recently been promoted to the role of non commissioned officer.

Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said: "L/Cpl Ashworth was an outstanding soldier whose loss has moved us all.

"A real self-starter, he excelled in everything that he undertook. Fit, strong and brilliant at his job, he set the bar very high.

"Indeed, such was his calmness under pressure, his charisma, and his selflessness that he made an exemplary junior leader."

He said the regiment would "never forget this quite exceptional man".

Colour Sergeant Andy Austin, Second in Command of Reconnaissance Platoon, Nijmegen Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said: "His great love of the beautiful game was shared by myself and others in the platoon.

"After every match day in the Premier League we would discuss the day's events with great interest, especially the fortunes of his beloved Tottenham Hotspur - these conversations I will miss terribly.

"This was a man destined for great things in the Army and whose potential I watched flourish in the platoon."

Guardsman Gareth Loftus, Reconnaissance Platoon, Nijmegen Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, added: "Selfless, brave, courageous - words like these don't come close to what Ash demonstrated that day.

"He will be missed by all as a commander but most of all a good mate."