Deadly toll in Afghanistan heaps pressure on Brown

Three 18-year-olds on their first tour of duty named among the six killed on bloodiest day of fighting against Taliban

Three 18-year-old soldiers on their first tour of duty have been named as the victims of the most deadly attack on British forces in Afghanistan.

They died trying to save their comrades in an ambush which claimed the lives of two other members of their platoon and severely injured five others.

The soldiers from The Rifles regiment were part of a 30-man team searching enemy country in the Wishtan area early on Friday when a bomb ripped through the 15ft-high walls of a compound. While a medical team was being flown in by helicopter, the men pulled back to regroup and were caught in the next part of the attack – a second bomb ignited by a "daisy chain" mechanism.

The details of eight British fatalities which occurred in the bloodiest 24 hours British forces have encountered in this war emerged as Gordon Brown was once again forced to defend the conduct of the campaign amid a rising tide of accusations and recriminations.

The Opposition and senior former military commanders charged the Government with failing to send troop reinforcements and provide adequate armoured vehicles and helicopters.

The human cost on the ground was highlighted yesterday when the Ministry of Defence named the men who had fallen during a period of fierce fighting, in which British and American forces took on the Taliban in the heartland of the insurgency.

They were Rifleman William Aldridge, Rifleman James Backhouse, Rifleman Joseph Murphy, all aged 18, Rifleman Daniel Simpson, 20, and Corporal Jonathan Horne, 28, from 2nd Battalion The Rifles.

Rifleman Murphy died while trying to drag Rifleman Simpson to safety. Rifleman Aldridge and Corporal Horne were trying to help other injured personnel. Rifleman Backhouse had gone ahead to clear a path.

Corporal Lee Scott, 26, from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, died in another explosion near Nad-e-Ali.

The offensive in Helmand is exacting a heavy toll on the coalition – 11 Americans and two Canadians also died in the past week. Senior British defence sources say that about 190 Taliban fighters have been killed in the British end of the operation, with about 60 more, many of them foreign fighters, still putting up resistance.

In London the Prime Minister paid tribute to the fallen. "I know that this has been a difficult summer – it is going to be a difficult summer," he said. "I think the operation we are engaged with is showing signs of success. Our troops are making progress."

The Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, said simply providing more helicopters would not solve the problem: "What we are trying to do is to give people a complete range of vehicles to do the various jobs they need to do. People believe we can somehow remove the risk, that we can prevent death in this kind of operational environment – we can't."

US President Barack Obama, said his "heart went out" to the families of those killed and praised Britain's contribution to the effort in Afghanistan: "Great Britain has played an extraordinary role in this coalition. The contribution of the British is critical."

Rifleman Aldridge, from Bromyard, Hertfordshire, was 17 years old when he signed up to the Army. He was described as being "fiercely proud" of the fact he was one of the youngest British soldiers in Helmand.

His mother, Lucy, said he was the "perfect" son. "The family can't pay William or his comrades who died with him a big enough tribute," she said.

Commanding officer of C Company, Major Alistair Field, said Rifleman Aldridge had come to his aid after the first explosion. "We were both injured and in shock together but he comforted me with his patience and kind words," Major Field said. "Sadly his life was snatched by another explosion."

Rifleman Backhouse, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, could always be relied on and was quick to volunteer for any task, said Major Field.

Rifleman Murphy, from Birmingham, a devoted Aston Villa fan, was described by officers in his unit as a "a star in the waiting". His parents, Brian and Jill, said: "Joe died doing the job he loved whilst serving his country. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his comrades in Afghanistan."

Rifleman Simpson, 20, from Croydon, south London, had an eight-month-old son, Alfie. A statement on behalf of his parents, Debrah and Robert, and brothers Lee and Jimmy, said: "Daniel Simpson was a larger than life character, sometimes a bit of a handful and always full of surprises."

Cpl Horne, 28, from Walsall, West Midlands, joined the Army in 2004. He had also served in Iraq – where he was wounded in action – and in Kosovo. He leaves his wife Rachel, daughters Frankie and Jessica, as well as his parents and three brothers.

Mrs Horne said: "A sad farewell to my wonderful husband who was a devoted father, husband and a loving son. We will miss you more than words could ever describe."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape