Tributes to soldiers 'who died doing jobs they loved'

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The Independent Online

The families of two soldiers who were killed in Iraq have paid tribute to them. Fusilier Donal Meade, 20, and Fusilier Stephen Manning, 22, of C Company, 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, were killed when the Land Rover they were travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb in Zubayr.

Their deaths bring the number of British military personnel killed in the Gulf to 95 with no sign that the conflict in the southern sector is ending, and increased fear of civil war across the country.

Fusilier Meade's relatives said: "The family are tremendously proud of Donal and couldn't ask for a better son. Donal will be deeply missed, but we take comfort in that he died doing a job he loved."

Fusilier Manning's family echoed the sentiment, describing him as a loving son and grandson. "He was proud to be a soldier and died doing the job he loved."

The two soldiers - both volunteers who were just weeks from finishing their tour in October - were standing "top cover" in an armoured Land Rover which was part of a two-vehicle convoy. They were five miles east of the British logistics headquarters in Shaibah, south-west of Basra on Monday when the bomb exploded.

Fusilier Meade, from Plumstead in south-east London but born in Plymouth, Montserrat, had been with the regiment for three years, serving in Northern Ireland and Iraq.

Major Matthew Thorp, the officer commanding C Company in Basra, said: "Those who knew him best and closest were most aware of his fantastic sense of humour, his ability to laugh or crack a joke in any situation. He will be sorely missed by us all."

Fusilier Manning, from Erith, south-east London, had been with the regiment for two years, serving in Belfast and Iraq.

Major Thorp described him as a young man known for his cheerfulness and generosity of spirit, adding: "It was typical of Fusilier Manning's love of his profession and dedication that he volunteered to deploy with C Company to Iraq in April. At the end of the six-month tour he was due to return to D Company, and was looking forward to a bright future and life with the battalion in Cyprus."

As soldiers with 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, they had been working within the Coldstream Guards battle group in Basra since April. The unit, based in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, is responsible for security at Basra Palace in increasingly high temperatures, escorting the United Nations mission and supporting the Iraqi police during certain duties.

Lt-Col John Whitwam MBE, their commanding officer, said: "The whole of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers mourns the tragic loss of these two fine young men."

He added: "Both enjoyed the excitement, the sense of purpose and the camaraderie. They understood the dangers but were proud to be soldiers and recognised that they were doing a difficult, occasionally thankless but always worthwhile job. We offer our sincere condolences to their families."

While the British sector suffers less insurgent violence than the north, there have been sporadic outbreaks of attacks, particularly in the Amarah area. There is continued fear of civil war across the country and this latest attack will revive allegations that insurgents have refined their bombs by importing material and expertise from Iran.

It was the second roadside bomb attack on a British convoy in the Basra area in six weeks. On 30 July, a former Royal Ulster Constabulary officer was among two Control Risks Group security guards killed by a roadside bomb in Basra. Ken Hull, 48, was protecting diplomatic staff from the British consulate when their convoy was hit. Minutes later a second blast injured two children who were among onlookers at the scene.

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