British soldier killed in Afghanistan is named

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The Independent Online

A British soldier killed in Afghanistan by a mine explosion was named today as Lance Corporal James Johnson, 31, of B Company, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Lance Corporal Johnson, who was engaged, was attending to a report of an attack on a civilian aircraft when an anti-personnel mine detonated, killing him instantly.

His death takes to 110 the number of British service personnel who have lost their lives since the start of operations in Afghanistan in November 2001.

His partner, Bernadette Broadley, said: "He was my best friend and my fiance.

"I am very, very proud of him being a brave soldier.

"I want him to be remembered for who and what he was."

Lance Corporal Johnson, who was known as Jimmy, joined the 1st Battalion the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1997.

He served with the Close Observation Platoon (COP) in Belfast from 2001 to 2003 before qualifying as a Sniper Section Commander.

He served on a tour of Bosnia in 2005 and later with the Heavy Machine Gun Platoon before transferring to B Company for Op Herrick 8 in Afghanistan.

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel David Richmond, said: "Lance Corporal Johnson has made the ultimate sacrifice. A superb soldier and junior commander, he died doing the job he loved, among men who held him in the highest regard.

"He set the pace among his peers with his fitness, outstanding infantry and leadership abilities, native wit and sense of perspective.

"He was loved and respected by everyone he served with and will be remembered for his humanity, the time he always had for people whatever the pressures on himself, his keen sense of humour and, above all, his professionalism."

Lance Corporal Johnson also leaves behind a mother Connie and a daughter, Shannon.

Lieutenant Colonel Richmond said: "My thoughts and sympathies and those of all ranks of the battalion are with his fiancee Bernadette, his daughter Shannon and his family. He will be deeply mourned, but never forgotten.

"We have lost one of our best - a true air assault infantryman, a gentleman, friend and colleague with spark, wit and courage.

"The courage and commitment that he showed every day in Helmand Province has been an inspiration to us all.

"I have been immensely proud to have commanded Jimmy Johnson on operations and humbled by the sacrifice he has made."

Friends and colleagues lined up to pay tribute to Lance Corporal Johnson, who was killed by what is believed to have been a "legacy" anti-personnel mine which may have been left over from the Soviet occupation of the country.

Company Commander Major Harry Clark said: "Despite his reputation as a highly professional soldier, everything he did was laced with humility.

"Above all, Jimmy was a good man and the world is a darker place for his absence."

Platoon sergeant and friend Scotty McFadden said: "A quiet man in his day-to-day life with a heart of gold, nothing was ever too much trouble if you needed help.

"When it came to nights on the town, Jimmy was the ultimate party animal. He was no longer the quiet man - quite the opposite - the life and soul.

"Jimmy was a soldier first and foremost but he was also a very good friend and will be sorely missed."

June has been a devastating month for British troops in Afghanistan with the second highest death toll in a month since operations there began.

The death of Lance Corporal Johnson took the number of fatalities this month to 13.

It is the worst loss of life for British troops since September 2006 when 19 servicemen died, 14 of them when a Nimrod MR2 aircraft crashed.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "Lance Corporal James Johnson was a highly respected, talented and committed soldier who, along with all of the brave men and women we have deployed on operations, was making a vital contribution to defending our country.

"His loss will be felt most keenly by all who knew him and my deepest condolences are with his family and colleagues at this painful time."