Soldier who died from wounds at Camp Bastion named as James Townley


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A soldier who died from wounds suffered in a shooting incident in Afghanistan has been described by his family as their “guardian angel” and “hero”.

Captain James Townley, 29, from the Corps of Royal Engineers, died in Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan from wounds sustained while serving at forward operating base Shawqat on Friday.

His family said in a statement: "James was a wonderful, loving and caring son and brother.

"He was devoted to his girlfriend, Helen.

"He was our guardian angel and our hero. We were so proud of him. He touched every part of our lives and his loss has left a huge chasm that we can never fill.

"James will never be forgotten and always in our hearts and thoughts."

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Captain Townley's death was not thought to be the result of hostile action, though an investigation into the circumstances was continuing.

Capt Townley's death comes after 38-year-old Sergeant Jonathan Kups, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, (Reme) died on Friday at Camp Bastion.

The MoD said the death of Sgt Kups, who was from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was also not thought to be the result of hostile action, but that an investigation into the circumstances was continuing.

Capt Townley, who was born in Tunbridge Wells and grew up near Glastonbury, in Somerset, leaves parents Peter and Jacqui, his brother Nick, and girlfriend Helen.

He was due to have turned 30 years old on Saturday.

He was on his third tour of Afghanistan and was described by colleagues as "unbelievably clever" and a person who combined "consummate professionalism" with a personable humorous and approachable character.

Lieutenant Col Chas Story, commanding officer, 28 Engineer Regiment, said: "James was an exceptional officer, a great character and unbelievably clever.

"The Regiment is devastated that such a bright light has gone out - everyone knew him and it was impossible not to be drawn in by his passion and humour.

"He was on his third tour of Afghanistan and a volunteer for all three. He joined to be a soldier and he was determined to make the most of all the opportunities he could.

"The regiment will be a poorer place without James.

"In this painful time our thoughts remain with his family, his girlfriend Helen and all his friends. He was an outstanding individual and throughout his life he has made a massive difference to all those he encountered. He will never be forgotten."

Capt Townley, who was awarded a first-class degree in engineering and computer science from University College, Oxford, worked as a tax associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers before attending the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in January 2007.

He was described as an avid sportsman who enjoyed a wide variety of sports including skiing, mountain biking, kite surfing, sailing and rowing.

Capt Townley was deployed to Afghanistan on September 5 with 4 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 21 Engineer Regiment and was based in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province as the battle group engineer supporting 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment.

Upon arrival, he immediately immersed himself in operations that directly supported the transition to Afghan-led security, providing specialist advice on engineer tasks and capabilities, the MoD said, and quickly established himself as a "professional and charismatic" officer.

The MoD added that during his time with 28 Engineer Regiment he "shone" as an intelligent, experienced and highly competent individual who had great plans for the future.

"With unrivalled commitment to his soldiers, he combined consummate professionalism and ability with a personable, humorous and approachable character," it said in a statement.

"Extremely popular with his fellow officers, Captain Townley lived life to the full and was at the heart of the regiment both professionally and socially.

"Above everything else, he will be remembered for his selfless commitment to every undertaking, his strength of character and his faultless integrity."

Lieutenant Colonel Jack Nicholson, commanding officer, 21 Engineer Regiment, said: "Captain James Townley was an enthusiastic, professional and extremely likeable young officer who made friends easily.

"Back in Afghanistan for his third tour, he had worked hard to prepare for the deployment and was looking forward to getting to grips with the challenges that lay ahead.

"In the time that I have known him, he was always cheerful, polite and full of energy - a real pleasure to command.

"His tragic loss has stunned the regiment, and we are all trying to come to terms with this awful event. He had many friends throughout the corps and his loss will be deeply felt by all those who had the privilege of serving alongside him.

"Our heartfelt condolences are with his parents Peter and Jacqui, his brother Nick and girlfriend Helen. I cannot begin to imagine the pain they are feeling, but the thoughts and prayers of the whole Regiment are with them at this most difficult time."

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond also paid tribute to Capt Townley. "I understand that he was an immensely talented and intelligent officer with a flourishing military career who was dedicated to supporting those around him.

"My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

The deaths of Capt Townley and Sgt Kups bring the total number of members of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 to 432.