Iraq attacks: 'Why did she have to die for such a silly cause?'

A week ago Ted Elliott opened up a surprise parcel to find a pair of silk-lined gloves, an early Christmas present posted by his daughter as she set off for Iraq.

It was typical of Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, 34, her family said yesterday after learning of her death on Sunday in Iraq, to be so thoughtful. She had noticed that Parkinson's disease had left her father's hand permanently frozen and in the flurry of pre-deployment had remembered to send the present.

"She was just such a lovely girl, so sensible and kind. We were just waiting to find out her new address so we could send something to her," Mr Elliott's wife said yesterday.

"Ted is utterly heartbroken. It was his only daughter. You just don't expect them to go before you.

"When she said she was going to Iraq I said I didn't believe in them being sent over there. She was just treating it as a job she had to do. She had been to many difficult places, but I don't think she liked this one. Why did she have to die for such a silly cause?" added Mrs Elliott.

Sharron Elliott, who was one of four soldiers killed in an attack on a boat on the Shatt al-Arab waterway, bringing the total number of British troops killed since the end of the war to 125, had had a difficult life. Her cousin, 22-year-old Judith Pattison, was killed in the 1989 Kegworth air crash when a plane bound for Belfast crashed into the M1. Then her fiancé, also a soldier, died in a motorcycle crash before their wedding.

Before deploying to Iraq, Sgt Elliott had been caring for a close friend suffering from cancer. Her letters home from Basra were full of concern about her father.

Her mother, Elsie Manning, said at her home in South Shields: "Sharron was the most beautiful, caring person in the world. She was very strong-minded and very compassionate.

"She had lots of friends and used to look after one of them who had cancer so that her husband could have a break - that is the sort of person she was. She loved cooking and used to take over the kitchen when she came home, whipping up all kinds of exotic dishes for us all to try. She was very close to her four stepbrothers and was 'best man' at her stepbrother David's wedding. She was delighted to become an auntie again last year to her little nephew Bradley.

"Sharron deployed to Iraq just over a week ago. Her life was the Army and she had served all over the world. It is of some comfort to the family that she died doing what she loved.

"We all loved her so much - she has left such a big hole in our lives. She was the most fantastic person, she was just amazing and touched the hearts of everyone she met. We can never replace her."

The Army had been Sharron's life from the moment she was born and grew up in the small Suffolk town of Hadleigh. Her father had served in the forces, two of her elder stepbrothers went on to do so, and so did cousins and other relatives. Ted Elliott was fiercely proud of his girl taking up the mantle.

Neighbours remember a beautifully behaved child growing up among the small group of simple redbrick homes surrounding a green, where she played with her stepbrothers Michael, Gary and David.

She joined the Army at the age of 18. She spent her early career in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, becoming the first woman in the Army to qualify as an aircraft technician.

Her history teacher, Penny Cook, said last night: "We are devastated by what has happened. What is so poignant is that it also happened on Remembrance Sunday.

"I remember she had a desire to go into the forces. For many young people it's a career they can get training in and make a living out of."

Sgt Elliott's godmother, 72-year-old Maureen Holland, recalled: "She met her boyfriend on a course where they were learning to repair helicopters. I saw her when she came back to look for a wedding dress. But then her fiancé died tragically. People asked if she would be giving up the Army afterwards, but she said she wouldn't, and she would finish the course because she wanted to do it for him. She was a very caring person and when her fiancé died, I remember her saying that she was going to stay with his parents to be with them.

"She was very determined and she was the first woman to pass this particular course. She was just so dedicated to her life in the Army.

"She was an absolutely lovely girl. Her parents must be really proud."

After six years in the Army, Sgt Elliott transferred to the Intelligence Corps, subsequently serving in Northern Ireland and Kosovo before being posted to Iraq.

Part of her training was at the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group headquarters at Chicksands in Bedfordshire, where students are encouraged to study the local culture and customs at postings abroad. Students are also taught to question perceived wisdom and to question policy and disagree with the official view if necessary.

Her commanding officer in Iraq, Lt Col Andrew Park, said she was "never afraid to challenge the status quo, she would always give her opinion. Dedicated and professional, Staff Sergeant Elliott was an inspiration to all she worked with."

The other victims

* Warrant Officer Lee Hopkins, 35, from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, was just five weeks into a six-month tour of Iraq, but had already made an "immediate impact", his commanding officer said. Lt-Col Andrew Park also paid tribute to the soldier as a "dedicated family man". He leaves a wife, Amanda, to whom he was married for 10 years, and a son aged three. "He led from the front with a quiet authority and paid attention to every detail," Lt-Col Park said.

* Corporal Ben Nowak, 27, of 45 Commando Royal Marines, was described by his uncle as "as an extraordinary soldier and an extraordinary young man". A promising young footballer, Cpl Nowak, of Speke in Merseyside, had trials with Southampton. But he joined the Royal Marines at 17 and became a rifleman, later qualifying as a physical training instructor. His uncle, Michael McEvatt, added: "He was so proud of what he did."

* Marine Jason Hylton, 33, of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, was a divorced father of two teenage sons who lived with his parents in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. He had volunteered for a tour of duty in Iraq. His brother Daz, 37, said: "He loved the marine life and thoroughly enjoyed his job." But Marine Hylton's girlfriend, Sasha Martin, said: "He should never have been sent to Iraq, and it was not even his boat that he was on when he died."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
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

Defendant Personal Injury 2+PQE

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - NICHE DEFENDANT FIRM - Defendant Pe...

Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: JAVA DEVELO...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£475 - £550 per day: Progressive Recruitment: MDAX / Dynamics AX / Microsoft D...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on