Brothers in arms pay their tributes to comrades

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THE brothers in arms who served alongside the six men killed in the deadliest single attack on British forces in Afghanistan since 2001 have added their memories to the growing mass of tributes

The soldiers – five of them aged between 19 and 21 – were killed when their Warrior armoured vehicle was blown up by a massive improvised explosive device (IED).

Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, was killed alongside Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Private Anthony Frampton, 20, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, Private Daniel Wade, 20, and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment.

On Wednesday night, the men’s families paid moving tributes to them and yesterday it was the turn of the ordinary soldiers and officers who lived and served with them in Afghanistan and their fellow troops from 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, who are following them out to Helmand Province in the coming weeks.

Before this week’s tragedy, the battalion had already endured a number of deaths and casualties during the conflict, and is braced to be deployed to one of the most hotly contested parts of Afghanistan for its first full tour as part of a battle group.

Married father-of-two Sgt Coupe, from Lytham Saint Anne’s, Lancashire, was described as “the perfect gentleman” who always put others before himself.

Sgt Kirk Reid said: “Nige, your professionalism will always be remembered, taking pride in everything you do, and putting others before yourself on every occasion. The perfect gentlemen with an amazing family that I’m sure will miss you always.”

Pte Anthony Frampton, from Huddersfield, who before deploying told the Yorkshire Post his worries about Helmand and pride at being a professional soldier, was described as an “amazing character” with a “loveable personality”.

His platoon commander, Captain Ian Martin, added: “Private Frampton was a larger than life individual who had an infectious character and a loveable personality which made him one of the most popular members of the platoon.”

The youngest casualty, Pte Kershaw, from Bradford, had a “promising career ahead”, according to Major Edward Colver, who praised his ambition and drive, qualities echoed in the tributes from friends who acknowledged his bravery and love of rugby league.

Pte Daniel Wade, from Warrington, died as his fiancée, Emma Hickman, is expecting their first child – a girl, Lexie – and had talked much of his excitement over her forthcoming birth.

Friend Pte Luke Stones said: “My daughter is called Lexi too. Wadey, I can’t believe you’re never going to get the chance to meet her. I know you’re going to be looking down on her wherever you are. Love you mate.”

‘Kind-hearted’ Pte Daniel Wilford, from Huddersfield, was described by his Company Sergeant Major, Eric Whitehouse, as “an honest, quiet soldier, who excelled”.

His generosity and good humour were remembered by friends, among them Pte Zondwayo Jere who said: “I will always remember you as you were such a good lad. You have left a gap that will never be filled.”

The soldiers, who had only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks, were hit by the blast about 25 miles north of the capital of Helmand Province, Lashkar Gah.

The force of the explosion turned the Warrior upside down and blew off its gun turret.

Ammunition on board the vehicle ignited, causing a fierce fire that burned for many hours and severely hampered rescuers.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, telling the BBC they were “very proud of it”.

Senior military officers and politicians have continued to pay emotional tributes, following on from Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning, the commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, who said: “Six of our brothers have fallen. It has been a sad day.

The tragedy was the biggest single loss of life for British forces in Afghanistan since an RAF Nimrod crash killed 14 people in September 2006.

It took the number of UK troops who have died since the Afghan campaign began in 2001 to 404.

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