The mother of a Yorkshire soldier killed in Afghanistan broke down in tears yesterday when his friends applauded his achievements as his body was repatriated to the UK.
Private Matthew Haseldin, from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, had been in the Army for only a few months when he was shot while “standing firm” against an insurgent attack in Helmand Province on Thursday last week.
His parents Alan and Jill stood side by side as they watched the cortege carrying their 21-year-old son’s body approach after he was flown into RAF Brize Norton.
Mrs Haseldin clutched a bunch of flowers while her husband held a small wooden cross. At the time of his death, Pte Haseldin’s parents described him as “a loving son” whom they would miss “greatly”.
After the cortege left to the applause of his friends, two wooden crosses were placed in the memorial garden that read: “RIP Matthew. You gave your all. A very brave young man.”
Pte Haseldin, from Settle in North Yorkshire, was part of an operation to maintain freedom of movement for the local population in Helmand.
Tributes were also paid yesterday to Territorial Army soldier Private Matthew Thornton, who was killed by a bomb blast in Helmand on Wednesday. The 28-year-old factory worker from Barnsley was serving with 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment on patrol in Babaji when he was killed by an improvised explosive device.
In a statement Pte Thornton’s family described him as “a dedicated soldier” who was “passionate about the job”.
“He loved what he was doing. He loved life and lived it to the full,” it said.
“Matthew will be greatly missed by his family. His death leaves a huge hole in all our lives.”