TA soldier killed on the day he asked if he might see action

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A TERRITORIAL Army soldier was killed when he triggered a roadside bomb in Afghanistan after earlier in the day asking if he was likely to see any action, an inquest heard.

Private Matthew Thornton had been looking forward to his first action and just hours earlier asked his commanding officer: “Right boss, do you think we’re going to see something today?”

The keen volunteer with the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment was on a six-month tour away from his factory 
job.

He had been keen to see action after spending a “pretty quiet time” for five weeks with soldiers operating from a checkpoint in Helmand province.

His patrol had moved north to another checkpoint which was a “hotspot” for insurgents when they came under small arms and grenade attack.

His body was blown more than 30ft up a tree.

As Pte Thornton, 28, crouched behind a wall returning enemy small arms fire there was a large explosion which blew a hole in the wall.

Amid the dust and debris it took at least 15 minutes and three head counts before anyone realised Matthew was missing.

Pte Thornton’s father Michael, who was at the inquest, asked commanding officer Captain Stephen Dando if his son was “looking for a fight”.

“No. Matthew did absolutely nothing wrong,” he replied. “That’s the horrible nature of IEDs. You just can’t see them.”

He said Pte Thornton, a single man from Darton, Barnsley, was thoroughly prepared for war.

“He was a cracking soldier and wouldn’t have gone out on patrol if he wasn’t trusted by every bloke,” he added.

A pathologist gave the cause of death as injuries caused by an explosion on November 9 last year.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing while on active service, assistant deputy coroner Donald Coutts-Wood told Pte Thornton’s family: “It is an honour to hear what people like Pte Thornton do.

“Your son was clearly a courageous and very special young man.”