THE mother of a North Yorkshire soldier killed in Afghanistan has broken down in tears 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 just a few months when he was shot while “standing firm” against an insurgent attack in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on November 3.
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.
Eighteen standard-bearers slowly lowered their flags as family, friends and locals began to sob.
Mrs Haseldin clutched a bunch of flowers while her husband held a small wooden cross. They both wore red poppies on their lapels.
The couple were supported by family and friends, with many of the latter in tears as they shook their heads at the Union Jack-covered coffin.
The cortege was escorted at walking pace past the memorial garden in Carterton where it paused briefly next to a Union Jack, hung at half mast, to allow red roses to be placed on the hearse. A small red poppy wreath was placed alongside.
At the time of his death, Pte Haseldin’s parents said: “Matthew was a loving son and we are very proud of him.
“He had only been in the Army for a few months. Friends and family will miss him greatly. Rest in Peace.”
Pte Haseldin, from Settle, North Yorkshire, was part of an operation to maintain freedom of movement for the local population, when the group was attacked by insurgents. His death takes the number of British personnel who have died since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 to 384.