Youngest victim ‘knew the risks he faced’

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a SOLDIER killed in the devastating blast alongside five of his comrades knew the risks he faced in Afghanistan after a close friend was killed there, his family said last night.

Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, from Bradford, was the youngest of the soldiers killed when their Warrior armoured vehicle was hit by a bomb.

His mother Monica Kershaw, father Brian Kershaw, 45, and stepmother Sharon Wood, 47, paid tribute to the teenager who had followed family members into the forces.

The 19-year-old was also hailed by his commanding officer as a “star of the future”.

His family said he “loved” Army life.

Mr Kershaw said: “That’s all he wanted to do from an early age. He never wanted to do anything else.”

He added: “We personally didn’t want him to go but that’s what he wanted to do.

“He knew there were dangers, he knew the risks. I don’t think he fully understood until he lost one of his best mates a few months ago, Sheldon, who was one of the last ones killed.

“He went a little bit off the rails with that. He wasn’t 100 per cent sure that he wanted to go but once he got back down to Warminster around all his friends he thought it through and he knew he wanted to go there.”

Mr Kershaw said his son, of 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, came from a family of soldiers as two of Pte Kershaw’s uncles, both his grandfathers and his great grandfather had been in the armed forces.

He described his son as “bright, intelligent, a joker”.

“He always wanted to have a laugh but he was always there for his friends.

“If anyone needed anything he would be there to help them.

“He loved being around people. He just enjoyed himself all the time.”

Mrs Kershaw, of Eccleshill, Bradford, said she told her son she was worried he would not come back in one piece.

“I said ‘Be careful. I want you to come back but I don’t want you to come back in a wooden box’ and he said ‘I won’t mum. I am not that stupid.’ What’s he done? He’s come back in a wooden box.”

She said her son was “well liked” and had a lot of friends.

“He loved his life and he lived life to the full and he lived his dream of going to the Army,” she said.

She said he was her son “and he always will be” and that she would like people to remember him as a “lovely lad” and remember his “good humour”.

Asked if she had been left feeling angry, she said: “It’s not fair. He’s too young. He really is. For a young lad like that with so much life ahead of him. He could have done all sorts but for this. It’s just all stopped.”

Mr Kershaw added: “Christopher knew what he was doing. He knew what could happen.

“There’s nothing anybody can say or do about it. Getting angry about it won’t change that.”

Rifleman Sheldon Steel, 20, from Leeds, died in an explosion on November 27 last year.

He was serving with 5th Battalion The Rifles.

Pte Kershaw’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning, said he was among his fittest soldiers.

“Chris’s natural love of the great outdoors shone through in everything he did,” he said.

“It was this passion, coupled with his drive to continuously develop himself, that made him stand out from his peers.

“A true Yorkshire Warrior, Chris was marked out as a star of the future.”

Tom Megahy, associate principal of Hanson School in Bradford, paid tribute to Pte Kershaw.

He said: “We were very proud of the young man he became and the service he has given to our country.

“Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and colleagues at their tragic loss.”