A SOLDIER shot dead in Afghanistan was named last night as Private Matthew Haseldin, from 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment.
The 21-year-old, from Settle, North Yorkshire, was killed when his patrol was attacked in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.
His parents, Alan and Jill, 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.”
The killing takes the number of British personnel who have died since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 to 384.
Private Abriham Saho said his colleague was very hard-working and friendly. “He has only been with us just a few weeks but fitted in so well it was like he had been here ages due to the strong bond he built with everyone.”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “He has paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving the nation, and my thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.”
Pte Haseldin’s body will be flown to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
A private ceremony for his family will be held at a purpose-built repatriation centre on the airbase before the cortege leaves via the Britannia Gate on its way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
The cortege will be escorted at walking pace past the memorial garden in Carterton, where the Union Flag will be hung at half-mast and the public is expected to gather.
Pte Haseldin was part of an operation to maintain freedom of movement for the local population, when the group was attacked by insurgents.
His patrol was carrying out a check when they came under sustained small arms fire and “underslung grenades during which Private Haseldin was fatally wounded”, the MoD said.
Lieutenant Colonel Colin Marks, Commanding Officer 2 Mercian and Combined Force Burma, said: “It was impossible to tell that he was the newest member of 7 Platoon, all of whom loved him like a brother.”