Soldier dies in Afghanistan as he tries to recover comrade's body

THE son of an SAS hero was killed by a roadside bomb less than hour after a Yorkshire comrade was killed on the same perilous route in Afghanistan, an inquest heard today.

Serjeant Paul McAleese, 29, of 2nd Battalion The Rifles, died half-an-hour after Private Johnathon Young, 18, of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment in the Sangin district, Helmand province.

An inquest into both their deaths resumed this morning at Wiltshire Coroner's Court, sitting at Trowbridge Town Hall.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Major Rupert Follett told the hearing his soldiers were involved in an operation on August 20 last year to restrict Taliban movement along a route known as "Pharmacy Road" near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Wishton.

Maj Follett said the route was littered with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and soldiers had previously been killed in the area.

Pte Young, from Hull, was using a metal detector to search an area where troops intended to build a Hesco wall when he stood on an IED at 7.30am, and was killed instantly, the inquest heard.

Maj Follett said Pte Young's body was potentially surrounded by more bombs so the men decided the only way to recover him was to use a motorised winch.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Pte Young's mother Angela fled from the coroner's court in tears as they described attaching the winch to her son's body.

"We were able to attach the winch under Pte Young's armpit," Maj Follett said.

"Mac stepped over the winch, and that point of stepping there was a second explosion."

Sjt McAleese, from Hereford, was thrown by the second blast, which occurred at roughly 8am and broke the winch wire attached to Pte Young.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Maj Follett went on: "The second explosion knocked me off my feet. As the dust was settling I sent a contact report over the radio.

"There was lots of shouting of 'Mac, Mac, where's Mac?'"

He added: "He was blown eight metres and landed in an alleyway."

Both men were eventually returned to FOB Wishton, where they were both confirmed to be dead.

Maj Follett told the inquest the mission took place on the same day as the Afghan presidential elections.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said he hoped insurgent activity would be focussed on disrupting voting in Sangin centre, so they could complete the mission without contacting the enemy.

But as well as the IED blasts, the men came under heavy, persistent fire throughout the day.

Maj Follett fought back tears as he paid tribute to Sjt McAleese, who he knew well.

"He was an awesome soldier," he said.

"I arrived in unique circumstances and needed some pretty tough men to gel C-company together because we still had three months left.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He was a man I could instantly rely on and turn to for advice. He was a fantastic soldier."

Sjt McAleese's father, John McAleese, was at the centre of the dramatic raid that ended a siege on the Iranian Embassy, in London, in 1980.

Members of both families attended today's hearing, but Mr McAleese was not present.