A YOUNG West Yorkshire soldier killed alongside five comrades in Afghanistan reassured his mother he would be “fine” weeks before his death.
Private Anthony Frampton, 20, from Huddersfield, wrote comforting messages to his worried family after he was deployed to Helmand Province on Valentine’s Day.
But he was one of six troops who died when their Warrior armoured vehicle was hit by an apparent improvised explosive device (IED) in the deadliest single enemy attack on UK forces in Afghanistan since 2001.
This evening his mother broke down in tears as she described her devastation at her son’s death.
Margaret Charlesworth said: “We are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boy Anton and are so very proud of him. He was a legend to us and all who knew him. We are heartbroken.”
Mrs Charlesworth, 47, then broke down in tears.
She said her son had liked the routine of the Army and the “comradeship of all the lads”.
She said: “He just loved it. He just loved it.
“He loved the craic, he loved the lads, the training, everything.”
Mrs Charlesworth added: “As a young boy he was like a whirlwind.”
She said he was “happy” and added: “He was just the joker, the clown. He entertained all the troops. He lifted them up with his daft dances and karaoke and singing. And they loved him for it.”
Mrs Charlesworth had her husband Martin, 55, with her as she paid tribute to her son, who was one of six troops who died on Tuesday when their Warrior armoured vehicle was hit by an apparent improvised explosive device in the deadliest single enemy attack on UK forces in Afghanistan since 2001.
Pte Frampton’s sister Gemma Frampton, 25, his father Gary Evans, 48, stepmother Michelle Evans, 43, cousin Alice Jones, 24, and aunt Cathy Jones, 55, also paid tribute to him.
Pte Frampton was killed along with Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, Private Daniel Wade, 20, and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, and Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
The soldiers, who had only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks, were hit by a blast about 25 miles north of Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah, at 6.30pm local time (2pm UK time) on Tuesday.
Ammunition on board the Warrior ignited, causing a fierce fire to burn for many hours.
The intensity of the blaze meant rescuers could not get near the vehicle and its charred shell was not recovered to the main British base in Helmand, Camp Bastion, until 7.30pm last night local time.
In a series of phone calls and Facebook messages, Pte Frampton sought to allay the fears of his mother during his deployment.
On the day he set off for Afghanistan, he wrote: “I’ll be fine mum trust me xxxx.”
A week later, he added: “Hey mum hope u r OK am missing u so much can’t wait to come home and have only been here 7 days lol (laugh out loud) try not 2 worry mum love you so much! xxxxxxxx.”
His mother used her Facebook page to express her concerns for her “little Afghan hero”, poignantly writing on February 26: “Hope my boy stays safe and the rest of the lads out there.”
Pte Frampton was a student at Royds Hall High School in Huddersfield, leaving in 2007.
Headteacher Melanie Williams said he was “fondly remembered” by staff as a “memorable young man with a strong character and a real sense of humour”.
“Friendly and polite, he was also caring and compassionate towards other students,” she said.
“Anthony will always be remembered by the school community with pride and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”
Pte Wilford and Cpl Hartley, who like Pte Frampton joined the Army as teenagers, were also from Huddersfield.
Pte Kershaw came from Bradford and was a pupil at Hanson School in the city.
Tom Megahy, associate principal of Hanson School, 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.”
Cpl Hartley was a student at Earlsheaton Technology College in Dewsbury. Head Paul Levey said: “Jake is remembered in school as a vibrant, lively, unassuming, good-natured and very determined boy.
“He had a distinct sense of responsibility to other people. He is a credit to his family and our thoughts go out to them and his friends at this awful time.”
Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees Council, said: “This is a desperately sad day for our town.
“These deaths bring it very close to home in Huddersfield and Dewsbury the bravery of our troops and it is something we must never forget.
“My heart goes out to the families and friends of those killed. They were young men doing an enormously brave job. It is tragic beyond belief that so many have died in one incident.”
The MoD said it did not plan to release further information about the six soldiers until they have been formally named.
It is understood that this could take days because experts are having to use DNA techniques to confirm their identities.
The tragedy was the biggest single loss of life for British forces in Afghanistan since an RAF Nimrod crash killed 14 people in September 2006.