Yorkshire Post journalist Joe Shute chatted with a young soldier about his worries over Afghanistan – and reports on how his family’s worst fears came true.
THE mother of Private Anthony Frampton broke down in tears yesterday as she described her devastation at her son’s death in Afghanistan.
Margaret Charlesworth had her husband Martin by her side as she paid tribute to her 20-year-old son, of Huddersfield, one of six troops killed when their Warrior armoured vehicle was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Helmand Province.
“We are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boy Anton and are so very proud of him,” she said.
“He was a legend to us and all who knew him. We are heartbroken.”
Mrs Charlesworth, who called her son her “little Afghan hero”, said Pte Frampton was scared of going to Afghanistan, but that “he had got his head around it”.
“Obviously we all worried about him and all the other lads out there but he had a job to do,” she said. “That was his life. 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.”
“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.
“To everyone he is a hero in their eyes. He is our hero but he is our boy. Our beautiful boy.”
Pte Frampton, known as Anton by family and friends, was one of three soldiers from Huddersfield killed in the blast on Tuesday about 25 miles north of Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah.
Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, and Pte Daniel Wilford, 21, also died alongside colleagues Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, Private Daniel Wade, 20 and Private Christopher Kershaw, 19.
Asked about three of the soldiers killed in the Warrior blast all being from the town, Mrs Charlesworth said: “Just totally devastated. We lost two others from Huddersfield as well before and then to have three from our area. It’s totally devastated the whole town.
She said her son was close friends with Pte Daniel Wilford.
I joined Pte Frampton and his colleagues from 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, in December at the Stanford Area in Norfolk, where the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has created a miniature Helmand Province for soldiers to spend a week at as the culmination of their pre-deployment training.
I was posted at a Forward Operating Base with Burma Company, which Pte Frampton was part of, and spent a day out on patrol with him.
During the patrol we sat for hours in sub-zero temperatures, keeping guard over a bridge.
To keep out the cold, we smoked, stamped our feet and talked through his worries about going out to Afghanistan in the coming months.
“I have never really regretted joining the Army,” he said in an interview at the time.
“I feel like it is worthwhile being out there in Afghanistan.
“I am worried about myself, and my mates as well.
“We are all really close.
“I feel proud, like I can go back home to Huddersfield with my head held high.
“You get more respect off people as well.”
After being sent out to Helmand Province on Valentine’s Day, Pte Frampton wrote a series of comforting messages to his worried family reassuring them he would be “fine”.
In numerous phone calls and Facebook messages, he sought to allay the fears of his mother, during his deployment.
On the day he set off from the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, barracks in Warminster 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 soldier son, poignantly writing on February 26 just days before the blast: “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.”
Martin Charlesworth, Pte Frampton’s stepfather, said he had “more friends than anyone else”.
“He was very, very popular and it was because he was such a joker and such a laugh and it was because he was a professional soldier.
“We didn’t really see that side of him at all.
“To us he was just a lad about town with the most friends I have ever seen in my life, more girlfriends than I have ever known.
“He was a lovely lad and he loved life and it’s an absolute tragedy that someone who loved life so much and gave so much happiness to other people that his life has been cut short at 20 years old.”
“All we feel is grief.”
He said he could not get his head around it.
“I keep seeing him in our kitchen dancing up and down and enjoying himself,” he said, adding: “He gave a lot to people.”
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.
Mr Evans, a lorry driver, said he was “numb” and “just missed him”.
“I loved him,” he said, adding that he was a “belting lad”.