Operations in Afghanistan

Acting Corporal Richard 'Robbo' Robinson killed in Helmand

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Acting Corporal Richard 'Robbo' Robinson, from 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Saturday 17 January 2009.

Ministry of Defence crest

Acting Corporal Robinson died as a result of enemy fire during an ambush north of Sangin District Centre while on a patrol to dominate ground with his Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) and the Afghan National Army (ANA) platoon with whom he had been operating since September 2008.

Corporal Richard ‘Robbo’ Robinson

Corporal Robinson was born on 4 August 1987 and grew up in Saltash, Cornwall. He enlisted into the Army on 18 December 2003, attending the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in 2004 and completing his Combat Infantryman’s course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick in January 2005 where he was posted to ‘C’ Company, 1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. He served with C Company as a Private in Iraq from April to November 2006.

Corporal Richard Robinson (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Richard Robinson (All rights reserved.)

He completed his Potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officer Cadre in early 2007. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in November 2007 and posted to the Reconnaissance Platoon of ‘S’ Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES). He soon completed the arduous Sniper course during the battalion’s jungle training exercise to Belize, Central America, in the early part of 2008.

Corporal Robinson joined ‘E’ Company, 1 RIFLES, in April 2008 as a Sniper, Mentor, and Section Second-in-Command. Having completed the pre-deployment training that summer, he deployed with E Company to Sangin in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Op Herrick 9 at the end of September.

Corporal Robinson was a key team player in an operating environment where the individual skills of each and every member of the team have a decisive effect on the outcome of every situation. With his reconnaissance and sniper skills, and his sense of professional pride, he provided those decisive effects, and did so with sensibility, determination, and a ready sense of humour. He was quiet and conscientious, keeping his eye on the detail and getting on with his daily tasks efficiently and without great fuss or search for recognition.

As a mentor to the Afghan National Army, he brought all his professional experience to bear in a working environment where he was required to operate two ranks higher than his current rank. He received the acting rank of full Corporal for this tour, in recognition of the extra responsibilities and pressures of working at the Afghan Company level of operations in the isolated and austere environment of the deployed Afghan Patrol Bases.

He took all this in his stride, dealing with each challenge as it came and ensuring that all his own Riflemen were prepared and administered for the myriad of often unpredictable tasks that the Operational Mentoring mission entailed.

His loss to the small and tight knit team of which he was an integral part will be felt heavily, but it is his family and friends, both inside and outside the regiment who will mourn his tragic passing; our thoughts are with his brother Matthew, serving in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, sister Sophie, and his father Kenneth and mother Janet.

“Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman”


Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer, 1 RIFLES, said:

For so many friends across the battalion and outside the Army, and most acutely for his friends and family, Corporal Richard ‘Robbo’ Robinson’s death in action in Afghanistan will bring great sorrow.

“He was a popular, talented man and will be badly missed. Highly qualified and richly experienced for one of his vintage, he was credible and confident as an Acting Corporal and was already showing potential well beyond that. How proud we are of this courageous young man; he had achieved great things and yesterday he gave his all with his team around him. We are lucky to have served alongside him.”

Major Jonathan (Jonny) Kitson, Officer Commanding E Company, 1 RIFLES, said:

Corporal Robinson was a quiet and discerning character, who combined a calm approach to his everyday tasks with a robust and strong work ethic that ensured that he and his men were prepared for all the eventualities thrown at him in this most challenging of operating environments. He was mature beyond his years, having gained valuable experience in Iraq, which he used to good effect during both the pre-deployment phase and once deployed, to educate and lead those under his command in a comprehensively assured and easy-going manner.

Having completed the battalion’s gruelling sniper cadre last year, he delivered this individualistic and specialist skill to the highest level of competence, as well as keeping his team informed, administered and consistently well led at the same time. He had the sort of potential which is gratifying to see in a young and committed Rifleman: resourceful, quick thinking, caring and ready to help others before himself, he epitomised the ethos of his regiment as a junior commander and was set for a successful career.

He had a ready sense of humour (such is the lot of a Newcastle United fan) and I rarely saw him without a smile on his face, or firing out the banter in the Patrol Bases or in the FOB [Forward Operating Base]. The loss of such a talented, resourceful and well-liked individual is a blow to the company, and his team in particular, but it will be felt most deeply by his family and I can only express the company’s deepest condolences to them; you are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

Lieutenant Lyndon Pinches, Team Commander OMLT 7, said:

Corporal Robinson had been part of OMLT 7 from the very beginning and was welcomed into the team with open arms. Those who already knew him were pleased to have his skills and experience added to the team. He had already served in Iraq and trained in both the Recce and Sniper Platoons. Those who did not yet know him were soon to realise what he would bring to the party.

“He was incredibly level-headed and calm in all circumstances, even when situations were at their most stressful on operations. He was a proud Rifleman and JNCO [Junior Non-Commissioned Officer] and had already proved his potential to go a long way in his career by doing the job of a Serjeant [it is regimental tradition to spell Sergeant with a ‘j’] for the team in Afghanistan.

Corporal Robinson was an asset that any team would be proud to have. His skills as a sniper and ability to achieve tasks well beyond his pay scale were more than evident in the many months he has served with the team and in his service with the battalion. His likeable nature and good humour never failed to raise morale consistently, even when all those around him were in low spirits. On behalf of the team we are all so proud to have served and fought alongside him.

Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Paul Goldsmith, Company Serjeant Major E Company, said:

Robbo had been a member of E Company 1 RIFLES right from the beginning when the company was first established in April 2008. Coming from the Sniper Platoon he brought with him a wealth of experience and professionalism that helped to make the company what it is today.

“Robbo, a quiet guy by nature, commanded respect from others by his ability and above all a cool head when in difficult situations, which was demonstrated on numerous occasions when out on patrol. He leaves a large void in the company and an even larger one within his team which will not be easy to fill, if at all. On a personal note, it has been an honour and privilege to serve alongside Robbo and my heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.”

Acting Serjeant Simon Lake, Second-in-Command OMLT 7, said:

Corporal Robinson, AKA Robbo, joined the ‘Devon and Dorsets’ in March 2004 where he was moved into my room - he was only 17. Robbo was such a cool-minded guy and an excellent soldier. We went to Iraq together in April 2006 and were then placed together in the same team for this Afghanistan tour where he brought so much experience to the team being Recce and Sniper qualified.

He made my job so much easier; when I needed something doing Robbo was always ready and would have it squared away within minutes. It was a great honour to serve with such a great Rifleman, a legend in my eyes. But it was also a great honour to be his friend, a close friend, someone who I will never forget. It is a great loss to me. I know that his family will miss him the most and my thoughts go out to them.

Serjeant Sean Ridler, Second-in-Command Sniper Platoon, 1 RIFLES, said:

Corporal Richard Robinson, known as Robbo to all within the Sniper Platoon, was a strong member of the platoon and was looked up to by all his subordinates and could be relied upon by his commanders to carry out any task given. He will be missed within the tightly structured community of the platoon, especially his strength in the bad times, during and after the sniper cadre. He could always laugh at the bad things and bring good away. Robbo was a good soldier but most of all a great friend to have; the platoon will be a different place as he will solemnly be missed by all.

Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton said:

Corporal Robinson was, by all accounts, a very capable and professional Rifleman. He was obviously held in high esteem by his battalion, and it is clear that he was conducting his vital role as a mentor to Afghan forces with great skill. My thoughts are with his family and his friends at this very sad time.

Published 19 January 2009