Operations in Afghanistan

Corporal Damian Stephen Lawrence killed in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Corporal Damian Stephen Lawrence of 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) on Sunday 17 February 2008, in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.

Ministry of Defence crest

Shortly before 2100 hours local time Corporal Lawrence was taking part in a joint UK - Afghan National Army night patrol in Kajaki, tasked with clearing a number of compounds. Immediately upon entry into a compound an explosive device detonated fatally injuring Corporal Lawrence. Another soldier was also wounded, but his injuries are not life-threatening.

Corporal Damian Lawrence (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Damian Lawrence (All rights reserved.)

Medical treatment was administered at the scene and both soldiers were evacuated to Camp Bastion by emergency response helicopter. Sadly Corporal Lawrence succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead on arrival.

Corporal Damian Stephen Lawrence

Corporal Damian Lawrence, aged 25, was born on 26 January 1983 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, but had his roots firmly based in the town of Whitby. He enlisted into the Army on 28 October 1999 and on completion of his basic training joined the 1st Battalion The Green Howards, 10 Platoon Charlie Company then based in Warminster, Wiltshire. Initially in a rifle company, he spent his first year as a rifleman before being singled out to move to the Reconnaissance Platoon. He went on to complete a Junior Non-Commissioned Officers Cadre in 2005 whilst in ‘A’ Company and was noted for his diligence and enthusiasm.

Cpl Lawrence continued to develop his leadership and command skills and recently attended the Section Commanders Battle Course in Brecon where he achieved a high pass; he returned to complete pre-deployment training in time to deploy with the Battalion to Helmand Province. Cpl Lawrence’s role was to train and mentor an Afghan National Army Platoon - a dangerous and difficult task that he performed outstandingly.

Whilst on Op HERRICK 7, Corporal Lawrence served in Gereshk, took part in the recapture of Musa Qal’eh and conducted operations in Kajaki. A keen and enthusiastic soldier he had served with distinction in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and twice in Afghanistan; his future in the Army was bright. Corporal Lawrence leaves behind a daughter, Jessica.

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Downey MBE, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) said:

Every way you considered him, Corporal Lawrence was outstanding.

He was a loving partner and a doting father to his daughter Jessica. To his Battalion, he was a great comrade and an accomplished soldier. Good company, a trusted friend, warm and blessed with an infectious sense of humour he could mix with anyone, puncture any ego and lighten any mood. As an infantry soldier and junior commander he was formidable - able, determined, driving on, a man who knew what he wanted and who had a fine career ahead of him.

“He flourished in the dangerous challenges of mentoring the Afghan Army on operations and it is absolutely typical that he died leading from the front, paying the ultimate price for the leadership and courage that came so naturally to him. In Corporal Lawrence’s death, the Battalion has been robbed of a first rate commander and a good friend, taken all too early when he had so, so much else to live for.

Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

Major Matt Adams, Officer Commanding the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team 3, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) said:

Corporal ‘Damo’ Lawrence was a lynchpin within C Company, a special soldier who was deeply popular and deeply professional. Softly spoken, compassionate and very courageous, he also possessed a great sense of humour despite adversity and stress; in Afghanistan he never failed to act as an example to those around him.

Corporal Lawrence died as he lived, leading his men, in a high threat environment under adverse conditions and to the highest standards of the British Army.

He is irreplaceable.

Captain James Ashworth, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards), Officer Commanding Reconnaissance Platoon, said:

It is with great regret and sadness that the members of the Recce and Sniper Platoon have heard of Corporal Lawrence’s death. He will be sorely missed by all the lads who knew him so well. Corporal Lawrence loved his job and always put himself forward for the most demanding courses, he revelled in the challenge. He was a real character and fiercely loyal to his friends. Parted by separate tasks in Afghanistan, we all looked forward to having him back in the Platoon after the tour. Everyone in the platoon conveys their deepest sympathy to Damian’s family.

Warrant Officer 1st Class Richard Hind, Regimental Sergeant Major of 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) said:

Corporal Lawrence was one of the Battalion’s finest Junior Non-Commissioned Officers. An enthusiastic and outstanding soldier, he had recently completed the Section Commanders Battle Course at Brecon. Professional, determined and encouraging, he knew how to get the best from his soldiers. It was typical that he died leading from the front where others may have faltered. He lived life to the max, working and playing hard. Corporal Lawrence was regarded with fondness and respected by all. It has been an honour to have served alongside him.

The Battalion and the Regiment’s thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this saddest of times.

Colour Sergeant Mark Connell, Company Quartermaster Sergeant Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team 3, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) said:

I have known Corporal Damian Lawrence since 2004 when he joined 3 Platoon, A Company as a rifleman. Damian was a hard working, determined and highly professional soldier who was well respected by all members of his Platoon. Within a short period of time he became a key personality within the Platoon, best known for his humour, morale and practical jokes. As Damian’s Platoon Sergeant I had the privilege to experience his professionalism and determination first hand; he often told me that he wanted to go places, I had no doubts that he would.

The last time I saw Damian was eight months ago at Brecon as his instructor. I immediately noticed the changes in Damian’s personality, leadership style and mannerisms. He had grown into a fine NCO and would, no doubt, have gone far within the Army. Damian often spoke to me about the forthcoming deployment to Afghanistan and was looking forward to his new role. Damian was always keen to make a difference and has proven his worth many times in barracks and on operations, I am extremely proud of all he has achieved.

As a commander and friend, I will always remember Damian for the man that he was. My thoughts go out to his family.

“We have all lost a highly respected commander and dear friend, he will be sorely missed.”

Corporal Carl Storr, Provost Corporal 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) added:

Damian’s a Whitby lad and he and I hit it off straight away. He was a character, known throughout the Battalion for his sense of humour.

I wouldn’t say we lived out of each others pockets but we knew where we were if we needed each other. When we did see each other we would always have a laugh and a joke which would normally be at my expense. What I would give for that now; the memories will stay. You’ll be missed mate.

They say him upstairs only takes the best, well he’s taken one now. God Bless. Our thoughts go out to all his family.

Corporal Steven Rowe, Section Commander 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) said:

I’ve known Damian all his Army career and the time we spent together in Patrol Base Zulu in Afghanistan will be one to treasure. He was a keen and outstanding soldier, one man who was going a long way, his professionalism showed through in everything he did. He will be sadly missed. My deepest sympathy goes to all his family. God bless.

Lance Corporal Gavin Geraghty, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) said:

It has been six years since I met Corporal Lawrence. From working alongside him it was easy to recognise he made the most of things. He made the most of being a soldier and his excellent report on Junior Brecon shows just how much potential he had. But he was also one of the boys and he made the most of his social time with many, many funny stories and memories.

Things are going to be very different without our ‘Damo’ and his comments, as he was not shy in telling people what he thought. From our first night out together when we met in Scarborough, he has been a friend and a brother in work. No more hard times now mate, you’re in good hands. All our thoughts go to your family and little Jessica.

Lance Corporal Allan Lanaway, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) said:

I’ve known Damo for about five years, however for the last two and half years we have been really close, meeting up with each other’s dads in Whitby. I always met up with Damo for a laugh and a good night out which often led to days. There was never a dull time with him always laughing and joking. If I start on stories now they will go on forever, I think I should just keep the memories inside.

My thoughts go to all his family at this difficult time, I know how much you all meant to him.

Mother of Corporal Lawrence, Alison Lawrence said:

I would like all soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment to promise me that on their return to England they find the nearest bar and raise a toast to my son. Damian was a very special son always joking and loved to party. He was also an amazing father to his three-year-old daughter, Jessica. I know, like us, you will all have your own special memories of him and I want you all to know that he lived and breathed army life. I am proud as his mother to say he died doing what he loved. I still wear my support bracelet and will not remove it until each and every one of you return home where you belong. I send my love to you all and pray for your safe return. As I said to my son and I’ll say to you all, ‘Stay safe lads and be happy’, from his very proud and heartbroken Mum, Alison Lawrence.

Corporal Lawrence’s father, Steven Crabtree, added:

Damian, the best son any father could wish for. I am so proud of the way he went through life, and what he achieved. Also the joy he brought into other people’s lives.

The devotion, love and dedication he showed to his daughter Jessica will never be forgotten. The way he treated his brothers Lee and Josh was a great pleasure. No wonder he was their HERO. They will always look up to him and he will be a great example to follow. He has left a massive hole in all our lives. His family and all his army mates. He died doing what he loved best, his job. To the rest of the lads still out there. Keep your heads down and come home safe. We are proud of all of you. His heartbroken Dad.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said:

I was deeply saddened to hear of the tragic death of Corporal Lawrence in Afghanistan. My thoughts are with his family, friends and comrades as they come to terms with his loss. Corporal Lawrence was working to build a safer Afghanistan by training members of the Afghan National Army. A job that, by all accounts, he excelled at.

Published 19 February 2008