It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Corporal Liam Elms of 45 Commando Royal Marines.
Corporal Elms was killed in action by an explosion on 31 December 2008 in southern Helmand whilst on operations with Zulu Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines. The Company was conducting a local area patrol alongside Afghan National Army troops in order to reassure the local population.
Corporal Liam Elms Royal Marines
Corporal Elms, or ‘Elmsy’ as he was known, was born on 28 October 1982 in Wigan. He joined the Royal Marines on 7 May 2001. After completing training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone in Devon, he served with 42 Commando Royal Marines for two years.
During this time he saw active service in Northern Ireland (Op BANNER) in 2002, and then again in Iraq in 2003 as part of the UK contribution to Operation TELIC. Returning to the UK Corporal Elms completed his Junior Command Course, and Skill at Arms course where he was awarded top student. He subsequently trained as a Platoon Weapons Instructor Class 2 at CTCRM.
Remaining at CTCRM he was responsible for the training of recruits, a task in which he took immense pride, ensuring the next generation of Royal Marines were ready to take their place in a Commando Unit. His hard work and professionalism was rewarded when he was given his preferred appointment to Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, based in Faslane where he was able to further his passion for shooting and represented the Royal Marines as a member of the Corps (Royal Marines) Shooting Team. He joined 45 Commando Royal Marines on 7 January 2008, deploying to Norway with the unit before commencing pre-deployment training for operations in Afghanistan.
A physically strong and powerful man he was a keen fan of rugby league and played for the Corps’ rugby league team. Corporal Elms had a great sense of humour and despite his professional pride he could never take himself too seriously; he always had a ready laugh and liked nothing better than to reminisce about the lighter side of being a Royal Marine with his friends.
Liam was a dearly loved son to his father Michael, of whom he often spoke and was in constant touch. He also spoke lovingly of his fiancee, and he was busy making plans for the future with her during this deployment to Afghanistan.
His death will be felt by all who he influenced but mostly by his family and by those he served alongside. All who knew him will mourn the passing of a dear friend and an exceptional Royal Marine.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group, said:
Corporal Elms was an outstanding Royal Marine and a huge personality. Fit, strong, courageous and very good humoured he died leading his section from the front, doing the job he loved in the company of his friends who had tremendous trust in him and a huge respect for his abilities as a commando and as a leader.
The determined commitment and bravery that he has shown throughout the conduct of numerous operations over the last few months has been an example to all and his loss has been felt very deeply throughout 45 Commando.
He will be remembered for the energy and enthusiasm that he had for his profession but also for the generosity of spirit that he extended to all. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten and his tragic death will serve to further strengthen the resolve and determination of his comrades throughout these challenging times.
“I know that every member of 45 Commando joins me in sending my very deepest condolences to his fiancee, close family and friends of whom he was so proud.”
Major Andy Muddiman Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Z Company Group, said of him:
Corporal Elms was a very likeable Junior Non Commissioned Officer, who had a generous and gregarious character. His hallmarks at work were utter professionalism and complete application to the task in hand. As a character he was jovial, big-hearted and strived constantly to do his best.
His contribution to both the training and leadership of the Company has been considerable. His interests both within the Corps and at home centred on his passions for shooting and marksmanship, in which he excelled. He became the authority within Zulu Company on section level tactics and equipment.
Corporal Elms lived and breathed his job, exuding an enthusiasm for soldiering that was instantly infectious. He had Commando qualities in spades: most of all he was unselfish, brave and determined.
An exceptional leader he never flinched from a dangerous task and the manner in which he died, leading from the front, was typical of the way he chose to live.
Captain Ben Cassells Royal Marines, Troop Commander Z Company Gp, recalled:
‘Bend your knees, just bend your knees!’ My first memories of Corporal ‘Elmsy’ Elms will always bring a smile to my face. Joining Z Coy at the same time, we both deployed directly on the Norway exercise this year. They say Norway changes you, but for ‘Elmsy’ I think he changed Norway.
The fastest Bookneck [Royal Marine] on two planks [skis], he was always found at the front of an attack, skiing directly towards the enemy position, only to ski straight past it and beyond into the nearest snow drift.
“His refusal to let a small thing beat him, or anything else for that matter, just goes to prove his drive and determination: Commando qualities we would all come to rely upon, well€¦that and his kit collection anyway.
“I honestly believe that everyone in 10 Troop has some pouch, zip, clip or whistle, all ‘gucci’ and made by Blackhawk of course, ‘borrowed’ from ‘Elmsy’. Despite the banter we used to give him, he actually had some good kit, but don’t tell him we said that.
A Section Commander of the highest quality, ‘Elmsy’ was always a key personality in a very tight knit family. Throughout his operational deployment he led his section with pride and dedication always taking the fight to the enemy. You will be missed by us all and I take great pride in calling you a friend. Take care and rest easy.
Second Lieutenant Hugh Mackay RM, Officer Commanding 10 Troop Z Company Gp, said:
Corporal Elms was one of life’s true enthusiasts, a wonderful character and a natural leader. He was a dynamo of energy to the end. Despite my short time in his company, Corporal Elms made a lasting impression on me, happy to lend a hand to anybody in the FOB [Forward Operating Base].
“He will be sorely missed by everyone who has been fortunate enough to have met him.”
Sergeant Tomo Tomkins RM, Troop Sergeant 10 Troop Z Company Gp, said:
I first met ‘Elmsy’ on joining Zulu Company for pre-deployment training. It is fair to say I liked him from that first meeting. A big man with a big heart, who would always have time for a dit-spinning [story telling] session, whether you wanted one or not!
“Only a month ago during a engagement with the enemy, ‘Elmsy’ badly twisted his ankle but with true commando spirit, he made no fuss and continued on with the patrol.
Soon afterwards, he discovered that he had broken his ankle and was returned to Camp Bastion for treatment. He hated every minute of being away from his Section - although being near Camp Bastion’s Pizza Hut was seen as a positive! - and as soon as he was physically able, he returned to the Troop and continued commanding his Section from the front.
It was a pleasure to serve with you Royal and even though I only knew you for a short time, I know that I can call you a friend; you will be missed both professionally and personally by all members of 10 Troop Zulu Coy.
Corporal Lee Birkin Royal Marines, Section Commander 10 Troop Z Company Group, said:
Me and ‘Elmsy’ go back a few years since meeting at CTCRM on a course. He took great pride in his personal kit and equipment and was a real pro.
“I think it’s a fair one when I say that I was round his grot [accommodation] every two minutes asking him, ‘what does this or that piece of your kit do?’ And I kept this up for years after as well. I was not the only one, Corporal Bishop did it too.
‘Elmsy’ loved shooting both at work and in his spare time. Whenever the chance arose, he would show off the latest CQB [Close Quarter Battle] stance or a new way of holding and firing a pistol.
“Dedicated members of the KFC club on a Friday travelling home together, ‘Elmsy’ was often seen destroying a Family Bucket, well, I think the words used is that he was ‘devastating it at close range’.
Always keen to lead from the front, his self proclaimed ‘OPTAG Black Thursday’ left him covered in the River Wissey bog, and the words ‘three crates down’ could never be mentioned in his presence without a pyrotechnic reaction! This and many more dits that can only be spun by those who knew him best sum up the character that was ‘Elmsy’.
A fine Section Commander who had the respect of everybody around him a, Bootneck through and through and an all round good bloke, sorry to see you go mate.
The family of Cpl Elms have released the following statement:
A true mans man. Liam always strived to be the best, his proudest achievement was receiving his beloved green beret.
“All who knew Liam loved and respected him. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his lads in Zulu Company and their families.
“Liam will leave a huge hole in our lives and he will always be missed.”
John Hutton, Secretary of State for Defence, said:
Corporal Liam Elms was clearly an outstanding Marine. His family, friends and colleagues will mourn deeply his loss, and my thoughts are with them at this most difficult time.