Operations in Afghanistan

Corporal Matthew James Stenton and Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse killed in Afghanistan

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Corporal Matthew James Stenton from The Royal Dragoon Guards and Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 21 July 2010.

Corporal Matthew James Stenton (left) and Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse (All rights reserved.)
Corporal Matthew James Stenton (left) and Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse (All rights reserved.)

The two soldiers were killed on Wednesday evening when members of The Royal Dragoon Guards and the 1st Battalion Scots Guards were providing security for the building of Route Trident in Basharan, north of Lashkar Gah.

Corporal Stenton, of Viking Group, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, was commanding a Viking armoured vehicle that was part of a cordon to facilitate the exploitation of a number of IEDs and Lance Corporal Monkhouse, of Combined Force Lashkar Gah, was the gunner of a Coyote vehicle when insurgents shot and wounded a member of ISAF.

Corporal Stenton manoeuvred his vehicle in order to lay down fire and extract the casualty, and Lance Corporal Monkhouse provided fire support in order to allow the evacuation to take place. Tragically, as the casualty was being extracted, Corporal Stenton and Lance Corporal Monkhouse were both killed by small arms fire.

Corporal Matthew James Stenton (All rights reserved.)
Corporal Matthew James Stenton (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Matthew James Stenton

Corporal Matthew James Stenton was 23 years old. He was born and raised in Wakefield, where he went to Wakefield Cathedral High School. On leaving school he joined the Army and attended the Army Foundation College in Harrogate. On completion of Phase 2 training in May 2004, he joined The Royal Dragoon Guards (RDG).

On arrival at the regiment, he successfully completed Mission Specific Training before deploying with the regimental battle group on Operation TELIC 5. This was followed by a move to Reconnaissance Troop and deployment on Operation TELIC 11.

He later passed his Challenger 2 MBT (Main Battle Tank) Crew Commanders’ Course, and then deployed on Operation HERRICK 12 as a Viking Commander in Viking Group, D (The Green Horse) Squadron.

Corporal Stenton leaves behind his father and stepmother, Michael and Gillian, and his sister Charlotte.

Corporal Stenton’s family paid the following tribute to him:

A loving son, brother and grandson who will be dearly missed. Matthew always took life in his stride and never lost sight of the important things in life - his family and friends.

Matthew died how he lived his life, surrounded by his friends. We are so proud of Matthew and it comes as no surprise to us to hear that he died whilst trying to help one of his fellow comrades.

You will always be in our hearts and minds, love you always Dad, Gillian and Charlotte.

Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, Commanding Officer RDG, said:

I have only known Corporal Matt Stenton for two years but such was the impression he made on me I feel as if I’ve known him for much longer.

He cared passionately for the soldiers under his command, and he would insist rightly that their needs were paramount, no matter what the circumstances.

Matt loved soldiering. He loved the camaraderie associated with a tight-knit group of well-trained and highly focused individuals. Only 23 years old and already he had completed two operational tours, both in Iraq, and he was desperate to deploy to Afghanistan.

However, he was required to complete his Challenger 2 Crew Commanders’ Course before boarding the plane for Helmand, and this pained him deeply as he would not join D (The Green Horse) Squadron until they had been in theatre for about six weeks.

Matt only arrived in central Helmand earlier this month. True to character he deployed with his troop the minute his in-theatre training was complete. He was now where he wanted to be - with his men, sharing in their endeavours, both good times and bad.

It was typical of Corporal Matt Stenton that on the afternoon of Wednesday 21 July 2010 he was yet again looking out for those more junior than himself. He died in command of an armoured vehicle whilst successfully extracting a casualty and laying down fire on an insurgent position.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will miss him hugely but his sacrifice will never be forgotten. Quis Separabit.

Major Denis James, Officer Commanding D (The Green Horse) Squadron, said:

Corporal Matthew Stenton was an uncomplicated man and the kindest of friends; he was also a hard, tenacious soldier who always fought for what he believed in.

He could entrance his audience with his tales of derring-do from the weekend beforehand. His smile could light up any situation; he would willingly challenge senior officers on living conditions of junior soldiers.

Last year when times were hard on exercise in Canada, he found and fixed a civilian car normally used for urban training, disappeared for an hour and returned with a boot full of cake for the soldiers. It is his generosity and spirit we will remember the most. He loved his family dearly and would often talk of them. Our thoughts are with them at this sad time.

It is no surprise to anyone who knew him that he died rescuing a wounded comrade whilst simultaneously engaging insurgents at close quarters; in life and in death he epitomised the spirit of The Royal Dragoon Guards and his sacrifice will inspire us forever. Quis Separabit.

Captain Iain Monk, 1st Troop Leader, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, said:

Corporal Matthew Stenton was an inspirational soldier. He looked the part but, most importantly, acted the part. He lived to be out in the field and was enthusiastic about passing on his knowledge to those junior to him. He set an excellent example. He had a zest for life and always walked around with a twinkle in his eye. He would always have an idea or plan to make everyone’s lives more enjoyable.

When in Canada he snuck into a field kitchen to get six large boxes of cakes. When he returned to the squadron with his find, everyone’s faces lit up. He will be missed as a role model, a soldier, but most importantly a friend. Quis Separabit.

Lieutenant James Hollas, 3rd Troop Leader, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, said:

I had Corporal Stenton under my command for just three weeks, but even this was more than enough time to see the true measure of the man. He was the sort of commander that a Troop Leader wants; headstrong, but never reckless, steadfast in his convictions, and always forthcoming with sound advice, whether asked for or not.

He was a terrific soldier and an exemplary character for the younger commanders to model themselves on. He will be sorely missed by his brothers in 3rd Troop. Quis Separabit.

Sergeant Scott Dyer, 1st Troop Sergeant, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, said:

Corporal Matthew Stenton is what I can only describe as an amazing soldier. His drive and focus were an inspiration to us all. Always the first to volunteer, he led from the front and never let anything break his enthusiasm, even when times were hard.

Having recently passed his Challenger 2 Commanders’ Course, we had not seen him for a while, but as soon as we did he was straight over with a smile and an open ‘I’ve missed you all’.

I have fond memories of Matty from the time when he met a senior officer and did nothing but complain about the heating in his accommodation, to Canada where all of us were tired and he appeared with a box full of cake, taking the mood that night to an all time high! These are just two examples of how much he loved the lads and would do anything to help them.

We have lost a comrade, a friend and an amazing soldier who died a brave death defending an injured comrade. His love for the regiment was inspirational and his memory will always live on with us. Corporal Matty Stenton was a true hero. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time. Quis Separabit.

Sergeant Stuart Wright, Reconnaissance Troop, RDG, said:

Matt Stenton was one of my closest friends. I first came to know him when he came to Recce Troop as a very keen young soldier and always had a willingness to know more and learn more.

During his time in Recce Troop he was the Troop Leader’s driver and like myself always keen to be off the vehicle and on his feet, which showed he was very adaptable in any job or tasking we were given and never did I get any complaints about either.

One thing we did manage was to keep our crew on hard routine for the whole of a Poland exercise with temperatures as low as minus 15C. He never complained, even when we were both in a huddle trying to keep warm whilst laughing about how nasty treacle pudding tasted cold! Not that he stopped laughing and so neither could I!

Whilst serving with Matt through the years we were very close friends and never had any bad times. He always had high aspirations and he had achieved a lot in the time he served. He had just finished his Tank Commanders’ Course and I know how proud he was, but seeing him just two weeks ago all he wanted was to be out on the ground with his friends on the front line. I am sure Matt would have acted without thinking about his own safety because he had the ‘get up and get it done’ attitude.

Matt was a true friend and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him and my thoughts now go out to his family and the remaining lads still serving in Afghanistan.

Corporal Nathan Stead, Reconnaissance Troop, RDG, said:

I first met Matty when he came to Recce Troop when we rejoined after a long hard tour of Iraq. Matt was well suited to this job; he loved being on his feet, sitting in wet OPs, getting dirty, and the hours of no sleep and hard routine.

He provided on many occasions accurate and timely information to influence the battlefield in our favour. He lived, slept and ate Recce! Matt was without doubt the most outstanding soldier I have ever met. He was a true friend and a joy to be around.

It was when we both deployed to TELIC 11 on Task Force Spartan that I really got to know Matt the most; he was my second-in-command. Just knowing that Matt was behind me every step of the way was a comfort, we did everything together. Many people referred to us as a couple. He would bring light to any darkened room; it was just his character to make everything a laugh.

In the end Matt had achieved his only dream in the Army, to be a tank commander, a damn good one at that. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his Queen and country; we will never forget, we will remember! I will miss you Matt, you will be dining in glory tonight!

Lance Corporal Damian Bailey, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, said:

Matty epitomised the modern day soldier; a professional through and through. He would never shy away from anything. Fighting from the front was the way he lived and died.

You could rely on Matty to be the first to voice his opinion on behalf of the group; he was a loveable rogue and the sort of solider you just needed around to help you through the good and the bad days.

Matty would do anything for the lads, always lending an ear to the younger soldiers. Matty was a true and honest friend to us all, and, on behalf of all the lads, Matty it has been a pleasure to have known you as a comrade and a friend. Rest in Peace mate.

Lance Corporal Levi Webb, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, said:

Corporal Stenton was a great bloke who was just a bundle of laughs to be around, and beneath all the playful banter, which he would continually throw at us, was that ever-present cheeky grin.

Matty was an outstanding soldier whom everyone respected; he was a thorough professional who would never settle for second best. He came out to theatre late, after the completion of his Challenger 2 Commanders’ Course.

Even whilst on this tough and demanding course, he would routinely contact all the guys in the troop to ask if they needed extra kit sending out. Matty loved to have all the gear in his wardrobe; it was like a Quartermaster’s store.

Matty was Mr Reliable, a smiley face at your room door every hour of the day just wanting to do something with the lads, a beer or a cup of tea, he was just happy in the company of his mates.

Things won’t be the same without Matty, he was a true gent and an all round good geezer. On behalf of all the lads Matty, it has been a pleasure to have known you as a comrade and a friend. Rest in Peace mate.

Lance Corporal Kirk Buck, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, said:

Corporal Matt Stenton was a super soldier. He loved the Army and was the definition of keen. He loved being on the back area, running about like the infantry even though he was a cavalry soldier.

He was always a joker and loved being with the lads and would always help the younger boys, as he did with me many times with my map reading.

Matt was someone you could look up to and rely on for help if you needed it. The Army has lost an excellent corporal and The Royal Dragoon Guards has lost a good friend. Matt, you will never be forgotten and our hearts go out to your family and close friends. Quis Separabit.

Lance Corporal Beverley Probert, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, said:

In the time I have worked with Matty, it was obvious to see what kind of a guy he really was. He was determined, selfless and keen as they come. Second would never be enough for him.

Always amongst the laughter, he shone through, always willing to listen and to lend a helping hand. Not one to keep to himself, he led from the front and was someone to look up to. We in The Green Horse have lost a true hero.

Rest in peace pal, you were a pleasure to work with. You did us proud.

Captain Thomas Coker, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, RDG, said:

He was a totally selfless character and a natural soldier and leader. He touched everyone who met him and his loss will be felt by all.

Sergeant James Gibson, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, RDG, said:

Matt Stenton was a close friend, I’ve known him since he joined the regiment. I’ve had the pleasure of his company many times and he was one of the easiest-going guys I have ever met and was always willing to help out anyone who needed it. He will be missed very much and never forgotten.

Sergeant Steven Martin, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, RDG, said:

He was an excellent operator and an excellent soldier. We cannot believe that this has happened to such a close friend and our thoughts go out to his family at this time. He will never be forgotten, Rest in Peace.

Corporals Carl Roberts and Marty Newell, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, RDG, said:

He was a flyer and an incredible soldier. He would have done anything for anybody. He died the way he would have wanted to, saving someone else. Fare Thee Well.

Lance Corporal Arnold Exell, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, RDG, said:

He was a great friend and a great room-mate, he was someone you could really trust. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts are with his family.

Lance Corporal Paul Fish, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, RDG, said:

He was a good mate and drinking partner. My thoughts go out to his family and he will always be remembered.

Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse (All rights reserved.)
Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse (All rights reserved.)

Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse

Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse was born in Greenock, Scotland, and lived with his mother, Linda Watt, in his town of birth. He was 28 years old, was a father to Brandon, and an older brother to Allan, Ashleigh and Stacey.

He began his Army training in December 2003 and subsequently joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards in Germany in 2004. He immediately deployed as a Warrior driver in Right Flank on Operation TELIC 5. It was during his time with Right Flank that he developed a reputation as an immensely fit and robust infantry soldier.

After a brief spell with B (Support Weapons) Company as a Mortarman, he decided to join the Pipes and Drums, despite having, by his own admission, no musical knowledge. He passed his Class 3 Drummers Course in 2007 and his Class 2 Drummers Course in 2008, both at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, and with flying colours.

Having passed a Junior Non-Commissioned Officers’ cadre he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal in March 2009. He remained in the Pipes and Drums and regularly represented the regiment and battalion at musical events.

These events included Pipe Band tours of Moscow in 2007, the USA in 2009, and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2006 and 2009. He was also a key member of the battalion’s football team. His unflinching and passionate support for Celtic Football Club could never be dampened.

He was selected to be a member of the Commanding Officer’s Tactical Group for Operation HERRICK 12 and deployed to Afghanistan at the beginning of July.

Lance Corporal Monkhouse’s family paid the following tribute to him:

Although Stephen died in very tragic circumstances, it is comforting to know that he died doing a job he loved - being a soldier. He loved the Army and the Scots Guards.

He died trying to help save another life, that sums Stephen up. He loved life and lived it to the full and his memory will live on with us and his friends forever. God bless you son.

Lieutenant Colonel Lincoln Jopp, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, said:

I have known Lance Corporal Monkhouse, or ‘Monkey’ as he was known by everyone, ever since he walked through the door of my company office in Germany back just before we left for operations in Iraq in 2004. He made an immediate impression. Tall, gangling and with a nose nearly as big as his ever-present smile.

He did well as a Guardsman, but it was only when he moved up into the Pipes and Drums and became Drummer Monkhouse that he really shone. In fact, he excelled.

“He passed every course we sent him on and was made a Lance Corporal in 2009. He loved his drumming and, only a week before he was killed, he proudly played here in Lashkar Gah for our Colonel, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.

Out here in Afghanistan Monkey was part of my Tactical Group which meant driving around all over the area meeting Afghans and seeing the troops.

“He was the heavy machine gunner of our lead vehicle and had not only mastered that role, but was also our expert on detecting improvised explosive devices. Consummate soldier by day and, on his practice pad back in the tent, paradiddler by night. But always a proud father, son and brother, and a true friend to all.

Ten minutes before he was killed, Lance Corporal Monkhouse was eagerly telling me about his plans for R&R [Rest and Recuperation]. To see his son, to see his family, and to see his friends back in Greenock.

The whole of the battalion and the wider regimental family join me in sending our sincerest condolences to his young son Brandon, his parents Billy and Linda, his wider family, and all his many friends. Greenock lost one of its finest last night.

Monkey died coming to the aid of a Guardsman who had been shot. He did what every soldier hopes he will have the courage to do if the need arises; he laid down his life for his friend. We salute him and we honour our fallen.

Pipe Major Brian Heriot, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, said:

Lance Corporal Monkhouse, or ‘Monkey’ as he was known to his friends, was a shining example of how with determination and ambition you can achieve your goals. He joined the Pipes and Drums in 2007 with no prior experience or knowledge of drumming.

He quickly learned what it takes to be a drummer. He passed his drummers’ courses with ease and as well as being proficient on the side drum he also turned his hand to other disciplines in the Drum Corps and would often ‘Sling up the Bass’ when needed, with little difficulty.

The Pipes and Drums are a close-knit team and I know I speak for all of the boys when I say we have lost one of our most charismatic and enjoyable characters, always at the forefront of anything that was going on and usually the instigator of any practical jokes.

Monkey’s ambition to be Drum Major one day is one that he would have undoubtedly realised given his never-faltering sense of determination and drive. The Pipes and Drums have not only lost a fine non-commissioned officer and an accomplished drummer, but a true brother and friend.

Lance Corporal Terry Brown, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, said:

Lance Corporal Monkhouse, ‘Monkey’ to those of us fortunate enough to call him our friend, will be remembered for his infectious sense of humour, always laughing and joking or quoting Lee Evans and Borat.

“However, he will also be remembered for his love of his son, Brandon, who he absolutely adored. All he spoke of during this deployment was getting back to see the wee man.

“He had a great passion for cars and football. He loved Celtic Football Club and we will always remember Monkey stood in a sea of Rangers fans at a pre-season friendly match between Rangers and Munster; Monkey with his Celtic shirt on singing away and smiling as the boys gave him a ribbing.

A much-loved member of the Pipes and Drums, you will be sorely missed my friend.

Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, said:

I was extremely saddened to hear of the deaths of these two brave young men who died going to the aid of their injured comrade. Corporal Stenton was a tenacious soldier and a role model for the younger men in his unit.

Lance Corporal Monkhouse was a talented drummer as well as a highly valued soldier who clearly had a bright future ahead of him.

Their comrades all speak of their unflagging enthusiasm for their work and cheerful outlook, and they will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with the family, friends and comrades of both men at this very difficult time.