Operations in Afghanistan

Corporal Steven Boote and Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith of the Royal Military Police killed in Afghanistan

Corporal Steven Boote and Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, both of the Royal Military Police, were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 3 November 2009 in an incident at a police checkpoint in Nad e-Ali.

The soldiers were part of a mixed team of soldiers from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and the Royal Military Police tasked with mentoring a number of members of the Afghan National Police (ANP) at a checkpoint.

The Grenadier Guards Battle Group had identified the need for increased mentoring of the Afghan National Police within its area of operations.

WO1 (RSM) Darren Chant, Sergeant Matthew Telford and Guardsman James Major from the Grenadier Guards were also killed in the incident.

Paying tribute to the five men, Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth, said:

I was so very sorry to hear of the deaths of these five brave soldiers, killed in the course of their duties in Afghanistan. That they were killed by one of those they were working alongside is a particular tragedy.

The memory of WO1 (RSM) Darren Chant, Sgt Matthew Telford, Cpl Nicholas Webster-Smith, Cpl Steven Boote and Guardsman James Major will live on. They were men of courage who died building security in Afghanistan and protecting people in the UK from terrorism.

My deepest sympathies and condolences lie with their grieving families, friends, and all those who served alongside them who will feel the pain of loss most intensely. They are in all our thoughts.

Corporal Steven Boote (All rights reserved.)
Corporal Steven Boote, Royal Military Police (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Steven Boote, Royal Military Police

Corporal Boote, known as Steven or ‘Booty’ to his family, friends and colleagues, was 22 when he was killed in action whilst carrying out his duties at Blue 25, an ANP checkpoint in the Nad e-Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, on 3 November 2009.

Corporal Boote was a soldier in the Territorial Army and a member of the Manchester Detachment of 116 Provost Company, Royal Military Police (Volunteers). He was attached to 160 Provost Company for his deployment on Operation HERRICK 11.

Corporal Boote was born on 4 December 1986 in Birkenhead, Liverpool. He joined the Territorial Army in early 2006, joining 107 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers (Volunteers), in his local town of Birkenhead. Shortly afterwards he transferred to the Royal Military Police and on completion of his basic training joined 116 Provost Company. He completed his police training and was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2007.

In late September 2008 Corporal Boote volunteered to deploy on Operation HERRICK 11 with 160 Provost Company and took part in many exercises during the pre-deployment training, performing to a very high standard throughout. Corporal Boote was exceptionally proud to be a soldier in the Territorial Army, and always went that little bit further to prove this - it didn’t go unnoticed.

A security team leader at a local Tesco store, Corporal Boote had aspirations to join the civilian police.

Corporal Boote had a long-term girlfriend Emma, who was constantly his topic of conversation and who we all know he loved very much, along with his mum Margaret and dad Anthony whom he was very attached to.

One of his main passions in life was motorbikes, which he and his dad spent many hours restoring and building, as well as riding them together. Corporal Boote was a strong character with a good sense of humour and enjoyed being round his friends and colleagues and was always up for a laugh.

His final request was for his family and friends to be brave as he was and remember Help for Heroes.

Corporal Boote’s family paid the following tribute:

Our son Steven was a wonderful, genuine young man. He would light up a room with a single smile and left a lasting impression on all he met. A son and friend who can never be replaced, but never be removed from our hearts. An only child but never alone, who through family and friends led a full and happy life.

Emma, his partner, was the love of his life and his soul mate. We couldn’t stop him doing what he believed in, and he did believe he was doing his bit for his country. Steven, we are all so proud of you and you will always be our hero. Look after Nan and Granddad. Goodnight our son, our friend, our life.

Corporal Boote’s girlfriend Emma Murray said:

Your cheeky smile would fill everyone with happiness. Steven, I love you so much. You are my rock, my refuge and I will love and miss you more than words can say. Your caring nature and gentle ways will never be forgotten. All my love, my heart and soul, I will see you in my dreams.

Lieutenant Colonel Debbie Poneskis, Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion Royal Military Police, said:

Corporal Boote was very proud to be a Territorial soldier, second only to his pride in being a military policeman. He worked tirelessly to ensure he was at the top of his game and showed steadfast resilience and determination in gaining a much sought after place on Operation HERRICK 11 with his regular counterparts.

Although relatively new to the Territorial Army and the Military Police, Corporal Boote was a popular member of both 116 Provost Company and 160 Provost Company alike. He was accepted readily by his colleagues, largely down to his professionalism and enthusiasm.

Corporal Boote spoke at length of his long term partner, Emma, and his parents, Tony and Margaret, with whom he was very close. His other passion in life was motorbikes, spending many an hour with his dad restoring and building them as well as hitting the open road.

Corporal Boote was a strong character with a good sense of humour and enjoyed being round his friends and having a laugh. It was an absolute pleasure to promote him to full Corporal at the end of an exercise earlier this year; he utterly deserved it and the smile on his face will be my enduring image of him.

The regiment is stunned at the untimely loss of Corporal Boote; it is a much poorer place without him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents and his girlfriend at this difficult time; we share in their grief.

Cpl Boote’s Company Commander, Major Phil Hacker, said:

Steven’s death, so early in our tour, has come as a great shock to us all. He loved being a soldier in the Territorial Army and revelled in Army life.

He knew and accepted the dangers a tour of Afghanistan might bring. Courageous by nature, he was an outstanding soldier who always volunteered for the most demanding tasks. He inspired confidence in all those he served with and we are all so proud and feel so humble to have served with him.

We will always remember Steven who was a true example of the Royal Military Police Corps motto ‘Exemplo Ducemus’ - By Example We Lead.

The Operations Officer for 160 Provost Company, Captain Karen Tait, said:

Corporal Boote made an instant impact with 160 Provost Company; he was grinning with excitement at the prospect of training with us and ultimately deploying with us on tour.

He spoke with me about the possibility of enlisting as a regular soldier, something I would have wholeheartedly supported.

Throughout pre-deployment training and during his short time on operations he demonstrated why he was the man for the job - committed and courageous to the end. It is an honour to have served with him.

Second Lieutenant Richard Evans said:

Corporal Boote served with 160 Provost Company as a Territorial Army soldier from 116 Provost Company. He was a keen, hardworking individual who fully embraced the ethos of the Royal Military Police and military life.

He immersed himself fully in all he did, and did so with a sense of humour and alacrity. Corporal Boote is a shining example to Service police.

He was a grafter, dedicated soldier, and a good friend to many within the regiment. Never one to complain, Corporal Boote accepted all responsibilities bestowed on him, and eagerly tackled every challenge he came across.

He was a tough individual who made a great and lasting impression on those who served with him. He will be sorely missed.

Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith (All rights reserved.)
Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, Royal Military Police (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, Royal Military Police

Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, known as ‘Nic’ or ‘W-S’ to his family, friends and colleagues, was 24 when he was killed in action whilst carrying out his duties at Blue 25, an ANP checkpoint in the Nad e-Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, on 3 November 2009.

Corporal Webster-Smith was born on 2 May 1985 in Glangwili Hospital, West Wales. He attended Llangunnor Primary School and Queen Elizabeth Cambria Secondary School in Carmarthen before moving to Tenby, West Wales, where he completed his education at Greenhill School, Tenby. He lived latterly in Brackley, Northamptonshire.

Following his Phase 1 training, Corporal Webster-Smith enlisted into the Corps of Royal Military Police in February 2005 and upon successful completion of his training was posted to 160 Provost Company, Aldershot, in November 2005.

During his time at 160 Provost Company, as well as conducting garrison policing, he completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 5, a deployment in Kosovo, and a Joint Service Policing tour of the Falkland Islands, where he contributed to the Joint Service Provost and Security Unit, for which he was awarded a Commander British Forces Falkland Islands Commendation.

Corporal Webster-Smith was the eldest son of his proud parents Richard and Jacqueline and a loved brother of Christopher, Samuel and Hannah. Corporal Webster-Smith leaves behind his much loved partner and soul-mate Emma Robinson, along with a loving and proud family.

Corporal Webster-Smith’s family said:

An irreplaceable son, brother, boyfriend and friend. One of the most loving, generous, kind-hearted men you could meet. He always put others first and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Nic will forevermore always be in our hearts.

Lieutenant Colonel Debbie Poneskis, Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion Royal Military Police, said:

Corporal Webster-Smith was a real character amongst the regiment and the company. A professional and determined soldier, Corporal Webster-Smith was always the first to volunteer and the last to give up.

A spirited Non-Commissioned Officer with a keen sense of humour, Corporal Webster-Smith was at his most comfortable in the midst of fellow soldiers, either guiding and mentoring them, or having a laugh and a joke with them.

During his short military career he undertook operational tours to Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as volunteering for a six-month deployment to the Falkland Islands before deploying again to Afghanistan this year.

His continual deployments are testament to Corporal Webster-Smith’s desire to be a soldier first, alongside his mates. He was very much a part of every aspect of company life and could normally be found in the thick of it with a cheeky smile on his face.

The regiment is currently overwhelmed at the sad loss of Corporal Webster-Smith; it is a much poorer place without him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his girlfriend at this difficult time; we share in their grief.

His Company Commander, Major Phil Hacker, said:

Corporal Webster-Smith’s death is a tragedy to us all, especially so early on in the tour. Corporal Webster-Smith loved Army life and he also knew and accepted the dangers that faced him during this tour of Afghanistan.

He cared deeply for his fellow soldiers and this was reciprocated by all who served with him. He was a very popular soldier within 160 Provost Company and touched all of our lives with his humour, laughter and great professionalism.

He set the best example of what it is to be a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer within the Royal Military Police, accepting difficult and demanding tasks with great pride. Serving with Corporal Webster-Smith has inspired and humbled us all. He exemplifies the Royal Military Police Corps motto ‘Exemplo Ducemus’ - By Example We Lead.

The Operations Officer for 160 Provost Company, Captain Karen Tait, said:

W-S was a true soldier and military policeman. His pride at wearing his beret and working alongside his colleagues was evident.

He had a fantastic sense of humour that he brought out when we all needed it, always at the centre of activity. His professionalism and courage is what stood him out amongst his peers. He demonstrated his ‘wilco’ approach to life until the end.

A sociable character who always made time for his friends and loved ones. The loss of W-S has left a void in the company.

Second Lieutenant Richard Evans said:

Corporal Webster-Smith was a respected, fun and well-liked military policeman. He was a key member of the Corporals’ Mess and regimental sports teams.

He was always at the heart of any social function and part of a close-knit circle of friends. He was a fantastic example to those he served with - knowledgeable, confident and open.

He was an asset not only to his company but to those he served with. Corporal Webster-Smith had a keen, dry sense of humour which he often shared with those around him. A sure source of morale, and a reliable individual, he was selected for his role in theatre because of his robustness, clarity of thought, and professionalism.

Corporal Webster-Smith was an exemplary Royal Military Police Junior Non-Commissioned Officer. He would soldier on regardless of the situation, he knew his job, and was adaptable. He will be sorely missed.