Operations in Afghanistan

Cpl Jonathan Horne, Rfn William Aldridge, Rfn James Backhouse, Rfn Joseph Murphy and Rfn Daniel Simpson of 2 RIFLES killed in Afghanistan

It is with very deep regret that the Ministry of Defence confirms the names of five soldiers from The 2nd Battalion The Rifles, who were killed in Afghanistan on 10 July 2009.

Ministry of Defence crest
Cpl Horne, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Jonathan Horne, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Jonathan Horne, Rifleman William Aldridge, Rifleman James Backhouse, Rifleman Joseph Murphy and Rifleman Daniel Simpson were killed in action near Forward Operating Base Wishtan in Sangin, Helmand province.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thomson, Commanding Officer of the 2 RIFLES Battlegroup:

It has been a grim day here in Sangin but at the end of the day, as we prayed for our fellow Riflemen who have given their lives in the service of their country and for the good of the Afghan people, the Bugle Major sounded the advance and it would have been heard right across the valley as the sun slipped behind the ridge. We turned to our right, saluted the fallen and the wounded, picked up our rifles and returned to the ramparts.

I sensed each Rifleman tragically killed in action today standing behind us as we returned to our posts and we all knew that each one of those Riflemen would have wanted us to ‘crack on’. And that is what we shall do – there will be no turning; the work is too important. We are undeterred. But we will miss each fallen Riflemen sorely. They lived and fought alongside us and tonight our lives are much worse for them not being here. But we can celebrate what they were and what they achieved. We are so very proud of them.

And yet in all of this, we know that our grief is nothing compared to that of their loved ones – parents, wives, children, girlfriends and families. And it is them we also hold tonight in our thoughts and prayers and ask that they may somehow find strength and courage to face the days ahead.

Corporal Jonathan Horne

Corporal Jonathan Horne, aged 28, from Walsall, joined the 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets in July 2004 having completed his infantry training in Catterick. He attended the Section Commander’s Battle Course in Brecon in 2008 and was promoted to corporal in the middle of pre-deployment training.

Corporal Horne served with distinction as both a Green Jacket and as a member of the Rifles in Iraq between 2006 and 2007 (where he was wounded in action) and on peacekeeping operations in Kosovo in 2008. He was hugely proud to deploy to Afghanistan as a Section Commander and relished the opportunity of commanding Riflemen in battle. Tragically, Corporal Horne was killed in action by an IED (improvised explosive device) blast on the morning of 10 July 2009 in Sangin.

He leaves behind his beloved wife Rachel, his children Frankie and Jessica, his parents and one brother and a step sister.

Corporal Horne’s wife, Rachel:

A sad farewell to my wonderful husband who was a devoted father, husband and a loving son. We will miss you more than words could ever describe. You were the most caring, thoughtful, funniest, loving and generous person I have ever known. You were so brave and we are all so proud of what you have done. We will always love and miss you. You will forever be in our thoughts.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battlegroup:

Corporal Horne was one of a generation of rising stars in my Corporals’ Mess and he was right at the top end of it. He had gone from rifleman to corporal in only four years and was thriving on the responsibility of command on the most testing of operations. ‘J’, as we knew him, wore command lightly – testimony to the depth and attractiveness of his character as well as his natural soldier’s qualities. Nothing fazed him on the ground out here and Riflemen fought to be in his section. He was tough, compassionate and full of infectious mirth, exactly what I look for in my JNCOs. His career was packed full of operational experience – Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He adored life in all its richness. And somehow he always managed to get his way into the Corporals’ Mess football team – no-one else thought he was as good as he did. He was wildly and genuinely popular in the Corporals’ Mess and he would dance (badly) to the very end at their fabulous parties. He leaves a gaping hole in his Platoon, his Company and the Battle Group. Our thoughts and prayers are with his adored wife, Rachel, and his children Frankie and Jessica (born not three months ago).

Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES:

I met Corporal Horne later than most; he was away on a promotional qualifying course at Brecon when I took command but his reputation went before him: Highly competent, professional and caring, but tough with a wicked Brummie sense of humour. Corporal Horne did not let me down; he was everything that a Company Commander would have wished for. My lasting memory is seeing him in action helping the wounded, calmly controlling the situation until tragically his young life was ended by the evil insurgents.

Captain Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES:

Corporal ‘J’ Horne was a pivotal member of 9 Platoon and of C Company. He worked tirelessly for the men under his command and he was an inspiration to both riflemen and commanders. His constant cheeriness and ‘can-do’ attitude were deeply infectious. Corporal Horne was the epitome of the professional Junior NCO. He was smart, tough, exceptionally fit and he always led by example.

Unsurprisingly, when his Company Commander, Platoon Commander, fellow JNCOs and Riflemen were lying killed and injured after an explosion, he was one of the first on the scene providing first aid and organising their extraction to safety. Corporal Horne was killed by a secondary explosive device whilst attempting to save the lives of those he lived and fought with. He will be remembered always as a hero, a friend and a true Rifleman.

Celer et Audax.

Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant:

Corporal Jay Horne was a hugely cheerful character who always arrived at work with a big smile on his face. He was full of life and always brightened the day for the whole platoon. He was a mentor to the Riflemen, who looked up to him and responded to his easy style of leadership. As a Section Commander he was dependable and absolutely unflappable. If I needed a man for a task; I could rely on him. No question.

He was passionate about fitness and would pass his spare time in the gym lifting ‘big boys’ weights’ and admiring his body in the mirror. ‘The body of a God’ he would call it – it was the matter of some debate! He will be missed greatly by 9 Platoon and by the wider Company and Battalion. At the time of his death he was leading his men in a casualty extraction, putting his men first, as always. It was utterly typical of the man.

Corporal Carl Thomas, fellow Rifleman and medic:

I feel lucky and privileged to have known Jay since the time he turned up in the Battalion. Not only was he professional in everything he did but he had a wicked sense of humour and made me laugh on a daily basis. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his wife and children. Not only have I lost a great colleague but a great friend as well. You will be sadly missed by everyone who knew you and I feel it is a privilege to have known you personally for such a long time. Rest in peace my friend.

Lance Corporal Powell, fellow Rifleman:

Corporal Jay Horne was a professional soldier and an excellent Section Commander whom I have had the privilege to serve with since 2005. Jay had a great sense of humour and everyone loved hearing his Brummie accent. It would put a smile on our faces without fail. He loved his wife and two daughters dearly and often spoke about them; they were his strength here in Afghanistan . He will be sorely missed and will never be forgotten. See you on the Re-Org mate.

The Riflemen of 9 Platoon:

Corporal Horne was a corporal in rank but a Rifleman at heart. He was devoted to all of us, and his friends and family. Jay would always do everything in his power to help people especially in times when things were tough. Whether it was just a chat or going out of his way to help; he was always happy to do so. Jay had a witty sense of humour and was always laughing and joking, which never failed to lift our moral. Jay was happily married and was really proud of his daughters. He often talked about them and he always used to say that his world revolved around his family. Jay will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family.

RIP Brother we will never forget you.

Rfn Aldridge, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Rifleman William Aldridge, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Rifleman William Aldridge

William Aldridge came from Bromyard in Herefordshire. He attended Minster College in Leominster and was keen on Martial Arts.

Rifleman Will Aldridge joined C Company 2 RIFLES in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland, in December 2008 at seventeen years of age, after attending The Army Foundation College at Harrogate and completing his Infantry Training in Catterick. Rifleman Aldridge completed pre-deployment training for Afghanistan with his Platoon but was unable to deploy on tour until he turned 18 on 23 May 2009. Rifleman Aldridge played a key role with the Battalion’s Rear Party in Ballykinler, guarding the families of those already in Afghanistan until he was old enough to deploy himself. Rifleman Aldridge was fiercely proud of being one of the very youngest British soldiers in Helmand.

Rifleman Aldridge was killed by an IED blast in Sangin on 10 July 2009 whilst helping to extract casualties from a previous explosion in which he too had been injured.

He leaves behind his mother, Lucy, and two young brothers, George and Archie.

Rifleman Aldridge’s Family made the following statement:

The family can’t pay William or his comrades who died with him a big enough tribute. He achieved his dreams by becoming a Rifleman and was very aware of the sacrifice he may have to make. He will leave a huge void in our lives and always remain the perfect son.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES:

Rifleman Aldridge arrived in the Battalion as we started our training for Afghanistan and it was clear from very early on that he was a natural field soldier who relished the challenge of preparing for the intensity and complexity of operations in Afghanistan. He has stood tall in Sangin – a selfless, capable, thinking Rifleman. He had been to the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, evidence itself of nascent talent and had got to grips with the myriad of skills needed for Afghanistan quicker than most.

He was a big going concern and was already ear-marked for more responsibility. We will miss him dreadfully and our hearts go out to his beloved family.

Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES:

Although new to my company for the Afghanistan tour, Rifleman Aldridge had impressed me from the outset. Well-mannered, well turned out, and very much a thinking Rifleman. Such was his stature he reminded me of an old Platoon Serjeant friend of mine from 2RGJ. There is no doubt in my mind that Rifleman Aldridge could have gone all the way. We were injured together in the first explosion. We were both injured and in shock together but he comforted me with his patience and kind words. Sadly his life was snatched by another explosion on the way back to the FOB. Another new talent whose potential will tragically never be known.

Captain Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES:

Rifleman Aldridge was a key part of a very close knit and battle-hardened platoon. Although he deployed later than most, he quickly found his feet and he rapidly absorbed the skills required to operate in this complex and dangerous environment. He spent the bulk of his time in Afghanistan living in and operating from a small Patrol Base in Sangin. With virtually no amenities, luxuries or creature comforts to hand, he thrived on the challenge.

He was a bright, fit, popular and resourceful Rifleman who made friends easily, and quickly grew proud of his Platoon and the men with whom he lived and fought. They too were fiercely proud and protective of him. He harboured aspirations to join the Special Forces and showed great promise for a long and successful career, which ended most tragically as he fought beside his friends to give the Afghan people a better life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant:

Rifleman Will Aldridge was a quiet, well-mannered, generous young Rifleman who absolutely loved his job. He had aspirations well beyond his years. As the youngest member of the Platoon and the Company, he was intrigued by the Special Forces and desired to serve with them. He had a most promising future and was on track to take part in the next Potential Junior NCO Cadre, which I have no doubt he would have passed with ease.

In this close circle of friends within the Platoon, he always talked of his family and his girlfriend, Zeta, whom he loved very much. Will; you will always be remembered as an exceptionally fit and motivated Rifleman, devoted not only to his family but also to his Platoon.

Will, Remembered by all, Forgotten by none - Brother Rifleman.

Lance Corporal Powell, Section Second-in-Command:

Rifleman Aldridge was a keen soldier. He was an ambitious man and always with a smile on his face. He wanted to do his best at everything. He loved the Army and wanted to serve for a long time. I got to know him when we served together in a small patrol base for a month away from our normal FOB in Sangin. He always talked about his parents and the rest of his family. It will never be the same without him and he will always be in my mind. He was a gleaming bloke. He will never be forgotten – rest in peace.

Rifleman Jacobs, fellow Rifleman:

I first met Will when we joined the Battalion at the same time. He was always one of the boys; cheerful, happy and always up for a laugh. He was obviously hugely proud of being in the Army. I will always remember him as one of my brothers. Love you, Big Ginge.

Rifleman Wilson, fellow Rifleman:

Will and I have known each other from training, and he hasn’t changed since then. He’s always been a happy, loving and very proud soldier. We have so many good memories together before coming out to Afghanistan – like him trying to use my bath as his bed after a good night out! He will always be on my mind and in my thoughts, as will his family and friends. I’ll see you again one day brother, but until then – you just rest in peace.

Rfn Backhouse, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Rifleman James Backhouse, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Rifleman James Backhouse

Rifleman James Backhouse, aged 18, from Castleford, Yorkshire, joined the Army in September 2007 and arrived in 2 RIFLES in April 2008 where he joined 9 Platoon, C Company. Rifleman Backhouse joined the Battalion as an Under-18 and was therefore unable to deploy to Kosovo in 2008. So, it was with great enthusiasm that he deployed to Afghanistan with his Platoon in March 2009. Rifleman Backhouse cleared the route ahead for his fellow Riflemen to follow. He was killed in action by an improvised explosive device, doing the job he loved, surrounded by his friends.

Rifleman Backhouse loved his fitness and was always striving to be stronger and faster than the next man. He leaves behind his parents Andrew and Sharon and his three brothers, Gareth, Dean and Ryan.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battlegroup:

One of four brothers, Rifleman Backhouse, was a natural soldier and this was his first tour. As part of 9 Platoon, he had endured some of the most austere conditions in Sangin – there was never a murmur of complaint and he was the sort who simply got on. He was a determined, rigorous and thoughtful young man who saw the lighter side of life. He loved his rugby and his football and his heart was set on being a PTI [physical training instructor] - it would have been right up his street. He was always at the front when we ran on the beach in Ballykinler. He had lungs big enough for the rest of his Platoon. We were jealous.

He was utterly selfless and always the first man in his company to welcome new Riflemen. He is sorely missed and his family are front and centre of our prayers at this unimaginably difficult time.

Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES:

A gritty-sounding Yorkshireman; Rifleman Backhouse was in my select group of Riflemen that were being put forward to attempt the gruelling JNCO Cadre on return from Afghanistan . He was quickly accepted by his fellow Riflemen as one of the lads and as someone who could be relied on. This tour had brought out the best in Rifleman Backhouse. He was ‘always on the ramparts’ as we say and quick to volunteer for any task, especially those which took the fight to the enemy - there were many of those. His sense of service was humbling.

Captain Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES:

Rifleman Backhouse was hugely disappointed to miss his first chance at an operational tour when he was unable to deploy to Kosovo last year because he was too young. Characteristically, he quickly and optimistically reset his sights on the upcoming tour to Afghanistan. He attacked the pre-deployment training with charisma, vigour and a keenness that was clearly visible to all. His keen eye and ability to process what he saw in front of him quickly identified him as a natural Lead Scout and he was proud to fill this vital role.

Rifleman Backhouse was a cheerful and deeply-loved member of his Platoon, and the wider Company, and he will be missed greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant:

James had a demanding role within his section as the lead man. He was brave and seemed to be without fear as he led patrols in the most demanding of situations. He was always first to cross the finish line and relished leading from the front. He was keen to complete the army physical training instructors’ cadre in the future. As a young Rifleman he never forgot what it was like to join The Rifles and welcomed all new members to the Platoon with open arms - One of his strengths as a key member of 9 Platoon. He loved his fellow Riflemen and his family dearly.

As a ‘Thinking Rifleman’ he led from the front, taking the fight all the way to the enemy. He will be dearly missed and never forgotten. A Rifleman first and a friend for life – RIP.

Swift and Bold.

Rifleman Kevin Holt, fellow Rifleman:

Rifleman Backhouse was a very close friend and a fellow Yorkshireman. He was good at his job and never complained. I will miss him dearly and so will the rest of 9 Platoon. He loved his sports and his nights out with the lads. He died for his country, which he loved, and is a hero in my eyes, and should be in the rest of the country’s eyes. I’ll never forget you James and I’m proud to say I knew you.

Rifleman David Kendall, fellow Rifleman:

I first met Rifleman Backhouse in training. He was always the quiet, thoughtful one and until you got to know him you didn’t realise how switched on he really was. He was always friendly and a big, kind-hearted bloke. He will always be missed and will forever be in our hearts. Rest in peace my brother. Kenny.

Rifleman Turagbeci and Rifleman Tagicakibau, fellow Riflemen:

Rifleman Backhouse was one of the most brilliant guys. I met Backhouse when I joined the Battalion, he came to me and shook my hand and introduced himself. He was one of the guys that the blokes loved to work with. Whenever we where on Stag, he’d tell me to switch to another channel and tell jokes. Rifleman Backhouse was always a good morale boost to me. He showed good leadership and had a fine character. Everybody in his platoon is missing him but Rifleman Backhouse died doing the job he loved. He gave his life for his country.

Rifleman Backhouse will be remembered forever. May your soul rest in peace brother, ‘til we meet again. Your two Fijian friends.

Rfn Murphy, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Rifleman Joseph Murphy, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Rifleman Joseph Murphy

Rifleman Joe Murphy, aged 18, was from Castle Bromwich, Birmingham and joined the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles in November 2008 after attending the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, and completing the Combat Infantryman’s Course in Catterick. He completed pre-deployment training with C Company and in March 2009 he deployed to Sangin as a light machine gunner in 9 Platoon, C Company. Rifleman Murphy was killed in action by an improvised explosive device on 10 July 2009.

He leaves behind his parents, Brian and Jill, and his older brother, Ben.

Rifleman Joseph Murphy’s Family said:

He was a fine young man, a dearly loved son, Brother, Grandson, Nephew and Cousin, who will stay in our hearts forever.

His Parents, Brian and Jill, said:

Joe died doing the job he loved whilst serving his country. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his comrades in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group:

Rifleman Murphy joined us in the middle of pre-deployment training and was straight into the mix – at the double - which is how he lived his life. A really bright lad; another product of the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, he soaked up new skills and thought deeply about his new profession. Out here, he was in his element, helping to bring security to Sangin and its people. He knew right was on his side and his commitment was exemplary. He loved his football and was itching for the new season.

A driven young man, he had so much going for him and his loss has hit us all hard. But our first instinct is to pray that his family will find the strength and courage to face the dreadfulness of the coming days.

Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES:

Rifleman Murphy was another Harrogate trained star in waiting. Smartness was not his thing – the dust, dirt and austerity under which we lived was right up his street! He also had an infectious sense of humour which he tried on with me during my first interview with him. I am extremely proud of all he had achieved. Sadly he was snatched from us by an IED trying to rescue another fallen Rifleman. His death will not deter us from the task in hand – it is both important and urgent. Rifleman Murphy knew that more than anyone.

Capt Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES:

Rifleman Murphy was an exceptional young Rifleman. He was fiercely proud of his Section and his Platoon, a passionate Villa fan and the joker of the Company. It is the mark of the man that he was selected to bear the responsibility of being one of the Platoon’s three Machine Gunners despite his relative inexperience. Rifleman Murphy was carrying his close friend and battle-buddy, Rifleman Simpson, to safety after he had been wounded in the first explosion when a second device initiated and killed them both instantly. Rifleman Murphy gave his life while trying to save that of his fellow Rifleman.

The thoughts and prayers of all in C Company are with him and his family. Rifleman Murphy, We will never forget your smile.

Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant:

Joe Murphy loved being a Rifleman. He had many talents and often combined his talent for drawing with his love of Aston Villa Football Club. He was often sent to remove his ‘artwork’ from the sentry positions! With an eye on the future, he wanted to complete the demanding Rifles Sniper Cadre. Joe was close friends with Rifleman Danny Simpson whom he was helping to extract to the safety of the FOB during their last minutes together. He spoke constantly of his parents and his older brother, whom he missed and loved dearly.

Gone, but never forgotten – Rifleman Joe Murphy, 9 Platoon, C Coy, 2 RIFLES.

Lance Corporal Rehan Pasha, Section Second-in-Command:

I was Rifleman Murphy’s Section 2IC only briefly (we were posted to the Battalion at the same time), but I will never forget him. Typically, no-one in 9 Platoon called him Joe; it was always ‘Murph’ or ‘Smurph’ and a few other nicknames besides. Murph habitually made me laugh (although not always intentionally) even when I was trying to be angry with him. His semi-permanent expression of fatigue and Brummie drawl belied a sharp wit and an outstanding artistic talent. Joe, I am sorry that I was not a better friend to you. I will miss you and I will miss being greeted every morning with a cheerful, ‘Allroight Pash?’.

Rifleman Wilson, fellow Rifleman:

I’ve known Joe Murphy since day one in basic training at Harrogate . As soon as he turned up, he was the joker of the platoon, always with high morale no matter what he was doing. He was the funniest lad I have ever known and he loved annoying people in a funny way, which would always have everyone in stitches. We have been in the same section all the way through so I saw him as my own brother and my best friend. I don’t know how we are all going to cope without him making us laugh every day. My deepest sorrow goes to his family and friends and I wish them the best for the future. I’m going to miss you so much Murph. Rest in peace my best friend, my brother.

Rifleman Jacobs, fellow Rifleman:

Smurf the Murph. What a lad! He was one of a kind. I started battalion at the same time as Joe and from the start we got on. I will never forget the nights we spent joking and laughing. I will miss you brother, you will always have a place in my heart. Love from big Ginge.

Rifleman Daniel Simpson (All rights reserved.)

Rifleman Daniel Simpson, 2 RIFLES (All rights reserved.)

Rifleman Daniel Simpson

Rifleman Simpson, aged 20, from Croydon, joined the Army in August 2007. He undertook the Combat Infantryman’s Course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire. On completing his training, Rfn Simpson was posted to 2 RIFLES in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland. He was sent to C Company and subsequently to 9 Platoon.

Soon after joining, he was deployed to Kosovo on Op VALERO where he was employed as a Rifleman within a section. After returning to Ballykinler the Battalion’s focus switched to its future deployment to Afghanistan. During the pre-deployment training he showed an aptitude for all things communications and was subsequently employed as the Platoon Signaller, a pivotal role.

During one of the pre-deployment exercises he demonstrated potential beyond his experience and showed his Platoon Staff that he had the metal to earn a place on the next Potential Junior NCOs Cadre. His style would also have suited life in the Battalion’s Close Reconnaissance Platoon. Rifleman Simpson was killed in action by an improvised explosive device in Sangin on 10 July 2009.

Rifleman Simpson’s passions in life were his family, boxing, football, karaoke, and his mates.

He leaves behind his eight-month-old son, Alfie, his mother, Debrah, his father, Robert, and his two brothers, Lee and Jimmy.

Rifleman Simpson’s Family said:

Daniel Simpson was a larger than life character, sometimes a bit of a handful and always full of surprises. A strong team player who was fiercely loyal to his friends and could be relied on to be there whenever he was needed. Danny as he is known to his family leaves behind a son, Alfie, a younger brother, Lee, an older brother, Jimmy, and parents, Debbie and Robert Simpson. The world will be a quieter place without Danny.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battlegroup:

One of my South London geezers, Rifleman Simpson was a classic Rifleman – hardy, determined and full of fun. He had been in the Battalion since February 2008 and had already been to Kosovo on our ‘disciplined summer holiday’ last year. Good enough to have flirted with professional football, he was surprisingly fit for a man with such a large capacity for food (we could not keep up) and drink.

In Afghanistan, he had made a real difference here in Sangin and he dealt with the arduousness of this place without breaking step. His first inclination was always to look out for others. His sense of fun permeated all that he did and his stated intent was to be Regimental Serjeant Major one day. It was a wholly appropriate dream.

He leaves a desperately big hole in our lives but our first thoughts are for his adored parents, his two brothers, Lee and Jimmy and his adored son Alfie, named after his much loved grandfather.

Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES:

Rifleman Simpson was my big, hard, ‘bouncer-lookalike’ Rifleman. He had been doing such an amazing job in the most difficult of circumstances. He loved the close knit brotherhood of 9 Platoon and was liked and respected by all. He had the mark of a potential JNCO written all over him; he had the presence, common sense and robustness to go far.

Captain Edward Poynter Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES:

Rifleman Simpson was the epitome of a great Rifleman; scruffy, loud and confident to the extreme. He said exactly what he thought and always called it how he saw it. A big man, he was always ready to help his fellow Riflemen. He could carry the weight of ten men and often did. Rifleman Simpson was the lynch-pin of 9 Platoon and was as steady as a rock. He had bags of potential and was full of high octane character. He would have gone a long way in the future. He was a devoted father and family man and the whole Company’s thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Colour Serjeant Paul Conville, Former 9 Platoon Serjeant :

Rifleman ‘Simo’ Simpson was the loudest man in the Company - he was a one-in-a-million character. When he arrived in C Company, it was evident that he was not just a big lad but had an even larger character. When times were hard and things were not going well, he would always pipe up with a smart remark, whether he meant it or not. He put a ray of light on any miserable situation. There was never silence in the Company whilst he was around, his distinctive accent could always be heard. Simo was a talented individual who played junior football for West Ham and was quite handy as a junior boxer. On completion of training he became a talented shot on the ranges which earned him a place on the Company shooting team.

The most important things in his life were his family, his son, Alfie, and his grandfather, Alfie.

‘Simo’ will be missed by all who knew him but especially his fellow Riflemen in 9 Platoon who he fought and died alongside.

Rifleman Sherlock, fellow Rifleman:

I first met Rifleman Danny Simpson in August 2007 at ITC [Infantry Training Centre] Catterick. On the first day it was clear he was a confident, cocky ‘cockney wannabe’ lad that loved life and lived it to the full. Anytime you felt down, Simo would soon sort that out, as it was impossible to feel miserable around such a bloke with his quick wit and cheeky smile. He was a bundle of joy, a barrel of laughs and the 9 Platoon morale-maker. He loved his job and being with the lads and was intensely proud of his battalion. He was the best mate anyone could ask for, a rock in my life. He will be sorely missed by many, never forgotten and loved always.

Rifleman Obeng and Rifleman Thompson, fellow Riflemen:

Rifleman Danny ‘Simo’ Simpson was one of a kind; a joker who always put a smile on your face when you were down. Simo always took his job seriously, was always on top of his game and was very proud to serve his country. Simo always cheered us up with his dance moves when we’d be out having a good time. He will always be remembered for the laughter he spread across the Platoon. We have lost a great friend and he will be forever remembered.

Rest in peace Simo.

Governor of Helmand province, Governor Gulab Mangal, made this statement:

On behalf of the people of Helmand I extend to our friends in the United Kingdom our heartfelt condolences for the losses you have suffered this week. Your sorrow is our sorrow. We are profoundly grateful for the sacrifices your brave soldiers make for us, because we know that they fight to give us, and our children, a future free of tyranny and fear. I promise you, they did not die in vain, and it is a debt we will never forget.

Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth:

It is with a deep, heartfelt sadness that I heard the news of the deaths of five of our brave service men who were killed together in Sangin. Every serviceman or woman who dies will always be remembered for their ultimate sacrifice. The effect this will have on the troops in Helmand and in the UK will be great; but it is their resolve, determination and unshakable pride in their colleagues that will drive them forward to continue their work in delivering stability and security in Afghanistan . Their successes will mean our streets at home are safe from the threat from terrorism.

My thoughts and sympathies, which I am confident are echoed not only by the Armed Forces but country-wide, are with these loved ones and all the families of the fallen.

Published 12 July 2009