Operations in Afghanistan

Guardsman Daryl Hickey from 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards killed in Afghanistan

It is with profound sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Guardsman Daryl Hickey from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in southern Afghanistan on Thursday 12 July 2007.

Guardsman Hickey of The Queen’s Company had been working with Somme Company since the beginning of the year. He was killed whilst his Somme Company platoon was operating in support of 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (1 WFR) Battlegroup.

Guardsman Daryl Hickey (All rights reserved.)
Guardsman Daryl Hickey (All rights reserved.)

1 WFR are currently undertaking operations alongside Afghan National Security Forces to improve security in the Gereshk region of the Helmand River valley. He was part of a fire team providing covering fire as others in his platoon assaulted a Taliban position. The assault was successful. The underlying purpose of these operations is to create the conditions for a further expansion of Government of Afghanistan influence and increased reconstruction and development in Helmand.

During the enemy contact, Guardsman Hickey suffered a gunshot wound at approximately 0800 hours local time. He was rapidly evacuated by helicopter and despite the very best efforts of emergency medical staff he was pronounced dead on arrival at the field hospital. Two other soldiers were injured in another part of the same operation and they are now receiving medical treatment.

Guardsman Daryl Hickey

Guardsman Daryl Hickey, aged 27, was from Birmingham. He joined the army in 2001, after completing initial training, he was posted to The Queen’s Company where he completed operational tours in Northern Ireland and Iraq, before deploying to Afghanistan in April this year.

Guardsman Hickey was a keen supporter of his local football team, Birmingham City. He enjoyed playing sports with his friends in the regiment, whether it was on the football field or over a game on his computer. His family was always a large part of his life.

His Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Carew Hatherley, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Hickey was a quiet and thoughtful character who was fun to be with both on and off duty. Immensely proud to be a Grenadier, whether in tunic and bearskin or combats, he was held in the highest regard by all who served alongside him. We knew each other well enough that he could joke with me whenever we met, it was invariably at my expense.

He had been fighting the Taliban on an operation that had at times been nothing short of ferocious, shoulder to shoulder with the others in his platoon, and in whose company he also died. He gave his life in selfless service to his country and his courage and determination is an inspiration to us all. He will be sorely missed and never forgotten.

Major Mick Blake, Somme Company, said of him:

Guardsman Hickey was a very proud Grenadier, a credit to his battalion. Due to his age and maturity, he was always a strong guide to all the young Guardsmen and Territorials within Somme Company. He was very proud of being part of The Queen’s Company. He could be a quiet and reserved person, but was always a dedicated soldier. He will be greatly missed by all ranks of Somme Company.

Colour Sergeant Hampson said:

Daryl was a unique character with a unique sense of humour. His great personality made him the very popular member of The Queen’s Company that he was. It was always a pleasure to be in his presence, his relaxed and sometimes quiet ways made him very easy to work with. The times we worked together I knew I was in good company and could always rely on him to carry out his duties in a truly professional manner as he would always take pride in everything he did.

I can honestly say that everybody in The Queen’s Company who has lived, socialised and worked alongside Daryl over the years is greatly saddened by his loss. I can also say that I am proud to have known and worked with such a man.

Lance Sergeant Nick Rowe said:

Guardsman Hickey was a pleasure to work with and had a great sense of humour. He was always an asset and a proud member of The Queen’s Company. Hickey was sometimes quiet, but would often become the life of any party and I enjoyed drinking and relaxing with him. I was glad to know him and he will be greatly missed by all ranks in the company.

Lance Sergeant Adam Ball and Lance Corporal Keith Maskell said:

We knew Guardsman Hickey for over four years. He was always full of life and very proud to be in The Queen’s Company. Hickey was a really great lad who brought both morale and laughter to everything he did. A great team player and someone who was very helpful to others, he will be remembered for his passion towards his football team, Birmingham City, and his Brummy accent will be sadly missed.

Guardsman Garry Casburn said:

I first knew of Daryl when he came to The Queen’s Company in Northern Ireland. Although a quiet lad at first, his larger than life personality soon came through. I worked closely with Daryl for nearly four years. He was a truly reliable, honest and fun guy. It was a pleasure to work with him and it was an honour to call him my friend. He will be sadly missed by myself and all those who knew him. My thoughts are with his family at this tragic time.

Guardsman Scott Pountney said:

I knew Daryl Hickey for over six years and he was always the life and soul of any party. Hicks was always smiling and finding ways to wind people up with his quick wit and wry sense of humour. Hicks and I always exchanged banter about football; he was a passionate Birmingham City supporter and whilst I support Coventry City, this made me the brunt of most of his jokes about football. Hicks was a true professional. I am a better person for knowing him and my thoughts are with his family and friends.

Guardsman Nicholas Wilkins said:

He had a character of kindness and he was always helping everyone. His Brummy accent always made us laugh and this would boost our morale.

Guardsman Martin Jolley said:

When Hickey first started working with other Guardsmen fresh from Nijmegen Company, he was someone who we could all look up to and who always set us in the right direction if we needed it.

Guardsman Damien Hill said:

For the time that we knew him we grew into a small gang of Guardsmen who respected Hickey for the kind soldier he was.

Guardsman David Stevens said:

All the Guardsmen in Somme Company are devastated for the loss of Hickey. He was a true Grenadier who fought for what he believed in and loved so much.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said:

I was deeply sorry to learn of Guardsman Hickey’s loss. He was an excellent Guardsman who always put the team before himself and he will be sorely missed. I was strengthened by the resolve of those around him who continued to complete their mission successfully so that he did not die in vain. My thoughts are with Guardsman Hickey’s family and friends as they struggle to come to terms with their loss.

Guardsman Hickey’s mother, Mrs Bridget Hickey, issued the following statement:

Daryl’s death has come as a shock to us all. He had only recently written to me saying that he would be home in August in time for his 28th birthday. I am still coming to terms with it, it is so hard to take in. His passing has left a huge hole that I cannot begin to imagine ever being filled.

Daryl had wanted to enlist from being a boy and when he was told he must wait three years because of childhood Asthma, he never gave up hope. He was always determined and as soon as he could, he enlisted. When I asked him recently if he would ever leave, he told me that he intended to stay in for his pension. He may not have enjoyed every part of the Army, but he was proud to be a Guardsman. It was something he lived and died for.

Daryl had already been to Iraq and was not worried about going to Afghanistan. He believed that they could make a difference. He never talked about the dangers that he faced, to Daryl it was just his job. We are all so very proud of him.

Anyone who knew Daryl loved him and we have been overcome by the many cards and letters received from friends and colleagues, both in the Army and at home. While words cannot begin to express the loss that we feel, they have helped us try and come to terms with Daryl’s passing. They say that everyone has faults, but I couldn’t find one in Daryl.

I would like to thank everyone for their words of kindness, our family and friends, and Daryl’s many friends in the Army and at home who have been so supportive through this difficult time.

I do not intend to spend my life being bitter about Daryl’s passing because that would be a waste of his life. I want him to be remembered as the loyal, loving and generous son that he was to me and the devoted brother he was to his younger sister, Elaine. The son who took his mum to watch his favourite football team, Birmingham. the brother who supported his sister throughout her childhood and the man who always put others before himself. We all miss him so much.

We pray for the safe return of Daryl’s comrades in the Grenadier Guards and ask God that no other families have to suffer such an unbearable loss.