Operations in Afghanistan

Guardsman Karl Whittle dies from wounds sustained in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Guardsman Karl Whittle from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards died in Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on Friday 7 September 2012 from wounds sustained in Afghanistan.

© H Szymanski. All Rights Reserved.
© H Szymanski. All Rights Reserved.

Guardsman Whittle sustained gunshot wounds when his checkpoint was attacked by insurgents in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on 14 August 2012.

Guardsman Karl Whittle

Born on 26 January 1990 and raised in Bristol, Guardsman Whittle joined the Army in 2009. Having completed the Combat Infantryman’s Course at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick he moved to Nijmegen Company, Grenadier Guards, where he conducted public duties at the royal palaces and participated in state ceremonial tasks.

In August 2011 he joined 3 Platoon, The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, in Aldershot and immediately began training for the upcoming tour in Afghanistan. He deployed on 5 April 2012 as part of the Operations Company for Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (North).

Guardsman Whittle was one of the leading lights of his company. He was compassionate, selfless and, despite his comparative inexperience, a figure others would turn to in the face of adversity. Guardsman Whittle was a soldier whose presence inspired confidence in all who were fortunate enough to know and work with him.

Guardsman Whittle’s family have paid the following tribute:

Karl was one-in-a-million. He was a proud and caring man who took pride in whatever he did. The family are obviously devastated. Karl was the light of many lives and touched all who knew him. He will be especially missed by his baby daughter Grace, who has lost her number one man.

Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Whittle was one of our very best. A great soldier and a young man of rare character, he was destined to go a very long way in the Army. Big, strong and full of fight, he battled hard against his injuries right to the very end. His loss has been keenly felt in a close battalion and our prayers are with his family at this most difficult of times.

I am immensely proud of what Guardsman Whittle achieved out here in Afghanistan and more broadly during his military career. He was utterly committed to his fellow Guardsmen, his company and the mission. He will never be forgotten by either the battalion or the broader regimental family. Moreover, we are determined to maintain the high standards set by this most talented of Grenadiers.

Major Piers Ashfield, Captain of the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Whittle was one of the toughest soldiers in the company and a loyal friend to everyone he met. His dedication to his duty through great adversity was of the highest order. The Queen’s Company has lost a great soldier who will forever be remembered for his inspiring bravery and sacrifice. The Queen’s Company offers its most heartfelt condolences to Guardsman Whittle’s family and friends.

Lieutenant Alexander Budge, 3 Platoon Commander, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Whittle was without doubt a shining light in the platoon. On arrival at the battalion, shortly before tour, he immediately asserted himself and showed his true talent. He was kind, compassionate and an exceptional soldier, always ready to help others less proficient than himself.

He was a mountain of a man with an extremely bright future, which makes his passing even harder to bear. I think it is a testament to his strength and determination that he fought this long against all odds. He was a professional to the end and our thoughts are with him and his family.

Lance Sergeant Matthew Mooney, Section Commander, 3 Platoon, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Whittle was the type of soldier every section commander wants in his section. He was always willing to do any task no matter how dangerous or laborious - his loss is a massive blow to the platoon and to the company. All our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. Gone but never forgotten.

Lance Corporal Ashley Hendy, Section Second-in-Command, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Whittle was one of the best, if not the best, Guardsmen in our platoon, fearlessly taking the fight to the enemy at every opportunity. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.

Lance Corporal Tony Reuben, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Whittle was a massive part of the platoon. If anything needed to be done he would be there to do it. He will be sorely missed by us all and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time.

I worked with Guardsman Whittle throughout training and on deployment to Afghanistan; he was an inspiration to us all. He was a dedicated, strong person always at the front. Gone but never forgotten.

Guardsman Christopher Keay, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

You were one of the best soldiers I have ever worked with and an even better friend and I am so proud that I could call you so. You made the platoon what it is; you will be sadly missed and forever in our hearts.

Guardsman Sam Emmett, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

A good friend and passionate about the things he loved, especially his family. His personality was as big as he was and he was a gleaming bloke to be around.

Guardsman Grant Churchill, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Whittle was a strong, kind-hearted person who was always there to give others help. Never shy to step forward and do your share, you were a good friend who will be sadly missed.

Guardsman Robert Froggatt, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

The fun, the laughter and good times we had will never be forgotten Karl. You will always be greatly missed and never forgotten. I hope you are up there showing the angels how to party. Sweet dreams mate.

Guardsman Austen Wates, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Karl was a good friend and was always there for me whenever I needed advice. I will miss you very much as will the rest of the platoon.

Guardsman Lamin Ceesay, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman Whittle was a true professional soldier who was dedicated to his duty and every single member of the Queen’s Company, particularly 3 Platoon. In addition, he wasn’t only my fellow soldier but my gym mate as well. He loved his weights, gym time and was very fit; a very determined fella.

Finally, he really will be missed and my heartfelt condolences go out to his family, daughter and friends. You will never be forgotten. May your soul rest in peace.

Private Steven Bridger, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

I have only known Karl since January when I joined the Queen’s Company. He was the best soldier I had ever worked with. He was friendly, funny and committed to his work and the company. He will never be forgotten.

The Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, said:

I was very saddened to learn of the death of Guardsman Karl Whittle, a soldier who had shown great promise and was popular with his fellow troops and commanders alike. It is clear from the tributes paid by his comrades that his loss is felt sharply by his battalion.

My deepest sympathies are with his family and friends in their time of mourning. Guardsman Whittle died for his country, fighting to protect the people of the United Kingdom from the threat of terror.