Private Chris Gray, aged 19, from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, was killed in action whilst fighting the Taliban in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
He was a member of A Company Group, 1 Royal Anglian Battlegroup, conducting a clearance patrol in the town of Now Zad in support of the Government of Afghanistan. The patrol was attacked by the Taliban; employing small arms, heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, mortars and rockets.
As lead elements of the patrol were pinned down by enemy fire, Private Gray’s Platoon manoeuvred to support their comrades and out-flank the enemy. Private Gray was the point man in his Platoon - selected for this position as a result of his outstanding soldiering skills.
As they manoeuvred, Private Gray’s section observed a group of armed Taliban fighters at close range, whom they immediately engaged. A fierce firefight ensued at a range of just 15 metres, during which a small number of Taliban were killed.
Tragically, during the battle Private Gray was shot and despite the best efforts of his colleagues and medical staff was pronounced dead on arrival at the British Hospital at Camp Bastion.
Private Chris Gray
Private Gray joined the British Army in March 2006 and, having completed training as an infantry soldier at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, he joined the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in September 2006.
He was born in Leicester and attended the Holmfirth School in Huddersfield. Among his many interests he had a love of outdoor life and was a keen snowboarder.
Private Gray has two younger brothers and a younger sister. He was a former pupil of Ratby Primary and Brookvale High Schools, and later attended Groby Community College, Leicestershire.
In a statement, his family said:
He was a much loved and cherished son, grandson and brother, who was proud to serve his country. He will always be missed.
His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Carver, said:
Private Chris Gray had quickly established himself as a highly respected member of 1 Royal Anglian and his death is a tragic loss that is deeply felt by all members of the Battalion. It came as no surprise to those that knew him that he died courageously in close combat, selflessly striving to relieve comrades in extreme danger.
“He was a true Viking who we will never forget. Our sympathy and thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.”
His Company Commander, Major Dom Biddick MBE, said:
He was a superlative soldier; passionate about his job; and a man with real leadership potential. ‘Grayman’, as he was known to his friends, was a young man with a big heart and a calm, generous and immensely trustworthy personality. A close friend to many, Private Gray had an infectious sense of humour and possessed a degree of optimism that many of his more cynical peers found baffling.
His best friend, Private Matt Duffy, also of A Company, said:
Chris was an awesome soldier and a better mate. He loved the job more than anyone and died doing what he loved.
Another friend from A Company, Private Terry Croft, said:
He was a generous friend and would always share his last biscuit with you. You could trust him with anything.
Defence Secretary Des Browne said:
I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Private Chris Gray, who died while doing an exceptional job for his country and for the people of Afghanistan. My thoughts and sympathies are with his friends and family at this sad time.
The family of Private Gray have requested that the media respect their privacy at this difficult time.