Operations in Afghanistan

Warrant Officer Class 1 (RSM) Darren Chant, Sergeant Matthew Telford, Corporal Steven Boote, Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith and Guardsman James Major killed in Afghanistan

Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, Sergeant Matthew Telford and Guardsman James Major, all of the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards as well as Acting Corporal Steven Boote and Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, both of the Royal Military Police, were killed as a result of gunshot wounds sustained in an attack at a police checkpoint in the Nad e-Ali district of Helmand province on Tuesday 3 November 2009.

The soldiers were part of a mixed team from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and the Royal Military Police. Corporal Steven Boote and Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, both of the Royal Military Police, were also killed in the attack.

The team had been tasked with mentoring a number of members of the Afghan National Police at the 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) Chant and his team were sent to a police checkpoint of vital importance as it provided protection to the bazaar area of Nad e-Ali where the Battle Group’s Forward Operating Base is located.

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.

Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Darren ‘Daz’ Chant, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Darren Chant
Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Darren Chant, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards [Picture: via MOD]

WO1 (RSM) Chant was born in Walthamstow on 5 September 1969. He completed his basic training at the Guards Depot, Pirbright, in 1986 and was deployed to South Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1993.

After an attachment to the Pathfinder Platoon from 1997 to 1999, he returned to the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards before being posted to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) as a Colour Sergeant instructor until 2003. At Sandhurst WO1 (RSM) Chant quickly made a name for himself with his straight-talking, no nonsense approach to training and soldiering.

After two years at Sandhurst, WO1 (RSM) Chant rejoined the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. As the Company Sergeant Major of Inkerman Company he deployed to Bosnia from September 2004 to June 2005 as part of NATO’s, and latterly the European Union’s, peacekeeping operation.

On return from Bosnia he was posted back to RMAS as a Company Sergeant Major from August 2005 until December 2006 where he met his future wife. After a year at RMAS he returned to the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, firstly as a Liaison Officer for the battalion while deployed to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 6 in 2007.

On return to the UK he took up the post of Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (Technical). In the summer of 2008 he was appointed Sergeant Major and moved with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards to London and on to pre-deployment training. In September 2009 he deployed to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 11 as the Sergeant Major of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

WO1 (RSM) Chant was the Senior Warrant Officer within the battalion. In this position he was a natural figurehead for all the Grenadier Guards and was unflinching in his pursuit of the highest possible standards. WO1 (RSM) Chant was carved from the very rock that forms the foundations of a regiment.

He was a role model for those beneath him and was an invaluable colleague for anyone that worked alongside him. The day before WO1 (RSM) Chant was killed it was announced that he had been awarded a commission in the Grenadier Guards as an officer. It is a tragedy that he was due to be informed of his success on the day he was killed.

WO1 (RSM) Chant leaves behind his beloved wife Nausheen or ‘Sheenie’. He also has three children from a previous marriage, Connor, Victoria and Adam.

WO1 (RSM) Chant had risen to the highest possible level within the regiment. After the tour it was his aspiration to go to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as Academy Sergeant Major. It was then his intention to commission and join the Grenadier Guards’ Officers’ Mess.

WO1 (RSM) Chant’s wife, Mrs Nausheen Chant, said:

I am devastated by the loss of my husband. Our unborn son will never meet his father, but he will know him through his legacy. For whether in uniform or out, his incomparable courage and selflessness humbled all those who knew and loved him.

His famed sense of humour lightened any situation. I will miss my best friend and nothing will fill the void he has left, my darling Darren. A natural born leader who led from the front. I am immensely proud to say he was my husband.

WO1 (RSM) Chant’s father John, speaking on behalf of WO1 (RSM) Chant’s ex-wife Connie and their three children Connor, 16, Adam, 10, and Victoria, 8, said:

The whole world should know that Darren Chant was the best father any child could have wished for. He adored and lived for his children. He strived to be the best at everything he did.

He was very passionate about the military and believed the British Army were doing a good job in Afghanistan. He was a first class soldier, always putting the needs of his men before himself. He was always the first to volunteer.

We feel cheated as we know that we will never experience his quick wit and dry sense of humour again. His loss has devastated everyone who knew him and he will be missed and loved forever.

Lieutenant Colonel Roly Walker, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Darren Chant, the ‘Sarn’t Major’, died only a few hours ago, at the hands of men he was helping. His death is profoundly sad for the Grenadier Guards and our Battle Group.

He was the senior soldier, and cast from the original model of a Guards Regimental Sergeant Major. He was such a big character. He knew the answer to all our problems; he could make anyone laugh; and he worked tirelessly for everyone in the Battle Group.

He relished the opportunity to put himself where his soldiers were. He had a deep instinctive wish to make a positive difference to the lives of our soldiers and the Afghans, so he put himself forward to better understand the operation from the ground up.

And thus he found himself commanding a team from the Headquarters, working with the Afghan police in a small village in southern Afghanistan. In a few short weeks he’d changed the relationship between the police and the villagers for the better.

To them he was the face of integrity and professional conduct, and on him rested their hopes for a better future. But his success was a threat, and he was cowardly struck down.

The sun has set here in Afghanistan, and with it has gone a tremendously brave soldier and personal friend, taken down in his prime. He had such a bright military career ahead as a Late Entry Commissioned Officer. He’s on a journey home now, borne with all the dignity this proud man deserves, to an adoring family. They can be so proud of him.

All that remains here is an enormous gap in our ranks; but in time our memories of him will overfill the void.

Major Andrew James, Senior Major, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

WO1 (RSM) - ‘The Sergeant Major’ - Darren Chant and I have served together for 18 years. He was one of the most immaculate men I have ever known - in all senses of the word: in his turn out, his professionalism, his inimitable style of robust compassion and above all the exceptionally high standards he set for himself before others.

In the last 12 intensive months prior to the tour I have come to know, like, respect and trust him more and more each passing day.

He was a rare individual, possessing both an imposing physical presence and an imposing personality. No-one who met him even once is likely to forget him. He has inspired, shaped and ‘gripped’ many a young officer either at Regimental Duty or during his postings to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as an instructor of future generations of officers.

He was being considered, and was a leading runner, for the top Warrant Officer’s post in the British Army, the Academy Sergeant Major.

There are many competing facets to deploying a battalion on contemporary operations and The Sergeant Major is the key player in resolving most of them.

We would have daily discussions with the Operations Officer on how to tackle the next issue. I knew that once he had it in his grasp, the problem was gone.

The indelible memory I have of him is standing in (and filling) the doorway after each such discussion saying, ‘Not a problem, leave it with me, Sir, I’ll sort it’. And so he did.

Major Mark ‘Vince’ Gaunt, Quartermaster, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Daz Chant was not only a good friend but an outstanding soldier to work alongside.

His death is a huge loss to the regiment and my immediate thoughts and sympathy are with his family, his wife Sheenie and his children Connor, Victoria and Adam, of whom I know he was hugely proud.

He was a man that you would only have to have had the briefest of dealings with for you to remember him forever.

He was a big bear of a man and his presence was what anyone would expect from a Regimental Sergeant Major, a larger than life character who would always have an opinion and would tell you whether you wanted to hear it or not.

No-one could ever escape his eye, if you were in his gaze it was either going to be painful or painfully funny, never in between.

He had an infectious sense of humour that would make his mates roll with laughter and they in turn would tease him that all of his impressions sounded the same; he, with colourful language, would always disagree.

Passionate about his role as the top soldier in the battalion, and even more so for the soldiers under him, he led from the front and would take the phrase ‘Don’t ask people to do something you would not do yourself’ to the letter.

For a huge man his fitness was legendary. As an ex-Pathfinder he would never give in and never come last at anything. He and I would run most lunch times and sort the regimental world out; well, he would sort it out, and I would concentrate on keeping up with him.

On a previous tour of Afghanistan I was present when he carried an injured man in full kit at night across uneven ground for two kilometres, chatting to him all the way about drinking, fighting and his beloved Inkerman Company.

Daz was an immaculate Regimental Sergeant Major and it was a tremendous honour and privilege to have known him, to have drank with him, to have laughed with him, and to have been a Grenadier alongside him.

Warrant Officer Class Two Steve Munro, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Daz took over the battalion following on from the end of Operation HERRICK 6. From the outset he made his mark and set a standard from which he never faltered.

Socially he had the most wicked sense of humour; he lived his life to the full. To recount his exploits would take a book, the ups, the downs, the funny and comical.

I would read it over and over apart from the last page, a page I would never turn. He was a good friend and a true professional, I and the regiment will miss him. My thoughts go to his wife Sheenie and his children Connor, Victoria and Adam.

Sergeant Matthew Telford, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

Sergeant Matthew Telford with his wife
Sergeant Matthew Telford, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, with his wife [Picture: via MOD]

Sergeant Matt Telford was temporarily employed as a mentor to the Afghan National Police (ANP). As the Regimental Police Sergeant he was perfectly placed to work with such a team drawn from soldiers of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and the Royal Military Police. The team had been tasked with mentoring a number of members of the 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. Sergeant Telford was part of a 16-man team who were sent to a police checkpoint of vital importance as it provided protection to the bazaar area of Nad e-Ali where the Battle Group Forward Operating Base is located.

Sergeant Telford was born in Grimsby on 10 October 1972. He passed out of the Guards Depot in February 1991 and was immediately posted to the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards.

On amalgamation of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Grenadier Guards in 1993, Sergeant Telford was transferred to the 1st Battalion where he served until 2004. In 2004 he was posted to Nijmegen Company, Grenadier Guards, where he served for two years before being detached as a regimental recruiter.

In early 2009 he returned to the battalion as the Regimental Police Sergeant.

Sergeant Telford leaves behind his beloved wife Kerry and two sons, Harry and Callum.

Sergeant Telford’s size, stature and presence were entirely in line with what you would expect of a Regimental Police Sergeant. However, what you found behind the mountain of a man was a thoughtful and caring family man who would work tirelessly all hours of the day to help someone out. He was professional and meticulous in everything that he did.

Sergeant Telford was a fantastically popular individual across the battalion. He was a definite battalion character and it was a pleasure for all his colleagues to have him back serving with the regiment.

Sergeant Telford’s family said:

Matt was a larger than life character - a gentle giant of a man. He will be sadly missed by his wife Kerry and sons Harry and Callum, his extensive family and friends, and his colleagues.

Lieutenant Colonel Roly Walker, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Sergeant Telford, a quiet giant of a man, has died. He was working with a small detachment of Afghan police to improve security in a village infiltrated by insurgents.

As the Regimental Police Sergeant for the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, he was well placed to help the police learn new skills; and as a soldier he was more than ready to face the challenges. So his death at the hands of those he was helping is all the more tragic.

His was an unwavering and reliable presence in the battalion. His easy-going style and happy humour made him everyone’s friend.

He was thriving in his role as a police mentor, and his spirits were high because he could see the results in the men he was working with - both our troops and the Afghans. He was utterly professional in his duty, and the respect he had from the villagers was clear to anyone who visited.

Our loss is as nothing to that of his family and close friends. Our deepest condolences go with him on his final journey home.

Captain Bernie Broad, Quartermaster Technical, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

I knew Sergeant Matt Telford as a Guardsman in The Queen’s Company when I was the Company Sergeant Major. A larger than life character, he was large, fit and intelligent. He epitomised to me what being a soldier, and more so a Guardsman, is all about.

Throughout his career his enthusiasm for the job never diminished and with his excellent sense of humour and gentle touch for such a giant of a man, he was known, respected, and trusted by all.

On promotion he became a Recruiting Sergeant in Grimsby where his charming and professional manner boosted recruiting for the regiment. The quality, well-motivated soldiers who joined as a result of his endeavours will never forget the big guy who recruited them.

Matt, you are a true professional and a loving family man who never let anyone down in the course of his duties at work or at home. A very large gap will be left in the hearts and minds of all who knew him and he will never be forgotten.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Miles, Company Sergeant Major, Headquarter Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

There aren’t enough quality words to describe Sergeant Matthew Telford. He was a giant of a man in both the physical and personal sense.

I knew him personally for 18 years; his sense of humour was infectious and where morale was needed Matt always provided it in spades.

The consummate solder, his professionalism and leadership were the envy of most of the regiment. Posted out from the battalion for a few years, he returned as the same compassionate and understanding man, who when someone really needed support he was able to offer it without question.

Bravery for Matt came with the territory, he led by example and expected nothing of his soldiers that he personally would not undertake.

To say Matt was a totally committed family man probably wouldn’t do him justice. His family was his life, he talked about them constantly and my heart sincerely goes out to them at this difficult time.

To serve with Matthew was an honour and a privilege, and I really couldn’t be more proud to call myself his Company Sergeant Major, but more than anything, his friend.

Lance Sergeant Roberts, Medical Sergeant, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Sergeant Matt Telford was a big man not just in size but also in everyday life. A very professional man who was immensely proud to be a Grenadier Guard, he epitomised what the regiment are all about.

Matt was a keen martial arts expert and was always keen to show this off, his favourite saying was ‘grab me here and I’ll show you how to get out of it’. On grabbing him he would then proceed to put you on the floor in some ridiculous arm lock.

Big-hearted and an even bigger family man, he loved his wife Kerry and his two boys Callum and Harry. I was privileged to have attended his wedding which was one of the proudest and happiest days of his life.

Matt was a man I could call not only a colleague and friend but a brother. Rest in peace mate, you will be sorely missed by all who knew you.

Lance Corporal Lee Dutton, a close friend, said:

I first met Matt on return from a Northern Ireland tour in 1994 when he joined The Queen’s Company. Even then as the junior Guardsman we instantly became the best of friends and through the years that friendship strengthened.

When we both got married our families’ houses in Pirbright were next door to each other and we spent many evenings together with our families, running, or just going to the gym.

Matt had an enormous personality and heart to match. He was big and strong and could always be relied on when you needed help for anything.

Always with a smile on his face, he was always the first to cheer people up when they were down and cheer up any situation with some of the worst jokes I have heard or by showing a new arm lock he had learnt.

Matt was a true friend who will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Corporal Steven Boote, Royal Military Police

Corporal Steven Boote
Corporal Steven Boote, Royal Military Police [Picture: via MOD]

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, Royal Military Police

Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith
Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, Royal Military Police [Picture: via MOD]

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.

Guardsman James ‘Jimmy’ Major, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

Guardsman James Major
Guardsman James Major, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards [Picture: via MOD]

Guardsman James Major, known as Jimmy to his family, friends and colleagues, was employed as a top cover gunner within the Commanding Officer’s Tactical (TAC) Group.

Guardsman Major had only recently joined the TAC Group and was in the early stages of getting to know his new team. The TAC Group had been tasked with mentoring a number of members of the Afghan National Police (ANP) at a local checkpoint.

The Grenadier Guards Battle Group had identified the need for increased mentoring of the ANP within its area of operations. Guardsman Major was part of a 16-man team who were sent to a police checkpoint approximately one-and-a-half kilometres from the main Battle Group location.

The checkpoint was of vital importance as it was on the main road into the bazaar of Nad e-Ali where the Battle Group Forward Operating Base is located. This provided protection not only to the base but to the local inhabitants of the village itself.

Guardsman Major was born in Grimsby on 12 November 1990. On 16 November 2008 he completed his training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick. His first posting was to Nijmegen Company, Grenadier Guards, for a period of five months. With Nijmegen Company he conducted numerous state ceremonial and public duty engagements.

In April 2009 Guardsman Major was posted to the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and joined them in their pre-deployment training. Six months after arriving in the battalion, Guardsman Major deployed to southern Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 11.

Despite his short time spent with the TAC Group, Guardsman Major had already made a strong impression. His character and humour had begun to shine through his naturally quiet demeanour. It is clear that this was a tragic and abrupt end to such a short career.

Guardman Major leaves behind his mother Kim, father Adrian, brothers Lewis and Daniel, sister Paige, and grandparents Harry and Pat Gilliatt and June and Fred Major.

Guardsman Major’s family said:

Jimmy was a tremendous son. He was proud to be a soldier and died doing a job he loved. We are devastated by the loss of Jimmy. He was a loving son, brother and grandson and a dear friend to everyone. We are proud of the fact that Jimmy was prepared to do his duty, helping the people of Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Roly Walker, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman James Major died alongside others with whom he was working to mentor Afghan police and, through them, bring security and hope to a small dusty village in southern Afghanistan.

He died from the hands of a man he was there to help. It was a tragic and cowardly attack. It was so at odds with the amazing results the men had achieved with the police and villagers in a short time.

Jimmy Major had not been with us long. But in the short time he had served with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, he had impressed us with his enthusiasm and soldierly talents. He was always the first to volunteer for a patrol, and wanted to be at the front.

He resented being left behind in the base to man the radio or the sentry positions, even though it was his turn. He was a really good young soldier, and he kept spirits high amongst the team with a great sense of humour, positive energy, and remarkable culinary skills.

He died young, as soldiers tend to in war. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, to whom he has begun his final journey. He leaves an immensely strong impression for one who was with us for such a short time, and we are especially proud he was a Grenadier.

WO2 Miles, Company Sergeant Major Headquarter Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said:

Guardsman James Major was an extremely personable young man I had only known for a short time as his Company Sergeant Major. During that time he impressed me with his outright enthusiasm in his work in barracks and incredible courage in the face of the enemy.

Always praised by his Platoon Sergeant for his constant drive to succeed, he died doing the job he loved. He was a quiet man who was well respected by his peers and this is evident in the fond words spoken in his memory.

James was without doubt a credit to himself and his family whom I know he loved so dearly and I am proud to say that I knew him. My sincerest and heartfelt thoughts are with his family and friends in this very difficult time.

Lance Sergeant Peter Baily, Signaller, Commanding Officer’s TAC Group, said:

Guardsman Major was posted into the Commanding Officer’s TAC Group just before the tour. He immediately came across as a very intelligent and motivated soldier.

For the few short weeks Guardsman Jimmy Major was with the TAC Group he became an integral part of an already close-knit team. He was a hard worker and always carried out any job to his fullest potential.

A quiet soldier at first but he came out of his shell quickly and showed a rare comical side that kept the rest of the TAC Group in high spirits.

Guardsman Major was 18 years old and had been ready to celebrate his birthday next week. He had shown a keen interest in boxing although he had never competed, but had aspirations of taking it up on return to the UK.

Guardsman Daniel Harvey, a close friend, said:

Jimmy was a friendly and caring person who tended to look after the people around him. He was a quiet man who came into his own with his drive to succeed within the battalion.

He was employed in the Sergeants’ Mess but strived to be sent to a Rifle Company as he felt he could achieve greater and better things. Although Jimmy was a quiet man he liked nothing else but to go out and have a few beers with his mates. He had one of the funniest funny streaks I have ever seen.

Jimmy was very family orientated and made no secret that he loved them all very much, in particular his mum. Jimmy will be missed by all the people around him and without knowing it he has made an impact on me and on all others in his circle of friends.

Guardsman Martin Nelson, a close friend, said:

Jimmy, or Major as we called him, was a great mate. He was always there when you needed someone to lend a hand or to go for a drink with. He was never far away when you were down and he always knew what to say to help you out.

He took me under his wing from the very first time I met him; we first met in Nijmegen Company and he was the one to show me how to do my kit properly before a Queen’s Guard.

It only seems like the other day when we both chatted in Wellington Barracks and he was asking about my son. He was a brilliant lad; someone who will never be forgotten. My thoughts go out to his family and we are all thinking about them in their time of need. Major, you were a great mate, loved by all of us, and will be never forgotten.

Guardsman Alexander Bone, a close friend, said:

Guardsman James ‘Jimmy’ Major was recruited from Cleethorpes by Sergeant Telford; he enjoyed most sports, especially boxing and football. He was a very keen supporter of Manchester United Football Club.

He was very proud to be selected for his very important job in the Commanding Officer’s TAC Group. For a small man he had a larger than life personality with a presence and loving/sharing nature which made him stand out amongst his peers.

A character full of spirit and laughter, which will be missed by all that knew him.

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