Operations in Afghanistan

Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas, Guardsman Craig Roderick and Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua killed in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Perran Thomas of the Royal Corps of Signals, and Guardsman Craig Andrew Roderick and Guardsman Apete Saunikalou Ratumaiyale Tuisovurua of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, were killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 1 July 2012.

Ministry of Defence crest
Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas, Guardsman Craig Roderick and Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua (All rights reserved.)
Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas, Guardsman Craig Roderick and Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua (All rights reserved.)

On 1 July 2012, all three were part of a patrol to a checkpoint known as Kamparack Pul to help organise a meeting (shura) with the local detachment of Afghan National Civil Order Police. Having completed their task and on leaving the compound, they were attacked by small arms fire and fatally wounded. They were based in Forward Operating Base Ouellette in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas (All rights reserved.)
Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas (All rights reserved.)

Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas

Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Thomas deployed to Afghanistan on 17 February 2012 as the Military Stabilisation Support Team (MSST) operator attached to Combined Force Burma.

He was born on 8 August 1967 and enlisted into the Army in January 1986. On completion of training he joined the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards and deployed on Operation GRANBY to Kuwait and Iraq the same year.

He later transferred to the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, finishing his regular service in 2001. Much of his career was spent with the Reconnaissance Platoon and he served with distinction whilst in Northern Ireland. As a career soldier he joined the Reserve Forces, continuing his career with 37 Signal Regiment (Volunteers). More recently he held a Full Time Reserve Service appointment in Headquarters Army where he continued supporting operations in the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device area.

WO2 Thomas was in the twilight of an exemplary military career. This was his final operational tour and he was looking forward to spending time pursuing his passion for the outdoors and spending time with his long-term partner Rachel and his mother Sylvia.

WO2 Thomas leaves behind his mother, partner Rachel, and younger brother Tristan (43).

The family of WO2 Thomas paid the following tribute:

Pez was a military man through and through. He thrived in extreme environments, both in the military and in his spare time.

He was a keen climber and mountaineer and will be sorely missed by everyone who had the privilege to have met him.

Colonel Alan Richmond, late Queen’s Dragoon Guards, Commander, Military Stabilisation Support Group, said:

Warrant Officer Class 2 ‘Pez’ Thomas was a soldier of great experience, wisdom and dedication.

A proud member of 37 Signal Regiment (Volunteers), with 15 years of regular military service behind him, ‘Pez’ became interested in the activities of the Military Stabilisation Support Group whilst supporting its training. Yearning for a final military deployment, he volunteered to serve with the Group where his presence, passion and experience helped bind together an eclectic team drawn from all sections of the Armed Forces.

The toughest jobs are given to most able and ‘Pez’ was deployed to a challenging area of Helmand. There he acted as a Stabilisation Operator; striving to enhance the lives of the people by improving local governance, infrastructure and basic services. It was whilst working tirelessly to build the foundations for a lasting peace that he was so tragically struck down alongside cherished colleagues from the Welsh Guards.

The Military Stabilisation Support Group mourns the loss of a much valued and respected comrade. For our small tight-knit team in Helmand the grief will be most acute but the loss will undoubtedly strengthen our resolve to get back out and continue his selfless work.

At this difficult time our prayers and thoughts rest with his partner Rachel and his mother Sylvia.

Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Allison, Royal Logistic Corps, SO1 Transition, Headquarters Task Force Helmand, said:

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas will be remembered by the Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers of the Military Stabilisation Support Group (Afghanistan) as a highly professional, passionate and forthright soldier who was genuinely driven by a desire to make a difference.

A consummate Warrant Officer he was hardworking, hugely experienced, possessed a keen sense of humour and was rightly proud of his prestigious military career, the majority of which was spent as a member of the Welsh Guards. A measure of the type of man he was is the fact that he had willingly volunteered for one last operational deployment, having spent two and a half years on Full Time Reserve Service working in the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device area within Headquarters Army. On deployment to Afghanistan he then volunteered to be the Military Stabilisation Support Team Operator within Combined Force Burma due to his prior experience as an Infantry Senior Non-Commissioned Officer.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas persevered in his pursuit to improve the lives of Afghans living in this area and to help connect them to official government structures. During his time, and due to his emphatic approach and dedication, he managed to make huge strides forward and was in the final stages of starting a number of significant projects. This excellent work will not be allowed to falter and will prove a lasting legacy to his memory.

The Military Stabilisation Support Group (Afghanistan), his colleagues and friends will miss his wit, healthy cynicism and good company. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his partner, Rachel, and his family at this tragic time. We mourn their loss; he is gone but will never be forgotten. His sacrifice will inspire others to follow his example. Rest in peace old comrade.

Lieutenant Colonel Dominique Cairns, Commanding Officer, 37 Signal Regiment (Volunteers), said:

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas was a dedicated and professional soldier who was a long standing member of the Army in many roles, both as a regular soldier and reservist. He will be remembered for his lively sense of humour and incredible enthusiasm. He took immense pride in passing on his wealth of knowledge to recruits and colleagues alike who will join us all in the deep sadness and sense of loss that we feel. He was an immensely proud and professional soldier who will be sorely missed by all that knew him.

He leaves behind his long term partner, Sergeant Rachel Prosser, also a member of 37 Signal Regiment (Volunteers), and his mother Sylvia.

Major Freddie Grounds, The Royal Anglian Regiment, Officer Commanding Military Stabilisation Support Team (Afghanistan), said:

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas was an utterly outstanding soldier: professional, dedicated, courageous and dependable, yet also modest and self-effacing, with a dry sense of humour. He was exceptionally proud of his Welsh Guards pedigree, he was Blue, Red, Blue to the core, but he was equally proud of his more recent affiliation with the Royal Signals, with whom he had the opportunity to continue his military service.

His contribution to the Military Stabilisation Support team on Op HERRICK 16 has been immense and his determination to persevere with bringing something tangible to the people of the Upper Gereshk Valley has been a mark of the type of man he was. His tragic and untimely loss leaves a huge gap in our team. Our grief however is dwarfed by that which will be felt by his mother, Sylvia, and partner, Rachel. I hope some small comfort can be taken from the fact that he died doing the job he loved, surrounded by his Welsh Guards brothers, who held him in such high esteem.

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Webb, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said:

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas made an enormous impact during his time with Combined Force Burma. He deployed to Forward Operating Base Ouellette about a month before the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh Battle Group and was already immersed in his role by the time we arrived. He genuinely believed in his work and relished the opportunity to make a difference for local Afghans.

This part of Nahr-e Saraj is a challenging area in which to deliver projects, but through his experience, expertise and determination he made considerable progress and much more than any of us thought possible at the start of our tour. Through his frequent meetings with the local population he showed an empathy and sense of purpose in dealing with their concerns which was an example to us all.

In a very short space of time Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas became a very highly regarded member of our team. He was hard-working, fun and utterly professional. Having deployed on numerous operational tours, he consistently displayed the highest courage, professionalism and ideals. He will be hugely missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his partner, Rachel, and his family at this difficult time.

Major Adam Greenfield, Royal Regiment of Artillery, Officer Commanding Military Stabilisation Support Team, Nahr-e Saraj (North), said:

Warrant Officer Class 2 ‘Pez’ Thomas was a good man, a good friend and a proud Welsh Guardsman through and through. His passion and loyalty for the Battalion in which he began his career never wavered despite transferring to the Royal Signals. The Guards influence never left him and when you spoke to Pez you would be forgiven for thinking that he had never left the Guards.

His passion for soldiering was matched only by his love for the outdoors and his partner Rachel: without doubt his two motivators in life and during his time in Afghanistan. It was rare that I had a conversation with Pez without at some point him talking of Rachel and his plans for a future with her. It was a pleasure to have known Pez and my thoughts are with Rachel and the rest of his family and friends at this very sad time.

Major Matt England, Adjutant General’s Corps (Educational and Training Services), Officer Commanding Joint Theatre Education Centre, said:

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas was exactly the kind of Warrant Officer all soldiers aspire to be. He always wanted to be at the point where he could make the most difference. He was articulate, bright and fit, and I was lucky enough to work with him and also call him a friend.

He had the ability to sum up, in one sentence, what we were all thinking. A rueful comment and a smile would often get the message across when a plan needed experience to turn into reality. He was of a generation of Warrant Officers who knew what right looked like and he was always willing to tell me he was right.

He was proud about being a Welsh Guardsman and always had a story to tell; I’m certain he is blue-red-blue to the core. He was grateful to the Royal Signals, who gave him the opportunity for further service and he volunteered to come to Afghanistan to make a difference.

He was strongly supported by his partner Rachel and his family. With Rachel he indulged his other great passions: mountaineering and climbing. He spent the winter prior to deploying in Norway Ice Climbing with Rachel and mid-tour leave in the Lake District. He lived a full life.

His values shone through in everything he did. A good man, consummate professional and true gentlemen, he was someone I am proud to have called a friend.

Captain Jamie Woodfine, Influence Officer, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said:

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas believed passionately in being a professional soldier. His years spent in the Welsh Guards showed in all he did and he set himself high standards. While widely and affectionately known as the ‘Grump’ of the HQ he covered a keen and ever-present sense of humour and a dedication to the ideals of the Military Stabilisation Support Group. He never faltered in his efforts to try and help the Afghan people.

Pez was a good friend, a good man, and a great soldier. I will miss his grumpiness and I will miss his humour, but I will also miss his approach to our work and the experience he brought with him, which greatly assisted me throughout. He enjoyed a long and varied career in the army and remembered it all with great fondness. As a member of the TA he applied for this tour because he wanted to continue to make a real difference, and I believe that the realisation of the projects and initiatives he started will do just that.

My thoughts are with his partner, Rachel, and his family at this tragic time.

Captain Darren Pridmore, Regimental Careers Management Officer, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

I have known Pez for over 20 years and I am proud to have called him a friend.He joined the Welsh Guards after transferring from the Coldstream Guards, during another operational tour in Northern Ireland and he was an instant hit.

He was wacky, a little odd with a wicked sense of humour and fitted in immediately. This was not only because of his funny side, and that his father had been a Welsh Guardsman before him, but because of his consummate professionalism. Having served in the First Gulf War and in the Close Observation Platoon in Northern Ireland several times, there was little he didn’t know about reconnaissance. He was an outstanding climber and introduced me to the sport many years ago; we climbed together only a few months before he deployed and we were arranging our next trip for his return, we sadly won’t make that climb now.

He will be sadly missed by those that served with him and my thoughts are now with his partner and family. I can only imagine the pain they are feeling. He was a great man who taught me so much and it will not be the same without him.

Captain Anna Crossley, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, Female Engagement Officer, Combined Force Burma, said:

Mr Thomas was a soldier with years of experience as an Infanteer in the Welsh Guards. He had seen and done it all but behind his gruff sarcastic exterior was a man who would quietly offer information on the inner workings of the Infantry and support to those such as me with far less experience. His years in the military had taught him the need for patience and in this respect stood him in good stead in his work.

Despite regular frustrations within his role he was a realist and hoped the slow careful progress he made with the local population would eventually take effect. The regular moments in the smoking shed and the sharing of memories of former years soldiering knitted us together as a team, as did our attempts to bring Afghans into closer contact with their Government.

I will miss his company in the back of many armoured vehicles and the waiting for locals with a cup of tea. My thoughts are with his partner, Rachel, and his family.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Jack Harrison, Royal Navy, Second-in-Command, Military Stabilisation Support Team, Nahr-e Saraj (North), said:

Pez Thomas was an outstanding soldier and friend and I am honoured to have served with him. He was the embodiment of his Welsh Guards, Reconnaissance Platoon and Brigade Reconnaissance Force background. Professional, precise and clear thinking; he was not one to suffer fools. Having completed a chest full of operational tours his experience and skills were second to none and he was always willing to give advice to those around him, albeit with a layer of his sarcastic grumbling humour included.

His long suffering work on the present tour highlighted his professionalism and fortitude with long hours of work spent on slow moving projects which took time to show their rewards. He never despaired and kept grafting toward the long term goals. His experience, combined with his readiness to give his opinions at all levels were a godsend to his team and his humorous moans will long be remembered. His loss will be deeply felt by all within the team and our thoughts are with his family and his girlfriend, Rachel.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Jason Suller, Operations Warrant Officer, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said:

I have known Pez for only six months, however it felt like I have known him all my career. He was a genuine guy who was passionate about everything he did - from mountain biking to shopping on Amazon (I still don’t know why he bought those cowboy boots). He was a proud guy, always reminding me of his Infantry background and was so chuffed that he was able to work with his old Regiment the Welsh Guards, saying he was very tempted to dust off his old beret. Most nights we would sit with a brew and have a good whinge and chat about what we were going to get up to at the end of the tour.

Pez will be sadly missed by all those that had the pleasure to meet him and my thoughts and prayers are with all his family and friends at this sad time. RIP mucka.

Guardsman Craig Roderick (All rights reserved.)
Guardsman Craig Roderick (All rights reserved.)

Guardsman Craig Roderick

Guardsman Craig Andrew Roderick deployed to Afghanistan on 26 March 2012 as a member of a Police Advisory Team within the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group.

Guardsman Roderick was born on 2 April 1990 in Cardiff. Before he joined the Army he went to Pencoed to learn bricklaying. He said to his friends that he joined the Army because he liked to keep fit and wanted to go to Afghanistan. He started his training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick on 22 February 2009 and passed out from Catterick in September 2009 joining the Welsh Guards at their home in Aldershot, Lille Barracks.

Guardsman Roderick was an exemplary member of the Welsh Guards. Almost every person he spent time with, commented on his infectious smile and wicked sense of humour. He had a hugely bright future ahead of him and there is no doubt that he would have progressed through the ranks. His enthusiasm was truly boundless, his approach and attitude to work faultless to the last.

Guardsman Roderick will be remembered alongside the other Welsh Guardsman who have both given their lives in service of our country, amongst the ranks of the bravest of the brave.

Guardsman Roderick leaves behind his parents Mike and Sadie, two sisters Katie and Lucinda Emily, brother Jay, grandmother Margaret and girlfriend Zoe.

The family of Guardsman Roderick paid the following tribute:

Words cannot describe how the loss of our precious Craig has affected us all. The vast void left by this tragedy will never be filled.

Everyone who knew him will miss his big smile and his sense of humour. He was the best son, brother or friend you could have wished for, we were privileged to have known him. He will always be missed and never forgotten.

Lieutenant Colonel Dino Bossi, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Guardsman Craig Roderick died doing the job that he loved - he had joined the Army expressly to go to Afghanistan and was in his element out here thriving on the austere conditions, the hard physical work and the mental challenge of soldiering. He was an integral and much loved member of a close-knit team. Always keen on his fitness Guardsman Roderick could be relied upon to be at the front of any physical task or endurance event.

Here in Afghanistan that stood him in excellent stead and he revelled in being able to overcome adversity. Brave, honest and loyal, he was the sort of man anyone would be glad to have in his fire-trench when the going got tough. Cardiff City was an enduring passion, but his Police Advisor Team, was the team he supported most fervently and with unremitting pride. His Police Advisory Team, Number Two Company and all those that knew him across the length and breadth of the Battalion feel his loss keenly.

Though grievous to us, our loss is as nothing when compared to that currently being endured by his family, for whom the events of 1 July will be unbearable. For those Welsh Guardsmen left behind, we cherish Craig’s memory and will honour it going forwards with his example before us. Cymru am Byth!

Major Julian Salusbury, Company Commander, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Soon after arriving in the Battalion, Guardsman Roderick was identified as an excellent young soldier. Fit and energetic, he was a proud guardsman with a bright future. Quite simply, there was never a dull moment with Guardsman Roderick. He threw himself into his life as a soldier and worked and played hard. Generous, friendly and one of the boys, he was always the first to confidently offer me a shot of tequila on a Company night out. He was much liked and will be sorely missed.

Guardsmen Roderick worked hard throughout Mission Specific Training to learn the skills needed to deploy on an operational tour. He said that he joined the Army so that he could go to Afghanistan - he relished the chance for adventure. He was employed in the demanding Police Advisory role requiring the utmost patience and professionalism - Guardsman Roderick displayed both with aplomb. His honest, straightforward and inclusive nature endeared him to his Afghan partners: he was a key part of the team.

Guardsman Roderick well understood the inherent risks of being a soldier - his death is keenly felt by his brother guardsmen in Number 2 Company. Guardsman Roderick, without doubt, made a difference to the daily lives of the ordinary Helmandi people and, knowing this, we continue with our mission - we have made a difference and will continue to do so.

At this most difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Guardsman Roderick’s family. Cymru am Byth.

Lieutenant John Scarlett, Coldstream Guards, Police Advisory Team Commander, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

The first thing that springs to mind when I think of Guardsman Roderick is that he had a heart of gold. Everything he did, every thought and deed was with the best of intentions. He was the king of cheesy grins and corny chat up lines, the epitome of a gentle soul and natural charm. Since my arrival in the Welsh Guards in January, our team has become very close and it is fair to say that Guardsman Roderick was at the very heart of our tightly knit group. He was a ferociously fit individual and he always gave his best and tried to do what was right for the lads.

He lost his life in tragic and unfortunate circumstances. My thoughts are with his family and friends. It is important for everyone to know that Guardsman Roderick was playing his part in what is an essential role in Afghanistan and his sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Rodders, I will miss you ‘butt’. The boys will never forget you and we will make sure that you will be remembered for all the right reasons. You have left a massive gap in our lives that will never be filled. I want you to know that ‘Chall’ and I are deeply proud of you. We will be there for your family whenever they need us and I promise you that your loss will not be in vain. Have fun up there. We will see you on the other side. I expect a pint in hand, a grin across your face and some stories of what we’ve missed.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Dunn, Company Sergeant Major, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Guardsman Roderick was an exceptionally fit man and a workhorse on operations. He gave everything for his fellow Guardsman and stepped up to the plate on many occasions to help others who were struggling. In barracks Guardsman Roderick lived life to the full. He trained hard and did the same when out on the town. He was a true No. 2 Company man within the Battalion. He will be missed by us all. Our thoughts are with the family of Guardsman Roderick at this time. Rest in Peace”.

Lance Sergeant Laurie Challenger, Police Advisory Team Second-in-Command, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Rodders’ was my favourite Guardsman, a hard working guy who always smiled no matter what. He had been in my team since he’d been in the Welsh Guards. He was very popular with all the men and his stories were something you always laughed at. He first started his leadership skills in my section in Kenya and he reminded me of myself when I was a young commander so I took him under my wing. He again worked very, very hard and I must say with honesty I will never find another harder working man again. He would have gone very far in the Welsh Guards with his fitness and effort. I would have been proud to have seen him go up the ranks. I will miss him terribly and will never forget him for as long as I live.

My thoughts go out to his family and girlfriend so again my deepest sympathies to you all. You will be missed my friend, thanks for all the memories. You will always be talked about but I think you already know that. Rest in peace. I’ll see you on the re-org”.

Guardsman Mark Edwards, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Craig was a person who could brighten up a room and your day every time he was there. I will miss the times we used to go for runs and try and out-do each other mate and when we went on the town you were the life of the party fella. My heart goes out to your family. Craig, I will never forget you mate. You will always be in my heart and my head forever; never forgotten. Love Ed.

Guardsman Tommy Everett, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Craig was a close friend, always making the lads laugh with his silly comments. He was a massive morale boost for me and the team. He always tried his best and was always grafting to get things done. A key bloke in the team and will never ever be forgotten. I’ll never forget his smile whatever was going on in work, however bad, it seemed that smile will always be remembered. Sleep peacefully Bro; you’ll always be remembered.

Guardsman Stewart Harris, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Guardsman Roderick, Craig, or more commonly, known as ‘Rodders’ the man that never stopped smiling. Everyone could be down in the dumps and he would walk over with his big smile with all his pearly white teeth out saying ‘All right, or what’. He was a light that could not be put out, he could not be broken. He’d put others before himself every time. Every memory I have of him is a good or funny one.

You have been stolen from us Rod; 2 Company on Muster Parade will never be the same.

Guardsman Joshua Niebling, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Craig was an awesome lad to have known. He was the morale of the team, always to hand with a smile or a joke to tell. He was a very close friend to me and Richardson and the three of us were barely seen apart from one another.

Whenever you were with him you couldn’t help but feel happier. Whenever you were on stag with him, time flew by as he always had a story to tell of his antics when he was at home. He was always there to talk to if you were having a bad time, keenly listening (although a bit hard of hearing).

We will all deeply miss him. Rest in Peace, mate.

Guardsman Jac Richardson, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Rodders was my closest friend in the team. He, I and Nibs would do everything together; even shave our heads. When I think of Rodders now all I think about is his smile and no matter how hard things got he was always the first to make a joke about it and get the boys to smile. He was a credit to serve with and more importantly a top friend who will be missed not only by the team but all of No 2 Company. He was one of the nicest people I knew and would do anything for anyone. You could ask any of the team and they would say the same thing he was a big part of the team; not just on the ground but a source of morale as well. He will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace, brother.

Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua  (All rights reserved.)
Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua (All rights reserved.)

Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua

Guardsman Apete Saunikalou Ratumaiyale Tuisovurua deployed to Afghanistan on 13 April 2012 as a member of a Police Advisory Team within the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group.

Guardsman Tuisovurua was born on 16 July 1983 in Fiji. He started his training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick on 14 November 2010. He passed out from Catterick in 2011 before joining the Welsh Guards on 13 June 2011 at Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow.

Guardsman Tuisovurua was an exemplary member of the Welsh Guards. His wonderful smile and relaxed attitude ensured universal popularity from all who met him. His professionalism and commitment to his duty meant that he was an extremely popular and respected member of his company and platoon. Guardsman Tuisovurua had a bright future ahead of him - his professionalism, determination and unswerving sense of duty would have carried him far. He will, justly, be remembered among the ranks of the bravest of the brave.

Guardsman Tuisovurua leaves behind his mother, father, four brothers and three sisters.

Lieutenant Colonel Dino Bossi, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua was a gentle and decent man who was defined by his love of sport, his uplifting company and his willingness to go out of his way to help anyone. One of Nature’s true gentlemen, he had a deeply moral outlook on life and enduring principles by which he lived. He was extremely fit and robust but without show or arrogance. Everybody liked him - one could not fail to - and his infectious smile broke down barriers wherever he went.

His ambition was to be selected to play for the Battalion’s First XV rugby team, turning up to training regularly though he knew he would struggle to make the cut. He played for the love of the sport and for the friends that he won on the pitch and off it. Guardsman Tuisovurua was an intensely loyal man who was very much part of his team. He leaves a gap in its ranks as he does in that of his Company and of the wider Welsh Guards.

Our feelings now rest with his family whose loss makes ours seem insignificant in comparison. We hope that God gives them the strength to endure their grief and the knowledge that Apete died in a just cause doing his duty with pride, honour and skill. We will remember him. Cymru am Byth!

Major Julian Salusbury, Company Commander, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Guardsman Tuisovurua had only been with 1st Battalion Welsh Guards for a little over a year but had proved himself to be dedicated, loyal and thoroughly decent. In his own words, he joined the Army to be ‘disciplined and truthful to himself’; he was all of this and more.

Guardsman Tuisovurua was a quiet, hard working and willing guardsman. He enjoyed life as a soldier and made many friends in the Company. A committed rugby player, fit and eager to learn, he was a pleasure to command. It was his selflessness, ready smile and unfailing courtesy that caught the eye - he approached everyone the same and earned wide respect. Guardsman Tuisovurua was keen to progress in the Army - I have no doubt that he had a bright future.

He looked forward to deployment to Afghanistan in the challenging Police Advisory role. His kind, friendly and relaxed approach ensured an immediate rapport with the Afghan Police. Determined to tackle any task given to him, he had steely determination and was an absolutely reliable and key member of his Police Advisory Team.

Guardsman Tuisovurua’s death has hit us all hard in Number 2 Company but we are determined to continue to defeat the enemy. Acts like this bring us closer to our Afghan National Security Force brothers. The differences Guardsman Tuisovurua made to security for the ordinary Helmandi people are felt daily.

At this saddest of times, our thoughts and prayers are with Guardsman Tuisovurua’s mother, father, four brothers and three sisters. Cymru am Byth.

Lieutenant John Scarlett, Coldstream Guards, Police Advisory Team Commander, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Guardsman Tuisovurua joined the team in early May. He was a quiet, but jovial soldier. He always had a smile on his face and he always had a beat in his step. He fitted in immediately and became one of the boys without hesitation. He was a steadfast guardsman and was always committed to the task in hand. The men were always impressed with his rigidity when it came to sentry duties. He was always ten minutes early and I am confident that he would watch his arcs for eternity.

Guardsman Tui had forged a close bond with the other Fijian soldiers in our FOB. Thinking back to two days ago, I watched him entertain his friends over lunch. He was at the centre of the group, cracking jokes and making those around him laugh and smile. That is how I will remember him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this sad time. I want you all to know that Tui was fighting for a good cause, and the role he played has made a genuine difference to the future of this country.

Tui, this world will be worse off without you. I know that you are in a good place and that you will watch over the lads. Make sure that they wake up for relief. You were a great addition to the team and the lads will miss you and think of you always. I promise you that we will continue with our good work and make sure that your loss was not in vain. You are an honorary Welshman ‘butt’. Carry the leek wherever you go. Get things prepared for our arrival, I expect a rugby ball to be ready for a game of touch.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Dunn, Company Sergeant Major, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Guardsman Tuisovurua was an excellent soldier; hardworking and dedicated to the Company and his friends. His smile would light up the room. He was a giant of a man both on the rugby pitch and on operations. He never gave in and always gave 100% to everything. He was a credit to No 2 Company and we will all miss him dearly. Our thoughts are with Tui’s family. Rest in Peace, Guardsman.

Lance Sergeant Laurie Challenger, Police Advisory Team Second-in-Command, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

A great asset to the team, a proud man who enjoyed working for us and never complained. Tui was a very gentle guy and loved rugby and loved throwing the ball with us. He always had a smile on his face and always laughed. I loved his laugh; to me it’s what I will always remember about him. His hard work for his team made it a very good team, we all worked hard for each other and we all classed each other as top friends or brothers from other mothers.

Guardsman Tui came out to us a month in and when I got the news it was him I smiled and thought I couldn’t have had anyone better. Tui had a special relationship with the Afghans and I’ve always noticed it. To me he was like the leader of them, as we entered check points the Afghans were drawn towards him, he had a special thing about him which I will never understand. My thoughts go out to all his loved ones and he will be missed by many who had the pleasure of knowing him.

Rest in Peace my big man, will miss you always and will always remember your laugh my friend.

Guardsman Mark Edwards, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Tui was a great person to everyone he met. Loved by us all; he was quiet when he first came to us, but then he grew into the life of the team. Every time I was with him, he brightened up my day. Tui, mate, I will miss you always and forever, mate.

Guardsman Tommy Everett, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Tui was a massive character, was a great bloke and made everyone in the team laugh. He’d always crack on with the job and never moan. Although he’d always be coming back late from chilling with his fellow Fijians, he’d always be up and ready to go again in the morning.

He’ll be remembered as a great rugby player and always remain a legend to the team and the Company. Sleep peacefully Bro; you’ll always be remembered.

Guardsman Stewart Harris, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Tui, a gentle giant, never said no. A happy chap who meant so much to our team, we miss you dearly.

Guardsman Joshua Niebling, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Tui was such a good kind man I can’t remember a single time he got angry or complained about anything. He was a good friend to everyone he knew and taught me a few Fijian words and a few bad ones too. He was a big lad but you would never have guessed it by his high pitched laugh which was very infectious around the team. He loved sport and was always found where there was a rugby ball being thrown around.

He will be missed among Number 2 Company. Rest in Peace, mate.

Guardsman Jac Richardson, Police Advisory Team, Number 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said:

Tui came to the Battalion about the same time as me and since then we have been good friends. If you ever needed Tui there were only two places he would ever be; with his Fijian mates or in his pit, he enjoyed his sleep! He always worked hard and grafted, if anything needed doing he’d do it, anybody needed volunteering he’d do it- all of this without complaint. He was a good rugby player and it’s a shame I won’t be able to play alongside him. Tui’s laugh was probably one of the best laughs I have ever heard and always picked the boys up when they heard it. He was such a nice guy and it is a shame to lose a friend like him. Rest in Peace, brother.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

I am saddened to hear of this cowardly act which has taken the lives of three very brave British soldiers. My thoughts are with the families of Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas, Guardsman Craig Roderick and Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua whose lives were cut short in such tragic circumstances. They gave their lives protecting Britain’s national security; their efforts will not be in vain and we will always remember them.

Published 3 July 2012