The war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of thousands of soldiers.
Since 2001, the British Army deployed more than 100,000 soldiers to the country. During the war, the UK Government announced the deaths of 457 troops, including 32 Welsh soldiers.
Their memories have been brought sharply back into focus following the fall of the Afghan government and the country being taken over by the Taliban.
A total of 457 British soldiers were killed during the conflict and around 600 troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade, the airborne rapid reaction force, remain in the country working to evacuate British nationals and formal British staff.
Read more : ‘What did he die for?’ Mother of Welsh soldier killed in Afghanistan heartbroken over ‘shameful’ withdrawal
As families post tributes to those they loved who lost their lives during the conflict, here, we remember them.
Sapper Connor Ray from Newport
Sapper Connor Ray died as a result of injuries he suffered in Afghanistan
Sapper Ray, 21, was seriously injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) strike during a search and clearance operation in the Nad ‘Ali district of central Helmand on April 11, 2012.
His aim was to clear a compound previously used by insurgents to allow the local population to safely return to the area. He was given medical attention before being taken to hospital in Camp Bastion and was later evacuated to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
He died from his injuries on April 18, 2012.
Corporal Matthew Thomas from Swansea
Corporal Matthew Thomas died in Garmsir after being struck by an improvised explosive device
Corporal Thomas, 24, was killed while behind the wheel of a vehicle which was struck by an improvised explosive device.
Tributes from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers praised him for his all-round professionalism as a soldier, excellence as a sportsman, and deep, deep competence as a mechanical engineer were widely respected and admired. He was also described as a “natural leader”, setting the highest standards, showing enormous moral strength, and nurturing those under his command at every turn.
He died on September 25, 2010.
Captain Stephen Healey from Cardiff
Captain Stephen Healey was regarded as “one of the best of his generation”
Captain Healey, 29, was killed as he commanded his platoon from a lead vehicle when it ran over and detonated a roadside bomb. The blast in Helmand Province in May 2012, threw the vehicle into the air, killing the ex-Swansea City footballer.
A coroner recorded a verdict of death by blast injuries on active service.
Captain Healey had survived an IED blast in Helmand Province two years earlier. He died onboard the Chinook taking him to military hospital.
In a tribute after his death, his partner described him as “caring and loving. He was perfect and he always had a smile on his face wherever he was.”
He died on May 26, 2012.
Lance Corporal Oliver Matthew Thomas from Brecon
Lance Corporal Oliver Matthew Thomas died in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan
Lance Corporal Thomas, 26, was killed when his Lynx helicopter came down during a routine flight on April 26, 2014 in southern Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Thomas was one of five to be killed in the crash on April 28, 2014 including Captain Thomas Ellis Clarke from Cowbridge.
The Ministry of Defence has called it a “tragic accident” leading to an investigation into the crash. He was a reservist with the Intelligence Corps, on special leave from his job as a researcher for Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams when he died.
His officer commanding said of him: “Lance Corporal Oli Thomas was the embodiment of his generation: bright, gifted, with an enquiring mind, and laser-focused on the task in hand. The bonus for us was that he was also blessed with a natural flair and the happy knack of always being able to raise a smile with his keen sense of wit.”
Captain Thomas Ellis Clarke from Cowbridge
Captain Clarke was also on the same Lynx helicopter which crashed in southern Afghanistan
Captain Clarke, 30, died when he was on the same Lynx helicopter on April 26, 2014 as Lance Corporal Oliver Matthew Thomas from Brecon.
He was described as an ambitious and competent young officer and had a very bright and promising future in the army.
He was born in Cardiff on 19 February 1984. After studying for his A-levels, he gained a degree in biological sciences at the University of Birmingham in 2006.
He enlisted as an army officer in May 2007, undertaking officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He graduated in April 2008, commissioning into the Army Air Corps as a pilot.
His family described him as the “the best part of us”.
Guardsman Jamie Shadrake from Cardiff
Guardsman Shadrake was shot during an attack in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province three days after his 20th birthday
Guardsman Shadrake, 20, of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, was killed in an insurgent attack on a checkpoint in Helmand province on August 17, 2012.
Born in West Bromwich, he was brought up in Cardiff and later moved to Wrexham.
He died of gunshot wounds following the incident in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
His family’s tribute to him after his death said he “was proud to be a soldier and died doing a job that he loved”.
He died on August 17, 2021.
Lance Corporal Lee Davies from Carmarthen
Lance Corporal Davies was killed at a meeting in Afghanistan in 2012
Lance Corporal Davies, 27, was killed deployed as part of a police advisory team in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province while at a meeting of the local Afghan Uniform Police headquarters.
During his time in the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards at Lille Barracks in Aldershot he was described as standing out as a natural leader and was promoted in December 2011. He made his name as an infantry soldier and in less than two years was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal.
“A gifted junior non-commissioned officer, he had earned the respect of all he worked with,” his tribute read.
He died on May 12, 2012.
Lance Corporal Richard Ian Scanlon from Rhymney
Lance Corporal Richard Ian Scanlon was killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan
Lance Corporal Scanlon, 31, was remembered as “one of life’s great characters” following his death on November 17, 2011.
He had already deployed to Bosnia in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 and 2005 before deciding to leave the Army in July 2006. After being dissatisfied in a number of civilian jobs he rejoined the Army and the Regiment in September 2009 and was promoted to Lance Corporal in October 2010.
He died when his armoured vehicle hit a makeshift bomb in Helmand Province. He had only been in Afghanistan for a matter of weeks and his troop had been tasked with securing the routes passing through the district.
Lieutenant Colonel Jasper de Quincey Adams, Commanding Officer, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, said: “An experienced soldier, calm under pressure, he was hand picked as the troop leader’s gunner on a demanding operational tour. He was a fighting soldier, cracking in the field or on operations, and in camp, his flamboyant character meant he could find fun in any situation.”
Marine Nigel Dean Mead from Carmarthen
Marine Nigel Dean Mead who was killed in Afghanistan was the youngest marine to pass out from his troop
Marine Mead, 19, was fatally injured in an improvised explosive device blast in Nad ‘Ali district of Helmand province on May 15, 2011.
He was part of Lima Company who were carrying out a search operation, partnered with the Afghan National Security Forces, of compounds linked to IEDs.
His Company landed in a helicopter and began to move towards the compound, shortly afterwards, Marine Mead was fatally injured in an improvised explosive device blast.
His family said he was an “inspiration to other people” and “always so full of energy, always on the go with a cheeky but polite attitude and always a delight to be around.”
Marine Mead’s mother Amanda said: “I could never write enough words that would truly say how much I loved and thought of you, you’re not a one in a million son, you are one in a hundred million.”
His funeral brought his hometown to a standstill.
Lance Corporal Alan Cochran from St Asaph
Lance Corporal Alan Cochran was killed in a gun battle in Afghanistan
Lance Corporal Cochran, 23, was shot on June 4, 2010 in a gun battle in Nahr-e-Saraj, Helmand.
The soldier from 1st Battalion, Mercian Regiment had been on foot patrol when the incident happened.
He had previously served in Northern Ireland and on operations in Iraq.
Lance Corporal Cochran’s mother, Mrs Shirley Jane Cochran, and family said: “Alan 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 Alan who was a loving son, grandson and brother. We are proud of the fact that Alan was prepared to do his duty helping the people of Afghanistan.”
Corporal Dean John from Port Talbot
Corporal Dean John died after his vehicle was caught up in an IED blast in Garmsir, Afghanistan
Corporal John, 25, was killed in Garmsir in Helmand Province on March 15, 2009, while serving with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).
He was travelling in a Jackal patrol vehicle alongside Corporal Graeme Stiff when it was struck by an explosive device.
Married with three children, he was described as the “epitome of a REME soldier”.
Dean’s wife Wendy said: “Dean was a much loved husband and father and treasured by all his family. He will be fondly remembered. Dean died doing the job he loved, fighting for his queen and country.”
Private James Prosser from Torfaen
Private James Prosser was behind the wheel of a Warrior vehicle in the Musa Qaleh district
Private Prosser, 21, was killed on September 27, 2009, was serving with the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh when he was killed in an explosion while driving a Warrior vehicle in the Musa Qaleh district of Helmand Province.
Brought up in Caerphilly, he was described as having a “real enthusiasm for soldiering” with a “bright future ahead of him”.
His commanding officer described him as a “brave Welsh Warrior will be sorely missed by so many of us”.
His mother is one of those who has spoken out since the collapse of the Government in Afghanistan.
Rifleman Jamie Gunn from Monmouth
Rifleman Jamie Gunn was known as a gritty character and was immensely popular
Rifleman Jamie Gunn, 21, was born in Leamington Spa and grew up in Monmouth.
He died on patrol in Helmand province alongside two colleagues of 1st Battalion The Rifles, in southern Afghanistan on February 25, 2009.
In a tribute after his death, he was described as an “integral part of a small and tight knit team, forged by common experience and communal struggle”.
“His valuable work with the soldiers of the Afghan National Army saw them develop noticeably over the months he acted as a mentor,” it read.
His father gave a hugely emotional tribute after his son’s death.
Fusilier Jonathan Burgess from Swansea
Fusilier Jonathan Burgess had been trying to deal with the Taliban threat in a minor battle
Fusilier Burgess, 20, of 3 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, died on April 7, 2010. He was born and brought up in Swansea.
He sustained gunshot wounds in a minor battle in Helmand province while out on patrol in a bid to disrupt insurgents who were focused on stopping the British soldiers and their Afghan partners from protecting local communities within the area.
During his four months in Afghanistan he was involved in both aviation assault and ground-holding operations.
At the time of his death, he was an expectant father. His family’s tribute read: ““He was a much loved son, brother, friend and fiance and would have been an amazing father to his baby girl. He will be greatly missed by us all. He will always be our hero.”
Lance Corporal Jonathan Hetherington from Port Talbot
Lance Corporal Jonathan Hetherington was hailed as an outstanding soldier
Lance Corporal Hetherington, 22, died in Helmand Province on August 27, 2006.
The soldier, from 14 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare), was described “as an extremely conscientious, well-respected and popular junior non commissioned officer, whose excellent trade skills and keen sense of fun ensured that he was always in great demand.” The tribute it said he “was first class and he stood out as a young man of stature and great enthusiasm.”
He died following an attack on the Platoon House in Musa Qaleh, northern Helmand Province in the early hours of the morning.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Vickery, his Commanding Officer, said: “Jon was an outstanding soldier, trusted comrade and valued friend; his loss will be greatly felt by all who served with him. Naturally, our thoughts are with his family during this sad and difficult time.”
Private Kyle Adams from Croesyceiliog
Private Kyle Adams died in a roadside blast in Afghanistan
Private Kyle Adams, 21, of the Parachute Regiment, died on August 6, 2009, when the Jackal armoured vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb during a security patrol.
He was known as “the life and soul of any party.” Fellow soldiers, Corporal Kevin Mulligan and Lance Corporal Dale Thomas Hopkins were also killed and a fourth man critically injured in the explosion.
Their loss was described as a “heavy blow” by former Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth.
His Commanding Officer said: “Private Kyle Adams was an undemonstrative, yet utterly professional soldier. Always ready for the next challenge, he was a real team player, and indeed was a talented sportsman.”
Lance Corporal Michael Taylor from Rhyl
Lance Corporal Michael Taylor was fatally wounded in an exchange of fire with the Taliban
Lance Corporal Taylor, 30, from Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, died on June 22, 2010.
He was killed during an exchange of fire with insurgent forces in the Sangin district of Helmand province.
Lance Corporal Michael Taylor was 30 years old and lived in Rhyl with his partner, Sonia, and their three children, Ethan, Wesley and Charlton.
His partner Sonia Fleming said: “Michael you were my soul mate, you were the best loving partner and dad anyone could have asked for. You lived to be a hero and died a hero. We are all extremely proud of you and always will be. Your legacy will live on through your three wonderful boys who will inspire to be just like you.”
Warrant Officer 2nd Class Michael Williams from Cardiff
Sergeant Major Michael Williams was shot by enemy fire at Afghanistan
Sergeant Major Williams, 40, died from a wound to the chest and abdomen due to a bullet which missed the protective plate of his body armour by about 2cm.
He was leading a fire support group to higher ground to cover troops below during a mission in Helmand. His death on the Upper Sangin Valley came during his last tour of duty before being posted closer to home. He was a fanatical Cardiff City supporter, and had organised his leave from Afghanistan especially early in the tour so that he could see his team play in the FA Cup Final.
His family and friends ensured his memory lived on after his death on June 24, 2008.
Private Richard Hunt from Abergavenny in Monmouthshire
Private Richard Hunt died in 2009 a week before his 22nd birthday
Private Richard Hunt, 21, from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, died at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Selly Oak on August 15, 2009 after being injured in Helmand province two days earlier.
He was part of a vehicle patrol from A Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (2 R WELSH), working to extend and enforce the writ of the Government of Afghanistan.
Born in Haverfordwest, he moved to Abergavenny which he considered his hometown.
He was the 200th death the UK Government announced in Afghanistan. His parents, Hazel and Phillip Hunt, said in their tribute: “Richard showed us all his strength of character in many ways, proving to be thoughtful, vain and yet selfless to the end. He proved to us to be a loving son, brother and uncle at all times.”
Sergeant Robert Busuttil from Swansea
Sergeant Robert Busuttil had been on a peacekeeping role in Afghanistan when he was shot by a colleague
Sergeant Robert Busuttil, 30, died while at a military camp at Kabul Airport while on peacekeeping duties with the Royal Logistics Corps.
Corporal John Gregory, 30, from Catterick, North Yorkshire, shot him 10 times after the pair had earlier argued, his inquest heard.
A post-mortem examination found that Corporal Gregory, who then turned the gun on himself, had been two-and-a-half times the drink-drive limit, said Dr White.
After Sergeant Busuttil’s death, his family said: “Bob loved the army, it was his whole life.”
He died on August 17, 2002.
Lance Corporal Robert Martin Richards from Betws-y-Coed
Lance Corporal Richards battled to survive his wounds in Afghanistan but died in the UK
Lance Corporal Richards, 24, from Armoured Support Group Royal Marines died in Selly Oak Hospital on May 27, 2009, after suffering wounds in Helmand Province five days earlier.
LCpl Richards died while supporting the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. He was given immediate first aid at the scene and evacuated to medical facilities in Kandahar before being flown back to the UK.
“Many would not have survived the flight home but, testament to his character, LCpl Richards battled against his injuries for five days,” UK Government said at the time.
Major Richard Hopkins Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Armoured Support Group, said: “He was simply an enormous character in the Armoured Support Group Royal Marines and he has left his mark on all of us.”
Bombardier Samuel Robinson from Carmarthen
Bombardier Samuel Robinson, from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, died in an explosion
Bombardier Samuel Joseph Robinson, 31, 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, was killed in Afghanistan on July 8, 2010. He has been standing on top of a pile of rubble when it gave way, his inquest in Wiltshire was told. He slid down the side of the rubble triggering a hidden improvised explosive device which killed him and injured two others.
A physical training instructor he was described as a “fish in the water” and was, at the time of his death, the 2 Div swimming champion, as well as being “a gazelle over land”. “Bombardier Robinson was never happier than when hill walking in the Welsh mountains, putting his mountain leader skills to the test.”
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hayhurst RA, Commanding Officer 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “This courageous man held the respect of all that knew him; his strength of character, professionalism, and outright robustness made him a force to be reckoned with, and he was the perfect role model for the rest of the regiment”.
Senior Aircraftman Scott Hughes from Felinheli
Senior Aircraftman Scott Hughes died of his injuries suffered in a boating accident on return from Afghanistan
Senior Aircraftman Scott ‘Scotty’ Hughes died aged 20 in November 2010.
He was returning from operations in Afghanistan but was injured in a boating accident on November 5, 2010, as his unit was relaxing in Cyprus after a demanding six month tour before returning home. He was swimming in the sea he was struck by a power boat operated by the Military Training Wing, British Forces Cyprus, an investigation followed. He had been due to return home to the UK the day following the accident.
SAC Hughes’ family said: “It is any parent’s worst nightmare to lose their child and now we are faced with that nightmare. Our beautiful, brave, fun loving son has been cruelly taken away from us, but we know that Scott fulfilled his dreams by serving his Regiment and his country.”
Lance Sergeant Tobie Fasfous from Bridgend
Lance Sergeant Tobie Fasfous died during a blast on foot patrol in Afghanistan
Lance Sergeant Fasfous, 29, died in a blast while on foot patrol in Helmand Province on April 28, 2009.
The soldier of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards was a specialist mortarman and was behind directing and controlling the mortar fire used to support friendly troops. He had a key role in tackling insurgents trying to attack patrols and aiding the Afghan National Police and Army to bring stability to the region.
He was taking part in a reassurance foot patrol alongside the Afghan National Army when he died. He has served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
At his funeral, he was described as “completely dependable”.
Sergeant Ben Ross from Bangor
Sergeant Ben Ross was killed by a suicide bomber
Sergeant Ben Ross, 34, of 173 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment, Royal Military Police, died on May 7, 2009 when a suicide bomb was triggered.
Born in Bangor, he grew up in Dubai.
Sergeant Ross was a team leader within the Police Mentoring Company. His role was to mentor, train and advise the Afghan Uniformed Police on security, policing and law enforcement, a role he relished. He was survived by his wife Sheena, a serving Royal Military Policewoman.
Lance Corporal Christopher Harkett from Pontardawe
Lance Corporal Christopher Harkett died while on foot patrol in Afghanistan
Lance Corporal Harkett, 22, of 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, died in Afghanistan on March 14, 2009. He trained as a team medic so that he could look after his mates if they were injured, trained as a Warrior Gunner so that he could defend himself and his colleagues, and later qualified as a signaller so that he could ensure that critical information was passed to headquarters as soon as possible.
Following his father and grandfather into the military, he was one of the first to volunteer to deploy with his mates to Afghanistan as a sniper.
Hundreds attended his funeral at which the vicar described what happened in the lead up to his death.
He was a member of a highly trained elite group of snipers who lost his life as he laid down covering fire to protect his fellow soldiers.
“He died as he lived. Trying to do the best he could, trying to look after his mates, putting the needs of others before himself. A typical Welsh warrior – a human being fully alive.”
Lance Corporal David Dennis from Llanelli
Lance Corporal David Dennis was killed by a contact explosion from an IED while on foot
Lance Corporal Dennis, 29, from The Light Dragoons, died in Afghanistan on July 4, 2009 while taking part in an operation to improve security to clear the Babaji and Malgir areas of insurgents and restore government control before the national elections.
Lance Corporal Dennis was killed by a contact explosion from an improvised explosive device whilst on foot. Moments earlier he had helped secure a site for a helicopter to land to remove casualties from an earlier incident.
Lance Corporal Dennis’ family said: “David was strong man and a courageous soldier who died doing a job that he loved. He was very proud to serve in The Light Dragoons and enjoyed life as a soldier which he lived to the full. We as a family are extremely proud and honoured to have been a part of his life and that pride extends to all of our young men and women serving overseas.”
Sergeant Andrew Jones from Newport
Sergeant Andrew James Jones was killed in Afghanistan while on a vehicle patrol
Sergeant Andrew James Jones, 35, of the Royal Engineers, died in Afghanistan on September 18, 2010.
Born in Newport, he was serving as part of Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, and was providing security to the people of Helmand when he was killed.
He was described as being a popular member of the regiment. “His sense of humour and dulcet Welsh accent made him popular with the troops and in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess. An avid supporter of the Welsh rugby team, he was never more at home than when arguing over a referee’s decision in a test match against England.
“He spoke endlessly of his wife Joanne, and children, Natasha, Caitlin and Liam, and of his plans for the future. While his professional focus was unquestioned, his heart remained with his family for the duration of his tour in Afghanistan.”
Guardsman Craig Andrew Roderick from Llanharan
Guardsman Craig Roderick was one of three British troops killed as they left a checkpoint
Guardsman Craig Roderick, 22, was killed when an Afghan policeman opened fire on him and colleagues. The rogue policeman shot and killed three British soldiers from a watchtower as they left his checkpoint by a narrow passageway, an inquest heard.
Guardsman Roderick was one of three British troops killed as they left a checkpoint. The soldiers were part of a Nato-led force that had been training Afghan counterparts ahead of a handover of security responsibility by 2014. The shooting happened at a checkpoint in Helmand province where the soldiers were attending a meeting of elders.
Postmortem examinations revealed that each of the men had died from head and chest injuries, consistent with being struck by high-velocity rounds from an AK47 assault rifle.
His funeral took place at Llandaff Cathedral.
Corporal Michael Thacker from Cwmbran
Corporal Michael Thacker was shot in Afghanistan while on duty at an observation post
Corporal Michael John Thacker, 27, from 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers), was killed on June 1, 2012.
Corporal Thacker was manning an observation post when he was hit by small arms fire. He received immediate medical attention and was evacuated by helicopter, but sadly could not be saved.
Born in Swindon, he was educated in Cwmbran. Corporal Thacker left behind his wife Catherine, two-year-old daughter Millie, father David, mother Alison and brothers Matthew, Mark and Ashley.
His brother, Corporal Matthew Thacker, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said: “Corporal Michael Thacker is my big brother and the best I could wish for. We were more than brothers, we were best friends and words cannot express how much he will be missed.”
Lance Corporal Dane Elson from Pencoed
Lance Corporal Dane Elson was killed while on patrol of Babaji in Afghanistan
Lance Corporal Dane Elson, 22, from 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was killed in Afghanistan on July 5, 2009.
He was killed while on patrol in Babaji. Having provided fire support for an attack on an enemy-held compound his group began to move off but as they did so an improvised explosive device exploded, killing Lance Corporal Elson instantly.
Born in Zimbabwe, his family moved to Bridgend in Wales. He served in Iraq and in Bosnia before passing a promotion course and was promoted to Lance Corporal during the pre-deployment training for Afghanistan.
His mother spoke after his death of the support his friends had given her.
Corporal Jamie Kirkpatrick from Llanelli
Corporal Jamie Kirkpatrick was killed in a minor battle in the Nahr-e Saraj district in Afghanistan
Corporal Jamie Kirkpatrick, 32, who was part of the Counter-IED Task Force, was killed in Afghanistan on June 27, 2010 in a small arms fire battle with insurgent forces in the Nahr-e Saraj district.
Born in Edinburgh, he lived in Llanelli.
He played a large part in increasing the freedom of movement of the local Afghans by removing improvised explosive devices from key routes as well as giving life-saving training.
Corporal Kirkpatrick and his team were leaving a compound when the team came under attack. A single round hit Corporal Kirkpatrick and despite immediate first aid he was killed in action, leaving behind wife Heidi and daughter Holly.
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