TRIBUTES have been paid to the latest three soldiers to die in the Afghanistan conflict.
Among them was 18-year-old Private Thomas Wroe, who was just two months into his first posting when he was killed by a rogue Afghan soldier.
Sergeant Gareth Thursby and Lance Corporal Duane Groom also lost their lives in the last week, and they are due to be repatriated to Oxfordshire with Pte Wroe. Pte Wroe and Sgt Thursby, both of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s) (3 YORKS) were shot on Saturday by a rogue Afghan policeman who pretended to be injured at Checkpoint Tora in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
L Cpl Groom died when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb last Friday.
Pte Wroe came from West Yorkshire and had followed his father into the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s).
He arrived in Afghanistan on July 1, just days after his 18th birthday.
His parents, Michael and Claire and sister Demi said: “Thomas was a brave young soldier, who is loved by his family, girlfriend and friends.”
The family said Pte Wroe would “light up the room” with his personality, and he would always be in their hearts. Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Stenning, Commanding Officer, 3 YORKS, said Pte Wroe had pushed hard to join the regiment in Afghanistan. He said: “I have no doubt he would have attended and passed our Junior Leader Course, way ahead of his time.”
Sgt Thursby was seven days short of his 30th birthday when he was killed.
He leaves behind his wife Louise, and two children, Joshua and Ruby.
Mrs Thursby said: “Gareth was the love of my life. He was an amazing husband and father, happy, full of life and kind-hearted with a passion for his work and family.
“He was brave, hard- working, a loving husband who was a devoted father to his children.”
Lt Col Stenning said of Sgt Thursby: “I heard just a few weeks ago that he had told his platoon to call him ‘dad’ during the tour.
“That is how he saw himself – a father figure for 30 men and women involved in gruelling operations in Helmand. “On the very few nights where he was not on patrol, but his men were, Sgt Thursby would remain alert and awake until all his men returned safely.”
L Cpl Groom, of The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards was aged 32 and from Fiji.
He joined the British Army in 2007 and was described by friends as a “fearless and fantastic” soldier.
The bodies of the soldiers are due to arrive at Brize Norton at about 1.30pm tomorrow and then be brought to the John Radcliffe Hospital for post mortem examinations.
The cortege will, as always, pause at about 4.15pm at the Memorial Garden in Carterton, where hundreds of members of the public will join the soldiers’ families in paying their respects.
The cortege is due to reach the JR between 5pm and 5.30pm.
For latest timings, check on oxfordmail.co.uk