A SERVICEMAN who was educated at the University College Oxford is one of the two personnel who died in Afghanistan on Friday, it has emerged today.

Captain James Townley, of the Corps of Royal Engineers, died just a day before his 30th birthday from wounds sustained at Forward Operating Base Shawqat.

His death is not thought to be the result of hostile action, the Ministry of Defence said.

Capt Townley, who grew up near Glastonbury, received a first-class degree in Engineering and Computer Science in Oxford and rowed for his college. His name was released this morning.

In a statement, his family said: "James was a wonderful, loving and caring son and brother. He was devoted to his girlfriend Helen.He was our guardian angel and our hero. We were so proud of him. He touched every part of our lives and his loss has left a huge chasm that we can never fill.

"James will never be forgotten and always in our hearts and thoughts."

He leaves behind his parents Peter and Jacqui, his brother Nick, and girlfriend Helen.

Capt Townley attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 2007 and was commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers in December 2007.

He was an avid sportsman and enjoyed a wide variety of sports including skiing, mountain biking, kite surfing and sailing. He rowed for the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and his regiment.

Capt Townley deployed to Afghanistan - his third tour - on September 5, 2012, and supported Afghan-led security, providing specialist advice on engineer tasks and capabilities.

Major Spence McComb, Officer Commanding, 42 Field Squadron, 28 Engineer Regiment, said: "Captain James ‘JT’ Townley was a star within 28 Engineer Regiment, having served with us for the last four years.

"An exceptionally intelligent young officer with notably sharp analytical and planning skills, his military career was flourishing."

Capt Richard Pearce, Regimental Operations Officer, 28 Engineer Regiment, completed Sandhurst with Capt Townley.

He said: "James, or 'JT' to his friends, was a good officer and a great guy. He combined a vast intellect and professional ability with a likeable demeanour and infectious enthusiasm.

"JT will be sorely missed, both as a fellow officer and a friend."

Capt Luke Wilson, Regimental Signals Officer, 21 Engineer Regiment, said: "I first encountered ‘JT’ on the River Isis at Oxford when he rowed for his college crew. Dressed in Lycra and Wellington boots I was struck, not only by his dress sense, but by his stoic commitment to the task in hand and sheer will to win, attributes that he would display repeatedly during his time in the Army.

"JT was the best officer I have ever met and the Royal Engineers and the Army has lost a most loyal servant.

"He left everywhere he went all the better for him being there and I am proud to have had the honour of knowing and working with him."

In a separate incident also on Friday, Sergeant Jonathan Eric Kups, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was killed. That was also not through enemy action.

  • It has not been confirmed yet whether the two men will be repatriated this week. Updates will be posted on our Repatriation page as soon as it is known.