Guardsman David Atherton

Guardsman David Atherton from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards was killed in southern Afghanistan on Thursday 26 July 2007. He was serving in the Anti-Tank section in Number 3 Company as part of Battle Group South, on Operation CHAKUSH, an operation to defeat the Taliban in the Upper Gereshk Valley in order to create the security conditions to allow reconstruction and development to flourish.

The operation was in its third day of fighting when Guardsman Atherton was killed during a fierce fire fight against Taliban fighters near the village of Mirmandab. He had just successfully engaged a Taliban position with a Javelin anti-tank missile when he was shot. His brave actions helped to neutralise the enemy threat and enabled his Company to advance safely.

Guardsman David Atherton, aged 25, was from Manchester. He joined the Army in 2002 and had already completed operational tours in Bosnia and Iraq. Colonel Angus Watson MBE, Commanding Officer Battle Group (South), said: "The tragic death of Guardsman Atherton this morning on Op CHAKUSH has been keenly felt across the Battle Group. He died as his company was going forward, bravely taking the fight to a tenacious and determined enemy. Guardsman Atherton was a character, well known and much liked by all members of Number 3 Coy, and he will be sorely missed by his comrades both in The Grenadier Guards and in Battle Group South. Guardsman Atherton was a real character and a good friend to all who knew him. Whether he was conducting ceremonial duties in London in his tunic and bearskin, or fighting in combats, he was immensely proud to be a Grenadier. He was highly respected by all who served alongside him."

Captain Rupert King-Evans, his Company Commander, said: "When Number 3 Company was re-formed last year for operations in Afghanistan, I had a lot of new people to get to know. Guardsman Atherton stood out from the beginning for his cheerful demeanour, boundless enthusiasm and enormous personality. 'Jaffa' was a member of the Anti-Tank Platoon and has proved his ability during countless engagements on this tour. "He was an excellent soldier and was someone who could be relied upon, both at home in England and on operations. I am privileged to have known him and my thoughts and those of the entire Company go out to his family, especially his girlfriend and young daughter. Guardsman Atherton was a real character and he will always be remembered." Lance Sergeant Robert Pancott, his Section Commander, said: "David was known to everyone as Jaffa. As his Section Commander I couldn't have asked for a better soldier. He was always first to volunteer and he never let anything get him down. He loved to be at the forefront of any banter and he would always be cracking jokes, usually at everyone else's expense! Jaffa was one of the characters that make Army life so enjoyable. He will be missed by everyone in the Battalion. I will never forget him."

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by Stephen Luscombe