Guardsman Neil Downes

Guardsman Neil 'Tony' Downes from the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards was killed in Afghanistan in Helmand province, on Saturday 9 June 2007. Guardsman Downes's vehicle was hit by an explosion when on a patrol with the Afghan National Army close to the town of Sangin in Helmand province. The Grenadier Guards and the ANA had been taking part in an operation to help widen and deepen irrigation ditches for locals in the area. Guardsman Downes died from the injuries he sustained in the explosion. Tony Downes, aged 20, was from Manchester. He joined the army in 2004 and had already completed one tour in Iraq with the Grenadier Guards in 2006.

Company Commander The Inkerman Company, Major Marcus JG Elliot-Square, said of him: "Guardsman Downes was without doubt one of the most remarkable Guardsmen that I have had the pleasure to serve with. He was a man of huge intellect. In possession of sixteen GCSEs he was always going to be the Company's choice as intelligence rep. This was a responsibility that he fully embraced always willing to give informed briefs at a moments notice. "He had developed such a depth of understanding about the areas that we worked in that the Company was always well prepared. Consummately professional in everything he did, he never stopped gathering vital intelligence whilst on patrol in areas such as Sangin, Gereshk and Babaji. He was completely dedicated to his job and to the men around him, making him both a pleasure and an honour to command. Guardsman Downes loved soldiering and so died doing something he loved and believed in totally. He added so much to the Company and asked for very little in return. He was a real asset and his loss will be felt keenly within The Inkerman Company and The Grenadier Guards as a whole."

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by Stephen Luscombe