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inmemoriam

PRIVATE GARETH LESLIE WILLIAM BELLINGHAM

3RD BATTALION THE MERCIAN REGIMENT (STAFFORDS) -COMBINED FORCE NAHR-E-SARAJ (NORTH)

Private Gareth Bellingham, from Stoke on Trent, was born on 21 November1988. He enlisted in the Army in October 2007 and attended the CombatInfantryman's Course at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, before
joining the 3rd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Staffords). Hecompleted the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle Gunnery, Driving andMaintenance Courses in quick succession, and soon became his Company'sbest Warrior Gunner. A man with considerable driving experience, heundertook conversion training to operate Husky and Jackal vehicles priorto deployment to Afghanistan. It was in the light infantry role,though, that he excelled; his experience, determination and personalityinspiring all those around him.

Private Gareth Bellingham deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011 as partof Combined Force Nahr-e-Saraj (North), commanded by the Danish BattleGroup.

On the morning of 18 June 2011, Private Bellingham deployed with CCompany Tactical Headquarters and Number 3 Tolay (Afghan National Army),to an area near Khar Nikar in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand
Province. The Company Group was conducting patrol to assess thesituation on the ground and meet with the local population who hadrecently returned to compounds in the area.

During the patrol, a local Afghan was injured by an Improvised ExplosiveDevice (IED). As C Company were providing security, insurgents firedupon the patrol and Private Bellingham was fatally wounded.

Private Bellingham will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and allthat knew him.

Leslie and Suzanne, Gareth's proud parents, said:

"Gareth died doing the job he loved and we are all proud of the job hedid. He will be sadly missed by family, friends and all those who knewhim. Rest in peace"

Lieutenant Colonel Giles Woodhouse, Commanding Officer, 3rd BattalionThe Mercian Regiment (Staffords) said:

"Private Bellingham's untimely death is a tragic loss to the Battalion.He was an extremely hardworking and committed Warrior who was whollyrespected by his peers and chain of command alike. Team-spirited, andwith great common sense and humour, he was a pillar of strength in CCompany.

"Pte Bellingham was one of those soldiers that you had to have in yoursection; fearless, utterly professional, a prankster and a loyal friendwho never let you down; quite simply he was a force for good.

"Observing Private Bellingham, before deploying on a patrol, with hisAfghan Army partners with whom he had developed a genuine affinity, Ican understand why they fought so hard to save him when he was mortallywounded. That his death has affected our partners as deeply, as it hasall the soldiers from the Battalion, is testament to the high esteem inwhich he was held. The world will be that little bit emptier now
without him. Our thoughts go out to his family at this devastatingtime."

Colonel Jens Riis-Vestergaard, Commanding Officer Combined ForceNahr-e-Saraj (North) said:

"Pte Bellingham was an exemplar of the counter-insurgent soldier thatworks in the Nahr-e-Saraj (North) area of operations. His conduct,professionalism, confidence and good nature helped reassure and protecta population in harm's way. The Afghan Army Tolay that he worked withthought so highly of him that several, in turn, refused to leave himwhen struck, considering him 'one of theirs' after just 2 months offighting together. Typical



of his unit, fighting to keep others safe,he was an excellent soldier who will be desperately missed by all inCombined Force Nahr-e-Saraj (North)."

Major Alex McKay, Officer Commanding C Company 3rd Battalion The MercianRegiment (Staffords) said:

"Private Bellingham died a Warrior. A tough, mature, and dedicatedsoldier, he was loved by C Company and deeply respected by the AfghanTolay we partner. Having worked closely with the Afghan National Army
since our arrival in Afghanistan - mentoring, leading, and inspiringtheir soldiers - it should not be a surprise that, on the day that hedied, he was at the tip of the C Company Group spear. One of thefurthest forward of our soldiers, he had positioned himself to guardanother group working to his rear when they and he were attacked; an actof selflessness typical of him.

"Private Bellingham's respect for others, professionalism, calmnessunder fire, and good humour despite the odds, were an example to us all.A soldier with huge potential, his performance in Afghanistan through aseries of contacts with the enemy was exemplary. More impressive,though, was his willingness to bond with Afghan soldiers, and protectlocal nationals, despite the obvious and significant risk. We and hisfriends grieve for a man that will never be forgotten. The thoughts ofall Soldiers and Officers in the Khar Nikar area of operations are withhis family and friends at this most testing of times."

Captain Mathew Hickmott, 3rd Tolay 3rd Kandak Afghan National ArmyAdvisor, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) said:

"It was a privilege to work with Private Bellingham for the few monthsthat I did. He was a key character in his Section and could be reliedupon to get anything done. He grumbled often, in the way that soldiersdo, but was proud that he was the point man and wouldn't have had it anyother way. 'Bell' was an instantly likeable character who will besorely missed by all."

Warrant Officer Class 2 Dougie Thomson, Company Sergeant Major, CCompany, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) said:

"Pte Bellingham was a true Warrior, my Warrior. He had strength inabundance, and the courage of a pride of lions. Bell was a practicaljoker who made everybody laugh. When the troops were low on morale, hebrought a smile to their faces, especially mine. We will remember youforever in our thoughts, 'Youth'."

Colour Sergeant Mark Walker, 3rd Tolay, 3rd Kandak Afghan National ArmyAdvisor, 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Volunteers) said:

"As soon as I met Bell I felt as if I knew him. He wore his heart onhis sleeve and could make friends in an empty room. Even though theAfghan National Army and Bell didn't speak the same language, theyinstantly liked him due to the sheer force of his personality. When hewas injured they fought to save him just as hard as his British
colleagues."

Lance Corporal Rob Davis, Section Commander, C Company, 3rd BattalionThe Mercian Regiment (Staffords) said:

"Bell, as we sometimes called him, was the morale within our Section.He was never afraid to tell anyone 'how it was' and was the life andsoul of the party. He could go out on a weekend by himself and makefriends along the way. His first words on a Monday morning were "nowlet me tell you about my weekend." He was always whinging, but in a waythat always cracked us up. He was a top bloke and a good soldier."

Private Matt Southall, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment(Staffords) said:

"Bell loved to travel, and he loved to drive; the number of drivingcourses he did proves this. He loved being the lead man, but he lovedmoaning about it even more. He was a great soldier and a great friend."

Private Wayne Adams, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment(Staffords) said:

"Bell loved a laugh and he loved Stoke City. He'd go to a game whenever
he could, and if he couldn't, he'd find a bar and support long distance.
He was really close to his Dad, Les, and our thoughts go out to him at
this time."

Private Michael Bradley, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment
(Staffords) said:

"Bell loved a laugh and was always up for a good time. He was a topbloke and I'll miss him."

All of 8 Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment(Staffords) said:

"A true character of the Platoon, you were never short of a word to say.A young man of true heart who cared greatly for all his friends aroundhim. It brings a great pain to lose a good man like you Bell. You haveleft a hole that will be hard to fill. We have lost more than a Warrior,but a good friend who brought morale to us all in many ways. Youinfluenced many of us in the Section and 8 Platoon. When you were takenaway from us you took a piece of us all. You leave us though, not withsadness but heart, determination and true courage. Rest in peace
Gareth, always remembered but never forgotten by the lads of 8 Platoon.Watch over us."

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British military casualties - Editorial policy

In the service of our country.

Eulogies for all personnel killed on UK operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are posted as soon as they have been released by the UK Ministry of Defence. Each eulogy we publish for men down in operations brings a lump to the throat. We are losing the best of the best. Politicians must ensure that, when the newspaper cuttings have faded, their sacrifice has had some meaning, has helped bring about a good result. Anything else would be a waste for which they will be eternally condemned.

There is invariably at least a 24 hour gap between the official release of news of an event and the naming of the dead. This is to allow families to be informed and proper eulogoies to be produced. Occasionally families request no euologies or comment. We abide by guidance we receive on such sensitive matters. We regret that information on those who sacrifice almost as much through grave injury is seldom released by the MoD for operational reasons, and so we are unable to pay tribute.

 

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