AROUND 100 South Yorkshire soldiers are completing final preparations for deployment to Afghanistan as they come to terms with the deaths of five comrades.
Members of Third Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, around half of whom are from Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham, are completing the final stages of a training exercise on Salisbury Plain before they are sent to the war zone next month.
The five soldiers killed were Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, of Huddersfield, Private Anthony Frampton, 20, of Huddersfield, Private Christopher Kershaw, 20, of Bradford, Private Daniel Wade, 20, of Warrington, and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, of Huddersfield.
Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, of St Anne’s, Fylde, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, also died when their armoured vehicle was blown up by a Taliban bomb.
Barnsley Central Labour MP Dan Jarvis, a former Parachute Regiment Major and friend of 3 Yorks’ commanding officer Lt Col Zak Stennings, said: “This is a massive loss of life, it’s absolutely tragic. I know 3 Yorks very well and invited a number of soldiers from the battalion to Parliament recently ahead of their deployment.
“We discussed very frankly the level of risk they would be exposed to and that it was very likely some of them would not come back. They were sanguine but determined to do the best job and they believed in the mission.”
Mr Jarvis revealed that one of his soldiers was killed and others seriously wounded during his own tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007.
He said: “In that situation, it is incredibly difficult but what a lot of people do is to put their feelings in a box until they get back home.
“You have to be utterly focused on what you are doing out there or you could put yourself or those you are serving with at risk.
“The tragedy will be very difficult for those from the battalion who are about to deploy and their families but one of the ways to cope is to get on with the job.”
n Rotherham Minster has opened a Book of Condolence.