DCSIMG

Soldiers’ Afghan deaths ‘hammer blow’ to batallion

Flags fly at half-mast at the soldiers' base near Penicuik. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Flags fly at half-mast at the soldiers' base near Penicuik. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by ANGUS HOWARTH
 

THE deaths of three soldiers who were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan are a “hammer blow”, a spokesman for their battalion has said.

Corporal William Savage, 30, died with Fusilier Samuel Flint, 21, and Private Robert Hetherington, 25, when their Mastiff armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) on a routine patrol in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand province, on Tuesday.

Speaking outside Glencorse barracks near Edinburgh, Major Tim Petransky, a spokesman for The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment Of Scotland (2 Scots), said it was an “extremely sad” time for the families of the three men.

He said: “The whole battalion’s thoughts, whether deployed in Afghanistan or back here in the United Kingdom as part of the rear operations group, are with the families of these brave men and also those who were injured in this incident.

“The mood at The Royal Highland Fusiliers is, as you would expect, sombre but determined.

“The loss of three of our brothers in arms in any circumstances would be tragic but to lose three in one go is a hammer blow.” Those in Afghanistan will now be concentrating on the job at hand – putting back on their body armour, picking up their rifles and getting on the ground to continue this difficult but vital mission.

“Our thoughts are also very much with our sister battalion 7 Scots, to which Private ­Hetherington belonged. They too will be grieving.” On Wednesday, Cpl Savage’s wife Lyndsey, who is pregnant with their first child, said: “I am completely devastated by this news, but extremely proud of ‘Sav’ and everything he achieved.

“I have lost the love of my life and the father of our son. I know his life will live on through so many amazing memories that we shared together.” Cpl Savage, who joined the army in April 2003, had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan previously.

Six other men were injured in the first case of British troops dying in a Mastiff since they were introduced in 2007.

Cpl Savage, 30, and Fusilier Flint, 21, were both from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment Of Scotland (2 Scots), and Pte Hetherington, 25, was from 51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment Of Scotland.

Their deaths take the number of UK services deaths to 444 since October 2001.

Avid Manchester City fan Fusilier Flint, from Blackpool, joined the army in November 2011 and was deployed in March.

A statement from the family said: “The whole family is completely devastated. Everyone should know that Sam loved his job and made his whole family and everyone that knew him very proud.”

Pte Hetherington, who was born in the US but raised in Scotland, enlisted in October 2006 and hoped to attend the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay, Commanding Officer, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said he epitomised “everything that is excellent about the reserve forces”.

 
 
 

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