Officer killed by Afghan ‘ally’ as he played football at own base

Captain Walter Barrie with his son, Callum. Picture: PA
Captain Walter Barrie with his son, Callum. Picture: PA
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A SCOTTISH soldier was shot dead by a rogue member of the Afghan army as he played in a football match on Remembrance Day, it emerged last night.

Captain Walter Barrie was playing in a match on Sunday between British soldiers and members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) at his base in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province when he was shot at close range, the Ministry of

Defence said.

Capt Barrie, from Glasgow, had been mentoring and advising a brigade of the ANA to take over security in an area of southern Afghanistan.

The 41-year-old, of the Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, had served for 25 years, including tours of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan in 2008.

His wife Sonia last night said: “Captain Walter Barrie was great man, a doting and amazing

father and a fantastic husband. He was much loved and will be missed by many.

“The family would ask that their privacy is respected during this very difficult time.”

The death of Capt Barrie, who leaves a 14-year-old son Callum, takes to 438 the number of UK service personnel who have lost their lives since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.

The “green-on-blue” death brings the number of British servicemen killed by Afghan soldiers or police to 12 this year, compared to just one in 2011, three in 2010, and five in 2009. At least 54 international troops have died as a result of such

attacks, where Afghans turn their weapons on their coalition comrades.

Capt Barrie, who was deployed on 31 August, was described by the MoD as an “approachable and compassionate officer” who “cared deeply for the wellbeing of those around him and had unparalleled

rapport with all ranks”.

Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Wrench, commanding officer of the Royal Scots Borderers, said: “His role as an adviser to the

Afghan army was one he trained for, looked forward to and

performed superbly.

“His ability to build relationships and rapport has always made an impact on those who met him. This was down to his enthusiasm for life, for youth and humanity.

“As can be seen from the many tributes, he enriched the lives of everybody he came across. His winning personality and Glaswegian wit will be sorely missed, as will the banter we often had as a result of his fanatical support for Glasgow Rangers.

“It is almost impossible to express the sadness we, as a close battalion, are experiencing at this time.

“I know the impact of his tragic loss will be felt across our regiment, amongst the soldiers, officers and in particular the late entry commissioned officer community. But we remain committed in our role and mission in Afghanistan and we will do so knowing that Walter would expect nothing less of us all.”

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Archibald, Royal Regiment of Scotland, described Capt Barrie as a “fantastic, engaging and professional man”, who was “universally popular and highly capable”.

He added: “Walter’s cutting, self-deprecating wit, easy-going manner and endearing personality will never be forgotten by all those who had the privilege and pleasure to have met and worked with him.

“Walter’s loss will be mourned across the Royal Regiment of Scotland. He was exceptional and I am immensely proud to have had the privilege of serving alongside him.”

Flags were flown at half mast at Dreghorn barracks in Edinburgh yesterday. Major Andy Lumley, officer commanding of D Company, The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said: “If the sheer number and spread of a man’s friends can be made a judgment of his quality, then Captain Walter Barrie was a man of the greatest stripe.

“Walter Barrie was a truly wonderful man – but more than that, I am lucky enough to have counted him as my friend.”

Captain Bob Stuart said: “He was respected by all who knew him. Walter was a true friend for over 20 years, who I have grown up with through this period and worked alongside on numerous occasions.

He added: “Walter was a complete professional and dedicated to his profession.

“He had a natural, exceptionally sharp wit which was enjoyed by all, and he enjoyed nothing more than some banter with the Jocks. He was a soldiers’ officer, and respected by all who met him.”

Captain Gary Wallace said: “The love that he constantly showed for his wife Sonia and his son Callum was clear to

everyone. They were always at the forefront of his mind.”

Captain Simon Hamilton said Capt Barrie “epitomised The Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Jocks within it”.