Bombardier Craig Hopson from 40th Regiment Royal Artillery was killed by an explosive device on 25 July 2009. He was 24 and from Castleford.
Bombardier Hopson was killed when the Jackal vehicle in which he was travelling struck an improvised explosive device while taking part in Operation PANCHAI PALANG.
Bombardier Hopson was part of a patrol in the Babaji area of Helmand province, tasked to recce a suitable area for a polling station in the forthcoming Afghan presidential elections.
Bombardier Hopson was born on 11 March 1985 in Castleford, West Yorkshire, and attended Castleford High Technology College before deciding that he wanted a career in the Army.
He joined 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners) on 28 August 2002 after completion of his basic training at Pirbright and phase 2 training at Larkhill, Wiltshire.
After an initial tour in 129 (Dragon) Battery, he was posted to 38 (Seringapatam) Battery where, as an Observation Post Assistant, he very quickly established himself as a core member of the team.
Having previously completed operational tours in Iraq and Cyprus, he completed pre-deployment training for Afghanistan and subsequently deployed to Kandahar in March 2009 as Second-in-Command of a Fire Support Team, attached, with his battery, to The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS).
Known to colleagues as 'Hoppo', Bombardier Hopson was a larger than life character and always at the centre of the action. Be it in the thick of the fight in Afghanistan on one of numerous Black Watch operations, or back in barracks with his mates, his contribution was always characterised by good humour and the often painful honesty of a proud, steadfast Yorkshireman.
On operations, his role as Second-in-Command of a Fire Support Team was a vital and challenging one; the need to provide timely, accurate and overwhelming artillery and air support to ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops, balanced with the need to minimise collateral damage and civilian casualties, can often be a difficult equilibrium to achieve.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Sean Upton from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery was killed as a result of an explosion on 27 July 2009. He was 35 and from Nottinghamshire.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Upton from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery was killed as a result of an explosion whilst conducting a foot patrol in Sangin district, Helmand province. He was serving as Second-in-Command of Sangin's Police Mentoring Team.
Trooper Lawrence from The Light Dragoons died in an explosion whilst travelling in a Scimitar, or Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) [CVR(T)], as part of a patrol in Lashkar Gah district, Helmand province, while helping to ensure the security of an area cleared earlier as part of Operation PANCHAI PALANG. He had volunteered to step in to drive for another troop to fill a temporary manning gap when his vehicle was hit by an explosion, mortally wounding him.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Sean Upton
WO2 Upton was born on 29 November 1973 in Nottinghamshire. He enlisted in the Army in June 1990. A career Royal Artillery weapon locator specialising in radar systems, he served operationally in Iraq, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Bosnia, and previously in Afghanistan.
He was a natural leader and an intensely professional soldier who rose sharply through the ranks, quickly gaining trust from, and the confidence of, colleagues wherever he served.
At the start of Operation HERRICK 10 he commanded the Counter Fire elements at Kandahar Airfield, protecting it from insurgent rocket and mortar fire. It was the sort of job in which he revelled, needing a sharp technical intellect and a calm and decisive manner; he was yet again superbly effective.
On transfer to Sangin district, Helmand province, he approached his duty with the same energy and intelligent attention to detail that characterised his career.
WO2 Upton was one of the central figures that make 53 (Louisburg) Battery so effective. He was absolutely key to the life and ethos of the unit, whether on operations or at home.
Always approachable, and hugely capable, he inadvertently became a role model to a generation of junior soldiers. His character was self-effacing and generous, and he lived his life through an unimpeachable set of values.
Throughout the build-up to this tour WO2 Upton was always at the heart of training activity; cajoling and encouraging soldiers, and sometimes prodding the junior officers and imparting wisdom in the diplomatic and avuncular manner required, he seemed always to be in exactly the right place.
His popularity across the wider regiment marked him as a man whose company was always fun and who could be relied upon to deliver; he was consequently relied upon heavily, in particular by his Battery Commander and Battery Sergeant Major.
Despite all of his professional achievements, WO2 Upton remained a devoted family man and was hugely proud of his young family; he leaves behind his wife Karen and two children Hollie and Ewan.
Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton from 40th Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 23 from North Yorkshire; died alongside 2 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion the Rifles on Thursday 13th August 2009, as a result of a roadside bomb.
Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was killed in action on Thursday 13 August 2009 when he was caught in an improvised explosive device blast whilst on foot patrol as part of Op GHARTSE KERS 4, providing security for a pre-election shura in the Sangin area of Helmand province.
He had suffered injury in an initial blast whilst trying to clear an extraction route to the helicopter landing site and was then caught in a second blast in which he was fatally wounded.
Lance Bombardier Hatton was born on 15 June 1986 and was from Haxby in North Yorkshire. He joined 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners) on 21 January 2004 after completion of his basic training at the Army Foundation College (AFC) Harrogate and phase 2 training at Larkhill, Wiltshire.
After an initial tour in 49 (Inkerman) Headquarters Battery, he was posted to 6/36 (Arcot 1751) Battery, immediately establishing himself as a highly popular character within a very close-knit Tactical Group. Having previously completed operational tours in Iraq and Cyprus, he completed pre-deployment training for Afghanistan and subsequently deployed with the 2 RIFLES Battle Group in March 2009 as an Observation Post Assistant, initially to the Kajaki area of operations and subsequently south, to Sangin, where he was bolstering the in-place Fire Support Team (FST) when he was tragically killed.
The role of an Observation Post Assistant is a demanding one and requires a special breed of soldier. The job requires initiative, foresight, composure under extreme pressure, clarity of thought, physical and mental robustness, and tactical awareness.
Lance Bombardier Hatton epitomised these qualities and possessed an enthusiasm for his work which was clear for all to see. He was often to be found in his room at night reading his operational procedures cribs in order to better understand the technical aspects of his profession, much to the amusement of his friends in the battery, or in the gym working hard on his fitness in order to ensure that he would be ready in all respects when the time came.
He had begun his career in 40th Regiment Royal Artillery as a Battlefield Meteorological System Operator responsible for providing the meteorological data that a Light Gun requires in order to fire accurately.
However, it was indicative of his character and desire to be at the forefront of the action that he sought a posting to a Fire Support Team. He was a man who thrived on being at the forefront of everything that his battery and regiment were involved in and it was in this spirit that he deployed to Kajaki with his FST and his comrades from the 2 RIFLES Battle Group.
In perhaps the most austere and kinetic corner of Helmand province, his orchestration of Joint Fires was truly exceptional. On his return from Helmand province, it was his wish to attempt the arduous patrols course and become a member of 4/73 Battery Royal Artillery; further testament to the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction he derived from soldiering, and soldiering well.
A young man with a winning smile and a heart of gold, Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was one of the best of us. The distress of the regiment is second only to that of his mother, Jill, father, Philip, sisters, Vicky and Becky, and his girlfriend, Tasha Chehab. Our thoughts are with them.
Lance Bombardier Hatton's family said:
"Matt always wanted to be a soldier from being very young. He passionately enjoyed his job and often talked fondly about his colleagues and friends.Lieutenant Colonel Owen Adams, Commanding Officer of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery, said:
"He was very brave and a credit to both us and the Army. We are really proud of him as our son, as a brother and as a soldier. Matt loved all his family dearly. He was full of fun, mischief and always brought happiness to our days. With a huge heart he touched many lives and will be missed by everyone and remembered forever."
"Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was a man who had found his niche in life. He revelled in the bond that is commonplace amongst soldiers who serve in small teams across the Army and he lived to excel in his chosen profession.Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:
"Being a member of an FST on operations is a privileged and important role at the very heart of the Company Group. The bonds of camaraderie formed between a company and its FST are forged through the blood and sweat of endeavour, in pursuit of a common purpose.
"It is a special bond that only soldiers truly understand; Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton understood it and thrived on it, as did his resolute comrades in 2 RIFLES, and I know they will mourn his loss with their own.
"Lance Bombardier Hatton was one of those characters who stood out in a crowd. I was always most struck by his engaging style, cheerfulness and sense of pride. I enjoyed his company on the times we chatted in barracks or out in the field. He was no shrinking violet and would always engage in conversation with his superiors, peers and subordinates alike; a positive and inspiring young man who I can honestly say was a genuine pleasure to know."
"Lance Bombardier Hatton was one of an enviably effervescent bunch of Gunners who have made a mark in all corners of the 2 RIFLES Battle Group. I got to know Lance Bombardier Hatton because we always seemed to be on the same helicopter.READ MORE
"He made an immediate impression - physically striking, he sat and chatted with real insight about his fight at Kajaki and what he hoped to bring to Sangin. He was a master of his art and has dug my Riflemen out of some very hairy moments and I am hugely grateful. He has saved lives, undoubtedly so.
"I have been struck as I have walked round my Battle Group today by how proud people are to have known 'Hatts' and I count myself firmly in that number of very privileged men and women.
"He will be sorely missed by us all but we will pause in our FOB [Forward Operating Base] to recall a man who lived to the full, brimmed with passion for his job, and touched the lives of many here in the Upper Sangin Valley. There is much to celebrate in his life, cut so tragically short.
"Our prayers and thoughts must now be with his beloved family and we pray that somehow they will find the courage and the strength to face this unimaginably awful time."
Thanks to The 'ROYAL ARTILLERY REGIMENTAL FAMILY NEWSLETTER ' for providing the images and text for this memorial post