Local heroes honoured for war effort

SEVEN soldiers based in Suffolk and Essex have been honoured for bravery in the recent conflict in Iraq.Six of the troops are based at Wattisham Airfield and the other is at the headquarters of the 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester.

SEVEN soldiers based in Suffolk and Essex have been honoured for bravery in the recent conflict in Iraq.

Six of the troops are based at Wattisham Airfield and the other is at the headquarters of the 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester.

Two others who were based in Suffolk during the conflict and have since moved elsewhere are also recognised in the armed forces' honours list, released today.

Rupert Banfield, a Class Two Warrant Officer serving with 4 Regiment Army Air Corps at Wattisham, has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Then serving with 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, he crossed into Iraq with his unit on March 22.

An Army spokesman said: "He regularly flew on combat missions throughout the hostilities, displaying high standards of leadership, airmanship, courage and coolness when under fire."

Most Read

During one such incident, the spokesman added, WO Banfield, 39, led an air patrol to give protection to two RAF Puma helicopters, which were evacuating casualties from the front line.

"As the two Pumas landed, his patrol hovered to keep watch and guard the evacuation, but as the rescue helicopters were about to lift off he had report of enemy fire from an armoured vehicle in the area.

"Maintaining a cool head and giving clear direction, WO Banfield ordered one of his helicopters to engage the enemy, which it did, destroying the threat to the casualty evacuation helicopters.

"He regularly planned and led air patrols, displaying the highest flying skills, in support of ground troops, giving valuable air reconnaissance information and protective fire."

Staff Sergeant Andrew Farmer, a Lynx Aircraft Commander from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, is mentioned in dispatches for his initiative and outstanding leadership.

He was dispatched to support 7 Armoured Brigade near Basra on March 28, an Army spokesman said.

Staff Sgt Farmer, 33, pursued a pick-up truck carrying Iraqi irregulars, loyal to Saddam Hussein and attacking the local population.

"He gave chase and, with great skill, he guided his missile into the target, destroying the enemy vehicle.

"His actions caused the irregulars to disperse and stop attacking innocent civilians. His skill, courage and coolness in combat, while under attack from enemy small arms, was exceptional and his actions prevented further civilian casualties."

Sgt Nathan Bell, who is at Wattisham with The Parachute Regiment, has been awarded the Military Cross.

Other Wattisham-based troops to receive honours include Sgt Adam Tyler, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, who is mentioned in dispatches, as is Richard Gallagher, of the Life Guards and Corporal Curtis Morton, of the Parachute Regiment.

Major Nicholas Holman, who is based at the headquarters of the 16 Air Assault Brigade at Colchester, is awarded a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service.

Captain Richard Cuthill, formerly based at Wattisham with the Army Air Corps but now at Plymouth, receives the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Captain Neil Passmore, also formerly at Wattisham with the Army Air Corps and now at Stockbridge, is mentioned in dispatches in the honours' list.

The honours relate to service in Iraq or support of operations in the period between March 19 and April 19.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter