Tributes paid to dead Suffolk soldier

TRIBUTES have been paid to a 23-year-old fianc� from Suffolk who became the 100th British soldier to die in Afghanistan this year.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a 23-year-old fianc� from Suffolk who became the 100th British soldier to die in Afghanistan this year.

Lance Corporal Adam Drane, from the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, died on Monday as a result of small arms fire at a check point in the Nad-e Ali area, in central Helmand Province.

Colleagues paid tribute to L/Cpl Drane, from Stanningfield, near Bury St Edmunds, as a “popular, quiet and intelligent” soldier.

His parents, Desmond and Jackie Drane, said there were “no words” to describe their loss. L/Cpl Drane also leaves a fianc�e, Sian Goodenough.

His parents said in a statement: “No words can adequately describe what our loss means to us. But knowing we are united with all Service families brings comfort.

“As his parents - together with Sian, his fiancee, and on behalf of Christopher, his younger brother - we wish to express our tremendous pride in Adam's achievements as a son, a brother, and future husband.

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“We wish also to honour his chosen profession, which taught him the true meaning of courage and self-sacrifice.

“In the course of his duties, Adam died at his post, protecting his Company, in the service of his country.”

So far, a total of 11 servicemen from the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment - also known as the Vikings - have died since the start of the conflict.

L/Cpl Drane deployed to Afghanistan as a Section Second-in-Command with C (Essex) Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, attached to the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Battle Group.

The keen boxer and music fan had been in Afghanistan for about two months, coming under attack from insurgents almost every day.

He was responsible for commanding a four-man team charged with engaging with the local population and tackling insurgents in one of Helmand province's most challenging areas.

Born in Bury St Edmunds on July 24, 1986, he completed his training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick in August 2007 and within two weeks had joined 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in Afghanistan for the last two months of their operation.

Upon returning to the UK, he completed a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer (JNCO) cadre and was soon after promoted to Lance Corporal.

Prior to deploying to Afghanistan for his second tour, L/Cpl Drane had reached the semi-finals in the Inter-Company Boxing Championships of 2009.

Described as “career-orientated”, L/Cpl Drane had been looking forward to completing Section Commanders' Battle Course after the tour, which would have made him eligible for further promotion.

Speaking in Pirbright, Surrey, Major Chris Barry, 2nd in command of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, said: “L/Cpl Drane was a well-respected and popular soldier.

“His quiet and intelligent personality made him an effective and humble leader, well able to relate to the soldiers under his command. His love of music, warm sense of humour and fun were appreciated by everybody and his death is felt by all.

“Adam was on his second tour of Helmand province and just as in 2007, he was a brave, stoic and reliable man in all situations who inspired and reassured all those around him.”

Best friend Private Paul Kelly, 1 Section, 6 Platoon, C (Essex) Company, said: “No matter how hard the situation became, he could always cheer me up.

“All we had talked about during the tour was our future weddings and how we were going to be each other's best man and that is exactly what he was.

“His passing has left a space in my heart that will never be filled. He was my 'hard rockin'' brother and that is how I will remember him.”

Private Jason Field, 3 Section, 6 Platoon, C (Essex) Company, said: “L/Cpl Drane was the kindest, most loving man I knew. This was most apparent when he talked about his fiancee. He loved her so much.

“She was the first and last person on his mind and I have never met anyone who loved someone as much as he did.”

Major Christopher Davies, Officer Commanding, C (Essex) Company, said: “After nearly two months of almost daily engagements with the enemy, of which the majority were fierce and unrelenting, he remained hardy, focused and full of resolve.

“His stoical nature made those around him stronger and his sense of humour and genuine compassion for his fellow men allowed him to create a confident and extremely capable team.

“L/Cpl Drane was naturally brave and courageous, and convincingly demonstrated this in the boxing ring as well as on the battlefield.”

A Facebook tribute page set up in the wake of his death had last night attracted more than 100 members.

Trevor William Jones said: “RIP Viking brother. You gave so much so that so many can have so little.”

Steve Lucas said: “I watched Adam grow from a toddler to a shy teenager then finally a handsome young man. He was a great guy.”

L/Cpl Drane was named after former Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt said Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not understand the significance of Britain's military campaign in Afghanistan until a few months ago.

But the Tory adviser said he was now “encouraged” that the Government was moving in the right direction on troop numbers after Mr Brown announced reinforcements, bringing the UK deployment to around 10,000, including special forces.

Gen Dannatt's successor as Army chief, General Sir David Richards, said the 100th fatality of 2009 “hardens our determination to succeed”.

Gen Richards urged the public not to judge the campaign by casualties alone.

Meanwhile, on an unannounced visit to troops in Helmand, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said his thoughts were with the family and friends of the dead soldier.

He told Sky News: “Here in Afghanistan there is a sense of very real progress in this mission and that we are putting things where they need to be.”

L/Cpl Drane's death brought the total number of British service personnel who have died since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001 to 237.

This year has been the bloodiest for British forces since the Falklands War in 1982, and follows 39 British deaths in the Afghan conflict in 2006, 42 in 2007 and 51 in 2008.

For more on this story, see today's paper.

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