Tributes to dead soldier

TRIBUTES have been paid to the ninth Colchester-based solider to be killed in Afghanistan during the current tour.

James Hore

TRIBUTES have been paid to the ninth Colchester-based solider to be killed in Afghanistan during the current tour.

Private Peter Joe Cowton from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment was killed by a blast in the Helmand province on Tuesday.

Pte Cowton was hit by a blast during a routine patrol that clashed with Taliban fighters in the troubled area just before 9am.

During the encounter he was seriously injured by an explosion and was airlifted out to receive medical treatment.

However, the 25-year-old died during the flight, becoming the 114th British soldier to die in Afghanistan since operations began in November 2001.

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2 PARA's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan, said: “Pte Cowton was an experienced soldier and 9 Platoon's lead scout.

“He had served in Iraq as a reservist before joining 2 PARA last year and had already spent three months on operations against the Taliban near forward operating base Gibraltar in the Musa Qal'eh Wadi and further north in the Upper Sangin valley.”

“He is the seventh member of the Battalion, and the tenth member of 2 PARA Battle Group be killed this summer as the Battle Group creates space for the Afghan Government to connect to its people, and for development to progress in the Northern Helmand River valley.

“The cost is high and painful to Pte Cowton's friends but most of all to his family, who had expected him home for a short R&R break in a few days time.

“Pte Cowton, like those we already mourn, was a remarkable man because he knew, as every member of the Battle Group knows, what he was risking and yet he chose to face a dangerous enemy in a harsh environment and to do so every day for his friends, his regiment and his country. We will remember him, and will continue to build on the progress he was prepared to give his life to achieve.”