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Body of British soldier killed by elephant returned to UK

Mathew Talbot Image copyright PA
Image caption Mathew Talbot was serving in his first operational deployment

The body of a British soldier killed by an elephant during a counter-poaching operation in Malawi has been returned to the UK.

A repatriation ceremony took place for Mathew Talbot, 22, of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, on Tuesday afternoon.

He was in Liwonde National Park on 5 May when he was charged by the animal.

His coffin was carried from the aircraft by six of his comrades and placed in a waiting hearse.

Image copyright MOD
Image caption Gdsm Talbot's coffin was carried from the aircraft and placed in a waiting hearse

Guardsman Talbot, who was from the West Midlands, was serving in his first operational deployment.

The patrol of armed British soldiers and African park rangers was walking through tall grass when they disturbed an unseen herd of elephants.

One of them charged at Gdsm Talbot who died soon after from his injuries. No-one else on the patrol was hurt.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mathew Talbot's body left Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe on Monday

He leaves behind his father Steven, his mother Michelle, his sisters Aimee and Isabel, and his girlfriend, Olivia.

In a statement, the MoD said Gdsm Talbot "was not unfamiliar" with Africa and had volunteered to support counter-poaching in Malawi.

"With his keen interest in military history he was proud to have joined a regiment with such a rich and long lineage," it added.

Operation Corded, the name given to the Army's counter-poaching deployment, assists in the training of rangers to help them tackle the illegal wildlife trade.

His commanding officer, Lt Col Ed Launders, said: "Mathew was loved by his brothers-in-arms in the Coldstream Guards. We will sorely miss his humour, selflessness and unbeatable spirit."

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said he served with "great courage and professionalism".

Image copyright MOD
Image caption Mathew Talbot had volunteered to support counter-poaching operations

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