Cwmbran soldier killed in roadside blast
A soldier died when the tank he was driving was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, an inquest heard.
Pte James Prosser, 21, of Cwmbran, Torfaen, was fatally injured when his Warrior vehicle was thrown a couple of feet in the air in September last year.
The soldier, of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh, was called a "brave Welsh warrior" by his commanding officer.
The coroner at the inquest in Newport concluded he was unlawfully killed. He had suffered serious head wounds.
He had been on patrol in Musa Qala district, northern Helmand province, when he was attacked and had been targeting Taliban bomb-making factories at the time.
Colleagues told how the Taliban were known to specifically target drivers of armoured vehicles with massive improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
On this occasion the IED exploded in a confined space, which only served to magnify the lethal power of the bomb.
Maj Huw Jones, company commander, said: "The explosion was almost directly under where Private Prosser was sitting.
"It was a deliberate act to target the driver."
Prior to the onslaught, a two-man scout team had scoured the area for IEDs using a metal detector, the inquest was told.
But the crude bomb which killed Pte Prosser was probably fitted with wooden triggers to make detection difficult.
Pte Prosser and his team had been tasked with cordoning off an area to prevent Taliban troops escaping while troops raided the area for the suspected factories, Maj Jones said.
Maj Jones said he had arrived at the scene shortly after hearing the blast to find four wheels had been blown off one side of the Warrior and two wheels from the other.
Cpl Neil Collins was part of the unit and told the inquest: "The force from the explosion was sufficient to throw the vehicle into the air a couple of feet.
"The inside of the Warrior immediately filled with dust.
"Inside the vehicle you could not see anything and outside the vehicle it took about 10 minutes for the dust to clear."
He said it was immediately apparent Pte Prosser was "deeply unconscious".
Coroner David Bowen said a post-mortem examination revealed the soldier died from "major head injuries" sustained in the blast.
He concluded he was: "Unlawfully killed while on active service in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh".
Shortly after his death, his family released a statement paying tribute to him as a "wonderful son and brother".
It said: "I am so proud of the man he grew to be. He is dearly loved and cherished by his family and his many friends."
Pte Prosser's commanding officer Lt Col Didi Wheeler described him as a "brave Welsh Warrior".
In a statement released after his death, Lt Col Wheeler said: "He had a boundless sense of humour and was a true character in every sense despite his relative young age.
"This brave Welsh Warrior will be sorely missed by so many of us."