Dead British soldier shot in Afghanistan named by MoD

Private Bellingham
Image caption Private Bellingham's parents said he died doing a job he loved

A British soldier killed on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Private Gareth Bellingham, 22, from Stoke on Trent, of 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was shot while on patrol with Afghan troops in the Nahr-e Saraj district on Saturday.

He was described as an "extremely hardworking and committed Warrior who was wholly respected".

The number of UK service personnel killed in Afghanistan stands at 374.

Private Bellingham's parents Leslie and Suzanne said he died doing the job he loved.

"We are all proud of the job he did. He will be sadly missed by family, friends and all those who knew him. Rest in peace," they said in a statement.

Lieutenant Colonel Giles Woodhouse, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, said Private Bellingham's death was a "tragic loss to the Battalion".

"Pte Bellingham was one of those soldiers that you had to have in your section; fearless, utterly professional, a prankster and a loyal friend who never let you down; quite simply he was a force for good.

"Observing Private Bellingham before deploying on a patrol with his Afghan Army partners with whom he had developed a genuine affinity, I can understand why they fought so hard to save him when he was mortally wounded.

'Excellent soldier'

"That his death has affected our partners as deeply as it has all the soldiers from the Battalion is testament to the high esteem in which he was held," he said.

The soldier had been been deployed from his base on Saturday with C Company Tactical Headquarters and Number 3 Tolay (Afghan National Army) in the Upper Gereshk Valley.

The troops were conducting a patrol to assess the situation on the ground and meet the local population who had recently returned to compounds in the area.

Colonel Jens Riis-Vestergaard, Commanding Officer Combined Force Nahr-e-Saraj (North) said Pte Bellingham's "conduct, professionalism, confidence and good nature helped reassure and protect a population in harms way".

"Typical of his unit, fighting to keep others safe, he was an excellent soldier who will be desperately missed by all in Combined Force Nahr-e-Saraj (North)," he said.

Lance Corporal Rob Davis, Section Commander, C Company, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) said: "Bell, as we sometimes called him, was the morale within our Section.

"He was never afraid to tell anyone 'how it was' and was the life and soul of the party.

"He was always whinging, but in a way that always cracked us up. He was a top bloke and a good soldier."

On Saturday, two other soldiers, who died in separate incidents on Thursday, were named as Corporal Lloyd Newell and Craftsman Andrew Found.

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