Sharron Elliott, aged 34, together with Lee Hopkins, Ben Nowak and Jason Hylton, died when their boat patrol was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device on the Shatt Al-Arab waterway in Basra, Iraq on Sunday 12th November 2006 at about 1.50pm.
They died as a result of injuries sustained following the detonation of the IED mounted on a bridge on the Shatt Al Arab River on the eastern edge of Basra City. All were onboard a Rigid Raiding Craft (RRC) which was part of a routine boat patrol travelling north towards the Shatt Al Arab Hotel, a British Army base on the river. Three other UK service personnel sustained serious injuries in the attack.
Sharron’s family said of her:
"Sharron was the most beautiful caring person in the world. She was very strong-minded but very compassionate," said her mother, Mrs Elsie Manning.
"She had lots of friends and used to look after one of them who had cancer so that her husband could have a break – that is the sort of person she was. She loved cooking and used to take over the kitchen when she came home, whipping up all kinds of exotic dishes for us all to try.
"She was very close to her four step brothers and was "best man" at her stepbrother David’s wedding. She was delighted to become an Auntie again last year to little nephew Bradley."
“Sharron was born and brought up in Ipswich and moved to South Shields in the North East in 1998. She had four step brothers, two of whom are still serving in the Army. At the age of 18, she joined the Army as an Aircraft technician transferring six years ago to the Intelligence Corps.
"Sharron deployed to Iraq just over a week ago. Her life was the Army and she had served all over the world. It is of some comfort to the family that she died doing what she loved," added Mrs Manning.
"We all loved her so much - she has left such a big hole in our lives. She was the most fantastic person, she was just amazing and touched the hearts of everyone she met. We can never replace her.”
Sharron Elliott was a Staff Sergeant in the Intelligence Corps. She spent her early career in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, proving herself early on when she was one of the first women to qualify as an aircraft technician in the army. Keen for new challenges, she transferred to the Intelligence Corps and served in the United Kingdom, Germany and Belize, as well as completing a number of operational tours including service in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq.
She had recently been posted to Cyprus from the Defence College of Intelligence where she had been a highly successful instructor. She was deployed to Iraq to fill a temporary post but, typically selfless, had volunteered to extend to serve a full six months tour.
Sharron was born and grew up in Ipswich. She was single and leaves behind her parents and a wide circle of friends who will sorely miss her infectious love of life and her engaging smile. She dedicated much of her time before deploying to Iraq comforting a close friend who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Her Officer Commanding in Cyprus, Major Nick Tuppen, said:
"Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott was fit, robust and full of life and ideas. She was a strong team player who was admired and respected by all. A no-nonsense, professional soldier who displayed both strength and compassion, we will remember her for her steel and determination, her calm, considered words and her smile. Our thoughts are with her friends and family."
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Park, SSgt Elliott's Commanding Officer in Iraq, said:
"Dedicated and professional, Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott was an inspiration to all she worked with. Having very recently arrived in Theatre, she had taken it upon herself to assist the less experienced members of the unit. She set the highest of standards, and encouraged all those around her to strive for the very best.
"Her love of the work led her to volunteer to train others in the skills she had acquired. She was a dedicated instructor: exacting in what she expected from her students, whilst always prepared to assist them to develop their full potential.
"Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott lived for her job and was passionate about her work and all that she did. Never afraid to challenge the status-quo, she would always give her opinion. She was fun loving and full of zeal; she always had a smile however difficult the circumstances. Our sympathy and thoughts go out to her family at this very difficult time. She will be sadly missed by her many friends and colleagues."