In the evening of Sunday 11 June 2006 UK forces were involved in an incident in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan, during which a mobile patrol was engaged in a firefight against suspected Taliban forces. Tragically as a result of this engagement Captain James Philippson was killed and two other soldiers seriously injured.
Jim Philippson, 29, a Captain serving in 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery was from from St Albans in Hertfordshire. On completing his further education at Plymouth University he joined the Army in January 2001 and, after his course at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, was commissioned into the Royal Artillery later that year.
He then undertook his Young Officers’ course at the Artillery Centre, Larkhill. From the outset his sharp intellect, determination, positive attitude and infectious enthusiasm stood out and he was selected for a posting to 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery. He relished the challenge of demanding commando selection where his physical stamina was more than matched by his mental robustness.
Not only was he successful but he led the way. Having settled into the Regiment his confident, yet self-effacing, approach had a real impact. His unique combination of fierce professionalism, relaxed style of command and sense of fun won him the respect and loyalty of his soldiers and peers. He displayed all of these qualities in the high pressure operational environment of Iraq but also on exercises in Norway, USA and Cyprus. Moreover, he was always looking to get involved; throwing himself wholeheartedly into his sport and social life with the same passion as his work.
Having concluded his tour with 29 Commando Regiment, Capt Philippson was keen to undertake the challenge of service with 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and after a six month deployment to the Falkland Islands joined the Regiment in February 2006 as it prepared for deployment to Afghanistan.
Very soon he found himself a pivotal member of the team with the role of training and mentoring the Afghan National Army. Here his maturity, patience, technical skill as an instructor and responsiveness was an example as much to his colleagues as to his Afghan counterparts who warmed quickly to his inherent leadership and charisma. He was a man that wanted to make a difference, and he did.
Capt Philippson served only a short time with 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery but his influence on it and 29 Commando Regiment previously was tremendous. A genuine character who was full of life and humour yet with a highly committed edge, he will be remembered as a gifted, considerate and popular officer who would always go that extra mile for his soldiers and his friends. He will be sadly missed by everyone that that knew him.
Lieutenant Colonel David Hammond, his Commanding Officer, said:
"Jim was a top quality officer in the best traditions of the Regiment and the British Army. Those around him were influenced not only by his commitment, passion and drive but also his enthusiasm and ready wit. A gifted commander he had the self-confidence of an assured professional yet was also modest and willing to learn.
"All of this earned him the respect of all those he touched. The commitment he showed to his task in Afghanistan and every challenge he undertook was an inspiration.
"He was a rising star in every sense who had a huge amount to offer. He is a tremendous loss and our thoughts are with his family and many friends at this very difficult time."