On Wednesday 15th October 2008 James “Magpie” Munday was serving as a Jackal driver on Operation HERRICK 8 when he was killed in action in the Garmsir area of Helmand province. His Troop was conducting a routine patrol approximately 23km north of Forward Operating Base Delhi when the vehicle he was driving was struck by a contact explosion. Despite the best efforts of the medical team he was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other soldiers were also injured in the blast.
James Munday was a Trooper with 1 Troop, D Squadron, the Household Cavalry Regiment
Universally known as ""Magpie", Trooper James Munday, aged 21, from the Birmingham area, joined the Army on 9 February 2005 and after passing out of basic training he went straight to the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in Knightsbridge.
He stayed there for 18 months and spent a season riding with the Musical Ride, widely acknowledged as a privilege open only to the best jockeys. He also displayed an unusual talent for downhill skiing and was an accomplished rugby player. Trooper Munday moved to the Household Cavalry Regiment (HCR) based at Windsor in April 2007, where he was trained as a Scimitar driver and gunner. He looked forward to deploying to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 8 and quickly proved himself as a reliable operator in the demanding environment of southern Helmand.
Trooper Munday's family issued the following statement:
"James was an adventurous, gracious and caring son, who excelled as a soldier and died doing a job he loved.
"James was a tremendous character, who lived life to the full. He was a talented and fearless skier, an enthusiastic horseman and was relishing the opportunity to help those in need on operational service.
"We are devastated by the loss of James, who will be sorely missed by his family, numerous friends and colleagues. We are so proud of what he achieved as our son and have been humbled by the many messages of condolences received.”
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Fullerton, Commanding Officer, HCR, said:
"Trooper James Munday was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best of his generation. He was a rising star in his peer group and a truly brilliant Life Guard and Household Cavalryman. He excelled at all he turned his hand to.
"He joined the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and was quickly noticed as a gifted rider and hard worker. He was selected for the elite Musical Ride Display Team, where he proved his worth. He became a Junior Skiing Champion on his first skiing tour. He finished his gunnery course as the top gun. He was posted to D Squadron, where he prepared for operations and won the confidence and respect of his Squadron Leader and all his colleagues immediately. He relished the prospect of serving his country on operations.
"He served on this tour with courage, honour, humility and always put his colleagues' interest first. He was passionate about his job and the regiment could ask for no more from him. He has paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of others. His family have lost a wonderful son and we at the Regiment have lost one of the best.
"We are humbled by his tragic death and our thoughts are with his family at this time."
Lieutenant Colonel Alan Richmond, Commanding Officer, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (Battlegroup South), said:
"James Munday was a superb soldier, full of character and a highly popular member of his squadron. He had a great sense of humour, was a gifted sportsman and lived life to the full. He was fully aware of the dangers of operations and yet was always one of the first to volunteer to go out on patrol. He was killed doing what he loved, surrounded by friends.
"For almost six months he and his fellow Household Cavalrymen have worked tirelessly to bring peace to Helmand province and its troubled people. It is especially tragic that he should be taken from us so close to the end of his tour of duty. Trooper Munday's death is a great loss to all of us in Battlegroup South. We will remember him, and our thoughts are now with his family and their most painful loss."
Major William Davies, D Squadron Leader, said:
"Words cannot describe the sense of total despair at the loss of our dear friend and fellow Household Cavalryman, James 'Magpie' Munday. Today is indeed the darkest of days. Professional in all that he did, enormous fun to be around and admired by everyone for his vast range of natural talents, James was quite simply a very special person. His appeal touched all ages and all ranks.
"We are deeply honoured to have known and worked with him. James was surely destined for great things on a path now cut short so cruelly and abruptly. D Squadron is a quieter, darker, and lesser place for his loss. James will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers now turn to his poor family to whom we offer our deepest and most sincere condolences."
Captain Tom Long, of The Life Guards, D Squadron Operations Officer, said:
"'Magpie' was a bright, motivated soldier who had a very promising career ahead of him. Having served closely with him over the past few months of the tour Magpie was at the forefront of the Squadron's activities always volunteering to go out on either vehicle or foot patrols. He had an infectious enthusiasm that motivated and inspired all around him.
"A natural athlete he was at home on the ski slopes, rugby field or 'tabbing' into a night observation post in southern Helmand. His sense of humour was irrepressible and he was enjoying being on operations with his friends and comrades. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family at this most difficult time."
Warrant Officer Class 2 (Squadron Corporal Major) Daniel Hitchings, of The Life Guards, D Squadron Corporal Major, said:
"Trooper Munday was a true Household Cavalryman, mastering the challenges of Knightsbridge and the high-speed tempo of operational life as a formation reconnaissance soldier. He was hugely popular with all ranks and always maintained a steadfast and determined approach, even in the most demanding situations. Magpie will be sorely missed by all those that were lucky enough to have known and served with him. James was killed in action surrounded by his comrades doing a job he loved - securing a safer future for the people of Afghanistan."
"James, or Magpie as we all called him, was the centre of morale in his troop and for most of the squadron too. I will always remember the quirky little sayings he used to seemingly pull from thin air to make everyone laugh."
Trooper Zak Smith
Staff Corporal Mick Flynn, of The Blues And Royals (Royal Horse Guards And 1st Dragoons), 1 Troop Leader, D Squadron, said:
"It was a pleasure to have James in the Troop. He was a bright and intelligent soldier who had a very likeable character. He was like any other young man of his age. He enjoyed a drink or two, he had a cheeky, mischievous sense of humour but never with any malice. He was a man's man who played rugby with a hardness respected by his colleagues. Recently selected for the second year to represent the regiment in the downhill ski team, James lived his life to the full.
"James showed all the best qualities that you would like to find in a person: honesty, thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, a good sense of humour, and was never work-shy. He was a young soldier who, not surprisingly, was already ear-marked for early promotion. I feel honoured to have known him and to have had him in my Troop. He will be massively missed by all who knew him in D Squadron and the Household Cavalry."
Trooper Zak Smith, of The Blues And Royals (Royal Horse Guards And 1st Dragoons), said:
"Trooper James Munday was the most honest, hardworking and loyal person I have known. His passing away has deeply saddened me, yet I cannot begin to think how his parents are feeling right now. James, or Magpie as we all called him, was the centre of morale in his troop and for most of the squadron too. I will always remember the quirky little sayings he used to seemingly pull from thin air to make everyone laugh.
"James was always the first to make his opinion felt whether it was in the squadron while working late on a Friday or if I'd just soaked him in water! I used to think it was hilarious when he used to try to turn off his vehicle master switches or disconnect a Bowman radio cable and he couldn't do it, because he'd get really stressed within four seconds and start shouting about being beaten by inanimate objects!
"James was a skiing lover and had skied for the regiment previously. He was very much looking forward to the forthcoming ski trip in December and already had his new ski boots in mind. Ninety-nine per cent of things he did used to make me laugh and, for that James, I thank you. James was a good trooper but, most importantly, a good friend who will be sorely missed.
Lance Corporal Alex Rose, of The Life Guards, said:
"James 'Magpie' Munday played rugby for the squadron team as a flanker in a game against Manchester OTC [Officer Training Corps] before the deployment to Afghanistan. He excelled himself by winning man of the match and putting in a similar performance drinking; that was the kind of guy he was! He was a great friend and a great soldier and will be missed by all of us. His memory will be in our hearts and minds always."
Trooper Sam Greenwood, of The Life Guards, said:
"I served in Knightsbridge and Windsor with James. For as long as I have known him he was always laughing and joking. He was always up for a good time and was naturally at the front of any good night. He was great to be around and anyone that met him will remember him forever. He was a fantastic friend, a great soldier and he will be in our memories forever."
Trooper Jason Corcoran, of The Life Guards, said:
"James started his career at Knightsbridge where I first met him and we soon became friends. He was good at his job and would always be seen helping others with their kit. He was good at boosting morale in and out of work, no matter what mood he was in. He would always make you laugh.
"I arrived at Windsor a month after James and he had quickly made new friends and was still the same source of morale for the lads. He was such a character within the squadron and will be forever missed. He was an awesome friend and he will always be in my thoughts. It was an honour to have known 'Magpie'. Rest in peace my friend."
Trooper Adam Cooper, of The Life Guards, said:
"James, you were a true friend not just to me but to everyone you came across in your Army career. You always put a smile on everyone's face no matter what the situation. I remember the good times in Knightsbridge cleaning rooms and 'bobbing' boots for all the hours God gave us. It is a shame I always beat you to the Number 1 Box! James was a clean, keen Knightsbridge Warrior and he will be missed by everyone and never forgotten."
A Clarence House spokesman said:
"Prince William and Prince Harry are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news that Trooper James Munday of D Squadron, Household Cavalry Regiment has been killed in action in Afghanistan. Together with the rest of their Regiment, the two Princes' heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this most distressing of times. Trooper Munday was in D Squadron with Prince William, and he remembers him as an exceptional soldier."