On Wednesday, 17th December, 2008 Stuart Nash was killed in action during combat in Zarghun Kalay, Nad e Ali District, Helmand province. He was wounded as he was covering comrades from a compound rooftop while working as part of the 1 RIFLES Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) Battle Group. His fellow riflemen administered first aid and he was evacuated by a Medical Emergency Response Team helicopter, but subsequently died of his wounds.
Stuart Nash was a Rifleman serving with 1st Battalion, The Rifles.
An Australian citizen, Rifleman Stuart Nash, 21, was born in Sydney on 19 April 1987, and enlisted in The Rifles on 9 March 2008 in Gloucester. He attended the Combat Infantryman's Course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, where he quickly established himself as a popular and confident character with maturity beyond his years and a positive influence on his peers.
Rifleman Nash's parents, Bill and Amanda Nash, said:
"We are shattered of course by the news, but Stuart was doing what he most wanted to do in life, having harboured a wish for a military career since joining the cadets at the age of 13. He went to the UK to join up to get a better opportunity to do real soldiering, which he has done, if only briefly. He was a willing volunteer; our soldiers have chosen their profession and we are, and will remain, proud of their willingness to make these sacrifices for the security of all of us who remain at home."
His Company Commander at Catterick, Major Robert Connolly, said:
"He was a thoroughly professional young soldier who embodied the value of the British Army. His enthusiasm and approach to training were reflective of his desire to become an outstanding field soldier and to support his friends and colleagues."
After passing out of Catterick on 19 September 2008, Rifleman Nash was assigned to 1st Battalion The Rifles at Beachley Barracks in Chepstow. Following pre-deployment training in the United Kingdom he joined the battalion on operations in Afghanistan. He joined his mentoring and liaison team in Nad e Ali, a district centre west of Lashkar Gah, and recently the scene of intense fighting. In what can only be regarded as a baptism of fire, Rifleman Nash rapidly adapted to the austere life of a patrol base and established new friends among his fellow riflemen, who quickly christened him 'Oz'.
Although the newest and youngest member of his team, his gentlemanly manner and thorough professionalism instantly gained him acceptance. He was a polite man of strong faith who was always happy, and was always ready to put others before himself. If he was ever the man left behind, the returning patrol was always greeted with chopped wood for a fire and hot water for brews.
His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, shared such a brew with Rifleman Nash and his friends the day before he was killed and remembered clearly his impressive and humbling loyalty, good humour, maturity and intellect. Lt Col Cavanagh said:
"Rifleman Nash was clearly thriving on the dual challenges of his own early professional service and the responsibilities of mentoring his Afghan National Army warrior colleagues. He was honest about the difficulty and danger of his work, modest about his own reserves of courage, robust and determined to succeed. He was already enthusing - utterly realistically - about joining the battalion's reconnaissance or sniper platoons after this operation in Afghanistan. He would have been superb in either. He fell a hero, in combat alongside his fellow riflemen."
His OMLT Commander Major Mark Nooney said:
"Nashie had only been in the Army for nine months but already showed great potential. He was young, bright and ambitious. 21 years old, an Australian from Sydney with a background in mechanical engineering and a strong sense of duty, Stuart had decided he should come to Britain to join the Army to do his bit and see the world. He talked of his desire to buy a sports car and tinker with it on return to the UK, such was his constant, optimistic and industrious approach to life."
Identified as having the potential to do well as a NCO (Non-Commisioned Oficer), he was admired by his fellow riflemen for his fitness, can-do attitude, big heart and thirst for knowledge.
Team Commander Captain Iwan Williams said:
"He was one of the most promising new soldiers I have worked with; his intelligence and enthusiasm marked him out amongst his peers. He instantly became a popular member of the team, always doing more than was expected and always with a smile. He will be missed greatly."
His friends from training and his mentoring and liaison team recall that he was undeterred by the dangerous side of soldiering and had joined the Army to do operational service – 'proper soldiering' as he called it.
Corporal Joseph Nash, who shared the same name and had quickly become a friend, was with him when he was wounded. Cpl Nash said:
"He was shot whilst calling out target indications and returning fire, all the time under heavy enemy fire. Despite being recently out of training he was a professional and a soldier in the best traditions of Australia and Britain.
"Once a Rifleman always a Rifleman. Swift and Bold.”