Whilst acting as the commander of the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) John Manuel was killed in action by a suspected suicide bomber on Friday, the 12th December 2008 in Sangin, Southern Helmand whilst deployed on operations with X-Ray Company, 45 Commando Group, Royal Marines. Corporal Marc Birch and Marine Damian Davies, who were travelling with John in the same vehicle, were also killed. The Company was conducting an operation alongside Afghan National Army troops to dominate areas posing a dangerous threat to British forces and the local Afghan population. Despite the efforts of all those around him, Sergeant John Manuel tragically died from his injuries at the scene of the incident.
John Manuel was a Sergeant serving with 45 Commando, Royal Marines in X-Ray Company HQ.
Sergeant Manuel, known as 'Manny', was born in the North East on the 11 November 1970. After completing Royal Marines Commando Recruit Training in September 1989, he joined X-Ray Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines. Manny was an 'Arbroath Orphan', an affectionate term used at 45 Commando for ranks stranded north of the border at weekends. He served for the majority of his career with the Fleet Protection Group, also known as Comacchio Group, and with 45 Commando Royal Marines. He also spent a brief spell at the Defence School of Driving, Leconsfield. At this time both 45 Commando and Comacchio Group Royal Marines were based in Royal Marines Barracks Condor, Arbroath and Manny made many close friends and was very much a part of the 45 Commando family. During this time he gained considerable operational experience in Iraq (Op DRIVER), Belize and Kosovo (Op AGRICOLA). He was recently promoted to Sergeant.
Sergeant Manuel was a Specialist Driver/Instructor and was also highly qualified in the field of logistics. He fulfilled a crucial role as the Quartermaster's Logistic Forward Representative within X- Ray Company; approaching this labour intensive and demanding role with vigour and passion and providing the company with the necessary stores and support required to achieve its mission. He also embraced any opportunity to patrol with X-Ray Company.
Sergeant Manuel was a martial arts and motorcycle enthusiast. He was particularly talented in Judo, a sport in which he excelled. On return from the current tour it was his ambition to establish a judo club in Condor, for the benefit of all ranks of 45 Commando Group Royal Marines based at RM Condor, especially the 'orphans'.
Sergeant Manuel was an industrious character and a good and loyal friend; his loss has left a void in the hearts of X-Ray Company and 45 Commando. His 'ball of fire' personality combined with his Geordie humour was well known and respected throughout the unit. He was approaching the end of his career in the Royal Marines and it was his aspiration to pursue a second career with the Police as an Advanced Motorbike Instructor.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group:
"Sergeant 'Manny' Manuel was one of 45 Commando's biggest characters and had spent a huge proportion of his 20-year career serving with the unit. Dynamic, enthusiastic, forthright and always cheerful he was a much valued and respected member of the Sergeant's Mess, X-Ray Company, Motor Transport Troop and the Unit as a whole. His contribution to the Commando and to the Royal Marines was enormous whether he was deployed on operations or pursuing his love of martial arts and motorbikes. Extremely courageous and determined he was killed by a suspected suicide bomb whilst playing an important part in an operation to provide security to the local population of Sangin and I know that the whole unit joins me in sending my deepest condolences to his partner and his family as they come to terms with the loss of such an inspirational individual."
Major Richard Maltby Royal Marines, Officer Commanding X-Ray Company Gp:
"Sergeant Manuel was a larger than life character who had become part of the backbone of X-Ray Company. A limitless 'ball of fire', Sergeant Manuel was at the forefront of Company life. Hugely popular, he combined a mischievous sense of humour with a dedication and professional manner that was second to none. He died doing what he loved, commanding a detachment on operations and taking the fight to the enemy. His loss will not only be felt by the Company and Battle group, but also across the Royal Marines Corps. However, at this difficult and tragic time, my thoughts are with his family and his partner, Rachel."
Warrant Officer 2 Jim Curran RM – Company Sergeant Major X-Ray Company:
"I have known Sergeant 'Manny' Manuel for nearly 20 years, having both served the majority of our careers in 45 Commando RM. I was incredibly proud that we were serving in X-ray Company together again. 'Manny' was an exceptional Royal Marine whose high standards, fortitude and leadership made him an integral part of the Company and we will be at a loss without his input. The enthusiasm, cheerfulness and sheer energy he displayed when undertaking his duties was an inspiration to all. Sergeant Manuel was an outstanding Royal Marine Sergeant displaying the highest standards throughout. A good friend, 'Manny' will be sorely missed by all."
Warrant Officer 2 Kev Cheeseman RM – Company Sergeant Major Zulu Company:
"Manny was an extremely professional lad, who was always cheery and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He had permanent grin on his face and always looked on the bright side of any situation no matter what it was. A Geordie through and through; he loved his home town as much as he did the Royal Marines. Manny was a truly outstanding individual who would help anyone without fuss or seek of reward. A truly professional, hard working Royal Marine, who was very proud of his background and of being a 'Bootneck', he smiled through all life's ups and downs. He will be missed."
Sergeant Sean 'Snatch' McKeown RM, 5 Troop, X-Ray Company:
"'Manny' was small in stature but larger than life. You could always hear him before you saw him and when you met him his broad grin and sense of humour would instantly make you smile. I've known Manny for nearly 20 years. We've served as marines, corporals and sergeants together in Comacchio Group, Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines and 45 Commando Royal Marines. Like me, he tended to stay north of the border which meant we could get home to our beloved north-east more easily, having 'runs ashore' together in Newcastle at weekends. Manny was a wonderful friend but also every inch a Royal Marine; motivating, professional and thorough in every task he did. He had the courage of a lion and the personality of a hundred men. His sense of humour was infectious and when I had a bad day he was always there as a shoulder to 'drip' on. He would give you his last, but make you sign for it first. Cheers for the Newcastle Legends DVD but in my eyes you are The True Legend. I'll miss you Manny. Always your mate, 'Snatch'."
Sergeant David Thompson – Yankee Company. A close friend:
"I've known John since I was 13 years old, as young marine cadets! Even at this young age John possessed the 'Commando Spirit' in spades. He was a truly inspirational character, always with a cheeky smile on his face. He was the first Royal Marines Commando that I knew, who I looked up to with total respect. John was undoubtedly one of the main reasons why I joined the Corps, a true 'Bootneck' through and through. He will be missed by all but never forgotten. My thoughts are with his family during these hard times."
Corporal Michael 'Mick' O'Donnell, Machine Gun Section Commander, 6 Troop, Fire Support Group:
"'Jacky' Manuel, 'Manny' or 'wor Jacky' as I preferred to call him was small in height but massive in personality with a big heart to match. Jacky was one of the most professional and hard working friends I've had. He always had time for a bit of a 'craic' and a 'hot wet' – no sugar. Whether it was to wind someone up for a joke or on a more serious note, to offer advice, Manny's laugh was infectious. It wouldn't take long for everybody around him to start laughing too, even if they didn't know what they were laughing about. If he had a bee in his bonnet on a bad day, you would still get a smile and a laugh out of him. I, myself, feel very privileged to have known the big-hearted Geordie 'wor Jacky' and things will never be the same without you around. I will miss you mate."
Marine Sam Laird, X-Ray Company Headquarters and Marine Chris Rogerson, 6 Troop Fire Support Group:
"Well what can we say about John, 'Manny'? We knew him from when we were kids, rolling about on the Judo mats, listening to his tales about the Marines (having rocked up ten minutes adrift, in true Bootneck style!) He would do anything for us, not caring about age. He was there when we needed lifts, needed someone to talk to and he was even there the when one of us was arrested. It would be fair to say we idolised him. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, we have done it to a 'T'. We chased him for our black belts, got our Green Berets and just like him, joined X-ray Company in our first draft in the Royal Marines. Somehow we managed to all meet up where we first started, here in X-ray Company on Op HERRICK. He put his rank aside when talking to us, constantly joking with each other, but behind closed doors we could sit and have a heart-to-heart and listen to his advice. Although sometimes we never took it, we always knew he was right. We will miss his banter and his words of wisdom and his departure will leave a hole in our lives. He was a best friend, true father figure and a Bootneck through and through. You will always be in our hearts and minds, forever missed but not forgotten."
By all the ranks of Motor Transport Troop 45 Cdo RM:
"Manny was a true professional. No matter what he was involved in he would do it with a mass of enthusiasm and passion; he always told it like it was and even though you knew you were right, with Manny you were actually wrong ! He was the 'Jack Russell' of the Royal Marines; small, feisty and hyperactive he did everything at "Mach 10". But no matter how busy he was, Manny always had time for a 'dit' (story) and a 'wet' (drink) session - normally the wet would always be finished before his dit! Manny was passionate about judo and was instrumental in setting up the 'Condor Judo Club', his passion, and knowledge will be sorely missed. His other passion was for motorbikes and if you couldn't find him in his office you could no doubt find him polishing his own bike inside the MT (Motor Transport) shed in preparation for taking it out for a spin after work. He had always wanted to ride hard and fast on the German autobahns and his dream was set to come true on return from HERRICK 9 with his close-knit biker gang. Although he won't be able to make the trip himself now, we will still make the trip and legally pass the 100 in his honour. Manny made us all laugh and wouldn't want us to be sad for long which is easier said than done; we wish he was here now to make us all laugh again. We will miss him."