At approximately 11am local time on Sunday, 8th June, 2008 Nathan Cuthbertson, together with Daniel Gamble and Charles Murray, was on a routine foot patrol 1km west of the Forward Operating Base in the Upper Sangin Valley, Helmand Province, Afghanistan when their patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber. All three died of the wounds inflicted.
Private Nathan Cuthbertson was serving as a Machine Gunner and Infantry Assault Engineer with 4 Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment.
Nathan's parents, Tom and Carla, said:
"Nathan realised his childhood dream by following his Dad's footsteps and joining The Parachute Regiment as a machine gunner. He died a hero, doing a job he loved among his friends.
"Nathan had a real passion for life; he always had a smile and was quick to make friends. Football, socialising and girls were his hobbies and he was never far away from any of them.
"A dearly loved and devoted son, brother, grandson and friend to all who had the privilege of meeting him, his death will leave a massive hole in all our lives. We will not forget him."
Following his death the Commanding Officer of 2 PARA, Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan, paid the following tribute:
"Today Private Nathan Cuthbertson, Private Daniel Gamble and Private Charles Murray were wounded by a suicide bomber near Forward Operating Base Inkerman, and despite the best efforts of the medics on the ground and at the hospital in Camp Bastion they could not be saved.
"They died doing their duty and doing their best, taking care with a potential threat, but also understanding the importance of connecting to the people around them. All three had been in Afghanistan for two months and had already experienced physically draining patrols in the high heat of the Afghan summer, combat with the Taliban, and the danger which is inescapable in our part of Helmand.
"They tested themselves to join The Parachute Regiment and they welcomed the challenge of operations. They knew the risks, and in facing them today as they had done every day before, they demonstrated the clear, cold courage which is the hallmark of their comrades and their Regiment.
"We will all take some time to think about them, and we salute them as brave young men, but our thoughts are also with their families who bear the greatest burden of their loss. We will turn to our job again and continue the relentless pressure on the Taliban in this valley, which in time will create space for a better life for the people here.
"When our job in Helmand is completed we will return home and honour them as members of 2 PARA who have given their all for their friends, their Regiment and the difficult task they faced. We will remember what they have done and the life that they have given, and what we achieve here will be their memorial."
Private Nathan Cuthbertson was serving as a Machine Gunner and Infantry Assault Engineer with 4 Platoon, B Company, 2 PARA when he was killed in action by a suicide device in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
Private Cuthbertson, aged 19, was born in Sunderland on 5 January 1989. He began his military career aged just 16. Having left school he chose not to wait until he was old enough for adult service and attended the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in October 2005. Whilst at the Army Foundation College he stood out as a soldier and chose to join The Parachute Regiment. Upon completing his initial training he moved on to the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick where he completed his basic training and passed the physically demanding Pre-Parachute Selection, P Company.
Once he had earned his military parachute wings he joined 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in December 2006. With typical energy and drive he quickly embraced the spirit of the Regiment and in under a year had undertaken and passed the technically challenging Infantry Assault Engineers course, usually reserved for more experienced soldiers.
During pre-deployment training and deployment to Afghanistan he again excelled operating the platoon's specialist weapon, the general purpose machine gun. He handled the responsibility with characteristic aplomb and was hugely proud to be the section gunner.
Rarely seen without a smile, he could be depended upon to cheer up the platoon, even in the most adverse conditions from the Northumberland rain of pre-deployment training to the heat of the Afghan summer.
His Company Commander, Major Russell Lewis, said:
"Private Cuthbertson was an incredibly popular member of the Company. A talented, motivated individual he always had a smile on his face and relished the challenges faced by the professional soldier. His humour and morale were infectious and he was widely liked and respected. His loss will be sorely felt by his friends and colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
4 Platoon Commander, Lieutenant David True, said:
"Private Cuthbertson loved his platoon and worked tirelessly on its behalf, nowhere more so than in Afghanistan. When volunteers were required, his was always the first hand to go up. He was a brilliant soldier and a great man. He will be greatly missed."
Sergeant Wayne Sykes who trained him and later became his Platoon Sergeant said:
"I was also Private Cuthbertson's Section Commander during his basic training, from my time there and also in 2 PARA one of the things what really stood out was that you could always rely on him to get the job done. He never moaned about anything, he just cracked on. He was always happy and never took life too seriously. He was a great member of the platoon."
Assault Engineer Section Commander, Corporal David Baillie, said:
"I don't think I ever heard 'Cuthy' complain once. He was like a work horse, carrying out any task he was given straightaway and without fault. Always ready for 'a brew' and a cigarette, Cuthy was a great bloke and will be sorely missed in the platoon."
Second in Command of his section, Lance Corporal Alan Farmer, said:
'''Nathe' was a tremendous character within the section, he always worked hard for everyone and was an essential part of the platoon. He never complained and always did everything to the best of his ability. Put simply, he was a mega bloke."
Friend and colleague Private Lewis Barlow said:
"Private Cuthbertson, 'Cuthy', was an extremely good soldier and one of my closest 'muckers' being a room mate of mine in the battalion and a fellow Assault Engineer. Cuthy was exceptionally fit and a typical paratrooper, a good gunner and a good friend. He will be sadly missed, my thoughts go to his family and friends."
His best friend Private Lee Cunliffe spoke of their time together through their training and career:
"'Cuthy' and I started AFC Harrogate at the age of 16 together. We both got put into the same company, 'Cambrai Company'. After our time there we passed out and moved into the same platoon at Catterick. Here we got to know each other very well, living amongst each other, training together and having a laugh at night when we had downtime.
"I remember on P Company he would always be at the front of the TABs, or helping keep someone else going. When we joined 2 PARA we were put into the same platoon and shared a room together. We became the best of friends. When we went to Brize Norton to do our parachute 'jumps' course, we shared the same room there as well. I can remember on our first jump he was on the starboard side of the plane and I was on the port. We were both to be the first ones out of the door on either side. I remember we both looked at each other and he laughed and shouted 'Yehaa!'
"He was always up for a laugh. I am truly sorry and gutted about what has happened to him out here, I have lost my best friend. He was an excellent soldier and man. I will never forget him and the good times we had together."