Paul Upton was killed in action in southern Afghanistan together Tom Gaden with and Jamie Gunn on Wednesday 25 February 2009 as a consequence of the wounds they received when the vehicle in which he and the two other Riflemen of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) were travelling was struck by an IED on the highway East of Gereshk.
Paul Upton was serving as a Lance Corporal with 1st Battalion, The Rifles..
Paul Upton was born in Paderborn on 17 March 1977. He originally enlisted into the Army in Salisbury in August 1986. On completion of his Combat Infantryman’s course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick he was posted to A Company, First Battalion The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (1 RGBW) on 24 February 1997.
He served in the Anti-Tank Platoon with a tour to Northern Ireland and exercises in Canada. Lance Corporal Upton left the army in 2000 to pursue other interests, although he was deployed as a reservist to Kosovo with the First Battalion the Princess’s of Wales Royal Regiment. He re-enlisted in December 2007 and was posted to E Company, First Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) in April 2008, in time to commence Pre-Deployment Training for their operational tour in Afghanistan, alongside his brother Leon, a Serjeant in C Company of the same Battalion.
Lance Corporal Upton was thirty one years old. Mature and experienced, lance Corporal Upton immediately settled back into Regimental life. It was as if he had never been away and he clearly relished being back in the Battalion environment and back with many of his friends from his former Regiment.
His determined and friendly manner was evident in his energetic approach to all he did, and he took many of the younger Riflemen under his wing, offering advice, but never forcing it, and ‘digging out blind’ at all tasks. He led by example and encouraged others with boundless enthusiasm and a ready smile.
He was a clear candidate for the forthcoming Non-Commissioned Officer cadre and had already shown his ability and potential as an Acting Lance Corporal during the tour.
As a Mentor to the Afghan National Army, his patience and maturity shone through and he was a vital part of the mentoring effort.
This tragic loss will be felt sorely by all who knew him in the Battalion, and particularly by his team-mates. He was a constant presence and a rock for the team, bearing adversity and hardship with consummate ease and a constantly bright outlook on life, which was a bonus to all who knew him.
However, we feel most for the sorrow and grief of Paul’s parents Peter and Christine, his brother Leon, and his much loved son Jake. Our sense of loss is nothing compared to their grief and we are thinking and praying for them at this time.
Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman, 'Swift and Bold'
Lance Corporal Paul Upton's mother, Tina, said:
"Paul had his life cut short doing a job he loved and he will be greatly missed by family and friends."
Lance Corporal Upton's friends and colleagues paid the following tributes:
Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer, 1 RIFLES:
"It has been very difficult to come to terms with the death of Lance Corporal Paul Upton, killed yesterday by an Improvised Explosive Device while patrolling with his fellow Riflemen.
"While the Battalion has rallied round - most of all to support his proud and immensely popular and talented brother Serjeant Leon Upton, of C Company - it has been devastating. Paul was a slightly unusual Rifleman, in that he had only recently re-joined after a long spell in 'civvy street'.
"I remember as if it was yesterday his first day back in the Battalion as we bantered in the corridor; his sense of excitement was palpable and inspiring, and it was quite clear to all of us that he knew that he was back where he belonged.
"We are proud of this young man - and the decisions he has taken - and will miss him terribly."
Major Jonathan (Jonny) Kitson, Officer Commanding E Company, 1 RIFLES:
"Acting Lance Corporal Upton was an ideal Rifleman: constantly upbeat, diligent and a grafter who worked hard for others before himself. His determination to get back into the swing of things having re-joined the army was evident from the start of the pre-deployment package and he was recognised instantly as a future Junior Non-Commissioned Officer. He clearly loved his profession and he cared deeply for his fellow Riflemen.
"Polite and well mannered, his tidiness and attention to administrative detail were legendary, to the point of obsession. However, this made him a perfect vehicle 2IC (second in command) and he was never to be found without all his kit and equipment in perfect readiness for any task.
"The Company has lost a dear friend and a great character who will be remembered as the quintessential Rifleman."
Captain Rich Camp, Team Commander Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) 9:
"Acting Lance Corporal Paul Upton ('Uppers') joined my team at the very start of pre-deployment training and brought far more than his rank would suggest.
"He was mature and caring, treating everyone he met with kindness and respect. In terms of professionalism, he was consummate. His years of experience were of significant benefit to us all, and counted for a great deal on the ground. He always had time to chat to the lads and was the centre of a lot of morale in the team.
"Uppers was a keen and talented artist who spent a lot of his spare time with his sketch book. The results were outstanding. He designed all manner of things, and indeed had a waiting list for tattoo designs across the Forward Operating Base in which we worked. Uppers was one of the most organised men I have ever met, and this combined with his enduring patience, made him an outstanding asset and hugely valuable when dealing with the Afghan National Army.
"Uppers was a genuinely kind person with time for anyone who needed it – one of life’s true gentlemen. His talk was often of his boy and brother, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his whole family who will be feeling this terrible loss the most.
"It was a true honour to serve with him, and he is sorely missed as a close friend by the whole team."
A/Cpl Woolley, A/Cpl Southwick, A/Cpl O’Neill, Rfn Diamond, OMLT 9 team mates:
"LCpl Upton was better known as 'Uppers'. For a soldier who had been out of the forces for eight years to re-enlist in time for pre-deployment to Afghanistan, Uppers rolled back into the way of life as if he had not been out.
"He was an excellent Rifleman to work alongside, as all of the team would tell you. He will be best remembered for his obsession for cleaning and his artistic drawings and being an outstanding and well loved Rifleman."