On Thursday, 20th September 2007 in southern Afghanistan, Brian Tunnicliffe together with Phillip Newman were on a re-supply run when they both died as a result of a tragic accident when their vehicle overturned.
Brian Tunnicliffe was a Private serving with 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters).
Both soldiers were deployed on Operation Palk Wahel with A (Grenadier) Company 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) and were conducting an essential re-supply during a pause in the fighting.
They were travelling in a Pinzgauer 4X4, 5km south west of their patrol base in an area north of Gereshk, on their way to a rendezvous point as part of a two vehicle replenishment patrol. The vehicle over-turned and tragically landed on its roof in an irrigation channel. One other passenger was able to escape without injury. Despite all of the efforts of the patrol, a medical officer, engineers and a quick reaction force who were on the scene within minutes, sadly Colour Sergeant Newman and Private Tunnicliffe were unable to be saved.
Private Brian Tunnicliffe, aged 33, from Ilkeston, was enlisted into the Army in Derby and commenced his training at the Army Training Regiment Lichfield followed by the Infantry Training Centre Catterick in January 1997. He arrived at the Battalion in the summer of 1997, whilst it was based in Tidworth. He deployed soon after to Bosnia in 1998. He later deployed to Omagh, Northern Ireland in 2000 for a two year residential tour of duty and again to South Armagh in 2003. Additionally he had deployed to Belize and Kenya and exercised on HMS Nottingham.
As a senior Private soldier, Private Tunnicliffe had been employed in various roles over the last 10 years. He spent most of his career as a store man in A (Grenadier) Company, assisting many an Officer Commanding and Company Quarter Master Sergeant. His varied other tasks included a spell as Ram Orderly to Private Derby, the Regiment's Swalesdale Derbyshire Ram mascot. Private Derby too was thankful for the companionship, never had he been exercised so much or cared for so diligently. More recently Private Tunnicliffe was employed in the motor transport platoon.
Private Tunnicliffe's wife, Lindsey said:
"Beloved Husband and Best Friend. Loved the Army, always reliable and the worst cook in the world. We'll miss you "Tunni""
Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton said:
"'Private 'Tunny' Tunnicliffe was a true Regimental character known to every officer and soldier alike who has served with the Battalion over the past decade. He would always go the extra mile, ensuring those around him were looked after, whether it be his Company Commander or the soldiers in the Company. All he ever wanted was to make others happy; a thank you and pat on the back was always sufficient reward.
"As soldiers past and present will testify, there isn't a single man who has served in 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters/ 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) who won't have a collection of 'Tunnicliffe stories'. Private Tunnicliffe reflected the archetypal county infantryman, fiercely loyal to his regiment and his friends. A truly big hearted Ilkeston man through and through, our lives are darker now that his bright light has gone out."
Captain Adrian Garrett – Adjutant 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) said:
"Private Tunnicliffe was one of the first soldiers that I met when I joined the Battalion. As the Company store man he always gave 100 % effort to the guys deploying onto the ground. His natural strength was renowned, although in true contrast you would never meet a warmer spirited individual with always a kind word. All Worcesters and Foresters, past and present have lost a close friend."
Captain Richard (Fred) Slaney - Quarter Master (Technical) 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) said:
"Never afraid of hard work, Private Tunnicliffe would always get stuck in and offer a lending hand no matter what the task. He had two sides; on one side he was as strong as an ox, he could dig a trench and have brews on in no time. On the other side he loved baking cakes which he would proudly share with the lads, quite clearly he was very popular within the motor transport platoon. A real lively character who was full of chat, he will be truly missed."
Sergeant Brian Burgess - Motor Transport Platoon Sergeant 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) said:
"Private Tunnicliffe was as strong as an ox, with a large heart to match. He went out of his way to help you, all he wanted was praise. Everyone knew 'Tunni', his character and that familiar voice."