On Friday, 10th July 2009 Corporal Jonathan Horne, Rifleman William Aldridge, Rifleman James Backhouse, Rifleman Joseph Murphy and Rifleman Daniel Simpson were killed in action near Forward Operating Base Wishtan in Sangin, Helmand province.
All five soldiers were serving with the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles
Rifleman Joseph Murphy, 18, from Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, was carrying the injured rifleman Daniel Simpson, 20, from Croydon, south London, to safety when a second bomb struck, killing them both.
Like Murphy, Corporal Jonathan Horne, 28, a father of two from Walsall, was trying to help casualties from the first explosion when he too was killed, while Rifleman James Backhouse, 18, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, who joined as an under-18, died as he was trying to clear a route for the others
William Aldridge, 18, from Bromyard, Herefordshire, who joined at 17 to achieve his dream by becoming a rifleman, was also injured in the first explosion. Despite his injuries, Rifleman Aldridge comforted his comrades with "patience and kind words" before he was killed by the second bomb.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thomson, Commanding Officer of the 2 RIFLES Battlegroup:
"It has been a grim day here in Sangin but at the end of the day, as we prayed for our fellow Riflemen who have given their lives in the service of their country and for the good of the Afghan people, the Bugle Major sounded the advance and it would have been heard right across the valley as the sun slipped behind the ridge. We turned to our right, saluted the fallen and the wounded, picked up our rifles and returned to the ramparts.
"I sensed each Rifleman tragically killed in action today standing behind us as we returned to our posts and we all knew that each one of those Riflemen would have wanted us to 'crack on'. And that is what we shall do – there will be no turning; the work is too important. We are undeterred. But we will miss each fallen Riflemen sorely. They lived and fought alongside us and tonight our lives are much worse for them not being here. But we can celebrate what they were and what they achieved. We are so very proud of them.
"And yet in all of this, we know that our grief is nothing compared to that of their loved ones – parents, wives, children, girlfriends and families. And it is them we also hold tonight in our thoughts and prayers and ask that they may somehow find strength and courage to face the days ahead."
Rifleman Simpson, aged 20, from Croydon, joined the Army in August 2007. He undertook the Combat Infantryman's Course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire. On completing his training, Rfn Simpson was posted to 2 RIFLES in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland. He was sent to C Company and subsequently to 9 Platoon.
Soon after joining, he was deployed to Kosovo on Op VALERO where he was employed as a Rifleman within a section. After returning to Ballykinler the Battalion's focus switched to its future deployment to Afghanistan. During the pre-deployment training he showed an aptitude for all things communications and was subsequently employed as the Platoon Signaller, a pivotal role.
During one of the pre-deployment exercises he demonstrated potential beyond his experience and showed his Platoon Staff that he had the metal to earn a place on the next Potential Junior NCOs Cadre. His style would also have suited life in the Battalion's Close Reconnaissance Platoon. Rifleman Simpson was killed in action by an improvised explosive device in Sangin on 10 July 2009.
Rifleman Simpson's passions in life were his family, boxing, football, karaoke, and his mates.
He leaves behind his eight-month-old son, Alfie, his mother, Debrah, his father, Robert, and his two brothers, Lee and Jimmy.
Rifleman Simpson's Family said:
"Daniel Simpson was a larger than life character, sometimes a bit of a handful and always full of surprises. A strong team player who was fiercely loyal to his friends and could be relied on to be there whenever he was needed. Danny as he is known to his family leaves behind a son, Alfie, a younger brother, Lee, an older brother, Jimmy, and parents, Debbie and Robert Simpson. The world will be a quieter place without Danny."
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battlegroup:
"One of my South London geezers, Rifleman Simpson was a classic Rifleman – hardy, determined and full of fun. He had been in the Battalion since February 2008 and had already been to Kosovo on our 'disciplined summer holiday' last year. Good enough to have flirted with professional football, he was surprisingly fit for a man with such a large capacity for food (we could not keep up) and drink.
"In Afghanistan, he had made a real difference here in Sangin and he dealt with the arduousness of this place without breaking step. His first inclination was always to look out for others. His sense of fun permeated all that he did and his stated intent was to be Regimental Serjeant Major one day. It was a wholly appropriate dream.
"He leaves a desperately big hole in our lives but our first thoughts are for his adored parents, his two brothers, Lee and Jimmy and his adored son Alfie, named after his much loved grandfather."
Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES:
"Rifleman Simpson was my big, hard, 'bouncer-lookalike' Rifleman. He had been doing such an amazing job in the most difficult of circumstances. He loved the close knit brotherhood of 9 Platoon and was liked and respected by all. He had the mark of a potential JNCO written all over him; he had the presence, common sense and robustness to go far."
Captain Edward Poynter Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES:
"Rifleman Simpson was the epitome of a great Rifleman; scruffy, loud and confident to the extreme. He said exactly what he thought and always called it how he saw it. A big man, he was always ready to help his fellow Riflemen. He could carry the weight of ten men and often did. Rifleman Simpson was the lynch-pin of 9 Platoon and was as steady as a rock. He had bags of potential and was full of high octane character. He would have gone a long way in the future. He was a devoted father and family man and the whole Company's thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Colour Serjeant Paul Conville, Former 9 Platoon Serjeant :
"Rifleman 'Simo' Simpson was the loudest man in the Company - he was a one-in-a-million character. When he arrived in C Company, it was evident that he was not just a big lad but had an even larger character. When times were hard and things were not going well, he would always pipe up with a smart remark, whether he meant it or not. He put a ray of light on any miserable situation. There was never silence in the Company whilst he was around, his distinctive accent could always be heard. Simo was a talented individual who played junior football for West Ham and was quite handy as a junior boxer. On completion of training he became a talented shot on the ranges which earned him a place on the Company shooting team.
"The most important things in his life were his family, his son, Alfie, and his grandfather, Alfie.
" 'Simo' will be missed by all who knew him but especially his fellow Riflemen in 9 Platoon who he fought and died alongside."
Rifleman Sherlock, fellow Rifleman:
"I first met Rifleman Danny Simpson in August 2007 at ITC [Infantry Training Centre] Catterick. On the first day it was clear he was a confident, cocky 'cockney wannabe' lad that loved life and lived it to the full. Anytime you felt down, Simo would soon sort that out, as it was impossible to feel miserable around such a bloke with his quick wit and cheeky smile. He was a bundle of joy, a barrel of laughs and the 9 Platoon morale-maker. He loved his job and being with the lads and was intensely proud of his battalion. He was the best mate anyone could ask for, a rock in my life. He will be sorely missed by many, never forgotten and loved always."
Rifleman Obeng and Rifleman Thompson, fellow Riflemen:
"Rifleman Danny 'Simo' Simpson was one of a kind; a joker who always put a smile on your face when you were down. Simo always took his job seriously, was always on top of his game and was very proud to serve his country. Simo always cheered us up with his dance moves when we'd be out having a good time. He will always be remembered for the laughter he spread across the Platoon. We have lost a great friend and he will be forever remembered.
"Rest in peace Simo."