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 Joe Murphy, aged 18, was from Castle Bromwich, Birmingham and joined the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles in November 2008 after attending the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, and completing the Combat Infantryman's Course in Catterick. He completed pre-deployment training with C Company and in March 2009 he deployed to Sangin as a light machine gunner in 9 Platoon, C Company. Rifleman Murphy was killed in action by an improvised explosive device on 10 July 2009.
He leaves behind his parents, Brian and Jill, and his older brother, Ben.
Rifleman Joseph Murphy's Family said:
"He was a fine young man, a dearly loved son, Brother, Grandson, Nephew and Cousin, who will stay in our hearts forever."
His Parents, Brian and Jill, said:
"Joe died doing the job he loved whilst serving his country. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his comrades in Afghanistan."
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group:
"Rifleman Murphy joined us in the middle of pre-deployment training and was straight into the mix – at the double - which is how he lived his life. A really bright lad; another product of the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, he soaked up new skills and thought deeply about his new profession. Out here, he was in his element, helping to bring security to Sangin and its people. He knew right was on his side and his commitment was exemplary. He loved his football and was itching for the new season.
"A driven young man, he had so much going for him and his loss has hit us all hard. But our first instinct is to pray that his family will find the strength and courage to face the dreadfulness of the coming days."
Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES:
"Rifleman Murphy was another Harrogate trained star in waiting. Smartness was not his thing – the dust, dirt and austerity under which we lived was right up his street! He also had an infectious sense of humour which he tried on with me during my first interview with him. I am extremely proud of all he had achieved. Sadly he was snatched from us by an IED trying to rescue another fallen Rifleman. His death will not deter us from the task in hand – it is both important and urgent. Rifleman Murphy knew that more than anyone."
Capt Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES:
"Rifleman Murphy was an exceptional young Rifleman. He was fiercely proud of his Section and his Platoon, a passionate Villa fan and the joker of the Company. It is the mark of the man that he was selected to bear the responsibility of being one of the Platoon's three Machine Gunners despite his relative inexperience. Rifleman Murphy was carrying his close friend and battle-buddy, Rifleman Simpson, to safety after he had been wounded in the first explosion when a second device initiated and killed them both instantly. Rifleman Murphy gave his life while trying to save that of his fellow Rifleman.
"The thoughts and prayers of all in C Company are with him and his family. Rifleman Murphy, We will never forget your smile."
Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant:
"Joe Murphy loved being a Rifleman. He had many talents and often combined his talent for drawing with his love of Aston Villa Football Club. He was often sent to remove his 'artwork' from the sentry positions! With an eye on the future, he wanted to complete the demanding Rifles Sniper Cadre. Joe was close friends with Rifleman Danny Simpson whom he was helping to extract to the safety of the FOB during their last minutes together. He spoke constantly of his parents and his older brother, whom he missed and loved dearly.
"Gone, but never forgotten – Rifleman Joe Murphy, 9 Platoon, C Coy, 2 RIFLES."
Lance Corporal Rehan Pasha, Section Second-in-Command:
"I was Rifleman Murphy's Section 2IC only briefly (we were posted to the Battalion at the same time), but I will never forget him. Typically, no-one in 9 Platoon called him Joe; it was always 'Murph' or 'Smurph' and a few other nicknames besides. Murph habitually made me laugh (although not always intentionally) even when I was trying to be angry with him. His semi-permanent expression of fatigue and Brummie drawl belied a sharp wit and an outstanding artistic talent. Joe, I am sorry that I was not a better friend to you. I will miss you and I will miss being greeted every morning with a cheerful, 'Allroight Pash?'."
Rifleman Wilson, fellow Rifleman:
"I've known Joe Murphy since day one in basic training at Harrogate . As soon as he turned up, he was the joker of the platoon, always with high morale no matter what he was doing. He was the funniest lad I have ever known and he loved annoying people in a funny way, which would always have everyone in stitches. We have been in the same section all the way through so I saw him as my own brother and my best friend. I don't know how we are all going to cope without him making us laugh every day. My deepest sorrow goes to his family and friends and I wish them the best for the future. I'm going to miss you so much Murph. Rest in peace my best friend, my brother."
Rifleman Jacobs, fellow Rifleman:
"Smurf the Murph. What a lad! He was one of a kind. I started battalion at the same time as Joe and from the start we got on. I will never forget the nights we spent joking and laughing. I will miss you brother, you will always have a place in my heart. Love from big Ginge."