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."
Corporal Jonathan Horne, aged 28, from Walsall, joined the 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets in July 2004 having completed his infantry training in Catterick. He attended the Section Commander’s Battle Course in Brecon in 2008 and was promoted to corporal in the middle of pre-deployment training.
Corporal Horne served with distinction as both a Green Jacket and as a member of the Rifles in Iraq between 2006 and 2007 (where he was wounded in action) and on peacekeeping operations in Kosovo in 2008. He was hugely proud to deploy to Afghanistan as a Section Commander and relished the opportunity of commanding Riflemen in battle. Tragically, Corporal Horne was killed in action by an IED (improvised explosive device) blast on the morning of 10 July 2009 in Sangin.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Rachel, his children Frankie and Jessica, his parents and three brothers.
Corporal Horne's wife, Rachel:
"A sad farewell to my wonderful husband who was a devoted father, husband and a loving son. We will miss you more than words could ever describe. You were the most caring, thoughtful, funniest, loving and generous person I have ever known. You were so brave and we are all so proud of what you have done. We will always love and miss you. You will forever be in our thoughts."
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battlegroup:
"Corporal Horne was one of a generation of rising stars in my Corporals' Mess and he was right at the top end of it. He had gone from rifleman to corporal in only four years and was thriving on the responsibility of command on the most testing of operations. 'J', as we knew him, wore command lightly – testimony to the depth and attractiveness of his character as well as his natural soldier's qualities. Nothing fazed him on the ground out here and Riflemen fought to be in his section. He was tough, compassionate and full of infectious mirth, exactly what I look for in my JNCOs. His career was packed full of operational experience – Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"He adored life in all its richness. And somehow he always managed to get his way into the Corporals’ Mess football team – no-one else thought he was as good as he did. He was wildly and genuinely popular in the Corporals' Mess and he would dance (badly) to the very end at their fabulous parties. He leaves a gaping hole in his Platoon, his Company and the Battle Group. Our thoughts and prayers are with his adored wife, Rachel, and his children Frankie and Jessica (born not three months ago)."
Major Alistair Field, Officer Commanding C Company 2 RIFLES:
"I met Corporal Horne later than most; he was away on a promotional qualifying course at Brecon when I took command but his reputation went before him: Highly competent, professional and caring, but tough with a wicked Brummie sense of humour. Corporal Horne did not let me down; he was everything that a Company Commander would have wished for. My lasting memory is seeing him in action helping the wounded, calmly controlling the situation until tragically his young life was ended by the evil insurgents."
Captain Edward Poynter, Operations Officer C Company 2 RIFLES:
"Corporal 'J' Horne was a pivotal member of 9 Platoon and of C Company. He worked tirelessly for the men under his command and he was an inspiration to both riflemen and commanders. His constant cheeriness and 'can-do' attitude were deeply infectious. Corporal Horne was the epitome of the professional Junior NCO. He was smart, tough, exceptionally fit and he always led by example.
"Unsurprisingly, when his Company Commander, Platoon Commander, fellow JNCOs and Riflemen were lying killed and injured after an explosion, he was one of the first on the scene providing first aid and organising their extraction to safety. Corporal Horne was killed by a secondary explosive device whilst attempting to save the lives of those he lived and fought with. He will be remembered always as a hero, a friend and a true Rifleman.
"Celer et Audax."
Serjeant Jamie Moncho, 9 Platoon Serjeant:
"Corporal Jay Horne was a hugely cheerful character who always arrived at work with a big smile on his face. He was full of life and always brightened the day for the whole platoon. He was a mentor to the Riflemen, who looked up to him and responded to his easy style of leadership. As a Section Commander he was dependable and absolutely unflappable. If I needed a man for a task; I could rely on him. No question.
"He was passionate about fitness and would pass his spare time in the gym lifting 'big boys' weights' and admiring his body in the mirror. 'The body of a God' he would call it – it was the matter of some debate! He will be missed greatly by 9 Platoon and by the wider Company and Battalion. At the time of his death he was leading his men in a casualty extraction, putting his men first, as always. It was utterly typical of the man."
Corporal Carl Thomas, fellow Rifleman and medic:
"I feel lucky and privileged to have known Jay since the time he turned up in the Battalion. Not only was he professional in everything he did but he had a wicked sense of humour and made me laugh on a daily basis. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his wife and children. Not only have I lost a great colleague but a great friend as well. You will be sadly missed by everyone who knew you and I feel it is a privilege to have known you personally for such a long time. Rest in peace my friend."
Lance Corporal Powell, fellow Rifleman:
"Corporal Jay Horne was a professional soldier and an excellent Section Commander whom I have had the privilege to serve with since 2005. Jay had a great sense of humour and everyone loved hearing his Brummie accent. It would put a smile on our faces without fail. He loved his wife and two daughters dearly and often spoke about them; they were his strength here in Afghanistan . He will be sorely missed and will never be forgotten. See you on the Re-Org mate."
The Riflemen of 9 Platoon:
"Corporal Horne was a corporal in rank but a Rifleman at heart. He was devoted to all of us, and his friends and family. Jay would always do everything in his power to help people especially in times when things were tough. Whether it was just a chat or going out of his way to help; he was always happy to do so. Jay had a witty sense of humour and was always laughing and joking, which never failed to lift our moral. Jay was happily married and was really proud of his daughters. He often talked about them and he always used to say that his world revolved around his family. Jay will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family.
"RIP Brother we will never forget you."