CALDERDALE has joined its West Yorkshire neighbours in mourning the loss of six soldiers in Afghanistan.
The men, who were travelling in a Warrior armoured vehicle, were killed by a roadside bomb on Tuesday. Five were from the 3rd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and one was from the 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
Halifax Minster has an historic link with the regiment - it is the home of the regimental chapel of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, which became the Yorkshire Regiment in 2006.
The Minster has opened its doors to those wishing to reflect on the terrible tragedy and the town hall flag is at half-mast.
People can light candles and sign a book of condolence at the minster ahead of a service on Sunday at 4pm. Readings will be given by the Mayor of Calderdale Coun Nader Fekri and TV presenter Christa Ackroyd.
The Rev Canon Hilary Barber said the loss of life had rocked the local community with five of the six victims members of the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment – the Duke of Wellington’s.
“Halifax is a special place for the regiment with Wellesley Barracks and the regimental chapel in the minster,” he said. “On Sunday we will provide an opportunity for the community of Calderdale to express their sorrow and solidarity with the young men who have lost their lives on the other side of the world.”
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker takes an active parliamentary interest in the Armed Forces.
He said it was a tragedy when any member of the forces lost their life.
“But, so many is a national tragedy,” said Mr Whittaker.
“Along with my Parliamentary colleagues my thoughts are with the families and friends of those that have lost their lives.”
He said the British Army had the second biggest contingent in Afghanistan after the Americans under the commitment from the previous Government to support the US.
British combat troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Halifax MP Linda Riordan said she looked forward to the troops coming home. It’s absolutely tragic and I can’t imagine what the families are going through. This has brought it all much closer to home,” she said.
The Bishop of Wakefield the Rt Rev Stephen Platten is the lead spokesperson for defence issues in the House of Lords where he sits as one of 26 bishops. “These deaths will devastate the families and friends of those involved and the local community of Halifax,” he said.
Following protocol the Calderdale Council flag is flying half-mast and when the soldiers are repatriated the Union Jack will be half-mast.
Touching tributes have been paid to the soldiers by Courier readers.
Ian Harrison wrote on our Facebook page “RIP very brave boys. The whole of the country will shed a tear for you.”
Carol Shaw said: “RIP lads, our thoughts are with your families”.
Clare Rowland said: “Breaks my heart, they’re all under 21, not even their lives fighting for our country. True heroes.”
l More tributes: www.halifax courier.co.uk