An inquest will be held today into the death of six soldiers killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, and Privates Anthony Frampton, 20, Christopher Kershaw, 19, Daniel Wade, 20, and Daniel Wilford, 21, died when a Taliban roadside bomb destroyed their Warrior armoured vehicle in Helmand Province on March 6 last year.
Sgt Coupe, a member of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, and his comrades, all members of The Yorkshire Regiment’s 3rd Battalion, the former Duke of Wellington regiment, were patrolling in the vehicle when it was hit by an improvised explosive device about 25 miles north of the capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah.
The force of the explosion turned the Warrior upside down and blew off its gun turret. Ammunition on board the vehicle ignited, causing a fierce fire that burned for many hours and severely hampered rescuers.
The attack, the deadliest single enemy attack on UK forces in Afghanistan since 2001, was claimed by the Taliban at the time.
Father-of-two Sgt Coupe, from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire; Pte Wade, from Warrington, Cheshire, who was about to become a father; Cpl Hartley, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire; Pte Frampton and Pte Wilford, both from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and Pte Kershaw, from Bradford; had all only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks.
The tragedy was, and remains, the biggest single loss of life for British forces in Afghanistan since an RAF Nimrod crash killed 14 people in September 2006.
An inquest into the deaths of all six soldiers will start at Oxford Coroner’s Court today and is expected to last two days.
The inquest comes as the MoD yesterday announced the death of the 445th UK service member - expected to be named today - to have lost their life since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.
The “fantastic” soldier, from 14 Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare), attached to the Task Force Helmand Brigade Reconnaissance Force, was killed in enemy fire yesterday while on patrol in Helmand Province, the MoD said.
It is the first UK death in Afghanistan since Corporal William Savage, Fusilier Samuel Flint, and Private Robert Hetherington died when their Mastiff armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) on a routine patrol on April 30.