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Different team at the top, same mission

THE change of government following last month’s general election has brought four new faces to ministerial posts overseeing the nation’s military. Liam Fox succeeds Bob Ainsworth as Secretary of State for Defence.

The loss of Chris leaves a ‘massive gap’

THE latest tour of duty by Royal Marines in Helmand has demanded its fi rst sacrifi ce: the death of a ‘larger than life’ green beret.

Cpl Chris ‘H-Bomb’ Harrison of Bravo Company, 40 Commando, was fatally wounded by an explosion during a dawn patrol with his company and troops from the Afghan National Army near Sangin on May 9. Born in Watford, the 26-year- old had joined the Corps in 2003, choosing to specialise in mortars in 2005.

He served with 40 Cdo in Afghanistan in 2007 and joined the Taurus deployment last year before completing Junior Command Training at Lympstone at the beginning of 2010.

After rejoining the Taunton- based unit, Cpl Harrison deployed to Helmand in April as Bravo Company’s mortar fi re controller at Patrol Base Shuga. Fellow Royals said the junior NCO was a larger-than-life character in body and in spirit – hence his nickname.

He brushed aside snakebites

he suffered in the jungle of Brunei to remain at the side of his fellow Royals during exercises last year, ensuring that they received accurate, rapid mortar support. That, said comrades, was typical of H-Bomb. “Chris was an irrepressible and enthusiastic character who brought great professionalism and a keen will to all of his endeavours,” said Sgt Wayne Lyness of Alpha Company, 40 Cdo.

“He was genuinely the life and soul of any party, his dancing style was defi nitely all of his own, with mad lunging and reverse elbow moves causing havoc on the dance fl oor.

“He leaves a massive gap in all of our lives and he will be sorely missed.” Mne Jay Brown of Bravo Coy added: “Chris was like an older brother to myself and the other lads in the Troop, he was easy to get on with and was always smiling.

“He was proud of what he did and was a typical bootneck, always cracking phys and even the odd bit of bread baking. “I feel fortunate to have known him, he will be deeply missed.”

Cpl Harrison’s widow Rebecca said she was heartbroken – the couple were desperate to raise a family at their home in Taunton.

“This is the most devastating news of my life. I have lost the most fantastic husband I could ever have wished for,” she said. “Even though I knew and fully supported what Chris did as a Royal Marine and the dangers he was facing, I am still broken by his loss.

“Chris was my life, he was my motivator and my inspiration, my rock, the one person with whom I shared everything. “It hurts me beyond words knowing that I will never have my beloved husband by my side ever again. He will forever live in my heart.”

Nick Harvey has been named Armed Forces minister in place of Bill Rammell, while Gerald Howarth takes over as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State/Minister for Veterans from Kevan Jones and Andrew Robathan is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in place of Quentin Davies. Upon assuming offi ce, Dr Fox

reaffi rmed Britain’s commitment to operations in Afghanistan saying they were “a national security imperative”.

“When I took up this job, I immediately asked myself: do we need to be in Afghanistan?” the Secretary of State said. “My answer was ‘yes’ for

Death factory closed

WITH a Jackal perched on the hilltop as protection, the men of 40 Commando move into an innocuous- looking compound near Sangin.

Inside the green berets found their biggest weapons factory to date on this tour of duty of Afghanistan:

a pot-pourri of

40kg of homemade explosives, pressure plates, and components for making bombs, plus rifles and other weapons.

The remote bomb factory was found during a concerted effort to put an end to skirmishes with insurgents in the district. After a series of clashes between Allied troops and rebel militia on

high ground east of two

strongpoints, Forward Operating Base Nolay and Patrol Base Jamil, 40 Commando Battlegroup resolved to eliminate the wellspring of enemy opposition. After a night-time insertion, the

pincers of 40 Cdo and Afghan troops closed in on the suspicious compound at first light. From a distance, weapons could be seen through open archways. After isolating the stronghold and checking for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the commandos moved in. Once they found the explosives

cache, bomb disposal experts were called in to render everything safe.

The explosives were promptly

blown up, while other devices were taken away for further examination. The entire operation was completed without casualties or collateral damage. “It was

like finding a mini

factory of IEDs,” said Maj Duncan Forbes, 40 Cdo’s operations officer.

“All the components and

materials required to construct bombs were stored inside the compound.”

Once the area was secured and

A tale of three Hunts

THE trio being Her Majesty’s Ships Atherstone, Chiddingfold and Middleton. The first is homeward-bound, the last has relieved her, and the Cheery Chid’s getting to know her new ‘playmate’. With temperatures rising in the

Gulf, Chiddingfold headed out to sea for three periods of detailed route survey work, courtesy of her new Recce Automatic Underwater Vehicle, which can be programmed to head off and map the seabed on its own.

The robot device was tested

extensively over a six-week period, which also saw extensive warm- weather training for Chiddingfold’s ship’s company. The timing was perfect. “Temperatures in our machinery spaces are now reaching 50˚C – the past month has been particularly demanding,” said CO Lt Cdr James Byron. “To have the recce UAV system on board for six weeks has added a valuable dimension to our capability – allowing us to

effectively map the seabed

in two different locations simultaneously.” Chid’s sister Middleton is now

acclimatising to Gulf life. And get used to it she must, for she’ll spend up to three years in Bahrain (although the crew will rotate roughly every six months like all RN mine warfare vessels

based in the kingdom). So it was good to know there

was a warm welcome for her, in every sense of the word.

“Crew from all the ships in harbour as well as members of the mine warfare battle staff had turned out to witness the entry of the first singleton passage for a Hunt-class minehunter. This was a massive achievement,” said Middleton’s CO Lt Cdr Richard Goldstone. Indeed, Middleton made her

way to Bahrain all on her own... while the Crazy A will be doing likewise in reverse as she sails for Portsmouth; her two-plus years in the Gulf are done. “The

prospect of

home has not meant that the workload has eased off,”

returning said

Atherstone’s CO Lt Cdr Gordon Ruddock.

“Since Middleton’s arrival

we’ve been working tirelessly to complete everything needed for the handover before embarking on the epic voyage back to the United Kingdom.”


Before departing on that Atherstone hosted a

string of visitors – Cdre Rupert Wallace, Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla; Rear-Admiral Amjad Hussein, Controller of the Navy; and squadron commander, Cdr John Craig – who all thanked the ship’s company for their efforts in such challenging conditions.


Numbers helped and charitable spend to date 483 and £130,254

declared safe from booby-traps, the troops held numerous shuras – meetings – with local village leaders to tell them that the region was now safe. “We’ve stopped the insurgents these materials

from using to

make bombs – which they use to maim and kill indiscriminately,” said 40 Cdo’s chief-of-staff, Maj Andy Walker. “Nobody wants them there.Too

many people – including children – are getting hurt.”

reasons of national security because we don’t want Afghanistan once again to be used as a safe haven for terrorists who could launch attacks against this country or others and we saw that before in 9/11.”

A few days before Dr Fox

took office, Gordon Brown singled out “the courage I have seen in our Armed Forces” in his farewell speech as prime minister.

He continued: “Having shaken their hands and looked into their eyes, our troops represent all that is best in our country and I will never forget all those who have died in honour and whose families today live in grief.”

Men and women in the Royal Marines and Royal Navy serve their country, often at times of danger: the RNBT serves them and their families, at times

of need, throughout their lives. Your donations help us to help them.

The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust

Castaway House, 311 Twyford Avenue, Portsmouth PO2 8RN

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