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Norfolk-based soldier killed in Afghanistan named

PUBLISHED: 14:30 06 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:39 06 July 2010

L/Cpl Dennis, a soldier with the Swanton Morley based Light Dragoons, was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot as part of a major operation in the country.

L/Cpl Dennis, a soldier with the Swanton Morley based Light Dragoons, was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot as part of a major operation in the country.

A Norfolk-based soldier killed in Afghanistan on Saturday has been named as Lance Corporal David Dennis.

L/Cpl Dennis, a soldier with the Swanton Morley based Light Dragoons, was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot as part of a major operation in the country.

A Norfolk-based soldier killed in Afghanistan on Saturday has been named today as Lance Corporal David Dennis.

L/Cpl Dennis, a soldier with the Swanton Morley based Light Dragoons, was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot as part of a major operation in the country.

He had been due to be married to his fiancée.

A second soldier killed the same day, in a separate incident, was named as Private Robert Laws, 18, from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment.

He was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade attack.

Yesterday, a third soldier from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards was killed in the same area.

This morning, the bodies of Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, the most senior British Army officer to be killed since the Falklands War, and Trooper Joshua Hammond, of 2nd Tank Regiment, were flown back to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire after both were killed in the same explosion in Afghanistan on Wednesday.

It brings the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 174 and comes just over a month after fellow Light Dragoon 28-year-old Nigel Moffett was killed on deployment.

L/Cpl Dennis and Pt Laws were both involved in Operation Panchai Palang, or Panther's Claw, an operation involving around 3,000 soldiers.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the aim of the operation is to improve security in the area north of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, before the national elections.

L/Cpl Dennis, 29, was known as Duke and comes from Llanelli in Wales.

He was serving with The Light Dragoons Battle Group, which had begun a clearance operation the day previously, at the time of his death.

He had deployed as part of The Light Dragoons' Command Troop and was responsible for ensuring radio communications for the Commanding Officer's tactical headquarters, both on foot and on vehicles.

Having just helped to secure a helicopter landing site for the extraction of casualties from an earlier incident L/Cpl Dennis was amongst a group hit by an IED and sustained fatal injuries.

Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair DSO, Commanding Officer The Light Dragoons Battle Group, said: "Lance Corporal Dennis was one of a hugely talented generation of Light Dragoons. With tours of Afghanistan and Iraq behind him, he was experienced beyond his relatively junior years. Duke loved being in the Regiment, and the Regiment celebrated this popular, genuine and heartfelt soldier.

"If there is any consolation it is that he is re-united with his close friend Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett, whose death earlier in the tour had affected Lance Corporal Dennis greatly. My sincerest condolences go out to his mother Adele, his brother Gareth and his fiancée Lisa. We will remember Lance Corporal Dennis; we will be worthy of his memory; we will continue to take the fight to the enemy that has taken him from us."

Born in 1980, L/Cpl Dennis had joined the Army in 2003 as a gunner in the Royal Artillery before joining King's Troop.

Having served with the Gunners for just over two years, he was attached to the Light Dragoons for a six month tour in Iraq in 2005. Having struck up strong friendships over the six months he applied to transfer and joined the Regiment in February 2006.

Major Rupert Lyon Army Air Corps, his Officer Commanding D Squadron Light Dragoons, said: "Duke was a quietly spoken Welshman who had no problems being the only Welshman in a Regiment that recruits from the North East. It was a characteristic that immediately stood him out from his peers and ensured he got the recognition that he deserved.

"He was well known throughout the Regiment and was a great asset to have on your side during Squadron rugby matches, where he was unstoppable. He was a very capable small arms instructor, and was vital to making sure that the Squadron was properly trained for deployment.

"During quiet periods he could often be found in the armoury checking that the Squadron weapons were serviceable or otherwise in the gym improving on his already fearsome strength. Our thoughts go to his family and his fiancée Lisa, who he intended to marry on his return from Afghanistan. Duke will be surely missed by all of the Regiment but will never be forgotten.

"Duke was one of the most loved guys in the Regiment, and a character that will never be replaced."

Captain David Ansell, the Regimental Signals Officer, said: "Duke was a dedicated soldier and an absolute rock, who could be depended on no matter the circumstances. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him, whether it be at work or for his friends. He was an example to us all.

"Duke was a true Light Dragoon and personified everything that the Regiment holds dear. He was utterly professional in all he did. He remained flexible and adaptable to whatever came his way, being equally at home in the turret of a CVR(T) [Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)], top gunning on a Mastiff or in the dismounted role. More than this though, he approached all he did with a desire to succeed. He was an excellent Junior NCO who was always looking after the needs of others first. His loss is a huge blow to the Troop.

"One of life's real characters, he was fiercely proud of his Welsh roots. He was gregarious by nature, and always to be found in the thick of things. Duke's sense of humour and his mischievous streak were well known to all. Whilst losing Duke has had a profound effect on his friends and colleagues alike, it is as nothing to the pain his family and friends will be feeling back home. My thoughts and prayers are with them all at this most dreadful of times."

Corporal Tony Duncan, on behalf of his friends from Command Troop, said: "Duke was one of the most loved guys in the Regiment, and a character that will never be replaced. He will be remembered by his friends as being totally devoted and utterly professional. He loved being a skill at arms instructor, and never stopped reminding us that he was one of the best there was.

"There was more than him to just soldiering though. We will remember him for looking like Freddie Mercury when he grew a moustache and his dodgy dress sense on nights out. No matter how outrageous the outfit, the Duke was always certain that he was the coolest guy out that night.

"Duke was a man that every soldier should aspire to be. He had it all. He was quick thinking, hard working, strong, selfless, courageous and had a great sense of humour. Most of all he was well respected and loyal to all those around him. Our friend Duke will never be forgotten."

Private Mike Devine, Adjutant General's Corps, said: “Duke was one of the good guys in life who you could trust implicitly. I had the privilege to call him my friend ever since we first met in King's Troop RHA. He was a warm and caring man with a large heart who would go out of his way to help anybody who asked.

"With his great sense of humour he was a joy to be around and could brighten up the dullest of days. He loved his job in the Light Dragoons and it was a pleasure to have served with him again. Rest in peace - I'll miss you."

A spokesman for the MoD said L/Cpl was a quietly spoken and popular soldier and fiercely loyal to his friends.

“He was known throughout the Regiment simply as Duke. He believed wholeheartedly in what he was doing and would always back himself to the hilt.

“L/Cpl loved the banter that typifies Army life, and he could give as good as he got, though he had the character to laugh at himself as well. He loved the gym, and would jokingly show off his muscles at any opportunity. He took great pride in mentoring and looking after the junior members of his Troop, and he would be one of the first they would turn to for advice and guidance.

“Ambitious and determined, L/Cpl Dennis wanted to pursue the dismounted side of Formation Reconnaissance, and had volunteered to attend Junior Brecon on his return and wanted to serve in the Brigade Reconnaissance Force in the future.”

Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth MP, said: "The deaths of Lance Corporal David Dennis and Private Robert Laws were a desperately sad loss to their colleagues in Afghanistan, and indeed to the Armed Forces community. These two men were highly regarded by their comrades and commanders, and their deaths remind us of the ferocious conditions endured daily by our soldiers in Afghanistan, and the great gravity of what we are doing there. My deepest sympathies are with these two grieving families."

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