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Norfolk marine died a hero, inquest told

PUBLISHED: 13:37 02 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:51 06 July 2010

HERO: L/Cpl Ben Whatley, who died fighting the Taliban on Christmas Eve

HERO: L/Cpl Ben Whatley, who died fighting the Taliban on Christmas Eve

A Norfolk marine died a hero when he was shot dead in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, a coroner said today.

L/Cpl Ben Whatley, 20, from Tittleshall near Fakenham, was fighting against the Taliban in Helmand Province on December 24, 2008, when he was fatally wounded.

A Norfolk marine died a hero when he was shot dead in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, a coroner said today.

L/Cpl Ben Whatley, 20, from Tittleshall near Fakenham, was fighting against the Taliban in Helmand Province on December 24, 2008, when he was fatally wounded.

At the inquest at King's Lynn County Court, Greater Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong said L/Cpl Whatley died from a gunshot wound to the neck.

“I do want to express my deepest sympathy to Ben's parents Teresa and Sam and his brother Luke, all his friends and all his colleagues,” said Mr Armstrong.

“Ben's parents have raised a considerable amount for Help for Heroes - there's only one hero we are talking about today.”

L/Cpl Whatley, who served with the Plymouth-based 42 Commando Royal Marines, had been on a roof and moved forward to fire a shoulder launched rocket when he was shot.

The inquest heard that a convoy that would have offered further support had been held after finding a roadside bomb and L/Cpl Whatley had gone onto the roof because, as one of the tallest marines, he was able to get up quickly.

“It appears from the evidence given today that the firing was intense,” said Mr Armstrong.

“Ben was seen crawling forward towards the edge of the roof and raised himself slightly to launch and then lurched back. It was apparent he had been shot at about 11.39am.”

He concluded that L/Cpl Whatley had been killed by opposing forces while on active military service.

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