A Mercian soldier is raising funds for the funeral of a comrade found dead in tragic circumstances two years after suffering life-changing injuries.
Captain Chris Middleton wanted to help on learning about the death of 23-year-old Private Bradley Paul at his Timperley home, Manchester, on Tuesday of last week (February 17). He had a neck wound and was pronounced dead at the scene. His death is not being treated as suspicious.
Brad was blown up by an improvised explosive device when the men were serving together with the first battalion of the Mercians, incorporating the former Cheshire Regiment, in Afghanistan back in November 2012.
Captain Middleton, who was Bradley’s platoon commander, explained that while the young squaddie had made a good recovery from his serious physical injuries, nobody knew about the mental torment he was carrying following the explosion while on foot patrol.
The big-hearted officer, who has set a nominal target of £5,000 to cover funeral costs, explained that Bradley’s mum Sam and a younger brother Josh, 11 were both in mourning. Any money left over would be split between the services charity Combat Stress and a trust fund set aside for Bradley’s brother for when he is older.
Captain Middleton said: “Bradley was the front man as they approached the river crossing. He stopped the patrol because he thought something was wrong. He told the patrol commander ‘I think we need to go a different way’ but there was someone at the end of a wire who pressed a button.
“He ended up having a number of operations at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham,” added the captain, who explained that Bradley took the full brunt of the blast but his instincts had probably saved the lives of two or three men behind him.
“After that he went to Headley Court for more of the rehab side and 18 months later he had made a pretty good recovery. He didn’t have the full range of movements but everything was in the right place and he could walk with a stick and after 12 months he was off the stick.
“He got a job and a girlfriend but he must have been struggling to deal with everything. It’s something no-one knew about because he was keeping it to himself.”
Captain Middleton was a lieutenant in Afghanistan when he and Bradley were based at an isolated check-point within a 35-strong group of men who became ‘a tight unit’. He said Bradley might have left the services but he still counted him as ‘one of my blokes’.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Ellwood MBE, Commanding Officer 1 Mercian, said: “I was saddened to learn of Brad’s tragic passing. He made a lasting impression on all those that knew him, and he will always be remembered for his larger-than-life character and his wicked sense of humour.”
He added: “As a regimental family, we will rally to support Brad’s mother, brother, and wider family and friends at this most difficult time to honour this most courageous veteran, and our thoughts are with them.”
To donate, visit: www.gofundme.com/bradpaul The funeral is expected to take place in early March.