A CHESHIRE soldier killed while serving in Afghanistan on Sunday has been named as Corporal Harvey Alex Holmes.
Ministry of Defence officials today confirm the identity of Corporal Holmes who died in an explosion while on patrol near PB Waterloo military base in Sangin, Helmand Province.
He was providing protection for his patrol as they investigated a compound east of Wishtan, close to Check Point Chakaw, when he died.
The 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) serviceman, with 40 Commando Royal Marines Battle Group, is the 282nd member of the British military to be killed in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001.
Task Force Helmand spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith said: “He was providing protection to his fellow soldiers who were returning from a patrol when tragically he was killed in an explosion.
“He will be greatly missed and his actions will not be forgotten.”
Corporal Holmes was 22 and from Hyde, Greater Manchester. He attended Astley High School in Dukinfield and enlisted into the Army in 2004
He trained at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick and posted to The 1st Battalion The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment in 2005. He previously served on operations in Northern Ireland and Iraq.
Corporal Holmes deployed with A Company, The 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), part of the 40 Commando Battle Group, to Sangin in April 2010.
A Company is based in the Wishtan area and over the last month has undertaken a number of patrols, partnered with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, to improve security for local Afghans.
Corporal Holmes was engaged to fiancée Claire. He leaves behind mother Beverley, stepfather David, sister Elizabeth, nephew Nickolas, brother-in-law Andrew and grandparents Jean and Frederick.
He shared his family’s passion for narrow boats, and before joining the Army was a keen member of the Scout Association.
Corporal Holmes’ family said: “Harvey lived for his family and his friends but his passion was the Army. He has made his family extremely proud for the sacrifice he has made and will be missed every day.
“Harvey has died a true hero and will be with us forever in our hearts.”
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: “Corporal Harvey Alex Holmes, known as ‘Holmesy’ to his many friends within the Regiment, was a fine soldier, every inch the Mercian Infantryman.
“He showed true promise and had a great future, but this has been cruelly stolen from him, his family, his girlfriend and his many friends.
“In his five years with the First Battalion he had passed some of the most arduous courses on offer, and served in Northern Ireland, Belize, the Falkland Islands and Iraq.
“He had been promoted twice in quick succession, most recently to corporal just last Christmas. He was an exceptional leader and commander, and helped others to give of their best.
“He was without doubt one of the very best, and will be remembered by all of us who are left. But there is a new star in the sky tonight – it is a bright, enduring one that should inspire all of us as we remember Harvey’s selfless courage, humour in the face of adversity and total commitment to his friends and his Regiment.
“He died doing what he loved amongst his friends from A and Support Companies. We will remember him as the Cheshire Oak that he was, standing firm always, and striking hard only to save others who were in trouble.
“He was the epitome of the modern British soldier and we will miss him deeply. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult of times.”
Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin said: “A brave and proud Mercian, Corporal Harvey Holmes served his Regiment in the finest tradition.
“He died protecting his fellow soldiers in Sangin, part of 40 Commando Battlegroup, as they returned to their Patrol Base. A selfless, dedicated and consummate professional he was a rising star having promoted to corporal after only five years in the Army.
“He will be greatly missed by the Battle group and our thoughts and prayers are with his friends, and above all, his family. We shall never forget his sacrifice.”
Major Mark Ellwood MBE, Officer Commanding A Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: “Corporal Harvey Holmes, known by all as ‘Holmesy’, was the very epitome of professionalism. He loved his job and was very good at it.
“In just five years he has served in three operational theatres, qualified in a number of specialist roles and promoted two ranks in two years, well ahead of his peers. Field soldiering was everything to him and his enthusiasm for it was infectious.
“He was a shining example of a soldier on the rise; his peers and subordinates knew this and respected him for it. Always ready to help others to learn, he excelled recently as an instructor on the Potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officers’ Cadre.
“His skills were held in very high regard both within Support Company and across the Battalion as a whole. He was universally popular throughout the Battalion and threw himself into everything he did and was always the heart and soul of any party, living life to the full.
“While serving in The Falkland Islands, he was able to visit Mount Longdon where his late father had served with the Parachute Regiment during the 1982 conflict.
“This was an emotional experience for him as his father was a huge inspiration to him.
“We will miss him and are now the poorer for his loss. That he died doing the very job he so passionately loved, with his best friend at his side is some small consolation.
“I have no doubt that he would wish us to continue our work here in Afghanistan; we will honour him by so doing. We have had a genuine star taken from us, we mourn his loss.”
Captain Lawrence Moore, Corporal James ‘Flash’ Gordon, Lance Corporal David Brierley and Lance Corporal Geo Maas, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) said: “It may sound clichéd but Holmesy was a true soldier. From a military family, his whole reason for being was soldiering.
“He was fiercely proud of his profession, showing the excellence derived from passion and competence.
“He was often away from us on courses but would always light up the platoon office on his return; big smiles and tall stories in a distinctive voice.
“He passed his Junior Non-Commissioned Officers’ Cadre earning promotion to Lance Corporal. Holmesy wasn’t a barracks soldier, as he told us all the time, and would volunteer for any and every course.
“However, he found his home in Support Company, enjoying a more relaxed but professional approach to work. Still he travelled as much as possible, from the Falklands to Belize to Iraq, along with the Section Commanders’ Battle Course which he passed in the winter of 2009.
“He always ensured he was present for Platoon social days, regardless of whether he was on leave or on the other side of the country.
“Most recently he was selected to instruct on the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers’ Cadre whilst waiting to deploy to Afghanistan. He could not wait to get here, to do what he was trained to do. He had the brightest of futures ahead of him and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.”
The headquarters of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) is based at The Castle, Chester.