Funeral of Swindon-based reservist soldier Cpl James Dunsby, who died during SAS selection training (From This Is Wiltshire)
Funeral of Swindon-based reservist soldier Cpl James Dunsby, who died during SAS selection training
FELLOW soldiers have paid tribute to the Swindon-based reservist soldier who died during SAS selection training in the Brecon Beacons.
Corporal James Dunsby, of the Royal Yeomanry, died in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, on July 30 following a trial for selection of the SAS reserves in which two other soldiers also died.
Hundreds attended the funeral today of Cpl Dunsby, who lived in Trowbridge with his wife Bryher, at the town’s St James’ Church. Police closed off nearby streets.
His coffin was covered by a Union flag during the military service, which was attended by family, friends and fellow servicemen and taken by Rev Dr Rob Thomas, church rector.
Mrs Dunsby made an emotional address to the gathered mourners, while his commanding officer, Major Conn MacEvilly, of the Swindon-based A Squadron of the Royal Yeomanry, also paid tribute to him after the service.
Mrs Dunsby said: “I shall miss you more than words could ever convey. What a truly wonderful adventure we had together. You have enriched my life more than I could ever have imagined. I shall carry your strength and love for life with me wherever I wander and talk of you to all that I meet.”
The 31-year-old soldier collapsed on July 13 during a 40-mile hike in high temperatures. Two of his colleagues, Lance Corporal Craig Roberts and Edward Maher, also died during the exercise.
Hymns I Vow to Thee, my Country, He Who Would Valiant Be and Jerusalem were sung during the funeral service and, at the end as Cpl Dunsby’s coffin left the churchyard, servicemen from the Royal Yeomanry gave him a 21-gun salute.
The loss of Corporal Dunsby comes as a tragic loss at a time when his Swindon squadron was already reeling from the news that it is to be disbanded in October 2014, despite reaching full strength at a time when the Army Reserve is to expand.
Speaking afterwards, Major MacEvilly said: “JD was a first-rate soldier and a wonderful man. Intelligent – a visiting fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford – and very fit, he was rightly ambitious for himself and for those around him. He struck just the right balance of discipline and care as a junior leader.
“We drew on JD’s expert knowledge of the human geography of Afghanistan, and on his operational experience from deployment there, throughout the time when the Royal Yeomanry was preparing for deployment to that country on Operation HERRICK 18.
“His easy wit and excellent chat made him just as much at home with, and loved by, the officers and the other ranks. He was as happy turning his humour on himself as on those around him and was never shy to dispense praise when it was deserved.
“We in A Squadron and our colleagues in C Squadron of the Royal Yeomanry were lucky to have worked with someone of JD’s calibre, and will miss him terribly.”
Corporal Adam Honeysett of C (Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry) Squadron, Royal Yeomanry, who went to Afghanistan with Cpl Dunsby, said: “James was a scholar and a quintessential English gentleman. A natural born leader and exaggerated story teller, he was dearly loved by all who had the pleasure of spending time in his company. His passing has left me numb inside.”
In 2008 Cpl Dunsby became friends with Prince Harry while the pair were serving together in Helmand Province, in Afghanistan.
They were part of a three-man crew of a Spartan armoured car, with Cpl Dunsby being in control of the vehicle’s general purpose machine gun.
An investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of the three men, who were part of the Brecon Beacons exercise, has begun.