Warminster has shown its support for two soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, who were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday.
Married father-of-two Sergeant Gareth Thursby, 29, and Private Thomas Wroe, 18, were killed by a man in an Afghan police uniform in the south of Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province.
The pair, from Alma Company, were killed towards the end of their six month deployment, just days after comrades from Corunna Company enjoyed an emotional return to its barracks in Warminster.
Lt Col Zachary Stenning, 3 Yorks commander, said of his men: “When there were dangerous moments it was always Sergeant Thursby who could be found at the front, offering steadying words to his platoon commander and the young soldiers. Such dedication and indeed selfless love for his fellow soldiers is remarkable and testament to the qualities of this unique man.
“Private Tom Wroe had only been with us a few months, but in this short period he had made a significant impression on his fellow soldiers and commanders.
“His energy and professionalism quickly earned him the respect of his fellow team members. But it was his humour and character that really stood out.”
Warminster Mayor Rob Fryer said: “We cannot express enough the sorrow we feel for the loss of their lives and our condolences go out to their families and friends.”
As when six soldiers from the battalion were killed in Afghanistan in March, individual books of remembrance have been placed at the Chapel of St Lawrence in the High Street.
The Royal British Legion will bring its standard to the Minster Church for an Act of Remembrance at the 9.30am service on Sunday.
Assistant curate the Rev Nick Brown said: “We have the lantern here which was lit when the battalion left for Afghanistan, and since then we have had families come regularly to light candles and remember.
“The lantern will be extinguished at the service, marking the return of the rest of the battalion in November.”
Defence sources said Sgt Thursby, from Skipton, North Yorkshire, and Pte Wroe, from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, were killed at a checkpoint when a man dressed as a policeman pretended to be injured so that they would go to help him.
An investigation is under way. The number of UK servicemen and women to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 is now 430.
Comrades of the two 3 Yorks soldiers have joined their families in paying tribute to them.
Father-of-two Gareth Thursby joined the Army in 1999 and served in Kosovo in 2003 and Iraq in 2005. Nicknamed ‘Bull’ by his comrades due to his strength and confidence, he leaves his wife, Louise, and children Joshua and Ruby.
His wife said: “Gareth was the love of my life. He was an amazing husband and father, happy, full of life and kind hearted with a passion for his work and family. He was brave, hard working, a loving husband who was a devoted father to his children.”
His platoon commander 2nd Lt Callum Cameron described him as down to earth, friendly and uncompromisingly professional, and said that he embodied the Yorkshire Regiment’.
Lee Burrows, a fellow sergeant in Alma Company who has known Sgt Thursby since 2002, said: “If there is one thing Gaz loved more than the Army it was his wife and family, a love which had no limits. Gareth, my friend, you will be forever missed by your family and friends.”
Thomas Wroe joined the Army in 2010, following in his father’s footsteps, and was deployed to Afghanistan in July after he was 18.
His parents, Michael and Claire, and sister Demi, said in a statement: “Our son Thomas was a brave young soldier, who is loved by his family, girlfriend and friends.
“We can’t believe you have been taken so soon from us. You will always be in our hearts for ever and ever.”
Private Dominic Hern said: “Tom always had high morale and could always make me laugh, in and out of work. He loved his girlfriend, Jessica, with all of his heart, as she did him.”