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Soldier killed in Afghanistan is honoured at Durham Cathedral

A MILITARY funeral service for a County Durham soldier killed in Afghanistan was the first in living memory held at Durham Cathedral yesterday.

Funeral of Lieutenant Edward Drummond-Baxter

A MILITARY funeral service for a County Durham soldier killed in Afghanistan was the first in living memory held at Durham Cathedral yesterday.

Lieutenant Edward Drummond-Baxter and Lance Corporal Siddhanta Kunwar, from the 1st Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles, were fatally wounded at a checkpoint on October 30 by a man in police uniform.

The men, attached to 40 Commando Royal Marines, had completed a meeting with local police in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province when they were killed by one of those present.

A military funeral service is extremely rare at the cathedral, where the Dean Michael Sadgrove said before the ceremony: “It is an honour for the cathedral to stage this service. We want to honour someone who courageously gave his life in conflict and it is right we should do that in a place that is public and visible.

“We are here to help the family and to support them. This is not the time to discuss the rights or wrongs of the conflict.

“This is an occasion to honour a very brave officer who sacrificed his life for the service of his country.”

Before the service for Lt Drummond- Baxter, his friend Captain Ralph Roylance said: “Our commanding officer said he was a true gentleman and the epitome of professionalism, and I echo that.”

Lt Drummond-Baxter, who went to Eton, was a month into his first operational tour of Afghanistan. He was 29, born in Peterborough and lived in Consett, County Durham, with his parents.

He gained a BSc psychology degree from University College London and worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including a posting to Japan, before joining the Army.

After Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Gurkhas in December 2010 and spent time in Nepal learning the language and assisting with recruit selection.

He leaves behind his mother Helen, father David and sister Emily who said jointly in a statement: “Edward was fiercely loyal and totally sincere to his parents, sister and many friends who are mourning him today both in the UK and around the world.”

The funeral of L/Cpl Siddhanta, 28, a qualified sniper on his third tour of Afghanistan, will be held in Nepal.

 

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