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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 June 2007, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Soldier killed by Taleban named
Neil Downes
Guardsman Downes had completed a tour of duty in Iraq
A UK soldier killed in an ambush by the Taleban in southern Afghanistan has been named as Guardsman Neil Downes.

Guardsman Downes, 20, from Manchester, who was known as Tony, was from the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards.

He had been on patrol with the Afghan National Army when his vehicle was caught in an explosion near Sangin.

Taleban fighters then attacked the patrol with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and small arms until British reinforcements arrived, the MoD said.

The reinforcements were on their way to help an Afghan army patrol that had been ambushed when they were attacked at 1110 local time (0740 BST) on Saturday.

They fought off the Taleban until reinforcements arrived, at which point the soldiers were rescued and returned to base, the MoD said.

'Selfless service'

Guardsman Downes had already completed one tour in Iraq with the Inkerman Company of the Grenadier Guards in 2006.

He was pronounced dead by a medical team at the base - the 60th member of the British armed forces to die in Afghanistan since the conflict began in November 2001.

The four casualties were moved to another base, where they received medical treatment for minor injuries.

He excelled as a soldier, whether in tunic and bearskin or combats
Lt Col Carew Hatherley

His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Carew Hatherley, said Guardsman Downes was a "resolute and steadfast friend to all who knew him".

He said: "He excelled as a soldier, whether in tunic and bearskin or combats, and was held in the highest regard by all who had the pleasure to serve alongside him.

"Over the previous 12 weeks he had fought alongside his fellow Grenadiers and the Afghan National Army soldiers against the Taliban, never once flinching from his duty.

"He gave his life in selfless service to his country. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten."

Guardsman Downes, who had 16 GCSEs, acted as an intelligence rep for the Inkerman Company.

Major Marcus JG Elliot-Square, said: "He had developed such a depth of understanding about the areas that we worked in that the company was always well prepared.

"Consummately professional in everything he did, he never stopped gathering vital intelligence."

"His family and girlfriend have our deepest sympathies and our thoughts will be with them always."

Guardsman Mike Piantkiwskyj said: "He would want to be remembered as a professional soldier, and as a friend to all who knew him.

"He died doing the job he loved and will be remembered with great affection by all who knew him. All our lives are now richer for having known him."

Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "Guardsman Downes was clearly a very intelligent and dedicated soldier who lost his life doing a job that he loved.

"His death is a huge loss to his Regiment and the British Army as a whole."

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