Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Soldier who shot himself named

UK soldiers in Iraq
Cpl Churcher was the second British military casualty in Iraq since March

A British soldier who died after shooting himself at a base in Iraq has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Corporal Lee Churcher, 32, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, suffered a gunshot wound at the contingency operating base in Basra on Thursday.

The Royal Military Police has launched an investigation into his death.

His death came just seven days after Lance Corporal David Wilson, 27, from County Durham, shot himself at the same base.

Defence Secretary John Hutton said his thoughts were with the dead soldier's loved ones.

'Larger than life'

Cpl Churcher was serving with 20th Armoured Brigade and had been in the Armed Forces for 14 years.

The father-of-two was a keen rugby player and cricketer, and worked in surveillance and reconnaissance, controlling unmanned aircraft.

Major Chris Bell, 20th Armoured Brigade's chief of staff, said: "Corporal Churcher was held in great affection by those who knew him.

"He had a relaxed confidence and had risen to the challenges of working within a vital team and delivering a key capability to this operational theatre.

"Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family, particularly his two young children to whom he was very close."

His colleague and friend, Corporal James Williams, said: "When I arrived at my new post I was greeted by Lee's friendly, smiling face.

"I looked up to him - he was a larger than life personality who I felt comfortable to be around."

Last week, L/Cpl David Wilson, of 9 Regiment Army Air Corps, died in similar circumstances from a gunshot wound to the head.

L/Cpl Wilson was the first UK military fatality in Iraq since March.

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