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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Soldier dies in 'tragic' accident
Signaller Paul William Didsbury
Signaller Didsbury was described as "bright and capable"
An 18-year-old British soldier died after accidentally shooting himself at a base in Iraq, it has been confirmed.

Signaller Paul William Didsbury, from Blackpool, is understood to have discharged his own weapon while at the Basra airport base, southern Iraq.

Military officials are believed to have ruled out suicide and are investigating Wednesday's incident.

His commanding officer said Signaller Didsbury was known as "Dids" and was "outgoing and irrepressibly cheerful".

The teenager, who was not married, was serving with the 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support).

He seized every opportunity to broaden his horizons and relished the challenges that operations in Iraq offered
Lt Col Olly Halstead

He had been on a hand-over tour with the joint helicopter force serving the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force.

The MoD said: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence has to confirm that on the morning of Wednesday 29 June 2005, Signaller Didsbury died in a tragic accident at Basra."

Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Olly Halstead said the soldier had shown a "zest for life" and was "hugely popular".

'Tragic blow'

"Always keen to try new things, he seized every opportunity to broaden his horizons and relished the challenges operations in Iraq offered."

Signaller Didsbury was "bright and a capable operator", he added.

"Signaller Didsbury's death is a tragic blow to everyone and I offer my most sincere condolences, along with those of all in my regiment, to his family - with whom our thoughts and prayers lie right now.

"His death will be felt by all those who have been privileged to serve alongside him."

Signaller Didsbury death brings the toll of British servicemen killed during the current action in Iraq to 89.


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