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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 July 2005, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Three Iraq blast soldiers named
Phillip Hewett, Leon Spicer and Richard Shearer (l-r)
Phillip Hewett, Leon Spicer and Richard Shearer: "Bold and popular"
Three UK soldiers killed by a roadside bomb while serving in south-east Iraq have been named by the MoD.

They were Second Lieutenant Richard Shearer, 26, from Nuneaton, and Private Leon Spicer, 26, and Private Phillip Hewett, 21, both from Tamworth.

The troops, from the 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment, were attacked in central Amarah early on Saturday.

Two other British soldiers were injured in the attack, but their wounds are not life-threatening.

A total of 92 UK troops have now been killed in Iraq.

'Severe blow'

Major Tom Seager told BBC News it was a tough blow for the regiment.

"Tomorrow everyone will be back at work, soldiers will be sad, these are their friends and comrades, people they've trained with for a long period of time.

Map of Iraq
"But they know it's one of the risks of the job, but they are professional soldiers and they'll want to carry on," he said.

In a statement, the MoD said Lt Richard Shearer and Pte Leon Spicer were killed instantly, while Pte Phillip Hewett died of his wounds at the scene as he was receiving first aid.

"To lose any member of a team is a severe blow to those that are left behind, those that they had trained with, played with and fought alongside," the statement said.

"The loss of three such popular and professional men is simply devastating. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families through this terrible, tragic time."

Staffordshire regiment barracks
The soldiers killed were from the Staffordshire Regiment
Second Lt Shearer, 26, was described as a "true soldier", and a "bold" commander who was "no stranger to danger or excitement".

He served in the French Foreign Legion before joining the regiment a year ago.

The "larger than life" Pte Spicer overcame a serious leg injury sustained last year to return to Iraq.

By rejoining his platoon and fellow soldiers, he showed "tremendous grit and determination", said commanding officer Lt Col Andrew Williams.

Pte Hewett was described as a "cheerful and intelligent young man with a natural air of confidence" who had only recently returned to Iraq from leave.

"His lively nature ensured he was always popular," said Lt Col Williams.

Third attack

Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed his condolences to the families of the three soldiers.

"The bravery of our armed forces was yet again underlined as they help Iraq and its people towards the democracy they so desperately want," he said.

An MoD spokesman said the attack happened in the Risaala neighbourhood of Amarah and the wounded soldiers were being treated in a field hospital.
A British tank in Basra, near Amarah
Amarah is located to the north of Basra

The Staffordshire regiment, part of the battle group Task Force Maysan, has been on a six-month tour of duty in the Maysan province since April.

"This is the third attack that Task Force Maysan have endured over the last two months," an Iraq military spokesman added.

"This will not stop them from carrying out their duties to make sure Maysan becomes a safe place for the people of Iraq."

How the names of the dead troops were announced


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