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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 19:03 GMT
Troops killed in Iraq blast named
Private Lee Ellis
Father-of-one Pte Ellis was on patrol when he was caught in the blast
Two British soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Amara, southern Iraq, have been named as Private Lee Ellis, 23, and Captain Richard Holmes, 28.

Both were members of the Second Battalion of The Parachute Regiment.

Pte Ellis, of Wythenshawe, Manchester, was described as "bright, enthusiastic and immensely popular". He leaves a fiancee Sarah and a daughter Courtney.

Capt Holmes, of Winchester, Hampshire, married his wife Kate shortly before leaving for Iraq in October 2005.

A third soldier was injured in Tuesday's blast, which brought the number of British troops killed in Iraq to 103.

Bright, enthusiastic and immensely popular, Pte Ellis displayed all the qualities of a first class paratrooper
Lieutenant Colonel James Chiswell

About 8,900 UK personnel are stationed in Iraq, mainly in the south-east of the country.

Lieutenant Colonel James Chiswell, Pte Ellis's commanding officer, said the soldier was "outstanding".

Enthusiastic

Lt Col Chiswell said: "Bright, enthusiastic and immensely popular, Pte Ellis displayed all the qualities of a first class paratrooper.

"His strength of character and dedication were reflected in his determination to overcome injury and to join his friends and comrades on operations in southern Iraq."

He had been in Iraq since October 2005 with D Company and operated in Maysan Province as part of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Battle Group.

The soldier joined up in September 2003 and served with the regiment since April 2004 after completing basic training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire.

Lt Col Chiswell also praised the soldier for his teamwork and positive attitude.

Comradeship

He said: "His comradeship stood out. He was always willing to help others, and invariably did so with a smile on his face.

"Hardworking, professional and with an irrepressible sense of humour, he showed enormous compassion in his dealing with the local Iraqis he encountered, whether they were police, civilians or children."

The officer said Pte Ellis "made a genuine difference in Iraq" and praised him for being "upbeat and focussed."

Lt Col Chiswell said: "He will be sorely missed by all those who have served with him and our thoughts are with his fiancee and family."

Pte Ellis was a keen sportsman and had given up an apprenticeship with Wigan Athletic Football Club to join the Army.

He was also a boxer and had been due to represent his company and battalion on its return to Colchester.

Charming, compassionate and bright, Richard was one of the Parachute Regiment's rising stars
Lieutenant Colonel James Chiswell

Captain Holmes had also been in Iraq since October 2005, serving in Maysan with D Company. His work in Iraq involved developing a coordinated Iraqi Operations Centre.

The captain, who was learning Arabic, was popular among the Iraqis with whom he worked, the Ministry of Defence said.

Capt Holmes joined the Army in January 2001 after studying law at Liverpool University. He completed officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before being commissioned into the Parachute Regiment.

He died during his second tour in Iraq. He had also served with his battalion in Northern Ireland.

Charming

Lt Col Chiswell said: "Charming, compassionate and bright, Richard was one of the Parachute Regiment's rising stars.

"He brought a warm humour and enormous professionalism to all he touched. He excelled as a young commander with both the Parachute Regiment and the Highlanders, and was deeply respected by those he led."

He added that Capt Holmes showed "wise judgement" and "total dedication" during his time with the Army.

Lt Col Chiswell "progressed the efficiency" of the Iraqi police in Amara and also shared in the local culture.

He added: "As a reflection of his ability and character, he was due to leave us later this year to take up a prestigious instructor's post as a platoon commander at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

"Kind, fun and warm humoured, he was a pleasure to be with and always saw the lighter side of life."

Lt Col Chiswell said that the Parachute Regiment had lost a fine soldier.

He added: "Our thoughts are with his wife, mother, father, brother and sister and many friends."

Deaths

The two deaths came amid heightened tensions between British troops and local Iraqis.

Two regional councils have suspended relations with British forces after a video of soldiers appearing to abuse Iraqi civilians in Amara came to light.

Last month Lance Corporal Allan Douglas, 22, from Aberdeen, was killed by small arms fire while on patrol in the city - in Maysan province north of the main British base at Basra.

On 16 July 2005 three soldiers - Second Lieutenant Richard Shearer, Private Leon Spicer and Private Phillip Hewett of C Company, The 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment - were killed when an explosion hit a patrol of three armoured Land Rovers in the city.




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