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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 16:55 GMT
Iraq boat attack personnel named
Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott and Marine Jason Hylton
Staff Sgt Sharron Elliott and Marine Jason Hylton died on Sunday
Four British service personnel who were killed in an attack on a patrol boat in southern Iraq have been named.

The dead included Warrant Officer Lee Hopkins, Royal Corps of Signals, and Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott of the Intelligence Corps.

Also killed in the attack on Sunday were Corporal Ben Nowak of 45 Commando Royal Marines and Marine Jason Hylton of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines.

Their boat was hit by an "improvised explosive device" during a patrol.

Another three were seriously injured in the attack, which took place during routine operations along the Shatt al-Arab waterway in Basra.

Warrant Officer Lee Hopkins and Corporal Ben Nowak
WO Lee Hopkins and Cpl Ben Nowak also died in the attack

An investigation was launched involving weapons specialists in tandem with extensive information gathering across the city.

The attack took place at 0950 GMT (1250 local time) and is thought to be the first such attack on a patrol boat carrying British personnel.

Staff Sgt Sharron Elliott, 34, is only the second British servicewoman to die in action in Iraq since the conflict began in 2003.

She spent her early career in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, becoming the first female in the army to qualify as an aircraft technician.

She was the most fantastic person, she was just amazing and touched the hearts of everyone she met
Elsie Manning, Sharron's mother

She was deployed to Iraq to fill a temporary post but volunteered to extend to serve a full six-month tour.

Her mother, Elsie Manning, said of her daughter: "Sharron was the most beautiful, caring person in the world. She was very strong-minded but very compassionate.

"She had lots of friends and used to look after one of them who had cancer so that her husband could have a break - that is the sort of person she was."

The servicewoman's mother said it was some comfort to the family that she died doing what she loved and added: "We all loved her so much".

WO Hopkins, 35, was five weeks into a planned six-month tour in Iraq and was described as a strong, enthusiastic character with a wicked sense of humour.

Ben was an extraordinary soldier and an extraordinary young man
Family tribute to Ben Nowak

His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Park, said of him: "Although he arrived in theatre only five weeks ago, he made an immediate impact.

"Vastly experienced, he worked tirelessly for his soldiers, encouraging them to succeed."

WO Hopkins, from Wellingborough, had been married for 10 years and leaves behind a wife and son, aged three.

Cpl Nowak, 27, who lived in Liverpool, was described as an outgoing and gregarious individual who would be remembered for his keen sense of humour.

Lieutenant Colonel Haydn White, Commanding Officer of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, said Cpl Nowak had made "immediate and lasting impact on all those he served with".

The serviceman's uncle, Michael McEvatt, 48, said: "Ben was an extraordinary soldier and an extraordinary young man.

He brought with him the highest levels of individual professionalism and selflessness
Lt Col Hadyn tribute to Marine Hylton

"He was so proud of what he did and he was so proud of that uniform."

Marine Hylton, 33, lived with his parents near Burton-on-Trent and was divorced. He leaves behind two sons.

His brother, Daz, 37, said he had "loved the marine life" and "thoroughly enjoyed his job".

The marine's brother went on: "He always said that if anything happened to him then no-one, even Bush and Blair, should be blamed."

Meanwhile, Lt Col Hadyn White said of Marine Jay Hylton: "A volunteer to be part of the Squadron's operational deployment to Iraq, he brought with him the highest levels of individual professionalism and selflessness."

Corporal Ben Nowak's uncle pays tribute to him

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