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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
UK soldiers killed in Iraq named
Corporal Ben Leaning and Trooper Kristen Turton
Cpl Ben Leaning and Tpr Kristen Turton died while on patrol
Two British soldiers killed in south-eastern Iraq have been named as Corporal Ben Leaning and Trooper Kristen Turton.

The soldiers, from the Catterick-based Queen's Royal Lancers, were on a routine patrol in Maysan Province when they were caught in an explosion.

Cpl Leaning, 24, from Scunthorpe, and Tpr Turton, 27, from Grimsby, were in a Scimitar tank when the blast happened.

Three further soldiers were injured in the incident - one seriously.

The injured Scimitar's gunner and two other members of the troop were taken by helicopter to Tallil airbase in Dhi Qar Province for medical treatment.

They were patrolling at 1120 local time (0820 BST) on Thursday when the explosion occurred.

Cpl Leaning, known as Bill to his friends, joined the Army in 1999 and served in Oman and Kosovo as well as Iraq in 2003.

'Devastated'

Described as a "fine soldier and a natural leader", he progressed quickly through the ranks and became a crew commander and a signals instructor before going to Iraq last autumn.

In a statement, his family said they were "devastated by the loss" and described Cpl Leaning as "a loving son and great friend".

Major Charlie Ball, of The Queen's Royal Lancers, said Cpl Leaning had a "huge sense of fun".

"His mischievous smile shone through even under the most trying circumstances and he was an inspiration to his crew and the squadron as a whole," he said.

Tpr Turton joined The Queen's Royal Lancers in 2003 and became a trained sharp-shooter and specialised in demolitions.

His wife Sharon, whom he married in 2004, described him as the "most amazing person" she had ever met.

"I am proud he has died doing something he loved so much," she said.

His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Nixon-Eckersall, said he was an "exceptional soldier".

"Selfless and committed he strived for perfection in everything he did," he added.

Handover

Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne said his thoughts were with the families of the two men.

He added: "These young men died serving our country and helping to bring peace to Iraq. They will be deeply missed."

The two soldiers were killed a day after Iraqi authorities took over control of security enforcement in Maysan Province where their regiment is currently nearing the end of a six-month tour.

British forces withdrew from a permanent base in Maysan last August, but have continued to work at improving border security in the province.

The two deaths bring the total number of UK troops killed in operations in Iraq to 144.


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