Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Saturday, 22 August 2009 15:35 UK

UK soldier died helping comrade

Sjt Paul McAleese
Sjt McAleese was said to have had a 'huge rucksack full of talents'

A British soldier killed by a bomb in Afghanistan was helping a comrade who had been caught in an earlier blast.

Sjt Paul McAleese, 29, of 2nd Battalion The Rifles, went to the aid of Pte Johnathon Young, 18, from Hull, of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.

Sjt McAleese, born in Hereford, was then killed in the second explosion while on patrol in Helmand on Thursday.

He is the son of John McAleese, who led the raid that ended the siege on the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980.

The servicemen were killed on the day Afghan voters went to the polls.

Sjt McAleese leaves a widow, Jo, and a son, Charley, who was born a week before he was deployed to Afghanistan.

'So proud'

Joanne McAleese: "I don't think his death was in vain"

Jo McAleese told the BBC: "I don't think his death was in vain, because if I thought that it would make it even harder to bear. To know that he was helping somebody means more to me than if he hadn't have been.

"That was just so true of how Mac was, that he would do anything for anybody."

Rob Hilliard, a 2nd Lieutenant and 10 Platoon Commander, described how Sjt McAleese died trying to help Pte Young.

"Sjt McAleese was killed while trying to get to a fellow British soldier who had been hit in an IED [Improvised explosive device] strike - fearlessly fulfilling his role as serjeant - a role he had excelled at in recent weeks in the most unimaginable of circumstances," he said.

Pte Johnathon Young
Pte Young was hailed as a 'regimental star in the making'

The spelling Serjeant - rather than Sergeant - is used in The Rifles.

Pte Young, who leaves his mother, Angela, brother, Carl, sister, Leah, and girlfriend, Nicola, was hailed by officers as a "regimental star in the making".

He had been in Afghanistan for just over a fortnight, having volunteered to be among 125 reinforcements deployed to boost numbers after the summer's casualties.

His commanding officer Lt Col Tom Vallings said: "He had already set his mark as a robust and determined soldier who always put his friends first.

"He had a strength of character that forced him to be at the very centre of events and it was no surprise that he volunteered to deploy at Afghanistan at short notice."

Millions of television viewers watched John McAleese's role in the five-day Iranian Embassy siege in 1980.

He was among special forces who blew out the building's windows before rescuing 19 hostages from gunmen.

Five hostage-takers were killed and one was arrested during the operation. All but one of the hostages survived.

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