Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Shot UK soldier was TA volunteer

Rifleman Andrew Fentiman (Copyright: MoD)
Rifleman Fentiman died after coming under fire while on a foot patrol

A UK soldier shot dead on patrol in Helmand province had volunteered to go to Afghanistan and had been there for just two weeks, it has emerged.

Rifleman Andrew Fentiman, 23, of 7th Battalion The Rifles, died on Sunday.

The soldier, from Cambridgeshire, had spent two years in East Midlands University's Officer Training Corps before joining the Territorial Army.

He chose to serve with 3 Rifles Battle Group in Afghanistan to help his bid to become a regular Army officer.

A mechanical engineering graduate, Rifleman Fentiman - nicknamed Fen - intended to return to his civilian job as a regional sales manager for a software firm after he had completed his tour of duty.

He leaves behind his parents, Kevin and Lynda, brother Adam and sister Elizabeth.

In a statement, his employer, Teamstudio, said the soldier's colleagues were "devastated" to hear of his death.

"Andrew was a remarkable young man who will be missed by his colleagues and friends. He had a fantastic sense of humour and it was a pleasure to work with him," it read.

We are still waiting on these new body amour and helmets that were promised to us
Rifleman Fentiman's blog

On 2 November, Rifleman Fentiman wrote a blog to let friends know that he had arrived in Afghanistan and had begun training including "defensive shoots, patrolling skills [and] use of night-vision goggles".

He also wrote: "We are still waiting on new body armour and helmets that were promised to us.

"You would have seen the story splashed all over the news, they said they would be ready for us but we hope they will arrive soon."

The Ministry of Defence announced in June that it had ordered 10,000 enhanced helmets, as well as closer-fitting and lighter body armour kits.

On Tuesday, a spokesman said all soldiers were issued with Osprey body armour and that Rifleman Fentiman was wearing the previous version.

But he added: "Osprey already offers the maximum level of protection.

"Body armour improves chances of survival but cannot give complete protection from the threats our forces face."

'Bright and enthusiastic'

Rifleman Fentiman was shot on foot patrol near Sangin, central Helmand. The total number of UK service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 now stands at 234.

Lieutenant Colonel Howard Newson: ''Whichever armour he was wearing... it made no difference''

Battle group commander Lt Col Nick Kitson said Rifleman Fentiman was "liked and respected by all and will be sorely missed".

"A university graduate, he was something of a novelty to his platoon," he said.

"Bright and enthusiastic he fitted in instantly. I have infinite respect for the commitment and sacrifice of this brave rifleman who had so many opportunities ahead of him yet chose first to serve his country and his regiment."

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said it was "with great sadness" that he learnt of the soldier's death, describing him as "a man who by all accounts enjoyed Army life, and volunteered to serve in Afghanistan".

Mr Ainsworth went on: "In his short time with 3 Rifles he made his mark, and earned the respect of his colleagues."

Another British soldier, from 33 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, was killed in an explosion near Gereshk, in Helmand province, on Sunday afternoon.

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