Page last updated at 18:52 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 19:52 UK

British soldier killed in Afghanistan was father-to-be

Fusilier Jonathan Burgess
Fusilier Jonathan Burgess had been on a four-month tour of Afghanistan

A UK soldier shot dead by insurgents in a fire fight in southern Afghanistan was soon to become a father.

Fusilier Jonathan Burgess, 20, from Swansea, of 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, was killed in the Nad Ali area of Helmand province on Wednesday.

Comrades said he had been keen to come home to support fiancee Kelly Forrest, who is pregnant with their daughter.

The number of British military personnel killed in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001 is 281.

His death comes as the bodies of two British soldiers who were killed in southern Afghanistan were brought back to the UK.

Hundreds watched as the coffins of Guardsman Michael Sweeney, 19, and Rifleman Mark Turner, 21, passed through Wootton Bassett - a focus for repatriation ceremonies.

'Tough and dependable'

During his four-month tour of Afghanistan, Fusilier Burgess had carried out several operations while working as a member of 3 Platoon, A Company.

He was killed during fighting while on patrol with colleagues near Showal.

[He] would have been an amazing father to his baby girl
Family statement

The town had been taken by Nato and Afghan forces in February during Operation Moshtarak.

In January Fusilier Burgess told the South Wales Evening Post he was delighted about becoming a father.

He told the paper: "I am excited. Kelly is due to give birth in May and I should be back home in April."

Fusilier Burgess also leaves his father Royston, mother Susan, sisters Tracy and Suzanne, and brothers David, Christopher and Ashley.

His family said: "Jonathan was a loving and caring man who enjoyed life to full. He had an infectious smile that would brighten up anyone's day.

"We were all very lucky to have had such a wonderful person in our lives.

"He was a much loved son, brother, friend and fiance and would have been an amazing father to his baby girl. He will be greatly missed by us all. He will always be our hero."

He was a tough and dependable field soldier who would always be there for his mates
Lt Col Nick Lock

Commanding officer Lt Col Nick Lock said Fusilier Burgess was "fiercely proud" of being part of the Welsh regiment.

He said: "He had come into his own in Afghanistan, growing in confidence throughout our time here, rising to the many challenges that operations threw at him.

"He was a tough and dependable field soldier who would always be there for his mates."

He said Fusilier Burgess's family could be "justly proud" of him and added: "Jon was killed in a fire fight with insurgents, fighting alongside his comrades as he always did with a cool head and immense courage."

Fusilier Robert Slaney said his friend was always talking about his family.

"We would always talk about what we were going to do when we got home.

"He was... really determined to get home and be there for his fiancee Kelly and for the birth of their daughter, Abigail."

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said his thoughts were with Fusilier Burgess's family and colleagues.

He said: "I was saddened to hear of the death of Fusilier Burgess. He was a popular and highly capable soldier who had clearly grown into his role while in Afghanistan."

The bodies of the two soldiers were returned to the UK

Separately, the bodies of Guardsman Michael Sweeney, 19, of Blyth and Rifleman Mark Turner, 21, of Gateshead, were flown into RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire before passing through Wootton Bassett.

The crowd watched silently as relatives and friends of the two men placed red and white roses on the hearses carrying the coffins.

Guardsman Sweeney of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards died after stepping on a bomb in Babaji on 1 April.

He was remembered by his family as a "proud Guardsman" while his commanding officer, Lt Col Toby Gray, called him an "outstanding soldier".

Rifleman Turner, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was killed by a roadside bomb in the Kajaki area of Helmand on Sunday.

His senior officers recalled how the devoted Newcastle United fan, nicknamed Turtle, saved many of his comrades by risking his life to clear routes of insurgent improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

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Sky News Soldier Shot Dead Was Dad-To-Be - 29 hrs ago
The Sun Fallen hero was to become a dad - 39 hrs ago
Times Online Soldier about to be a father dies in Helmand - 39 hrs ago
The Scotsman Soldier shot in Afghan battle was to be a dad - 41 hrs ago
Daily Star Bodies of young soldiers flown homeFull Story - 44 hrs ago

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