Page last updated at 13:54 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Funeral for first 2010 war victim

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Funeral for first 2010 war victim

A funeral for the first UK soldier to die in 2010 in Afghanistan has taken place in Cambridgeshire.

Private Robert Hayes, 19, of 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Helmand province.

He died while on foot patrol on 3 January.

Family and friends paid tribute to Pte Hayes, who played rugby for the Newmarket club in Suffolk, at St Mary's Church in his home village of Burwell.

The church was packed for the service which was relayed to about 200 more people outside paying their respects.

Pte Hayes was laid to rest with full military honours.

Intense fighting

The regiment's welfare officer Captain Ian Robinson said Pts Hayes had displayed three types of courage during his career.

These were "physical, moral and cold courage" and he often took the lead in his section in the most difficult situations.

"He had also made a lasting impression on many of the local people where the regiment was based," he said.

The keen sportsman also won his weight category in his battalion's 2009 boxing championships.

He had completed his army training in March last year and joined 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment shortly afterwards, the Ministry of Defence said.

He served in Helmand province as part of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Battle Group and died in the Nad-e-Ali area.

His commanding officer, Lt Col James Woodham, said: "He died whilst on patrol in an area that has seen some of the most intense fighting with the insurgents that seek to undermine the Afghan government.

"In the past two months, he and his platoon have given their all to deliver a secure environment for the people of Nad-e-Ali in what are some of the most demanding of conditions."



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