Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

Marine killed in Helmand named

Corporal Liam Elms
Corporal Elms was described as a "true man's man"

A Royal Marine killed in an explosion in Afghanistan on New Year's Eve has been named.

Corporal Liam Elms, 26, from Wigan, died during a routine patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province. He was in the 45 Commando Royal Marines.

His family said his death had left a "huge hole" in their lives.

He is the 137th British serviceman to die in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001 and the 12th Royal Marine to die in two months.

In a statement released through the Ministry of Defence, his family described him as a "true man's man".

"Liam always strived to be the best, his proudest achievement was receiving his beloved green beret," they said.

"Liam will leave a huge hole in our lives and he will always be missed."

'Big-hearted'

Cpl Elms, who had a fiancée, joined the Royal Marines in 2001, and he saw active service in Northern Ireland and Iraq.

Corporal Liam Elms at his passing out parade
Cpl Elms "had Commando qualities in spades"

A "physically strong and powerful man", he was a keen Rugby League fan.

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris, commanding officer of 45 Commando Group, said he was an "outstanding Royal Marine and a huge personality".

"Fit, strong, courageous and very good humoured he died leading his section from the front, doing the job he loved in the company of his friends who had tremendous trust in him and a huge respect for his abilities as a Commando and as a leader," he said.

In other tributes, he was described as "big-hearted" and "one of life's true enthusiasts".

Commando qualities

Major Andy Muddiman, commanding Z Company Group, said: "Corporal Elms lived and breathed his job, exuding an enthusiasm for soldiering that was instantly infectious.

"He had Commando qualities in spades: most of all he was unselfish, brave and determined."

Speaking on Wednesday, Cdr Paula Rowe, spokeswoman for Task Force Helmand, said: "Every death is tragic, yet at the turning of the year, with the celebration and hope it promises, this loss is all the harder to bear.

"All our thoughts go to his family, friends and colleagues who will be devastated by his sacrifice."

Defence Secretary John Hutton said: "Corporal Liam Elms was clearly an outstanding Marine.

"His family, friends and colleagues will mourn deeply his loss, and my thoughts are with them at this most difficult time."

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