Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Saturday, 12 September 2009 18:09 UK

Queen honours regiment's fallen

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The Queen presented the medals in person for the first time

The Queen has presented the Elizabeth Cross to relatives of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In an emotional ceremony at the Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, she gave medals to the families of six members of The Queen's Royal Lancers.

It was the first time the Queen, who is the regiment's colonel-in-chief, had personally presented the honour that bears her name.

The Elizabeth Cross recognises the loss of a member of the armed forces

It is awarded to the next of kin of personnel killed on active service, or as a result of terrorism.

Cpl Ben Leaning and Trooper Kristen Turton
The cross is national recognition of the loss of a forces member

The soldiers whose families received the honour are: Trooper Robert Pearson, 22, from Grimsby; Sgt Wayne Rees, 36, from Nottingham; Cpl Ben Leaning, 24, from Scunthorpe; Trooper Kristen Turton, 27, from Grimsby; Cpl Stephen Allbutt, 35, from Stoke-on-Trent; Trooper David Clarke, 19, from Littleworth in Staffordshire.

Trooper Pearson was killed by a mine in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan in April 2008.

His family has criticised how long it has taken to mark his death.

Father Paul Pearson told Sky News: "Robert signed and died for Queen and country and you don't even get a letter from the Queen."

Iraq deaths

The other five deaths all occurred during operations in Iraq, including Sgt Rees's death in a road accident during a dawn patrol in January 2007.

In April that year, Cpl Leaning and Trooper Turton were killed when their Scimitar fighting vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb while they were on patrol in Maysan province.

Trooper Kristen Turton's widow Sharon
Sharon Turton's husband Kristen was killed in 2007

Trooper Turton's widow Sharon told the BBC: "It's an emotional day but a proud day as well because the Queen is recognising the troops that were killed and the families. I'm proud that she's put her name to a medal for this purpose.

"It's her cross and she presented it as well. She knew my husband was killed alongside Cpl Leaning - that made it special because, to her, Kris was a person as well.

"I think he would be really proud, he loved the regiment. If he's looking down, he'll probably have a smile on his face."

Cpl Allbutt and Trooper Clarke were killed in March 2003 during the first week of the Iraq war in a "friendly fire" incident when their Challenger 2 tank was hit by another tank.

Elizabeth Cross
The first Elizabeth Cross was given to the wife of warrant officer Sean Upton

The introduction of the Elizabeth Cross is the first time the name of a reigning monarch has been given to a new award since the George Cross was instituted in 1940.

It is available to families of servicemen and women who died in conflicts dating back to 1948.

Karen Upton, the widow of Nottingham soldier warrant officer Sean Upton, who was killed in Afghanistan on 27 July, was presented with the first Elizabeth Cross at his funeral last month.



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SEE ALSO
Medal honour as troops come home
22 Aug 09 |  Wales
Widow gets first Elizabeth Cross
18 Aug 09 |  Nottinghamshire

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