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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Tributes to 'dedicated soldier'
Private Craig Barber, picture from MoD
Private Craig Barber was a keen chess player
A Royal Welsh soldier from south Wales who died in Basra in Iraq has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Pte Craig Barber, 20, a married father, from Ogmore Vale near Bridgend, died in a small arms attack on Monday.

His commanding officer said he was " a dedicated soldier... keen to deploy on operations in support of his mates".

Pte Barber joined the Second Battalion Royal Welsh three years ago. He is the 165th member of the UK armed forces to die in Iraq.

He had been driving a Warrior vehicle as part of a night operation to counter indirect fire attacks on Basra Palace when he came under attack.

He leaves behind his wife, Donna, and three-year-old son, Bradley.

He was justifiably proud of the part he played in the platoon and wanted to do it to the very best of his ability
Lieutenant Colonel Swift MBE

Lieutenant Colonel Swift MBE, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, said the soldier has recently qualified as a Warrior armoured vehicle driver and "had never been happier".

"He was justifiably proud of the part he played in the platoon and wanted to do it to the very best of his ability," he said.

"This was characteristic of a man who was very professional, courageous and who never wanted to let his comrades down.

"Craig died as he lived - working for others and helping to protect them."

Company commander Major Steve Mannings said: "Driving a Warrior suited him to a tee - both shared the same characteristics, large powerful and occasionally loud. It was sometimes difficult to tell where Craig ended and his Warrior began.

My abiding memory of him is seeing him sitting in Saddam Hussein's palace, a massive smile on his face, beating yet another hapless opponent at chess
Second Lieutenant Olly Pope

"He was a huge physical presence in his platoon but was the epitome of the gentle giant, always ready for a chat, always eager to please - he was an extremely popular young man."

Second Lieutenant Olly Pope, Pte Barber's platoon commander, described him as one of the best Warrior drivers in the platoon.

But he said above all else the soldier was a "dedicated family man" who had managed to arrange leave to coincide with his first wedding anniversary later this month.

He also revealed the private was a keen chess player.

"My abiding memory of him is seeing him sitting in Saddam Hussein's palace, a massive smile on his face, beating yet another hapless opponent at chess."

Defence Secretary Des Browne also paid tribute to Pte Barber, saying he was a "credit to the Royal Welsh and to our country".


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