Soldiers 'not forgotten' as county prepares for repatriations

Sergeant Jonathan Eric Kups dies in Afghanistan

Captain James Anthony Townley from the Corps of Royal Engineers

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

THE repatriations will take place tomorrow of two soldiers who died in separate ‘non-hostile’ incidents at British Army bases in Afghanistan.

Oxford graduate Captain James Townley died after a shooting at Forward Operating Base Shawqat on Friday, the day before his 30th birthday.

Sgt Jonathan Kups’s death, on the same day, at Camp Bastion is still being investigated.

A member of 21 Engineer Regiment, the Corps of Royal Engineers, Capt Townley, 29, was from Somerset and attained a first-class degree in engineering and computer science from University College Oxford.

A talented sportsman, during his time in Oxford he was also a member of his college rowing team.

In a statement, his family called him their “guardian angel”.

They said: “James was a wonderful, loving and caring son and brother.

“He was devoted to his girlfriend, Helen. He was our guardian angel and our hero.

“James will never be forgotten and always in our hearts and thoughts.”

Sir Ivor Crewe, Master of University College Oxford, said the college was “extremely saddened” to hear of Capt Townley’s death. Representatives from the college will attend Capt Townley’s repatriation and a college flag will be flown at half mast.

Captain Luke Wilson, Regimental Signals Officer, 21 Engineer Regiment, said: “James Townley was the epitome of a British Army officer. He excelled at everything he tried yet never flaunted his considerable abilities.”

In a separate incident in Helmand province, Sergeant Jonathan Kups died at Camp Bastion. The 38-year-old father-of-three, from Warwickshire, was a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

A statement from his family said: “Jonathan was a wonderful husband and loving father to three children.

“He was a loyal man with a wide circle of friends, a devoted son, son-in-law, grandson and brother.”

Lieutenant Colonel Neil Thorpe, Commanding Officer, Theatre Equipment Support Battalion, described Sgt Kups as “technically brilliant”.

He said: “At the centre of electronic repair in theatre, he drove his team hard to ensure those soldiers deployed forward had the equipment they needed - he was never found wanting.”

Their bodies are due to arrive at RAF Brize Norton at around 1.30pm tomorrow and their funeral cortege will pass by the memorial garden on the edge of Carterton at around 4pm.

The cortege is due to reach the John Radcliffe Hospital at around 5pm.

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