|Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.
Corporal Matthew James Stenton was 23 years old. He was born and raised in Wakefield, where he went to Wakefield Cathedral High School. On leaving school he joined the Army and attended the Army Training Regiment (Harrogate). On completion of Phase 2 training in May 2004, he joined The Royal Dragoon Guards.
On arrival at the Regiment, he successfully completed Mission Specific Training before deploying to Iraq with the Regimental Battlegroup on Operation TELIC 5. This was followed by a move to Reconnaissance Troop and deployment on Operation TELIC 11. He later passed his Challenger 2 MBT Crew Commanders’ course, and then deployed with the Viking Group to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 12 as a Viking Commander with D (The Green Horse) Squadron.
Matty leaves behind his father and step-mother, Michael and Gillian, and his sister, Charlotte. Corporal Stenton’s family paid the following tribute to him:
“A loving son, brother and grandson who will be dearly missed. Matthew always took life in his stride and never lost sight of the important things in life his family and friends.
“Matthew died how he lived his life, surrounded by his friends. We are so proud of Matthew and it comes as no surprise to us to hear that he died whilst trying to help one of his fellow comrades.
“You will always be in our hearts and minds, love you always Dad, Gillian and Charlotte.”
Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, Commanding Officer, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“I have only known Corporal Matt Stenton for 2 years but such was the impression he made on me I feel as if I’ve known him for much longer. He cared passionately for the soldiers under his command, and he would insist rightly that their needs were paramount, no matter what the circumstances.
“Matt loved soldiering. He loved the camaraderie associated with a tight-knit group of well trained and highly focused individuals. Only 23 years old and already he had completed two operational tours, both in Iraq, and he was desperate to deploy to Afghanistan. However, he was required to complete his Challenger 2 Crew Commanders’ course before boarding the plane for Helmand, and this pained him deeply as he would not join D (The Green Horse) Squadron until they had been in Theatre for about 6 weeks.
“Matt only arrived in Central Helmand earlier this month. True to character he deployed with his troop the minute his in-theatre training was complete. He was now where he wanted to be – with his men, sharing in their endeavours, both good times and bad.
“It was typical of Corporal Matt Stenton that on the afternoon of Wednesday 21st July 2010 he was yet again looking out for those more junior than himself. He died in command of an armoured vehicle whilst successfully extracting a casualty and laying down fire on an insurgent position.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will miss him hugely but his sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Major Denis James, Officer Commanding D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group said:
“Cpl Matthew Stenton was an uncomplicated man and the kindest of friends; he was also a hard, tenacious soldier who always fought for what he believed in.
“He could entrance his audience with his tails of daring do from the weekend beforehand. His smile could light up any situation; he would willingly challenge senior officers on living conditions of junior soldiers. Last year when times were hard on exercise in Canada, he found and fixed a civilian car normally used for urban training, disappeared for an hour and returned with a boot full of cake for the soldiers. It is his generosity and spirit we will remember the most. He loved his family dearly and would often talk of them. Our thoughts are with them at this sad time.
“It is no surprise to anyone who knew him that he died rescuing a wounded comrade whilst simultaneously engaging insurgents at close quarters; in life and in death he epitomised the spirit of The Royal Dragoon Guards and his sacrifice will inspire us forever.
Captain Iain Monk, 1st Troop Leader, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group said:
“Cpl Matthew Stenton was an inspirational soldier. He looked the part but most importantly acted the part. He lived to be out in the field and was enthusiastic about passing on his knowledge to those junior to him. He set an excellent example. He had a zest for life and always walked around with a twinkle in his eye. He would always have an idea or plan to make everyone’s lives more enjoyable. When in Canada he snuck in a field kitchen to get 6 large boxes of cakes. When he returned to the Squadron with his find, everyone’s faces lit up. He will be missed as a role model, a soldier, but most importantly a friend.
Lieutenant James Hollas, 3rd Troop Leader, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group said:
“I had Cpl Stenton under my command for just 3 weeks, but even this was more than enough time to see the true measure of the man. He was the sort of commander that a Troop Leader wants; headstrong, but never reckless, steadfast in his convictions, and always forthcoming with sound advice, whether asked for or not.
“He was a terrific soldier, and an exemplary character for the younger commanders to model themselves on. He will be sorely missed by his brothers in 3rd Troop.
Sergeant Scott Dyer, 1st Troop Sergeant, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group said:
“Cpl Matthew Stenton is what I can only describe as an amazing soldier. His drive and focus was an inspiration to us all. Always the first to volunteer, he led from the front and never let anything break his enthusiasm, even when times were hard.
“Having recently passed his Challenger 2 Commanders’ Course, we had not seen him for a while, but as soon as we he did he was straight over with a smile and an open ‘I’ve missed you all’. I have fond memories of Matty from the time when he met a senior officer and did nothing but complain about the heating in his accommodation, to Canada where all of us were tired and he appeared with a box full of cake, taking the mood that night to an all time high! These are just two examples of how much he loved the lads and would do anything to help them.
“We have lost a comrade, a friend and an amazing soldier who died a brave death defending an injured comrade. His love for the Regiment was inspirational and his memory will always live on with us. Cpl Matty Stenton was a true hero. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.
Sergeant Stuart Wright, Reconnaissance Troop, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“Matt Stenton was one of my closest friends. I first came to know him when he came to Recce Troop as a very keen young soldier and always had a willingness to know more and learn more.
“During his time in Recce troop he was the Troop Leader’s driver and like myself always keen to be off the vehicle and on his feet, which showed he was very adaptable in any job or tasking we were given and never did I get any complaints about either.
“One thing we did manage was to keep our crew on hard routine for the whole of a Poland exercise with temperatures as low as -15. He never complained, even when we were both in a huddle trying to keep warm whilst laughing about how nasty treacle pudding tasted cold! Not that he stopped laughing and so neither could I!
“Whilst serving with Matt through the years, we were very close friends and never had any bad times. He always had high aspirations and he had achieved a lot in the time he served. He had just finished his Tank Commanders’ Course and I know how proud he was, but seeing him just two weeks ago all he wanted was to be out on the ground with his friends on the frontline. I am sure Matt would have acted without thinking about his own safety because he had the ‘get up and get it done’ attitude.
“Matt was a true friend and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him and my thoughts now go out to his family and the remaining lads still serving in Afghanistan.”
Corporal Nathan Stead, Reconnaissance Troop, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“I first met Matty when he came to Recce Troop when we rejoined after a long hard tour of Iraq. Matt was well suited to this job; he loved being on his feet, sitting in wet OPs, getting dirty and the hours of no sleep and hard routine. He provided on many occasions accurate and timely information to influence the battlefield in our favour. He lived, slept and ate Recce! Matt was without doubt the most outstanding soldier I have ever met. He was a true friend and a joy to be around.
“It was when we both deployed to TELIC 11 on Task Force Spartan that I really got to know Matt the most; he was my second in command. Just knowing that Matt was behind me every step of the way was a comfort, we did everything together. Many people referred to us as a couple. He would bring light to any darkened room; it was just his character to make everything a laugh.
“In the end Matt had achieved his only dream in the Army, to be a tank commander, a damn good one at that. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his Queen and country; we will never forget, we will remember! I will miss you Matt, you will be dining in glory tonight!”
Lance Corporal Damian Bailey, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group said:
“Matty epitomised the modern day soldier; a professional through and through. He would never shy away from anything. Fighting from the front was the way he lived and died. You could rely on Matty to be the first to voice his opinion on behalf of the group; he was a lovable rogue and the sort of solider you just needed around to help you through the good and the bad days. Matty would do anything for the lads, always lending an ear to the younger soldiers. Matty was a true and honest friend to us all, and on behalf of all the lads, Matty it has been a pleasure to have known you as a comrade and a friend. Rest in Peace mate.”
Lance Corporal Levi Webb, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group said:
“Cpl Stenton was a great bloke who was just a bundle of laughs to be around, and beneath all the playful banter, which he would continually throw at us, was that ever present cheeky grin.
“Matty was an outstanding soldier whom everyone respected, he was a thorough professional who would never settle for second best. He came out to theatre late, after the completion of his Challenger 2 Commanders’ Course. Even whilst on this tough and demanding course, he would routinely contact all the guys in the troop to ask if they needed extra kit sending out. Matty loved to have all the gear in his wardrobe; it was like a Quartermaster’s store.
“Matty was Mr Reliable; a smiley face at your room door every hour of the day just wanting to do something with the lads; a beer or a cup of tea, he was just happy in the company of his mates. Things won’t be the same without Matty, he was a true gent and an all round good geezer. On behalf of all the lads Matty, it has been a pleasure to have known you as a comrade and a friend. Rest in Peace, mate.”
Lance Corporal Kirk Buck, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group said:
“Cpl Matt Stenton was a super soldier. He loved the Army and was the definition of keen. He loved being on the back area, running about like the infantry even though he was a Cavalry soldier. He was always a joker and loved being with the lads and would always help the younger boys, as he did with me many times with my map reading.
“Matt was someone you could look up to and rely on for help if you needed it. The Army has lost an excellent corporal and The Royal Dragoon Guards has lost a good friend. Matt, you will never be forgotten and our hearts go out to your family and close friends.
Lance Corporal Beverley Probert, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group said:
“In the time I have worked with Matty, it was obvious to see what kind of a guy he really was. He was determined, selfless, and keen as they come. Second would never be enough for him. Always amongst the laughter, he shone through, always willing to listen and to lend a helping hand. Not one to keep to himself, he led from the front and was someone to look up to. We in The Green Horse have lost a true hero. Rest in peace pal, you were a pleasure to work with. You did us proud.”
Capt Thomas Coker, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“He was a totally selfless character and a natural soldier and leader. He touched everyone who met him and his loss will be felt by all.”
Sergeant James Gibson, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“Matt Stenton was a close friend; I've known him since he joined the Regiment. I've had the pleasure of his company many times and he was one of the easiest going guys I have ever met and was always willing to help out anyone who needed it. He will be missed very much and never forgotten.”
Sergeant Steven Martin, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“He was an excellent operator and an excellent soldier. We cannot believe that this has happened to such a close friend and our thoughts go out to his family at this time. He will never be forgotten, Rest in Peace.”
Corporals Carl Roberts and Marty Newell, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“He was a flyer and an incredible soldier. He would have done anything for anybody. He died the way he would have wanted to, saving someone else. Fare Thee Well.”
Lance Corporal Arnold Exell, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“He was a great friend and a great room-mate; he was someone you could really trust. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts are with his family.”
Lance Corporal Paul Fish, C (The Black Dragoons) Squadron, The Royal Dragoon Guards said:
“He was a good mate and drinking partner. My thoughts go out to his family and he will always be remembered.”