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inmemoriam

Lieutenant Edward Drummond-Baxter and Lance Corporal SiddhantaKunwar from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (1RGR) were killed on Tuesday 30 October 2012 while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of HelmandProvince. Both men were attached to 40 Commando Royal Marines.

Lieutenant Drummond-Baxter and Lance Corporal Kunwar were based in CheckPoint Prrang in the southern area of Nahr-e Saraj. On 30 October theywere participating in a shura (meeting) with Afghan Uniformed Policemeninside the checkpoint. On completion of the shura, they were shot andkilled by a man wearing an Afghan police uniform who had been attendingthe meeting.


LANCE CORPORAL SIDDHANTA KUNWAR

1ST BATTALION THE ROYAL GURKHA RIFLES

Lance Corporal Siddhanta Kunwar deployed to Afghanistan on 3 October
2012 as a Sniper Section Commander in the acting rank of Lance Corporal.
He was serving with A (Delhi) Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha
Rifles, attached to 40 Commando Royal Marines as part of Transition
Support Unit Nahr-e Saraj. He was based in Check Point Prrang in the
southern part of Nahr-e Saraj District, Helmand Province. He was on his
third operational tour of Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Siddhanta was born on 19 June 1984 in Pokhara, Nepal,
where he lived with his mother and father. He passed the arduous
selection for the Brigade of Gurkhas on 17 December 2004 and having
completed his year-long infantry training joined 1st Battalion The Royal
Gurkha Rifles in October 2005.

Very soon after his arrival in 1RGR he deployed with the Battalion to
Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2005-2006 as part of the European Union Force in
support of the Bosnian Government. Lance Corporal Siddhanta then moved
with 1RGR to Brunei where he conducted extensive jungle training and
qualified as a sniper in 2007. In late 2007 and into 2008 he deployed
to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 7 where he served in Garmsir in
southern Helmand Province. In 2009 he successfully passed a Junior NCO
selection course and in 2010 returned to Afghanistan with 1RGR on
Operation Herrick 12 to the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand Province. It
was during this tour more than ever that his calm good humour, sharp
mind and huge operational experience became a touchstone for his fellow
soldiers.

LCpl Siddhanta Kunwar was an outstanding soldier and a true Gurkha. He
displayed the calmness of mind, cheerfulness in adversity and loyalty
throughout his many operational tours - qualities that the Brigade of
Gurkhas hold dear. He served with many of the Companies within the
Battalion and his loss will be deeply felt throughout 1RGR.

He leaves behind his mother, Krishna Maya Kunwar, his father, Shyam
Kumar Kunwar, stepmother Chhali Devi Kunwar, his four sisters; Shova,
Shyandya, Smita and Sardha Kunwar and his elder brother Bhupendra
Kunwar.

The family of Lance Corporal Siddhanta Kunwar said:

"We are deeply shocked, disheartened and in disbelief that Siddhanta is
no longer with us But we shall treasure all the good things he did. He
enjoyed immensely of his profession and was fully committed towards it.
He has made us proud. The whole family misses him dearly."

Lieutenant Colonel David Robinson. Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The
Royal Gurhka Rifles said:

"Siddhanta Kunwar was a great character and a tough, professional Gurkha
soldier with a proven and impressive operational record. Strong and
highly experienced, he stood out from the crowd not only as a highly
capable sniper but also for his smile and sense of fun, whatever the
situation he found himself in.

"On this, his third tour of Afghanistan, he knew the dangers and
understood better than most what it meant to do his job at the toughest
end of soldiering. As such he was a role model for the younger soldiers
around him. They, in turn, responded greatly to his guidance and
experience but also to his caring nature. Away from operations, he
loved his sport and was a great team player; he loved nothing more than
having fun with his mates on the sports field.

"Siddhanta was a proud soldier and was immensely proud to be a Gurkha.
He was one of the cornerstones of the Sniper Platoon where he was part
of a close-knit team who were justifiably confident in their ability.
He would have done anything to support his comrades and friends around
him; I know they will miss him deeply.

"The Regiment has lost a fine young man who epitomised all that makes
the Gurkhas so special. Living always so far from home, Gurkha units
are particularly close-knit and the loss of Lance Corporal Siddhanta is
a bitter blow, felt keenly by all ranks and families of 1RGR. We will
mourn his tragic passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his
family in Nepal and friends at this terrible time."

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Jackson Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 40
Commando Royal Marines said:

"Lance Corporal Siddhanta Kunwar epitomised everything that a Gurkha
should be; he was dedicated, professional and brave. This was his third
deployment to Afghanistan and he was continuing to excel in everything
that he did, but especially in his role as a sniper, where his
field-craft skills were beyond reproach. It is clear that he thrived on
the challenges that operations bring and enjoyed using the skills that
he worked so hard to gain; he was never found wanting. He demonstrated
the highest qualities of a Gurkha soldier and his legacy lives on in
Delhi Company.

"It is a huge privilege for me personally to command a Company of
Gurkhas and to have known Lance Corporal Siddhanta, however briefly. We
took him, and have taken Delhi Company, into the Commando family as one
of our own. His loss will therefore not only be felt by the Brigade of
Gurkhas and Delhi Company but also by everyone serving within 40
Commando Group Royal Marines. His sacrifice will never be forgotten and
he will always be in our thoughts.

"My thoughts and prayers go to his friends and family as they struggle
to come to terms with his loss. I offer you small comfort in knowing
that Siddhanta died in the company of those who loved him for everything
he was and everything that he did. My thoughts are with them at this
exceptionally difficult time."

Major Dave Pack, Officer Commanding A (Delhi) Company, 1st Battalion The
Royal Gurkha Rifles said:

"Lance Corporal Siddhanta was an integral part of the Sniper Platoon
within Support (Medicina) Company and of A (Delhi) Company. He was an
impeccable soldier with tremendous potential, who had already shown
himself to be a leader of men. He excelled in his role as a sniper and
as a junior commander. As a sniper he was out of the top draw; fit,
robust and with outstanding marksmanship skills. As a NCO he was a
shining example to the junior riflemen in his check point; always
leading by example and consummately professional in all he did. He was
the epitome of a Gurkha soldier.

"Lance Corporal Siddhanta was not only a talented soldier, but an
incredibly likeable man. Everything about him was good: his
cheerfulness, his enthusiasm, his attitude. His family, friends and
colleagues should be incredibly proud of him. It was a privilege to
know him and to have him fighting alongside me.

"I and all members of A (Delhi) Company are devastated; the pain and
emptiness is indescribable. But this is nothing compared to the grief
his family will be experiencing and our thoughts and prayers are with
them. Their son will never be forgotten; he was a special man who made
an indelible mark on everyone who knew him."

Major Dhyan Prasad Rai, Gurkha Major, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha
Rifles said:

"The untimely death of Lance Corporal Siddhanta Kunwar is extremely sad
news for us in The Royal Gurkha Rifles and the wider Gurkha family.
Having been a sniper since 2008, Siddhanta was of the best in the
Battalion. He was a supremely competent soldier who excelled in
marksmanship and field-craft - the essence of our trade. He had proven
himself time and again on operations. This was his third operational
tour in Afghanistan. Siddhanta was also a fine sportsman whose natural
ability at basketball and volleyball made him a fixture in the various
competitions held regularly in Battalion.

"His example is exactly in line with the best traditions of nigh on 200
years of dedicated Gurkha soldiering in the service of the United
Kingdom. He has made us all extremely proud to have served alongside
him.

"As he is a loss to us, so he is a terrible loss to his family in Nepal.
Our thoughts at this time are with them who will bear this sad news the
heaviest of all."

Major Alex Biggs, Officer Commanding Support Company, 1st Battalion The
Royal Gurkha Rifles said:

"Lance Corporal Siddhanta was an integral part of the Sniper Platoon
within Support (Medicina) Company. An impeccable soldier of much
potential, he had set an excellent foundation for his future career. An
experienced sniper who has excelled in the harsh environment of
Afghanistan, he was always forward leaning and utterly reliable.

"Very much a team player he was always keen to help and join in at both
work and play. A keen sportsman he would always represent the Company
whenever the opportunity arose. As a person Lance Corporal Siddhanta
was a gentleman. Warm, friendly, emphatically polite and outgoing he
was an integral part of both Company and Battalion. A man of quiet wit
and good sense of humour he was very much part of the RGR family and
will be sorely missed."

Warrant Officer Class 2 Bishnu Thapa, Officer Commanding Sniper Platoon,
1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles said:

"Siddhanta was a very loyal, professional, fantastic, engaging and brave
Gurkha soldier. He was popular and highly capable in his profession and
was warm, witty, clever and kind. He was one of the finest snipers in
the platoon. He was the veteran of Herrick 7 and 12 and was clear in
his motivation for returning on Herrick 17.

"I am stunned by his unexpected passing. He was an immensely proud
soldier. He epitomised the very best qualities expected from a true
Gurkha soldier. He will be sorely missed by all within the platoon and
his memory will endure in our hearts.

"Our prayer and thoughts go out to his family and relatives. May
Goddess Durga give strengths to overcome at this very difficult time."

Rifleman Tuljung Gurung, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurhka
Rifles said:

"Everyone knows that we have to leave this world, leaving everything
behind. Today we lost one of our close friends, Siddhanta Kunwar. It
is a sad day for all of us. It's too hard to explain in just a few
sentences how special he was. He was one of the great 'numberi' (cohort
of recruits) from my intake. He was very helpful to everyone no matter
how hard the work was. He stood as a hero among us and inspired people
by his performance. He had the ability to make people take him into
their hearts in a short period of time. We came to Support Company
together which gave me more opportunity to see how good he was. Looking
to him I'm so proud to be one of his numberi and also so sad. We'll
miss him a lot, may his soul get peace in heaven."

Rifleman Milan Rai, Delhi Coy, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurhka Rifles
said:

"Lance Corporal Siddhanta was my commander. I used to call him 'Sid
Dai', which means he was like my elder brother. He was very keen, loyal
and committed to his work as well an energetic and very disciplined
soldier. He never shied away from any challenge and was caring and
sharing with everyone.

"Wherever you are, Sid Dai, stay safe. I am going to miss you. You
will always remain in our hearts and memories."

Rifleman Rem Bahadur Gurung, 1 Platoon, A (Delhi) Company, 1st Battalion
The Royal Gurhka Rifles said:

"Lance Corporal Siddhanta Guruji was a great person. He was like a
brother to me. He was an always cheerful person. He was one of the
best Snipers. I will miss him so badly."

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British military casualties - Editorial policy

In the service of our country.

Eulogies for all personnel killed on UK operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are posted as soon as they have been released by the UK Ministry of Defence. Each eulogy we publish for men down in operations brings a lump to the throat. We are losing the best of the best. Politicians must ensure that, when the newspaper cuttings have faded, their sacrifice has had some meaning, has helped bring about a good result. Anything else would be a waste for which they will be eternally condemned.

There is invariably at least a 24 hour gap between the official release of news of an event and the naming of the dead. This is to allow families to be informed and proper eulogoies to be produced. Occasionally families request no euologies or comment. We abide by guidance we receive on such sensitive matters. We regret that information on those who sacrifice almost as much through grave injury is seldom released by the MoD for operational reasons, and so we are unable to pay tribute.

 

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