Farewell to a hero as county town mourns lost Viking

AN ESSEX soldier killed in an explosion in Afghanistan has been laid to rest in his home town following an emo-tional funeral at Chelmsford Cathedral.

AN ESSEX soldier killed in an explosion in Afghanistan has been laid to rest in his home town following an emotional funeral at Chelmsford Cathedral.

Lance Corporal Scott Hardy, 26, was killed in an explosion near Musa Qala on Tuesday March 16, only weeks before he was due to return home.

He died along with 21-year-old Private James Grigg from Stradbroke whose funeral was held earlier this week.

Chelmsford came to a standstill yesterday afternoon as hundreds of people packed the pavements to pay their respects to the member of the 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment.

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As the funeral cortege carrying his coffin, draped in a Union flag, slowly made its way to the cathedral at walking pace mourners threw red roses onto the hearse.

Police outriders led the cortege and fellow Vikings, members of the Royal British Legion and the fire service formed a military guard of honour as the coffin was carried into the cathedral.

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A floral tribute in the red and yellow colours of his regiment proclaimed “Our Hero Scott”.

The 700-seater cathedral, which was flying a St George’s Cross at half mast, was full with mourners with patriotic members of the public listening to the service on a PA system outside.

There were smiles and tears of laughter as his body was carried into the cathedral to the movie theme tune to the Rocky film - Gonna Fly Now.

His heartbroken girlfriend Charlene Byrne, 24, penned a poignant poem to her sweetheart which was read at his packed funeral.

The poem, read by two friends, read: “You are my lover, my soldier, my hero and my best friend. To me you were everything from beginning to end.

‘‘When I saw you in your uniform you made me so happy, I burst with pride. Off to war that was far away, you were my soldier and I wanted you to stay.

“But loving soldier, you can’t just be mine. For Queen and for country on the line you did sign.

“They knock on my door, no words can be said. I didn’t believe it, I can’t believe you’re dead.”

Before the service she said: “He loved that film. He used to watch it all the time.

“He used to think he was Rocky. He had a classical version of the same song which he said he’d walk down the aisle to when we got married. It’s what he would have wanted played.”

Lieutenant Simon Broomfield, platoon leader, who was seriously injured in the blast which killed Lance Corp Hardy could not make the funeral but the congregation was told that this week he had finally managed to stand up for the first time since the explosion.

The service was punctuated with Lance Corp Hardy’s favourite songs, Against the Odds by Phil Collins and Last Train Home by Welsh rock band Lostprophets which became an unofficial anthem for the The Royal Anglian Regiment during his first tour to Afghanistan in 2007.

The hour-long service was led by the regimental chaplain Father Alex Strachan and The Dean of Chelmsford Cathedral, the Very Reverend Peter Judd, and was followed by a private family service at Chelmsford Crematorium where a 10 gun salute was fired for the hero.

Captain Ian Robinson paid tribute to Lance Corp Hardy.

He said: “He was a man who was brave, courageous, strong and very much up for the fight. Being older he became a father figure to many of the young soldiers.

“He was a determined and hard solider but he was not afraid to put his arm around a soldier and comfort them at the most difficult of times. He will be greatly missed.”

The former builder was inspired to join the armed forces in memory of his heroic grandfather Colour Sergeant Reg Adamson who was a major part of the Cockleshell Heroes.

The Cockleshell Heroes carried out a daring raid, using canoes to target a Nazi-controlled harbour in Bordeaux in 1942. The harbour was being used by German U-boats to bring in supplies for the Nazi war effort.

It was feared a bombing raid of the harbour would result in too many civilian casualties so an elite group of Royal Marine Commandos used canoes nicknamed cockles to paddle 70 miles to the habour under the cover of darkness and plant mines on the ships there.

The daring raid, which was made into a film in 1955, was said by Winston Churchill to have shortened the Second World War by six months.

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