Full military funeral for young soldier

By Louise Barnett, PA News.A FULL military funeral has been held for the youngest member of the UK armed forces to die while serving in Iraq.Private Andrew Kelly, 18, a member of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, based in Colchester, was killed in a shooting accident in Basra, southern Iraq on May 6.

By Louise Barnett, PA News.

A FULL military funeral has been held for the youngest member of the UK armed forces to die while serving in Iraq.

Private Andrew Kelly, 18, a member of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, based in Colchester, was killed in a shooting accident in Basra, southern Iraq on May 6.

A Union flag flew at half mast at St Mary and St Julian Church in Maker, near Torpoint Cornwall, as mourners filed in for the service yesterday.


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Pte Kelly's belt, beret and a Union flag were placed on the coffin which was carried into church by six colleagues from the teenager's regiment.

The cortege was led by Pte Kelly's father Robert Kelly from Callington, Cornwall, and his mother Helen Yallop and stepfather Nick Yallop with whom the teenager lived near Tavistock, Devon.

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During the church service Padre Geoff Sussex, from the Royal Army Chaplains Department, said of Pte Kelly: "He was a man who wanted more than anything else to gain his wings. He worked hard for them and he succeeded."

A burial was held afterwards in the church cemetery, during which Colour Sergeant Mark Willetts from the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment handed Pte Kelly's belt, beret and the flag to Mrs Yallop.

After an address by the padre, a gun party fired three volleys of shots. A lone bugler then played Reveille and Last Post.

Joe Smith, 18, from Yelverton in Devon paid tribute to Pte Kelly - his friend since school - during the funeral service.

Speaking outside the church he said Pte Kelly had always wanted to be a Para.

"He really felt he achieved something by going to the Paras and by going to Iraq. He felt he was doing something with his life and not just sitting back and watching time go by,' he said.

Speaking of the military funeral, Mr Smith said: "I think this is exactly what he wanted. He's probably looking down and thinking "how good is this".

"He was a very humorous person, always laughing and joking and always looking for the funny side of things. He had great courage as well, and was just a nice lad.

"I am missing him so much. Words can't describe how much I am missing him.'

Pte Kelly had one brother, 10-year-old Ross Yallop, who joined mourners at the burial.

Pte Kelly was the 34th member of British forces to have died during operations in Iraq.

His mother Helen Yallop was raised in the area around Maker church, where other family members are buried, and sang in the choir there.

When news of Pte Kelly's death broke, she said: "He was a wonderful, fearless, confident son. Always well mannered, who, even as a boy, desired to be a Para.'

He enrolled in the Army at 16 years of age after leaving school in Tavistock.

She added: "He turned 18 on March 9 and within days was on his way to the Gulf.'

His last words to his mother were: "Don't worry about me, mum, Paras always go to heaven.'

Mrs Yallop said her son always carried with him a poem about Paras called The Maroon Machine.

A full repatriation service was held at RAF Brize Norton when the body of Pte Kelly was flown 3,000 miles home from Iraq.

In a statement Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Lowe, Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, said: "The loss of Private Andy Kelly is especially tragic. He was a young man full of energy and life with a long career in The Parachute Regiment ahead of him.

"Andy had recently joined the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, having come from the Infantry Training Centre where he had completed basic training and proved himself to be fit, mentally agile, professional and highly determined.

"It had always been Andy's ambition to be a Parachute Regiment soldier and he was welcomed from the moment he arrived. He had just started to make new friends and settle down into post war operations.'

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