Soldier's life was touched by tragedy
THE death of a Suffolk soldier killed in Iraq on Remembrance Sunday was the third tragedy to hit her heartbroken family. Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, who grew up in Hadleigh, died when a bomb hidden under a bridge sent shrapnel tearing through her patrol boat.
THE death of a Suffolk soldier killed in Iraq on Remembrance Sunday was the third tragedy to hit her heartbroken family.
Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, who grew up in Hadleigh, died when a bomb hidden under a bridge sent shrapnel tearing through her patrol boat.
She had only been in Iraq for one week and became the second British servicewoman to die in the conflict.
Yesterday, further tributes were paid to the 34-year-old, who was a member of the intelligence corps, as it emerged her life had previously been touched by tragedy.
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In 1989, Staff Sgt Elliott's cousin, Judith Pattison, who was just 22, was killed in the Kegworth air crash, when a plane bound for Belfast crashed into the M1.
And, around 10 years ago, her fiancé, who was also a soldier, was killed in a motorbike accident just a little while before the couple were due to marry.
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Last week, Staff Sgt Elliott's father, Edwin, known as Ted, who lives in Hadleigh, opened up a surprise parcel, to find a pair of silk lined gloves sent by his daughter as an early Christmas present.
She had noticed that Parkinson's disease had left her father's hand permanently frozen and in the rush of pre-deployment had remembered to pack up and send the present to her father.
“She was such a lovely girl, so sensible and kind. We were just waiting to find out her address so we could send something to her,” said Mr Elliott's second wife, Ann.
She added: “Ted is utterly heartbroken. It was his only daughter. You just don't expect them to go before you. When she said she was going to Iraq I said I didn't believe in them being sent over there.
“She was treating it as a job she had to do. She had been to many difficult places, but I don't think she liked this one. Why did she have to die for such a silly cause?”
Mr Elliott had served in the forces and two of her elder stepbrothers also went on to do so, as did cousins and other relatives.
Staff Sgt Elliott was born in Ipswich and attended Hadleigh Primary School and Hadleigh High School before moving to South Shields in Tyne and Wear.
She spent the early part of her career in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and was the first woman in the Army to qualify as an aircraft technician.
Neighbours remember a beautifully behaved child growing up among simple red brick homes which surrounded a green where she played with stepbrothers Michael, Gary and David.
Her godmother, Maureen Holland, 72, said: “She met her boyfriend on a course where they were learning to repair helicopters. I saw her when she came back to look for her wedding dress.
“But then her fiancé died tragically. People asked if she would be giving up the Army afterwards, but she said she wouldn't, and she would finish the course because she wanted to do it for him.
“She was a very caring person and when her fiancé died I remember her saying that she was going to stay with his parents to be with them.
“She was very determined and she was the first woman to pass this particular course. She was just dedicated to her life in the Army. She was an absolutely lovely girl. Her parents must have been really proud.”
Peter Margieson, who trained Staff Sgt Elliott as an aircraft technician when she first joined the Army, said: “We worked together delivering Christmas presents by helicopter to a children's hospice in Yorkshire. She was a wonderful person and a smashing girl.”
Three colleagues died with Staff Sgt Elliott in the Poppy Day massacre - Warrant Officer Class 2 Lee Hopkins, 35, and Royal Marines Marine Jason Hylton, 33, and 27-year-old Corporal Ben Nowak.