Suffolk soldier hurt in Afghan explosion

A SUFFOLK couple whose soldier son was caught in an explosion say he is lucky to be alive, but devastated the blast killed his best friend.

Richard Cornwell

A SUFFOLK couple whose soldier son was caught in an explosion say he is lucky to be alive, but devastated the blast killed his best friend.

Ron and Liz Cartwright - who have sent 5,000 shoebox gifts of necessities to troops in Afghanistan - were left reeling after their son Matt was injured in the bomb just 72 hours after returning to the war-torn country on October 8.

Matt, 34, a guardsman with the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, believes his friend Lance Corporal James Hill who was alongside him died in his place - taking the shock of the blast and protecting him.


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He was knocked unconscious, lost his hearing and has been suffering from shellshock, but had no physical injuries.

“He is lucky to be alive - everyone says they cannot believe how he escaped the blast when he was so close,” said Mrs Cartwright, 65, of High Road West, Felixstowe.

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“His friend Jimmy was next to him and took the full blast and all the shrapnel. Matt is devastated - they were best mates, like brothers.”

Matt was sent home from Camp Bastion to recuperate with his wife Donna and son Lewis, five, at Victoria Barracks, Windsor.

“When you see your son standing there in front of you shaking from shellshock and talking about the carnage it is just awful, but he is alive and we are so thankful for that. His hearing has improved slightly but he says it is nothing to what has happened to others,” she said.

Mr Cartwright, 70, who served in the RAF in the 1960s, said they were stepping up their shoebox “production line” to get a box of necessities and life's little luxuries to as many personnel as possible.

People wanting to make up shoeboxes or contribute items should ring 01394 211438 and collection can be arranged.

FACTFILE: Shoeboxes

The shoeboxes should contain items such as:

sewing kits

rehydration salts for diarrhoea and sickness

paperback books

wet wipes because of lack of running water and no toilets

paracetomol and painkillers

toothbrushes and toothpaste

notebooks, pens and pencils

chocolates and sweets

cup a soups / noodles / drink sachets

energy tablets / cold treatments

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