Tributes paid to tragic soldiers

TRIBUTES have been paid to two Colchester-based soldiers who were killed in southern Afghanistan.

TRIBUTES have been paid to two Colchester-based soldiers who were killed in southern Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal James Bateman and Private Sean Doherty, both from 8 Platoon of C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, were on a routine foot patrol near their base in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand Province, when they came under Taliban fire on Thursday.

Their deaths mean five soldiers from 2 Para, based in Colchester, have died in Afghanistan this week, while the total number of British service personnel killed in the country since the start of operations in November 2001 has risen to 102.

Lance Corporal James 'Jay' Bateman, 29, grew up in Staines, Middlesex, and was a fervent West Ham supporter.

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He lived in Colchester with his wife Victoria after the couple were married in Salisbury Cathedral last year.

Lance Corporal Bateman joined the Parachute Regiment in 2001 and had previously served in Northern Ireland and Iraq.

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He was described as a proud and honest Paratrooper, respected for being a gentleman as much as he was for his unbridled energy and professionalism.

His wife said in a statement: "I would like to firstly thank everybody for their ongoing support.

"Secondly, I would like you all to know how immensely proud we are of him and all that he has achieved.

"I know how he loved the Parachute Regiment and I draw comfort from the fact that he died doing the job he loved, for the country he loved, with the friends he loved.

"He was a loving husband, brother, son and uncle. I would like the lads to carry on the work he was doing. I love him and will miss him greatly. He was our hero.'

Pte Sean Doherty, known as Jeff, was born in Coventry and lived at the family home in Southam, Warwickshire.

He celebrated his 20th birthday just three days ago.

Pte Doherty joined the Parachute Regiment in March 2006 and his deployment to Afghanistan was his first operational tour.

He was described as exceptionally fit and strong with an infectious sense of humour.

His family, including a younger brother and three sisters, said in a statement: "JJ was such a wonderful son. He was the light of our lives and we all loved him. He was a hero to his brother and sisters and they loved him dearly.

"We will never forget the bright sparkle in his eyes and the way he could light up a room with his smile.

"He touched everyone who met him and we shall miss him desperately. We would ask for some space now to allow us to come to terms with our loss.

"Jeff lived and died doing what he loved and we are proud of him for that. We sincerely hope that his friends can draw strength from his death and we wish them all a safe return home."

Commanding Officer, 2 Para, Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan, said the men died doing what they had been asked to do, having patrolled the area for two months.

He said: "Their commitment to their friends and the steadfast courage they showed as they faced their battle is in the finest tradition of the Regiment and admired by us all.

"We will think about them, and what they were prepared to give here, and we will think about their families whose loss is so great.

"They will join Pte Charles Murray, Pte Daniel Gamble and Pte Nathan Cuthbertson and return home to where their families and the Regiment are waiting to meet them, and we will continue with our work in the Helmand River valley.'

The three soldiers, also from 2 Para, died in a suicide attack on Sunday.

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