Hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday for the funeral of a teenage soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Private Robert Laws, of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment, died in Helmand province on July 4 when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
The 18-year-old, known to friends as Robbie, was taking part in an operation involving around 3,000 soldiers to improve security in the area north of Lashkar Gah.
In his home town of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, family, friends and colleagues congregated to pay tribute to the young soldier described as “the life and soul of the platoon”.
Pte Laws’ coffin, draped in the Union flag, was carried into St John’s Church by a bearer party made up of members of his regiment and a volley of shots was fired in the church grounds.
Private Matthew Pierce, of the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, told the congregation he had grown close to Pte Laws when they trained together last year at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.
Describing him as a “wonderful person” he said: “He was the life and soul of the platoon. He was caring, but at the same time, carefree.”
The service was conducted by The Rev Colin Butler, the padre for 143 West Midlands Brigade, and the Rev Andy Stand, of St John’s Church.
Delivering the sermon, Mr Butler said Pte Laws had an “open and engaging character”, winning him many friends in the Worcestershire town. He said the teenage soldier’s parents, Wendy and Steve, described their son as “a morale booster – always smiling, always with something funny to say.”
Mr Butler added: “I’ve read and listened to many stories about Robbie. In my minds eye, I see a lad with a broad and probably mischievous smile.
“Someone who knew him at Catterick wrote that he used to make the section (a small team) laugh.”