Almost 300 mourners gathered yesterday at the funeral of a Midland soldier who was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan.
The funeral of Guardsman Daniel Probyn was held in Dudley as the Ministry of Defence named another solider killed in Afghanistan and a British military fatality in Iraq increased calls for the final withdrawal of troops.
Guardsman Probyn, a member of the Grenadier Guards' 1st Battalion, died while engaging a Taliban position near Garmsir in May.
A handful of his comrades flew back from Afghanistan to join friends and family of the 22-year-old in Christ Church, Quarry Bank, yesterday afternoon.
Army padre, the Rev Jonathan Gough, told the service that Guardsman Probyn had been a tower of strength to his sister and a role model
for his three brothers. The clergyman told mourners: "He distinguished himself in Iraq and his colleagues regarded him as a 'great mate' - there is no higher accolade. It is clear that he found in the Grenadier Guards the life that brought out the best in him, as a soldier, a sportsman, a boxer, and a friend.
"Whether mounting guard on Buckingham Palace or patrolling in the desert, he proved himself to be an exceptional soldier, trusted and respected by colleagues and by commanders." The service was followed by a cremation at nearby Gornal Wood Crematorium.
Guardsman Probyn, from Tipton, died on May 25 during an offensive operation to clear a Taliban stronghold on the outskirts of Garmsir.
Meanwhile, the MoD said Lance Corporal Paul Sandford, a member of the 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, was shot during an operation to clear a Taliban compound in the Upper Gereshk Valley in Helmand Province on Wednesday. He was taken to a Nato base before being airlifted for medical treatment to Camp Bastion where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
L/Cpl Sandford, 23, from London, who married his wife Gaynor just a year ago, is the 59th member of the British Forces to die in Afghanistan since the start of operations in November 2001.
The calls for a British withdrawal from Iraq intensified as the British military death toll in the country reached 150.
The grim landmark was passed when a soldier from the 4th Battalion The Rifles was shot during a swoop in the district of Al Atiyah, north west of Basra, southern Iraq. The victim, who has not been named, was airlifted to the main British base in the city but died an hour and 20 minutes later.
Reg Keys, whose son, from Solihull, was killed in Al Majar Al Kabir in 2003, said: "I would like to know what the objective is for those remaining troops to achieve in Iraq."