‘Ideal soldier’ makes ultimate sacrifice

Funeral: Private Matthew Thornton is mourned at All Saints Church Darton near Barnsley.

Funeral: Private Matthew Thornton is mourned at All Saints Church Darton near Barnsley.

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PRIVATE Matthew Thornton’s platoon commander paid tribute to the serviceman as the ‘ideal soldier’ and called his death a tragedy, before paying his last respects to his fallen comrade.

Lieutenant Alec Wood, from 4th Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, joined the Territorial Army in 2004 at the same time as Matthew, who died aged 28, and served alongside him as a private.

Lt Wood said Matthew was a talented rifleman who ‘wanted to be part of the bigger picture’ by volunteering himself to fight in Afghanistan.

“He was the ideal soldier,” he said.

“He never complained about any job he had to do, he just carried on with the task in hand. He was a fantastic bloke, he really summed up the TA ethos.”

Lt Wood continued: “I always remember him to be a hardworking soldier and a fantastic rifleman to have in your section. He was a very happy, bubbly guy. He got on really well with everyone.

“Matthew was polite, courteous, friendly and outgoing. It’s a tragedy.”

Matthew wasn’t put under pressure to volunteer in Afghanistan, Lt Wood added.

“You never get put under any pressure to mobilise in the TA.

“It was a voluntary mobilisation that he took part in. It sums up his nature, really.

“He wanted to be part of the bigger picture and to be part of things. He wanted to live life as best he could and to make a positive contribution.

“It takes quite a bit of courage to go out to Afghanistan.”

He said Matthew would be ‘sorely missed’ by fellow soldiers in his company.

“There’s going to be a void,” Lt Wood said.