September Song JP Cooper
4 October 2011, 15:08
Mourners said farewell today to a Blackburn Marine branded a 'brave young warrior' and a 'first class Marine of rare quality' shot dead in Afghanistan.
More than 1,000 people packed into Blackburn Cathedral with several hundred more - including town centre shoppers - pausing to pay their respects to Marine David Fairbrother outside.
The 24-year-old serviceman from Blackburn was killed last month while deployed in support of an Afghan National Army patrol in the village of Old Khorgajat in the southern Helmand province.
Marine Fairbrother joined up in November 2009 and was a qualified team medic with Kilo Company, 42 Commando.
Some of his colleagues acted as pallbearers as his coffin, draped with a Union Flag with his regimental peaked cap, belt and ISAF medal on top, was brought into church.
Heading the procession inside were his mother, Julie, his sisters Ruth and Emily, and girlfriend Melissa Shine.
In a eulogy at the service, commanding officer of 42 Commando, Colonel Ewen Murchison, said:
'Utterly loyal and selfless, he routinely put himself in harm's way to ensure the safety of his fellow Marines.
'He displayed enormous courage and inner strength to daily overcome the omnipresent silent threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
'He had many friends who loved him as a colleague and brother-in-arms and his loss is nothing short of tragic and devastating.
'A brave young warrior, David was a first class Marine and a young man of rare quality. He would have undoubtedly had an exceptionally bright future ahead of him.
'He joins an illustrious list of legends, the bravest of the brave. He is gone but his sacrifice is not forgotten.'
Officiating the service, the Dean of Blackburn, the Very Reverend Christopher Armstrong, said David was determined to join the Marines and his personality was suited to the training regime at Lympstone.
'Training confirmed him as a team player, bringing that essential glue to a group of people, whether social or professional,
'And yet he knew his limits. As he prepared to return to Afghanistan after a short break, his mother glimpsed that deep-down fear in David, as only mothers can.
'He knew that he was engaged on serious business but would see it through, whatever the personal cost. The rest of the story we know. His life came to an end characteristically as he selflessly tried to defend his colleagues, both British and Afghan.
'It is impossible in a few sentences to do justice to such a complex character as David Fairbrother, on the one hand as tough as the best of them and on the other with the best of human characteristics shining through.'
Prayers were said by his mother and girlfriend, while readings of W H Auden's Stop All The Clocks and the Book of the Revelation of John were given by his friends Ben Fry and James Hadfield.
Elton John's Your Song as sung by Ellie Goulding was played to the congregation and was particularly poignant as David had included the words of the song in a recent letter from Afghanistan to his girlfriend.
Edward Elgar's Nimrod from Enigma Variations was played as the cortege left the cathedral.
In the order of service, the family posted a message which read: 'Julie, Ruth, Emily and Melissa would like to thank everyone for the love, prayers and support they have received.'
A private committal with full military honours later took place at St Peter's Church in Salesbury, Blackburn.