Afghanistan Blast Kills Yorkshire Volunteer

A Territorial Army soldier from Barnsley, killed by a bomb blast in Afghanistan, had re-enlisted to serve in the country where he died.

Pte Matthew Thornton, 28, from 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was on patrol in Babaji, Helmand Province, when he was killed by an improvised explosive device, the Ministry of Defence said.

In a statement the family said his death would leave ``a huge hole in all our lives'' and described him as ``a dedicated soldier'' who was ``passionate about the job''.

A passionate snowboarder, Pte Thornton was born in Barnsley and was educated at Darton High School.

He joined the Territorial Army in 2004. He left briefly in 2007 but re-enlisted in 2009, volunteering his services for deployment to Afghanistan.

Away from the army he worked for Yorkshire-based company Premdor, manufacturing door and window frames.

In a statement his family - father Michael, mother Susan, sister Sarah, and brother Nathan - said: ``Matthew was a dedicated soldier and passionate about the job. He loved what he was doing.

``He loved life and lived it to the full - in his work, in his role with the Territorial Army and in his leisure time. Matthew will be greatly missed by his family, his TA colleagues and his friends. His death leaves a huge hole in all our lives.''

Lieutenant Colonel Ian Crowley MC, commanding officer, 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, said: ``Private Matthew Thornton displayed that he had the volunteer ethos in spades. He was a fine soldier and an even finer man.''

Pte Thornton deployed to Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment in October this year.

He was patrolling with a small group of soldiers when they were attacked by small arms fire and grenades.

As Pte Thornton responded he was caught in the blast of an improvised explosive device and was killed.

Colleagues paid tribute to him, remembering his enthusiasm and dedication.

Lieutenant Colonel Ian Mortimer, Commanding Officer, Combined Force Lashkar Gah (The Queen's Royal Hussars Battle Group) said: ``With bags of charisma and an infectious sense of humour, he carried those around him, especially during the more difficult times. This is what marked him out as a human being.

``We have lost an outstanding comrade, a fine young man, and a true soldier.''

Captain Steve Dando, Platoon Commander, Support Company, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, Combined Force Lashkar Gah, said: ``Private Matt Thornton epitomised everything a commander could want from a soldier in his platoon.

``He was energetic, vibrant, enthusiastic about soldiering and thoroughly embraced his life in the Army. Pte Thornton was a very popular member of the platoon.

``My thoughts and prayers and those of my platoon go out to his family and friends at this time.''

Private Jeremy Robbins, C Company, 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, serving with Support Company, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, Combined Force Lashkar Gah, said: ``Matthew Thornton was a most friendly and caring person who took great pride in being a Yorkshireman from Barnsley.

``A soldier of the Yorkshire Regiment, having always wanted to serve on tour in Afghanistan, he worked hard throughout his mobilisation and pre-deployment training with 1 YORKS in Germany.

``Matt had just turned 28 a few days ago and he celebrated in the best way he could with no stag and a birthday cake his mother had sent which had arrived in one piece. He was loved by everyone and will be greatly missed by all his friends and colleagues in both 1 YORKS and 4 YORKS.''

His death takes the number of British personnel who have died since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 to 385.