Families pay tribute to soldiers

The families of two British servicemen who were killed while on duty in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, have paid tribute to them.

Father-of-four Lance Corporal Matthew David Smith, 26, from the Corps of Royal Engineers, died on Friday after being shot while trying to build a checkpoint. His mother Caroline Smith described him as a "hero".

The father of Lieutenant Andrew Robert Chesterman, of the 3rd Battalion The Rifles, who died as a result of wounds sustained in enemy action while on patrol on Thursday, said that his family had lost "a fine young man". Paul Chesterman said that Lt Chesterman's family were "immensely proud" of him.

The 26-year-old, from Bristol, was commanding a vehicle patrol when the lead vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. The Ministry of Defence said that as Lt Chesterman moved forward to take control of the situation, insurgents opened fire and he was shot. He was taken to hospital in Camp Bastion but could not be saved.

L/Cpl Smith, who had four children - Lainie, Ella, Tilli and Jai - aged between one and seven years old, was said to be devoted to his family and "talked about them endlessly".

Mrs Smith said: "A loving father to four beautiful children, who will be dearly missed by his fiancee, mother, father, family and friends. Our Hero R.I.P."

Lt Chesterman, a Platoon Commander in C Company, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was deployed to Afghanistan on April 7 this year. He leaves behind his father and sisters Anna and Olivia.

Mr Chesterman said: "We have lost a fine young man. It was readily apparent that Andrew gave himself fully and wholeheartedly to his career in 3 Rifles. At a battalion dinner shortly before Op Herrick 16, I was proud to see his easy, close and well-accepted rapport with his fellow young officers. Andrew was accomplished in many areas. He developed a skill to play both the trombone and piano, graduated with a Masters degree in engineering, qualified as a Mountain Leader, enjoyed team yacht racing and was proficient on skis. His family are immensely proud of him and will carry him very dearly in their hearts."

L/Cpl Smith was part of a troop tasked to build a new checkpoint next to the Nahr-e-Bughra canal when he was hit by small arms fire. Despite efforts to save him he died from his wounds. The keen footballer was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Aldershot, Surrey. He enlisted in January 2003 and joined the Corps of Royal Engineers in September of the same year.

Since his deployment to Afghanistan with the 30 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 26 Engineer Regiment on 16 March this year, he supported 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment as a section second in command, crane operator and driver. He was involved in the construction of a new bridge allowing the local population of Nad-e Ali to cross the Nahr-e-Bughra canal.