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Britain closes last remaining forward base in Afghanistan

The last British forward base that is being used by UK troops has closed in Afghanistan, with Camp Bastion the only forward location where British soldiers are now based.

The Sterga Camp along with Bastion in Helmand is due to fully close at the end of the year.

A soldier walks through the gates at Sterga. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Most of the personnel based at Sterga were from the 4th Battalion 4 SCOTS with specialist capabilities provided by other units such as 5 Regiment Royal Artillery, 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, 3 Royal Horse Artillery and 14 Signals Regiment.

At its peak the base was home to 180 people although by its closure this had reduced to about 90 personnel.


UK soldiers were unlawfully killed in Afghanistan

The six soldiers were unlawfully killed in Afghanistan, a coroner has ruled. Credit: MoD

Significant steps have been taken to improve the army's Warrior vehicles in the wake of the deaths of six soldiers in Afghanistan, a coroner said today, as he ruled they were unlawfully killed.

Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, and Privates Anthony Frampton, 20, Daniel Wade, 20, Christopher Kershaw, 19, and Daniel Wilford, 21, all died when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated under their Warrior in Helmand Province on March 6 2012.

The vehicle was patrolling with another Warrior when it was blown up about 25 miles north of the capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah, bringing the biggest single loss of life for British forces in Afghanistan since an RAF Nimrod crash killed 14 people in September 2006.

  1. Dan Rivers - ITV News Correspondent

'No Army vehicle' would have saved soldiers from blast

It was very sombre listening. This was going through the worst single loss of life in Afghanistan since 2001 - an attack on this Warrior vehicle, about 25 miles north of Lashkar Gah while they were out on patrol. It instantly killed six soldiers.

They were Sergeant Nigel Coupe, from the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, and five other soldiers from The Yorkshire Regiment's 3rd Battalion - Corporal Jake Hartley, Private Anthony Frampton, Private Christopher Kershaw, who was just 19, Private Daniel Wade, Private Daniel Wilford.

The court heard that they left at about dusk. At 6.30pm, the surveillance balloon that would have given aerial surveillance of the immediate area around the base had been down because of a sandstorm but nevertheless they went out on patrol.

We heard from Major Colver, who was a commander on the base, saying that he was entirely confident that it was the right thing to do for them to go out at that time of night. He said that they trained for this.

Major Nelson then gave evidence, the expert on Warrior vehicles from the army. He said that the Warriors had been upgraded, that they can always build a bigger bomb and it was a very large device.

He said: "No vehicle we have is designed to take that and the effects were far worse than we anticipated."

As a result of this tragedy there have been changes to the design of the Warrior - strengthening of its armour, of its fire extinguisher and a burn resistant fuel tank included as well.

The inquest will continue this afternoon.

'Deadliest single enemy attack' in Afghanistan since 2001

An inquest into the deaths of six soldiers killed when their tank exploded after hitting a Taliban roadside bomb in Afghanistan in March 2012 is expected to end today.

It was the single deadliest attack on UK forces in Afghanistan since 2001.

Six soldiers were killed in an IED blast in Afghanistan in March 2012. Credit: MoD

From top left: Sergeant Nigel Coupe, Corporal Jake Hartley and Private Anthony Frampton.

From bottom left: Private Christopher Kershaw, Private Daniel Wade and Private Daniel Wilford.

The Warrior, known by the callsign K12, was patrolling with another vehicle when it was hit by improvised explosive device about 25 miles north of the capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah.

Inquest into death of six soldiers in Afghanistan to end

The inquest into the death of six soldiers killed when the Warrior tank they were travelling in exploded, is due to conclude today.

The Mother of Private Christopher Kershaw, holds a photograph of her son outside Oxford Coroners Court during the inquest. Credit: PA

Coroners heard evidence from the Major in charge of the doomed operation and soldiers who were driving behind the armoured vehicle before it hit a Taliban roadside bomb and exploded.

Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, and Privates Anthony Frampton, 20, Christopher Kershaw, 19, Daniel Wade, 20, and Daniel Wilford, 21, were all killed in Helmand on a delayed patrol in March last year.

Witnesses dubbed the explosion a "fireball" and said they cold hear ammunition ignite and bullets ricocheting around the tank.

The two-day inquest is expected to conclude today.


Well-wishers urged to stop sending Christmas presents to soldiers

Well-wishers sending Christmas presents to soldiers in Afghanistan have been urged to stop - because they are clogging up the postal system and stopping letters and gifts from military families getting through.

Army bosses said they greatly appreciated the torrent of gifts sent to those serving abroad but appealed for them to make donations instead.

As with every year, the Christmas post period is by far our busiest.

Just this week we dispatched more than 10,500 bags of mail to operational theatres, which will arrive in time for Christmas Day.

Unsolicited mail can seriously impact on our ability to deliver post from loved ones to personnel serving on operations at Christmas.

We do not underestimate the impact that mail from friends and family can have on morale and it is for that reason we make it our priority each year to ensure it arrives on time.

– Lieutenant Colonel Brett Duxbury, of the British Forces Post Office

Relatives fought for Supreme Court hearing

The families of soldiers who have been killed in battle fought to take the human rights' fight to the Supreme Court.

Sue Smith, 51, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, whose son Private Phillip Hewett, 21, was killed seven years ago, wept outside the Court of Appeal in October and described the Ministry of Defence's attitude as "despicable".

It is just so dismissive. It 'doesn't matter': they are Action Men; if you break them, just bury them. But they are not just Action Men. People need to make a stand.

– Sue Smith
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