An inquest into the deaths of four soldiers who died when their armoured vehicle plunged into a deep canal in Afghanistan four years ago begins today.

Colour Sergeant Martyn Horton, Lance Corporal David Ramsden, Private Douglas Halliday and Private Alex Isaac, all from the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), were killed in the incident near Gereshk in Helmand province on June 23 2010.

The soldiers were members of a police advisory team and were travelling as part of a two-vehicle convoy with the Afghan National Police on their way to attend an incident at a police checkpoint when their vehicle rolled into the Nahr-e Bughra canal.

Colour Sergeant Horton, 34, from Runcorn in Cheshire, joined the Army in 1992, seeing service in Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Belize and Kenya, and on operations in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was promoted to Colour Sergeant in June 2009, when he assumed the role of Reconnaissance Platoon Second-in-Command.

Following his death, his sister Caroline paid tribute to the loving father, brother and son, saying: "We will miss his cheeky grin. He will be fondly missed by everyone he knew and sadly died doing the job he loved. Once met never forgotten."

Lance Corporal Ramsden was 26 and from Leeds. He joined the Army in 2002 and served on operations in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He left the Army in 2007 to pursue a career as a civilian, but became a Reservist and deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 to advise the Afghan police.

Paying tribute after his death, his family said: "David lived life at 1,000mph. He loved Army life and his job, and as a teenager was in the Army Cadet Force.

"Although we didn't see much of him due to Army life, when he arrived back his personality lit up a room and we knew he was home and we will miss him so much."

Private Douglas Halliday, 20, from Wallasey in Merseyside, joined the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) in 2008 and served in Northern Ireland, Kenya and on operations in Afghanistan.

His family said: "Dougie was deeply loved by all of his family and friends for the love and laughter that he brought into their lives. Dougie was always the life and soul of the party and will be missed by all. We are all extremely privileged to have shared his short life."

Private Isaac, 20, was from the Wirral and also joined the Army in 2008, serving in Kenya and on operations in Afghanistan.

After his death, his mother Annette said: "My beautiful darling son who was a fighter, and so brave, you will always be in my heart, my soul and my thoughts. God bless."

The inquest, held at Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner's Court, is expected to last until November 20.