Father pays tribute to his son who died in Iraq

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The above map shows the location of Iraq. Cpl Cornish was killed after an attack on a UK military base in Basra, Iraq's second largest city. Around 8,000 British troops are stationed in Basra.

The father of a British soldier who was killed in Iraq yesterday has paid tribute to his son.

29 year-old Corporal Matthew Cornish, who was married with two young children, sustained injuries after a mortar attack on a base in Basra. He was rushed to hospital, but he later died. He was the first soldier to be killed in an attack on a UK military compound in Iraq.

"I’m proud of him as a soldier and as a son. He did the Army proud," 60 year-old Robin Cornish said of his son, the one hundred and fifteenth British soldier to be killed in Iraq since operations began in 2003.

Cpl Cornish, who served for the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry, joined the Army at the age of eighteen in Leeds. His deployments included Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He had been touring the country for a third time for three months when he was killed. His father said he would have risen through the ranks: "He would have got on. He was determined to go up the ladder and he would have got there."

Cpl Cornish grew up near Otley in West Yorkshire. He was killed on Yorkshire Day.

Yesterday, Cpl Cornish's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Bowron, said: "Matthew was a great soldier, a fine friend and a marvellous husband and father. He will be remembered for his heart and his great character. A Yorkshire man through and through and an enthusiastic follower of Leeds Rhinos Rugby League, he was constantly teased for his inexplicable loyalty to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club."

Cpl Cornish leaves behind his wife Abbey, his three-year old son Ethan and his one-year old daughter Libby. Lt Col Bowron said Cpl Cornish's true passion was for his family. "They were what lay closest to his heart - the rest was irrelevant."

Elsewhere, in southern Afghanistan yesterday, three UK troops died after a vehicle patrol was attacked by militants. So far in 2006, nine British troops have died there.

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, commented on the loss of life in both Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday. "Our troops are doing a tough job magnificently well. Their courage and commitment demands nothing but admiration."