Farewell to "inspirational leader" – and a husband

Author: By Terri Judd

As the hearse carrying her husband’s body to its final resting place moved
away, Sally Thorneloe let out a single gasping sob and closed her eyes, a
fleeting break in her perfect composure.

It was a heart-rending reminder that while the death of the most senior
officer to be killed in combat since the Falklands has led to national
reflection, it was a family tragedy no different from any of the other 183
British losses in Afghanistan.

But this time the tributes from royalty, ministers and generals were personal
ones. Yesterday the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, former
Defence Secretary Des Browne and head of the army General Sir Richard
Dannatt were among those at the chapel in Wellington Barracks, London, to
bid farewell to a man described as “an inspirational leader”, the commanding
officer of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, who was killed alongside Trooper
Joshua Hammond when the Viking they were travelling in was hit by an
explosion near Lashkar Gah.

Paying tribute to the 39-year-old father-of-two during yesterday’s service,
Colonel Sandy Malcolm said: “Missing from today are his soldiers, currently
in the midst of a fierce and important operation. Six, including Rupert,
have made the ultimate sacrifice and others have been wounded. It is late
afternoon in Afghanistan, the sun will soon set and Welsh Guardsmen will
stand to across the Helmand valley. They will know we too are gathered in
this chapel and he will soon be laid to rest.”

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