Crowds line streets to salute fallen Gurkhas

11:00am Friday 9th November 2012

By Tom Jennings

AS the sun set over the memorial garden, hundreds of residents stood alongside the family, friends and colleagues of two fallen Gurkhas.

Lieutenant Edward Drummond-Baxter, 29, and Lance Corporal Siddhanta Kunwar, 28, both of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, were killed last Tuesday.

They were shot by a man wearing an Afghan police uniform at Checkpoint Prrang in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

About 300 people, along with around 70 Gurkhas, turned out at the memorial garden on the edge of Carterton to pay their respects yesterday as the men were repatriated to RAF Brize Norton.

L Cpl Kunwar, who was born in Pokhara in Nepal, was deployed to Afghanistan on October 3 and was on his third tour of the country when he was killed. He was a sniper section commander.

L Cpl Jackee Gurung, of 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, said: “He was my close friend and I knew him from the time before we joined the army.

“He was a nice man and a good friend and I will always remember his smile.

“It is very sad to be here today.”

L Cpl Minraj Tamang, of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, said: “We joined the Army in the same intake and completed basic training together.

“He was a good guy and it is a big loss to the regiment. If someone from the regiment is killed everyone feels it. It is a very sad day for us.”

In a statement, L Cpl Kunwar’s family said: “We are deeply shocked, disheartened and in disbelief that Siddhanta is no longer with us.

“But we shall treasure all the good things he did. He enjoyed immensely his profession and was fully committed towards it.

“He has made us proud.”

He leaves his father Shyam Kumar, stepmother Chhali Devi, his sisters Shova, Shyandya, Smita and Sardha, and his brother Bhupendra.

Lt Drummond-Baxter, who was born in Peterborough and lived in County Durham, gained a degree in psychology from University College London and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.

The platoon commander was commissioned into the regiment in 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan in September.

In a statement, his family said: “Edward was fiercely loyal and totally sincere to his parents, sister and many friends who are mourning him today both in the UK and around the world.

“He loved the Gurkhas and died among friends.”

He leaves his mother Helen, father David and sister Emily.

After the cortege left the memorial garden it made its way to the John Radcliffe Hospital for a post mortem examination and about 250 people turned out along Headley Way to pay their respects.

Royal British Legion Oxfordshire chairman Jim Lewendon said: “We would all like to see an end to this situation – losing all these soldiers over in Afghanistan.

“But we will be at Headley Way for as long as it takes.”

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