Funeral For 'Proud' 2 Para Soldier

25 February 2011, 14:10

An Essex-based paratrooper who disobeyed a direct order to save a friend has been laid to rest.

Private Martin Bell's been described at his funeral as "the epitome of courage and the finest example of what makes this country great''.

The 24-year-old was the 350th UK military fatality in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001.

Pte Bell, from the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in Colchester, was fatally wounded by the blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) to the south of Nahr-e-Saraj in Helmand province on January 25.

He was struck as he moved to help a comrade injured by a separate device.

Today, hundreds of mourners packed Bradford Cathedral for a funeral service with full military honours.

The mourners were led by his parents Elaine and Simon, along with his brothers Oliver and Philip.

His dad paid tribute to him during the hour-long service, "Martin was my son, my brother, my hero, my best friend and, along with his brothers, my everything.''

Pte Bell's mother, Elaine, 53, told the service: "We've learned that he truly was courageous.''

She thanked the Paras for their support and said: "We now know why Martin was so proud to be part of such am elite force.''