Funeral of Maidstone Based soldier

Crowds line Streets for Funeral of Kent soldier killed by suspected 'friendly fire' in Afghanistan

Sapper Mark Smith, 26, from Swanley, Kent, is thought to have died in an explosion after a shell landed short of its intended target.

The serviceman, from 36 Engineer Regiment, was serving with the Counter Improvised Explosive Device taskforce when he was caught in the blast in the Sangin area of Helmand on July 26.

Relatives and comrades have paid tribute to ``a hero with a cheeky grin''.

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets of Eynsford, Kent, as the serviceman's colleagues from 36 Engineer Regiment broke down in tears while speaking to the packed church congregation.

 

In a statement released on behalf of his family, a close friend said the soldier, who was known by his friends as ``Smit'' and Army colleagues as ``Smudge'', was ``truly unique''.

``His cheeky grin could light up a room and his zest for life was an inspiration to us all,'' he said.

``His friendship and loyalty to those closest to him knew no bounds and I am truly honoured to have called him my friend.

``Smit will be greatly missed but it is difficult to think of him without smiling as he had a unique ability to lift anyone from the most sombre of moods and was always the life and soul of the party.''

``He was a kind and generous friend,'' said one comrade. ``One of the most selfless people we know.''

He was serving with the Counter Improvised Explosive Device taskforce when he was caught in the blast in the Sangin area of Helmand on July 26.

Sapper Smith - known as ``Smit'' - was given full military honours at St Martin of Tours Church before his family left for a private burial .

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Hulme, commanding officer of 36 Engineer Regiment, spoke to the congregation along with four of Sapper Smith's friends.

One relative, who was not named to the congregation, said: ``He was a son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew, uncle, but above all - friend. Through the years watching the news hearing about our heroes, we never really thought that one day the news would be about you and we would be sitting here trying to think of something to say at your funeral.

``The truth is Mark, we are lost for words, nothing we can say will ever do you justice.''

One of the friends told the church: ``Smit was a truly unique character with a fun and loving personality and a tremendous sense of humour.''



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