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Hundreds of people gathered at a country church in Hampshire today for the funeral of the 300th British serviceman killed in Afghanistan.
Marine Richard Hollington, of 40 Commando Royal Marines, was injured in a blast in the Sangin district but died from his wounds eight days later on June 20 in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
The 23-year-old has been described as a "lion'' and "one of the finest''.At his funeral, held with full military honours at All Saints Church in his home village of Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire, a tribute was read by family friend Brigadier Charlie Hobson.
He said: "Richard Hollington was a very young man when he was cruelly taken from us. His courage, generous character and wonderful attributes have been praised by all those who knew him.
"Not one of us knows what he might have become, but all of us know that our lives are richer because we knew him and that the sense of loss is huge. In his short life he managed two things that few can achieve at his age: the unconditional love of his family and the respect and unconstrained comradeship of his fellow RMs, whatever their rank.
"He was untainted by age and experience and was still, in many ways, an innocent young man with the greatest potential.''
Speaking ahead of the noon service, Major Renny Bulmer, Officer Commanding of Rear Operations, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said of the fact this was the 300th death: "To us, it's not a number, it's about the man, Marine Richard Hollington. He was such a fantastic character - one of those people who could always light up the room.
"He really was a special kind of guy. He was professional, highly dedicated and loyal. I think the words of his best friend sum him up: 'Dickie, you're a legend'. Indeed he was.''
Marine Hollington's colleagues still serving in Afghanistan will pay their respects to him in autumn when they return to the UK. Marine Hollington leaves behind his parents Jenny and Robin, and younger brothers Nick and Charlie. He was deployed to the Sangin district in April.
The marine, who was known as Dickie, was injured in a blast during a reassurance patrol on the afternoon of June 12. He was evacuated to hospital where his condition was described as critical and was later transferred to Birmingham where he died.
His family, who were by his side when he died, said at the time of his death:
"What can we say that hasn't been said so many times before and will be repeated so many times to come? Richard will leave a huge numbing hole in the lives of his family, friends and Royal Marine colleagues.
"The saying goes, 'It is better to live one day as a lion than your whole life as a worm.' He chose to live his days as a lion and to us, and we believe his friends, he was the biggest, if softest, lion in the pride - how proud of him we all are.
It was typical of Richard, and a crumb of comfort to us, that even in death he donated his organs to help others in accordance with his wishes.''
His unit's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, described him as "one of my finest'' and "one of life's greats''.
"He was gregarious and well-humoured, and in the privations of life in Sangin, he was invaluable,'' he said.