Birmingham: community mourns young solder killed in Afghanistan

 The stark reality of the relentless fight against terrorism by British Forces in far away Iraq and Afghanistan was vividly brought home to the Catholic community of Cannock, Staffordshire, in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, yesterday morning when the funeral Mass of a young soldier took place at the parish church of St Mary & St Thomas More. The church was packed was packed for the funeral, conducted with full military honours, for Guardsman Simon Davison, aged 22, of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. He was killed by small arms fire from Taleban fighters while manning a checkpoint near the town of Garmsir in Helmand Province, in Southern Afghanistan, on Thursday 3 May. Guardsman Davison, who was born in Newcastle, was brought up in Cannock where he was educated at St Mary's Catholic Primary School and Cardinal Griffin Roman Catholic High School. He went to Stafford College and worked as a carpenter before joining the Army in 2005. Less than a year later he was posted to the Grenadier Guards. Fr Patrick Brennan, Parish Priest of St Mary's, celebrated the Funeral Mass, attended by close family and senior representatives from the Battalion as well as military colleagues and friends. Guardsman Davison's coffin, coved by a Union Jack, was carried in and out of the church by six young Grenadier guardsmen. On top of the coffin was his Forage Cap, headdress of his number two dress uniform together with his white belt and a wreath of red and white carnations. Before the opening hymn, Abide with me, Fr Brennan, wearing white vestments, spoke about the "sacrifice and the service" of Guardsman Simon Davison being celebrated during the Requiem Mass. He added: "I am deeply impressed by the family and fraternity shown by the Grenadier Guards as they bid farewell to one of their own." It was a moving and prayerful service that included two short tributes to Guardsman Davison by his sister Caroline, and a young man who was at school with him in Cannock. Guardsman Davison's mother and father, Maureen and Ray, and his sister were left with their own thoughts and treasured memories of a son, a brother and a brave soldier as the hearse made its way slowly to the Crematorium in Stafford. Guardsman Davison's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Carew Hatherley, said: "Guardsman Simon Davison died fighting to protect other Grenadiers and gave his life in doing so. There is a no more selfless act a soldier can perform." His death took the number of British troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 54.

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