Fleetwood soldier killed in Taliban ambush

A Fleetwood soldier has been killed in Afghanistan.

Royal Marine Commando Darren "Daz" Smith was shot during an ambush by Taliban fighters in Helmand Province on Saturday.

Despite the desperate efforts of his 45 Commando colleagues, the 27-year-old Fleetwood father died en route to an Army hospital at Camp Bastion.

Chief officers today paid tribute to Marine Smith who they said was "the epitome of a young Royal Marine" and devoted to his girlfriend Kelly and two-year-old daughter Keira.

His commanding officer Lt Col Jim Morris said: "The loss of Marine Daz Smith has reverberated with great sadness around 45 Commando Group.

"He was killed in the midst of a small arms engagement with the Taliban while providing essential fire support to his colleagues during a patrol that had discovered a large cache of Taliban ammunition.

"His tragic death has been felt very deeply across the Commando and the ultimate sacrifice that he has made will be remembered by us all."

Marine Smith joined X-ray Company of 45 Commando in July last year after completing Royal Marines Commando Recruit Training.

Friends have set up a tribute page on the social networking website Facebook. More than 1,100 people had signed up to pay their tributes within 24 hours of Marine Smith's death.

Defence Secretary John Hutton today said: "My sincere sympathies are with Marine Smith's family, comrades and friends as they come to terms with his loss.

It is clear that he was a talented, dedicated marine who lost his life doing a job that he loved. He will not be forgotten."