Sunday, June 14, 2009
It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Lieutenant Paul Mervis from The 2nd Battalion the Rifles (2 RIFLES) was killed as a result of an explosion during a deliberate operation near Sangin, northern Helmand Province, Afghanistan on the morning of 12 June 2009.
Lieutenant Paul Mervis, born on 30th September 1981, grew up in London and was educated at King's College Wimbledon. He then spent a gap year in China and Israel before going on to study Philosophy at University College London.
Summer holidays were invariably spent in Africa in the Namibian bush. Post graduation, his passion in geo-politics and travel led him into the world of journalism where he was involved with The Week and The Spectator. But it wasn’t long before his thirst for adventure drew him into the British Army.
Lt Mervis was one of the very first officers to commission into the newly formed RIFLES in April 2007. After the testing Platoon Commander's Course at Brecon, he was posted to 2 RIFLES as the Platoon Commander of 10 Platoon and he was straight into the mix.
He led his Platoon with distinction on a demanding TESEX before deploying with the Battle Group to Kosovo, where he thrived on his first operational tour. He was in his element in the diversity of that place and it soon showed that he was an operational soldier who relished overseas deployments.
2 RIFLES then entered an intensive period of pre-deployment training for HERRICK 10 and, for Lt Mervis, the operation could not come soon enough. Lt Mervis' unique character and leadership forged a very special Platoon.
Every exercise and training serial, whether Platoon, Company or Battalion, was tackled with the vigour, thoroughness and professionalism of someone who cared passionately about his Riflemen and who was prepared to strain every sinew in preparing for the demands of operations in Helmand. During his first two months of the tour, based out of Forward Operating (FOB) Base Gibraltar as part of Battle Group (North), Lt Mervis was at the forefront of all his Company's operations.
He fought hard and led his Platoon through tragic times, when Rifleman Thatcher was killed in action he was a rock to those he commanded. It was typical of the man that he led from the front in one of Afghanistan's most demanding and dangerous districts. Tragically, Lieutenant Paul Mervis was killed, whilst on a foot patrol, by an explosion north of FOB Gibraltar on 12 June 2009.
Lt Mervis' family Jonathan and Margaret, Hannah and Jack Mervis said:
"Paul was a wonderful, loving son, brother and friend – generous and thoughtful, with an infectious sense of fun. Paul was killed doing the job he chose and loved. He was passionately committed to his men – far beyond mere duty. He had read widely about Afghanistan, and went with a genuine desire to help bring enough stability there to enable reconstruction to follow."
Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES BG, Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson said:
"Lieutenant Paul Mervis was utterly irrepressible. There was no more committed officer in the Rifles and the Riflemen adored being under his command.
"He was one of those leaders who, out here, was always first onto the objective. He had taken the fight to the enemy at every turn and it had not been without a cost - Rifleman Thatcher was in his Platoon and his beloved 10 Platoon had already had two other Riflemen wounded in action, including his Platoon Serjeant.
"It was a cost which hurt him to the core but it did not deter him. He adored platoon command and the richness of its challenge and there was nothing he would not do for one of his Riflemen. In the Mess, most of us could not keep up with him.
"He was always the first to grab the wine list in a restaurant, opining that only he knew the best clarets. He was the officer who sent my children the highest on the trampoline and they loved him for it.
"But Paul was not just a fun-lover, he was full of enquiry and was a deep thinker - about soldiering and about life. Out here, he had established a model relationship with the Afghan National Army in his Forward Operating Base - he had an enviable ability to encourage, cajole, inspire and motivate them.
"He read more about Afghanistan than anyone as we prepared for this tour and his empathy for the people of this fascinating country was exemplary. He had been due to move on soon to train recruit Riflemen back in Catterick which he would have done brilliantly but it is a measure of the man and his passion for those he commanded that, since our arrival here, he had, on every occasion we met, asked if he could stay on. He was already planning to return to Afghanistan next year.
"His mother and father were so proud of him and all that he had selflessly achieved and our thoughts and prayers must be with them and Paul's brother and sister at this unimaginably awful time. But this will be some solace - their son, Paul, died in command, at the front of his platoon, leading it on operations fighting in a just cause for the benefit of impoverished Afghans.
"He would want nothing more than for us to get back up onto the ramparts, with the Bugle sounding, to let the enemy know that we are coming back."