Today marks 12 years since a Basingstoke man was killed in Afghanistan while serving in the British Army.  

Former Everset School pupil Private Peter Joe Cowton of the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment died in a blast on July 29, 2008, at the age of 25.

Just after 6am, Peter conducted a routine reassurance patrol and left their base. A short time later, at 8.47am, they encountered enemy forces.

A blast went off and left Peter seriously wounded. Despite the efforts of the medical response team, he sadly died.

His friend and former comrade has paid tribute to Peter today by saying his friend must not be forgotton.

Explaining the circumstances, Mac Magreehan, Warrant Officer Class 2 PARA, said: "Taliban fighters who attacked FOB Gibaltar during the summer of 2008 referred to the base as the 'mouth of hell' or 'devil's place'.

"Of the 160 men of 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) who manned the base, almost one in three were killed or wounded, a higher casualty rate than that suffered by British soldiers during the Second World War: Five killed in action, 14 seriously injured, and another 30 wounded.

"Peter must not be forgotten and our thoughts are with his family today."

Basingstoke Gazette: Private Peter Joe CowtonPrivate Peter Joe Cowton

Private Peter Joe Cowton

Private Peter Joe Cowton, aged 25, was born on October 24, 1982, and grew up in Basingstoke, where he attended John Hunt of Everest School.

Whilst working at a golf club, he joined The Royal Rifle Volunteers (RRV) in January 2004 in search of a career with adventure, lured by the ability to travel to far-flung parts of the world. After completing two tours of Iraq, he enlisted as a regular soldier in 2007.

Pte Cowton attended recruit training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, after which he was posted to the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA), arriving at C (Bruneval) Company in September 2007 as pre-deployment training for Operation Herrick 8 was commencing. He deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008.

Outside of the Army, Pte Cowton loved playing and watching football and golf, reading books and following horse racing. He leaves behind his parents, one brother and one sister.

At the time of his death, his parents spoke about how proud they were of him.

Private Cowton’s parents, Karen and Robin Rolfe, said: "Peter was proud to serve his country, having already served in Iraq whilst a member of the Territorial Army.

“He was so ‘Proud to be a Paratrooper’ as we, his parents, and family were. His short regular Army career will not be forgotten, and his ‘Red Beret’ will have loving memories in our home.

"We are so proud of you."

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”