Family hail their 'hero' soldier of Afghanistan
A Westcountry soldier who died from wounds suffered in a shooting incident in Afghanistan has been described by his family as their "guardian angel" and "hero".
Captain James Townley, 29, from the Corps of Royal Engineers, died in Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan from wounds sustained while serving at forward operating base Shawqat, on Friday.
Capt Townley, who was born in Tunbridge Wells and grew up near Glastonbury, in Somerset, leaves parents Peter and Jacqui, his brother Nick, and girlfriend Helen.
He was due to have turned 30 on Saturday.
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Capt Townley was on his third tour of Afghanistan and was described by colleagues as "unbelievably clever" and a person who combined "consummate professionalism" with a personable, humorous and approachable character.
His family said in a statement: "James was a wonderful, loving and caring son and brother. He was devoted to his girlfriend, Helen.
"He was our guardian angel and our hero. We were so proud of him. He touched every part of our lives and his loss has left a huge chasm that we can never fill.
"James will never be forgotten and always in our hearts and thoughts."
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Captain Townley's death was not thought to be the result of hostile action, though an investigation into the circumstances was continuing.
Capt Townley's death comes after 38-year-old Sergeant Jonathan Kups, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Reme) died on Friday at Camp Bastion.
The MoD said the death of Sgt Kups, who was from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was also not thought to be the result of hostile action, but that an investigation into the circumstances was continuing.
Lieutenant Col Chas Story, Capt Townley's commanding officer, said: "James was an exceptional officer, a great character and unbelievably clever.
"The regiment is devastated that such a bright light has gone out – everyone knew him and it was impossible not to be drawn in by his passion and humour.
"He was on his third tour of Afghanistan and a volunteer for all three. He joined to be a soldier and he was determined to make the most of all the opportunities he could.
"The regiment will be a poorer place without James.
"In this painful time our thoughts remain with his family, his girlfriend Helen and all his friends. He was an outstanding individual and throughout his life he has made a massive difference to all those he encountered. He will never be forgotten."
Capt Townley, who was awarded a first-class degree in engineering and computer science from University College, Oxford, worked as a tax associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers before attending the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in January 2007.
He deployed to Afghanistan on September 5, and was based in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand.