Memorial garden tribute to marine
Tributes have been paid to a Norfolk marine killed in action on Christmas Eve as the county's army cadets gathered to remember his bravery.L/Cpl Ben Whatley, 20, from Tittleshall, was killed in Afghanistan's Helmand province while taking part in an operation to clear enemy forces from the north of the district.
Tributes have been paid to a Norfolk marine killed in action on Christmas Eve as the county's army cadets gathered to remember his bravery.
L/Cpl Ben Whatley, 20, from Tittleshall, was killed in Afghanistan's Helmand province while taking part in an operation to clear enemy forces from the north of the district. He had been leading troops from the front when he was killed by enemy fire during a fierce battle with insurgents.
The Norfolk Army Cadet Force (ACF) gathered at the joint Norfolk and Suffolk weekend training centre at Thetford on Easter Sunday where L/Cpl Whatley's name was added to a bench in the centre's memorial garden.
His name joined those of fellow former cadets Alex Hawkins and Aaron McClure, both from the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, who died in Afghanistan in 2007 and in whose memory the garden was dedicated in November last year.
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A statement from the cadet force said: 'Ben will be remembered as a big personality and not just because of his six feet plus frame, he had a happy go lucky outlook but knew exactly what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
'His commanders and comrades described him as a 'tough, uncompromising commando with a booming voice and an abundance of that magic ingredient 'presence''.'
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A tribute and poem were read by the cadet commandant colonel David Hedges and cadet sergeant major Russell Bradenham presented his parents with a framed photograph of L/Cpl Whatley, taken in 2004, during his cadet service.
L/Cpl Whatley was a cadet with Fakenham Detachment, Britannia Company from 2001 to 2005. He represented the county at swimming and was a member of the 2004 Norfolk ACF Cadet Team that took part in a prestigious military skills competition.
He attended Litcham High School and the College of West Anglia before leaving to fulfil his dream of joining the Royal Marines.
This weekend also saw members of the Norfolk ACF gain BTEC level two qualifications in public service.
Course tutor Lt Col Miles Green said: 'These results are outstanding at a national level, the best we have ever done and just shows what cadet vocational qualifications can do for the youngsters of today.'